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Health News Florida
News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida and WUSF can help. Our responsibility at WUSF News is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

Latest On Coronavirus: DeSantis Says Orlando Perfect For RNC, And More

image of coronavirus

WUSF will be providing the latest news and information on coronavirus in Tampa Bay and across the state. Here are the latest developments:

Here are the latest figures as of 11 a.m. Thursday, June 4, according to the Florida Department of Health:

60,183 — Positive Tests | 2,607 — Deaths

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And Health News Florida

NEWSLETTER: Sign Up For Coronavirus Updates From Health News Florida

DeSantis: Orlando Would Be 'Obvious Place' for RNC

Governor Ron DeSantis said Wednesday that Florida should tell President Trump “yes” if he asks to hold the Republican National Convention in the state.

DeSantis says the August convention could always be canceled if there’s a second surge in coronavirus cases.

He says cities like Jacksonville and Miami are in the running along with Orlando. [Read more]

-- Danielle Prieur, WMFE

Universities To Consider Summer Commencement Alternatives

The state university system’s Board of Governors asked all universities to develop plans for alternatives to in-person summer commencement ceremonies because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In-person ceremonies had to be scrapped in the spring because of concerns about spreading the virus.

“Universities were creative with their spring commencement festivities, and each of them found ways to celebrate their graduates and their achievements. We are confident that the summer graduates will be equally celebrated,” the Board of Governor said in a news release.

The announcement came as university leaders in various parts of the state held meetings Thursday to discuss campus-reopening plans for the fall semester.

Students at the 12 universities were sent home in March and finished the spring semester through online courses. Students have continued distance learning during the summer.

The Board of Governors told officials on Thursday it would be “prudent” to develop alternatives to in-person summer graduation ceremonies, as “health guidelines still limit gathering at this time.”

Universities are supposed to finalize their plans for reopening campuses for the fall semester in the coming week. The plans are due to the Board of Governors on June 12. University leaders are then supposed to present those plans to the board on June 23.

-- News Service of Florida

DeSantis Announces Florida Moving Into Phase 2

Bars, tattoo shops and movie theaters can partially reopen Friday in most of the state, as Gov. Ron DeSantis moves into the second phase of his plan to revive the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

DeSantis, who has promoted a three-phase reopening plan, said Wednesday the state would “inch” into the second phase “in a way that's very, very measured.”

The announcement covers 64 of the state’s 67 counties and came after the virus pushed the state’s unemployment rate to 12.9 percent in April, representing an estimated 1.218 million Floridians qualifying as unemployed. DeSantis appeared at Universal Orlando, where passholders started to be allowed into the theme park Wednesday in advance of a public opening on Friday. [Read more]

-- News Service of Florida

Survey: People Less Likely To Evacuate For Hurricanes

Almost half the Floridians taking part in a survey by AAA Auto Club said they're less likely to evacuate for a hurricane this season because of fears of catching the coronavirus. More than a quarter of respondents said they'll stay in their homes even if officials warn them to leave.

AAA conducted a survey last week to see how people are preparing for the 2020 hurricane season. Spokesperson Mark Jenkins explains COVID-19 could impact someone's decision to leave their home. According to the survey, about 42% of respondents are less likely to leave because of concerns about the virus. [Read more]

-- Robbie Gaffney, WFSU

Fourth Of July Fireworks Are Back On In Florida Keys

As a tourist destination, the Keys rely on events to bring people to the island chain. But large gatherings are discouraged during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Key West City Commission this week gave the go-ahead to an event that usually draws large crowds to the island's Atlantic shore: Fourth of July fireworks.

Key West City Manager Greg Veliz brought the application from the Rotary Club of Key West to the commission at its Tuesday evening meeting.

"Basically I wasn't going to be the one that canceled Fourth of July," Veliz said.

The club has been setting off the fireworks from the pier at the end of White Street for 45 years.

-- Nancy Klingener, WLRN

Health Experts On Large Crowds And Coronavirus

Health experts worry COVID-19 cases could rise because of the reopening of restaurants and businesses, as well as large gatherings that are part of nationwide protests.

Epidemiologist Perry Brown is a professor at Florida A&M University. He says a spike in positive coronavirus cases around the county is likely to happen.

“I would love to be wrong because the outcome would be the best outcome but again my fear is that some of these things that are happening now with both the relaxation as well as the mass gatherings will contribute to a second wave,” Brown said.

Faiy Al, a student at Florida State University, said worries about the coronavirus aren’t her main concern. She joined a protest Monday in front of the state Capitol and says right now, there are bigger issues to worry about than COVID 19.

“Honestly I’ve kind of forgotten about COVID-19 because all I can think about is why they keep killing us,” she said. “Like I don’t even have time to worry about COVID-19 because, COVID-19 I mean there’s ways I can go to the hospital to get, and I mean with my age group I’m young enough to fight it. But if a cop is in my face and shoots me right away I can’t fight that.

Brown says he expects test results to reflect the opening of more businesses and the recent protests within 5 to 14 days. Over the weekend health officials reported more than 2,000 new cases in Florida, and 47 deaths.

 -- Blaise Gainey, WFSU

Emergency Room Visits Drop

The number of emergency room visits nationally between March 29 and April 25 decreased 42 percent compared to the previous year, but the number of visits for infectious-disease screenings or exposures increased four-fold, according to a report released Wednesday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of emergency department visits averaged 1.2 million per week during the period, down from an average of 2.1 million visits during the same period last year, according to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report.

The lowest number of emergency room visits occurred during the period from April 12 to April 18, the report said.

And while visits increased during the week of May 24 to May 30, they still were 26 percent less than during the same time in 2019.

-- News Service Of Florida

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