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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: Over 5,500 New State Cases, Mandatory Face Mask Orders Issued, 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 Wednesday, June 24, according to the Florida Department of Health:

109,014 — Positive Tests | 3,281 — Deaths

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And Health News Florida

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Florida, Tampa Bay COVID-19 Positive Tests Surge To New Daily Highs

to the Florida Department of Health's Wednesday report, 109,014 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the state - an increase of 5,511 positive tests since Tuesday and another record daily high.The total statewide now stands at 109,014.

In the Tampa Bay area, the state reported 1,566 more people tested positive in a 24-hour period. It was the highest daily increase in new cases for the region since the start of the pandemic. Hillsborough, Pinellas, Sarasota and Pasco Counties all reported their highest daily increases in new cases. [Read more]

-- Lisa Peakes

Face Masks Mandatory In Pinellas, Pasco

Pinellas County commissioners voted 6-to-1 to approve a mandatory countywide face mask ordinance that goes into effect at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

After a six-hour debate that drew around 100 public comments and more than 1,100 public emails, commissioners decided that Pinellas County residents must wear face masks or coverings when they're indoors at public locations.

The Pasco County executive policy group also approved a mandatory face covering requirement Tuesday.

Business owners and employees in both counties will be responsible for enforcing the requirements and making sure people who are not wearing a face covering do not enter.

Also Tuesday, Manatee County commissioners discussed what next steps they will take to try to curb the growth of cases there. While no formal vote was taken, they're expected to endorse many of the recommendations issued by Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees Saturday when they hold a vote Wednesday. [Read more]

-- Mark Schreiner

Hillsborough County  To Distribute Face Coverings

Hillsborough County is making free, reusable face coverings available at four county locations while supplies last after issuing a mandatory order this week.

The face coverings will be distributed at:

  • E.G. Simmons Park, 2401 19th Ave. NW in Ruskin
  • Upper Tampa Bay Park, 8001 Double Branch Road in Tampa
  • Lake Park, 17302 N. Dale Mabry Highway in Lutz
  • Lithia Springs Park, 3932 Lithia Springs Road in Lithia

Each person in the vehicle will receive two face coverings, and drivers can request then for immediate family members not present.
-- Carl Lisciandrello

Florida University Reopening Plans Given Green Light

As Gov. Ron DeSantis increasingly points to young adults as the source for a spike in coronavirus cases in Florida, public universities across the state are moving forward with plans to reopen campuses in the fall. 

The Florida university system’s Board of Governors on Tuesday approved individual reopening plans put together by each of the state’s 12 state universities.

Board Chairman Syd Kitson acknowledged it is likely schools will see new cases pop up as students and employees return to campus in the fall. [Read more]

-- Mark Schreiner, News Service of Florida

The State We're In: Second Wave Of Infections Is Upon Us, Public Health Expert Says 

With more than 100,000 cases of COVID-19 in Florida now, public health experts are saying a second spike in infections is underway.

Donna Petersen is dean of the College of Public Health at the University of South Florida. She says it's impossible to completely eliminate the illness, but wearing face coverings and keeping six feet apart from others really does help slow the spread.

Petersen was a guest Tuesday on The State We're In - a Facebook Live show from WUSF and WMFE in Orlando. Health News Florida Editor Julio Ochoa also appeared on the show. [Read more]

-- Dinorah Prevost, Mary Shedden and Bradley George

Public Can Weigh In On Manatee County Back-To-School Plans

For much of the COVID-19 pandemic, Manatee County's school board room has been closed to the public. Meetings have been broadcast online and on TV but public comments were only accepted by email.

On Thursday, the Manatee County School District has reserved two hours for live public comment on the reopening of schools.

Five locations will be open for people to weigh in on how the school district should handle its reopening. Participants must register in advance and anyone who attends will have their temperature checked upon arrival and must wear a mask. [Read more]

-- Cathy Carter

Clearwater Has Help For Those Struggling

The city of Clearwater plans to resume terminating utility services for nonpayment starting July 1. It will also restart charging fines for late payments on that day.

In mid-March, anticipating financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic, the city put a forbearance program in place for water, gas and electric service.

According to a press release, the city is reopening and finalizing its budget for next year. [Read more]

-- Lisa Peakes

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