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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: Another Record Death Day, Cuomo Sends Help To St. Petersburg, 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 Tuesday, July 28, according to the Florida Department of Health:

451,423 — Positive Tests | 9,446 — Daily Increase | 6,333— Deaths

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And Health News Florida

NEWSLETTER: Sign Up For Coronavirus Updates From Health News Florida

Second Consecutive Day Of Record Deaths In Florida

More people died due to complications from COVID-19 during the most recent 24-hour measuring cycle than during any other period since the pandemic began. It was the second straight day that coronavirus-related deaths reached their highest levels.

Wednesday’s report from the Florida Department of Health showed 216 deaths in the state since Tuesday’s report. The new figure brings the total number of people who have died due to the virus to 6,333.

The previous high was 186 deaths in one day, reported just a day ago on Tuesday.

In the greater Tampa Bay region, health officials reported 52 people died from COVID-19, including 15 in Manatee County, the highest number of deaths in a day for the region to date. The previous high of nine deaths in Manatee County was recorded on April 17.

Wednesday, the health officials reported 451,423 people have tested positive for the coronavirus, an increase of 9,446 since Tuesday. [Read more]

-- Lisa Peakes

Florida Appoints Advocate For Nursing Home Residents After Position Vacant For Months

Health News Florida has learned that Florida has a new Long-Term Care Ombudsman, a position that has been vacant for almost a year.

The state appointed longtime Department of Elder Affairs employee Michael Phillips to become the chief advocate for nursing home and assisted living facility residents.

He takes over about 10 months after the former ombudsman abruptly resigned, leaving Florida without someone solely dedicated to the role during the coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly half of the deaths in Florida related to COVID-19 are tied to long-term care facilities. [Read more]

-- Stephanie Colombini

Kriseman Partners With Cuomo, New York On COVID-19 Response

The state of New York is sending the city of St. Petersburg some COVID-19 relief, it was announced Wednesday during a conference call.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said when his state was at its height of coronavirus cases, he asked the nation's medical experts for help.

Then 30,000 doctors and nurses volunteered. Cuomo said that was America at its best.

"It was one of the really powerful experiences of my life,” said Cuomo.

Cuomo vowed to give back, so now he’s sending personal protective equipment, coronavirus test kits, and a team of people to set up a new testing site at Pinellas Community Church. [Read more]

-- Jessica Meszaros

Pinellas Delays Start Of School Year

The Pinellas County School Board has voted to delay the start of the school year from Aug. 12 to Aug. 24.

Superintendent Michael Grego recommended pushing the beginning of the school year back last week. The move means the end of the school year will go from May 27 to June 9, 2021.

According to a press release, the change is being made “in an abundance of caution for the safety, health and well-being of students and staff. “

In addition, the delay will give Pinellas school administrators more time to create a schedule based on the learning choices families face for the fall.

Parents will have the option of sending their children back to classrooms or selecting between two remote learning alternatives.

-- WUSF Staff

Advocates Urge Early Voting

As Florida’s primary election draws near, voting rights advocates urge people to cast their ballots before election day.

All Voting is Local encourages people to vote early, whether by mail or in-person. The group’s Florida director, Brad Ashwell, says Florida should learn from the challenges other states saw during this year’s primaries:

“We’ve seen long lines. We’ve seen lots of problems. In Georgia, they had almost every problem you can imagine and we don’t want to see that relived in Florida.”

Ashwell explains early voting takes the pressure off election officials, who he says are short on poll workers this year because of concerns about the coronavirus. He says mail-in ballots are the safest way to vote this year. [Read more]

-- Blaise Gainey, WFSU

DeSantis May Extend Evictions Ban

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he might extend the statewide moratorium on housing evictions that is set to expire on Saturday.

News outlets report DeSantis signaled the possibility of the extension during a roundtable discussion in Orlando about the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday.

He says officials will have “something on that soon.” [Read more]

-- Associated Press

Ashley Moody Warns Of Elderly Scams

With many elderly Floridians isolated due to the coronavirus pandemic, con artists are using the emergency to rip them off.

According to Attorney General Ashley Moody, an increasing number of scammers are using high-pressure sales tactics, unsolicited phone calls, requests for wire transfers and computer tech schemes to take advantage of people.

Moody has set up the ‘Scams At A Glance’ website, with information on current and emerging scams, available in English and Spanish.

Moody says people should talk to their vulnerable family members about not becoming victims.

“As seniors are encouraged to be more isolated, because they are at higher risk of contracting very serious symptoms related to COVID, they are sitting prey,” Moody said.

Moody says it’s easier to work to prevent fraud, rather than to try to recover stolen money.

-- Tom Urban, News Service of Florida

MLB Suspends Marlins’ Season Through Weekend

Major League Baseball has suspended the Miami Marlins’ season through Sunday, and the Philadelphia Phillies will remain idled by the coronavirus pandemic until Friday.

Meanwhile, the rest of baseball forges ahead with some trepidation.

Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun says there’s real fear and anxiety among players, and they've found it very difficult to focus on baseball at all.

In the wake of a virus outbreak that has infected half the Marlins’ team, Braun says MLB players are constantly assessing whether they should keep playing.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci says the season could be in jeopardy.

-- Associated Press

Infected Prison Inmates Nearing 7,000

The number of state prison inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19 continued to soar Tuesday, with the total reaching 6,946, according to numbers released by the Florida Department of Corrections.

The total was an increase from 6,217 inmates who had tested positive Monday. The number of inmates who have died from the virus remained at 46 on Tuesday.

The prison with the most cases was Columbia Correctional Institution, where 1,216 inmates had tested positive. Meanwhile, 608 inmates had tested positive at Graceville Correctional Facility, 524 had tested positive at Santa Rosa Correctional Institution and 444 had tested positive at Lowell Correctional Institution, according to the department.

The number of infected correctional workers also increased from 1,417 on Monday to 1,486 on Tuesday.

Dade Correctional Institution has had the most workers test positive, with 136.

-- News Service of Florida

Cases Increasing In Juvenile Justice System

The number of youths in Florida’ s juvenile-justice system who have tested positive for COVID-19 has increased by more than 100 during the past week --- and is up about 90 percent over the past two weeks, new state numbers show.

As of a Tuesday count, 290 youths in the system had been infected with the respiratory disease, while 221 juvenile-justice workers also had tested positive, according to the numbers released by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. That was up from 188 youths and 179 workers on July 21.

The department has taken a series of steps to try to prevent the spread of the virus, including suspending visitation at the facilities and screening staff members and contractors.

“All staff that work at state-operated juvenile detention centers and residential commitment programs are screened daily and receive temperature checks on every shift prior to entering the facility,” the department said in information released with Tuesday’s numbers. “If a staff presents with symptoms, he or she is denied entry and instructed to contact their health care provider. Staff will not be permitted to return to work until cleared by a medical professional. Outside vendors and personnel continue to be screened daily prior to entry.”

-- News Service of Florida