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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: Florida Soars To 10,000 Daily Cases, Pence In Tampa, 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 Thursday, July 2, according to the Florida Department of Health:

169,016 — Positive Tests | 3,617 — Deaths

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And Health News Florida

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New Milestone: State Reports 10,000 Positive Cases In 24 Hours

Florida set a new milestone in the number of positive coronavirus cases reported in a 24-hour period.

The Florida Department of Health reported Thursday that 10,109 people tested positive for the coronavirus in a 24-hour period, eclipsing the previous high of 9,585 reported on June 27.

This brings the statewide total to 169,106.

Thursday marked the ninth straight day the number of new cases surpassed 5,000, and occurred on the same day Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to arrive in Tampa to discuss the recent spike with Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Of the 68,821 tests reported Wednesday, 16.78% came back positive.

In the Tampa Bay area, the state reported 2,028 more people tested positive in the 24-hour period since the Wednesday report. It was the second highest daily total for the region, only surpassed by the 2,854 positive cases also reported on June 27.

The state also reported 67 deaths in 24 hours, bringing the statewide total to 3,617

Sixteen of the deaths were in the Tampa Bay area -- including eight in Pinellas County -- and health officials provided information on age, county and gender for 15 of them. [Read more]

-- Lisa Peakes

DeSantis Downplays Beach Concern Ahead Of July Fourth

Gov. Ron DeSantis says he’s more concerned about people having parties indoors than going to the beach for July Fourth weekend.

Many Florida beaches will be closed for the holiday due to the recent spike in coronavirus cases.

At a press conference in Daytona Beach on Wednesday, DeSantis was asked whether Volusia County leaders should do the same.

“You know, doing things outdoors in Florida is less risky than doing things where you’re packed indoors,” he said. “So I think having the parks and having beaches, obviously, you know, it needs to be controlled, I think most of the localities like Brevard and here in Volusia have done that, but by and large the virus does not like sunshine, heat and humidity.” [Read more]

-- Matthew Peddie, WMFE

At a press conference in Daytona Beach on Wednesday, DeSantis was asked whether Volusia County leaders should do the same.

“You know, doing things outdoors in Florida is less risky than doing things where you’re packed indoors,” he said. “So I think having the parks and having beaches, obviously, you know, it needs to be controlled, I think most of the localities like Brevard and here in Volusia have done that, but by and large the virus does not like sunshine, heat and humidity.” [Read more]

-- Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Pence In Tampa On Thursday To Discuss Coronavirus With DeSantis

Vice President Mike Pence will be in Tampa on Thursday to discuss the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a news release, Pence will meet with Gov. Ron DeSantis before addressing the media later in the afternoon.

The visit comes as Florida has experienced a sharp increase in coronavirus cases. On Wednesday, the state reported an increase of 6,563 positive cases, the eighth consecutive day the number of new cases eclipsed 5,000.

It also comes the same day he was originally scheduled to speak in Sarasota and Lake Wales. Pence canceled those appearances last week. [Read more]

-- Carl Lisciandrello

Pinellas Beaches Will Remain Open On Fourth of July

Pinellas County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday not to close beaches for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

The beaches quickly filled to capacity on Memorial Day weekend, and they were heavily patrolled by law enforcement.

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told commissioners his deputies can't monitor things that way this weekend, because so many businesses have reopened.

“The problem is not the people on the sand, it’s the restaurants, it’s the hotels – those areas where they’re in those spaces, and that’s what we’ve heard from the doctors is the problem,” Gualtieri said. “It’s not the outside air.”

Gualtieri said he understands people might be tired of hearing about social distancing and mask-wearing, but those are still the best ways to protect themselves from coronavirus.

“Where does personal responsibility come in – you know? When are we going to stop holding everybody’s hand? Either they’re going to do it, or they’re not at this point,” Gualtieri said. [Read more]

-- Lisa Peakes

Hillsborough Schools Cancels In-Person Graduation Ceremonies

Due to the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, Hillsborough County Public Schools officials say they will hold graduations for the Class of 2020 virtually.

In a statement released Tuesday, the district said they looked at holding in-person ceremonies outside at high school stadiums. However, even those locations would not allow for proper social distancing.

In addition, they looked at other outdoor venues, but the cost to rent and sanitize them between graduations was not fiscally possible. Officials also said they were acting on advice of the county health department. 

Each high school is going to hold drive-through diploma ceremonies.

-- Mark Schreiner

Kriseman Urges Compliance With St. Petersburg Mask Ordinance As Pier Opening Nears

St Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is once again asking people to comply with the city’s mask ordinance.

During a Facebook Live video Tuesday, Kriseman said officials have visited more than a thousand businesses since last week and issued dozens of violations to businesses that have not required their employees to wear masks.

The mayor also called on citizens to report those who do not abide by the city's mask ordinance ahead of the new St. Pete Pier District opening Monday evening. [Read more]

-- Lisa Peakes

Selby Gardens Closes Outdoor Areas After Employees Test Positive

Selby Gardens in Sarasota is closing its indoor facilities after two administrative employees tested positive for coronavirus.

In a news release, officials said the employees did not interact with the public and are self-quaranting. All staff who came in contact with them will work from home for a minimum of seven days.

Indoor areas at the downtown Sarasota and Historic Spanish Point campuses will be closed, and only outdoor areas will be open, officials said.

Ticket prices will be reduced while the outdoors areas remain closed.

-- Carl Lisciandrello

Herd Immunity For Coronavirus A Long Way Off, Health Experts Say

As cases of the coronavirus surge across Florida, the prospect of herd immunity seems like a solution.    

It's often cited as the reason why vaccines are so effective in controlling deadly diseases like polio and the measles. 

But there's no vaccine for the coronavirus now and widespread distribution of one is even further off. That means herd immunity would require between 60% and 80% of the population to get sick and recover from COVID-19 over a short period of time, health experts said. [Read more]

-- Julio Ochoa

The State We're In: Bars, Restaurants Derailed By Coronavirus

Florida’s rapid rise in the number of coronavirus cases is derailing plans for some businesses to reopen.

In a Twitter announcement last Friday, the state ordered bars to close effective immediately.

On this week's The State We're In, we talked with rstaurant and bar owners about how they're staying afloat. [Read more]

 -- Mary Shedden, Matthew Peddie, Dinorah Prevost

Baseball's Minor Leagues Cancel 2020 Seasons

Baseball’s minor leagues canceled their seasons because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the head of their governing body said more than half the 160 teams were in danger of failing without government assistance or private equity injections.

The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues made the long-expected announcement.

Pat O'Conner, the president of the governing body, estimated 85-90% of revenue was related to ticket money, concessions, parking and ballpark advertising.

The minors drew 41.5 million fans last year for 176 teams in 15 leagues.

-- Associated Press

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