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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: Record-High 8,942 Cases Statewide, Florida Suspends Alcohol At Bars, 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 26, according to the Florida Department of Health:

122,960 — Positive Tests | 3,366 — Deaths

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And Health News Florida

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Record-High 8,942 New Coronavirus Cases Reported In Florida

Florida health officials reported nearly 9,000 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, crushing a previous single-day high of 5,511 set on Wednesday.

The 8,942 cases mark the third time this week the state has reported a new daily high in cases and the third day in a row that positive cases have exceeded the 5,000 mark.

Over the past seven days, the Florida Department of Health reported more than 33,000 cases, or nearly 30 percent of the state’s 122,960 total cases, continuing an alarming surge in the virus since businesses began reopening late last month.

In the Tampa Bay region, 7,744 cases were reported over the past week. On Friday, the state reported a record number of cases for a single-day in Pinellas (430), Manatee (166), Polk (209), Sarasota (106), Pasco (156) and Hernando (33). Hillsborough’s 689 positive cases were the second most reported by the state during its daily 11 a.m. updates. The 70 deaths in the Tampa Bay region over the past seven days was also a new high reported by the state since the outbreak began.

On Friday, the department of health also reported 39 deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the overall statewide total to 3,366. [Read more]

-- Julio Ochoa

Florida Suspends Alcohol At Bars

The consumption of alcohol at Florida bars has been suspended.

The announcement was made Friday in a tweet by Halsey Bashears, secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

“Effective immediately, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is suspending on premises consumption of alcohol at bars statewide,” the tweet read.

It was unclear how long the suspension would last.

The announcement comes amid a spike in coronavirus cases in the state.

-- Carl Lisciandrello

DeSantis  Defends Coronavirus Response

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday the state will be moving forward carefully and encouraged Floridians to continue following social distancing guidelines while coronavirus cases spike.

“We are where we are. I didn’t say we’re going to go on to the next phase,” DeSantis said during a bill signing in Tampa. “We’ve done a step-by-step approach and it was an approach that’s been reflective of the unique situation of each area.”

He urged Floridians to avoid big crowds and indoor locations, where poor ventilation can increase the chance of getting the disease. [Read more]

-- Alysia Cruz

More Testing Sites Opening
The state Department of Health will take over operations of Hillsborough County's COVID-19 testing site at Raymond James Stadium, beginning next week.

The state will also help Baycare open a testing site at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

During the week of June 29, the site will operate Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and be closed Friday, July 3, in observance of Independence Day. In subsequent weeks, the site would operate Monday through Friday from 8 to 11 a.m.

Both counties have seen an increase in demand for testing as the number of coronavirus cases rise. [Read more]

-- Bradley George

Florida's Health Department Wants To Change Counting Of COVID-19 Patients in ICU

The way hospitals in Florida update their available intensive care unit beds to the state may change. The department wants hospitals to report only the number of COVID positive patients receiving ICU level of care - and not every single COVID patient in ICU.

Before, hospitals would report the "current number of COVID positive patients admitted into ICU beds," according to an email from Florida's Department of Health to WLRN.

It adds that hospitals are using a portion of their ICU beds for patients with positive cases of COVID-19, including "those that do not require intensive care." [Read more]

-- Veronica Zaragovia, WLRN

Florida Job Claims Up Slightly

Florida had a slight uptick in first-time jobless claims last week, as the U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday reported 1.48 million initial unemployment applications nationally.

Florida had an estimated 93,394 claims during the week that ended June 20. That was up from 88,148 the prior week, as the second phase of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ economic reopening effort has showed signs of slowing amid increases in coronavirus cases, local governments starting to impose mandatory face-mask requirements and some recently reopened businesses requiring renewed cleaning after employees and customers tested positive. [Read more]

-- News Service of Florida

TECO Extending Suspension Of Disconnections

Tampa Electric and TECO Peoples Gas are extending through July a suspension of service disconnections when customers do not pay bills.

The companies initially suspended disconnections in March as the coronavirus hit the state.

The companies also said in a news release Thursday that they are encouraging customers to pay what they can afford to avoid accumulating large balances.

-- News Service of Florida

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