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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: Tampa Bay Has 1,500 Daily Cases, Florida Orders Schools To Reopen, 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 Monday, July 6, according to the Florida Department of Health:

206,447 — Positive Tests | 3,778 — Deaths

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And Health News Florida

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Tampa Bay Has 1,500 More Cases

The Florida Department of Health's Tuesday report shows 213,794 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the state, an increase of 7,347 positive tests since Monday.

In the Greater Tampa Bay region, the state reported 1,503 more people tested positive in the 24-hour period since the Monday report.

Of the 48,538 tests reported Monday, 19.30% came back positive.

Statewide, 16,425 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19 related-causes in the state at some point during their illness, 380 more than Monday's report.

The state also reported 16 deaths in 24 hours, bringing the statewide total to 3,841. [Read more]

-- Lisa Peakes

Florida Schools Ordered To Reopen

Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran on Monday ordered public schools to reopen in August and offer “the full panoply of services” to students and families.

As COVID-19 outbreaks spike in Florida, Corcoran's mandate said that extending school closures can impede students’ educational success and prevent parents and guardians from returning to work.

“There is a need to open schools fully to ensure the quality and continuity of the educational process, the comprehensive well-being of students and families and a return to Florida hitting its full economic stride,” the order states. [Read more]

--  News Service of Florida

Hillsborough Extends School Survey Deadline

Officials from Hillsborough County Schools also announced Monday that they are extending the deadline for parents to respond to a survey regarding what kind of schooling they want their children to return to in the fall.

The deadline was pushed back a week to July 17th. Hillsborough plans to hold a virtual town hall before then to give parents the chance to talk with and hear from Superintendent Addison Davis.

--  WUSF Staff

Amtrak Cuts Train Service In Tampa

For the first time since the days of Henry Plant in the nineteenth century, there's no daily train service to Tampa.

Amtrak's cuts to the schedule started Monday.  Lakeland, which is on the same route, is also affected.

Blaming the pandemic's deleterious affect on travel, Amtrak reduced the Silver Star's schedule from every day to only three days per week. Unlike some other areas of the state, Tampa has no regional rail and relies on long distance trains such as the New York-to-Miami Silver Star, says Jackson McQuigg, founder and board member of Friends of Tampa Union Station.  He says the cuts are part of a trend. [Read more]

--  Robin Sussingham

Hillsborough Eases Face Mask Penalties On Businesses

Businesses in Hillsborough County that fail to enforce rules for customers to wear masks indoors will no longer face criminal penalties.

Members of the county's Emergency Policy Group voted Monday to rescind a policy they approved two weeks ago. They instead said civil penalties could be levied for not making "reasonable efforts" to require face masks and enforce social distancing of customers.

Many business owners voiced objections to the criminal charge, which was considered a second-degree misdemeanor. Instead, fines of up to $150 could be levied if violations are considered a threat to public health.

-- Steve Newborn

DeSantis: People Should Not Worry About Coronavirus Spike

Governor Ron DeSantis is on the defensive after Florida's recent spikes in the number of coronavirus cases.  

The state has recorded more than 206,000 cases.

At a press conference at UF Health - The Villages Hospital on Monday, DeSantis said people should not worry because the virus is not new anymore.

"You know, there's no need to really be fearful about it,” DeSantis said. “I mean, we can talk about the different steps that that individuals can take."

But Miami-Dade County is taking steps to stop people from getting together in groups and spreading the virus.

Restaurant dining rooms and gyms will need to close down starting [tomorrow]/Wednesday, as will ballrooms, party venues and short-term rentals.  

Some South Florida hospitals announced plans to hold off on elective procedures to make room for more COVID-19 patients.

-- Veronica Zaragovia, WLRN

Photos, video: St. Pete Pier Grand Opening Week Underway

City officials kicked off the new St. Pete Pier’s Grand Opening week Monday evening.

The pier is the eighth in city history, and is the centerpiece of a 26-acre district along the waterfront.

Attractions include a Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center, three anchor restaurants, a marketplace featuring 17 vendors, a $1 million playground, and Janet Echelman’s $1.47 million “Bending Arc” sculpture [Read more]

-- Lisa Peakes, Carl Lisciandrello

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