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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: Third Straight Day Of Record Numbers, St. Pete Pier Reopening Set, And More

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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 Friday, June 19, according to the Florida Department of Health:

89,748 — Positive Tests | 3,104 — Deaths

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And Health News Florida

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Third Consecutive Day Of Record Numbers

The Florida Department of Health reported yet another surge Friday in people testing positive for the coronavirus.

Overall, the department reported 89,748 total cases statewide, an increase of 3,822 in 24 hours and 615 more than the record number of cases posted Thursday.

This is the third consecutive day that Florida is reporting a record high number of cases.

For the week there were 18,777 infections reported – almost double last week’s record of 9,483 cases statewide.

The Tampa Bay area added almost 1,000 new cases since Thursday, with every county but Sarasota reporting record high daily increases.

Health officials also report that 3,104 people have died in Florida from the coronavirus, an increase of 43 since Thursday. Eight of the deaths were in the Tampa Bay area. [Read more]

-- Lisa Peakes

St. Pete Pier Has A New Reopening Date

After numerous delays, the St. Pete Pier in St. Petersburg has a new scheduled reopening date.

In a statement, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman announced it will now open on July 6 at 5 p.m. [Read more]

-- Carl Lisciandrello

Is Florida The New Epicenter?

According to an updated model by PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Florida has the potential to be the next epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

The projections point to the rising number of cases in Hillsborough County and the surrounding areas over the past few weeks.

“After Hillsborough started to really go up, over the last week or two we’ve now really seen a dramatic migration of this epidemic across the state to Orlando and up and down the east coast,” said Dr. David Rubin, a researcher at PolicyLab.

He said the elevated risks are demonstrated, not only by their projections, but by the rise in case counts and hospitalizations in the area. [Read more]

-- Alysia Cruz

Florida Unemployment Rate Jumps To 14.5%

Florida posted a 14.5% unemployment rate in May as businesses and workers continued to be hammered by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 14.5% mark was up from an adjusted rate of 13.8% in April, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The state initially estimated the April rate at 12.9% but released the adjusted number Friday.

The May rate reflected 1.412 million jobless Floridians out of a labor force of 9.709 million people.

-- News Service of Florida

Masks Are Mandatory In Tampa

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said Thursday she'll enact an ordinance requring people working with the public to wear masks to prevent transmission of the coronavirus. It would also require anyone walking into a business in the city to wear masks.

Castor told fellow members of the Hillsborough Emergency Policy Group there's been a 900% increase in cases in the past month. 

Her move came after members of the Policy Group reacted after hearing reports that the number of COVID-19 cases are reaching levels not seen since they first instituted a stay-at-home order in March. [Read more]

-- Steve Newborn

Pasco Offers Options For Reopening Schools

The Pasco County School District has presented three options for returning students in the fall that work around the coronavirus pandemic.

Superintendent Kurt Browning explained the options in a video on the county schools' website, saying,
"The upcoming school year will be an unusual one, and we still have a lot of work to do."

Browning, however, was confident that parents and students would respond by the July 1 deadline. [Read more]

-- Lisa Peakes

DeSantis Suggests Closing Schools During Elections

Florida could close schools during the state's primary in August and during the presidential election in November under an executive order issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The governor said he also is encouraging state workers to staff precincts.

The action was meant to provide more flexibility to elections officials across the state, who are worried that the coronavirus outbreak could pose challenges during key elections this year.

Elections officials said the governor's order fell short of expections. They were hoping for consolidated voting sites and that the governor would allow voting to start sooner so they could begin counting absentee ballots earlier.

-- Associated Press

Officials Meet To Discuss Suicide Amid COVID-19

Members of the state's Suicide Prevention Coordinating Council say the pandemic will likely increase how many people will die this year. The group is drafting recommendations to help people in crisis.

In 2018, more than 3,000 Floridians died by suicide. Now, in 2020, that number is more than 1,000 so far. Jane Bennett, with the Florida Suicide Prevention Coalition, is recommending the state use technology to reach people who might need help. Bennett says there needs to be a better effort to educate people on how to access mental health services.

"I know a lot of people that I've been coming across have said that they've been looking on YouTube for resources and explanation of what's the process," Bennett says.

-- Robbie Gaffney, WFSU

Disney Cancels Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party In 2020

Walt Disney World has canceled the 2020 version of its after-hours Halloween party at Magic Kingdom and announced changes to the annual food and wine festival.

Park officials announced Thursday night that the Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, which usually begins in mid-August, won't return this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The extra ticket event features a parade, character meet-and-greets and trick-or-treating. Park officials say Epcot will reopen July 15 with  A Taste of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.

Disney closed its parks in mid-March and will reopen in phases beginning July 11.

-- Associated Press

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