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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: Fewer Tests Means Fewer Cases, Caution Urged For Sarasota Schools, 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, Aug. 3, according to the Florida Department of Health:

491,844 — Positive Tests | 4,752 — Daily Increase | 7,157— Deaths
CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And Health News Florida

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Fewer Tests Means Fewer Coronavirus Cases In Florida

Florida’s daily coronavirus numbers continue to show fewer new cases in recent days.

State health officials reported 4,752 new cases since Sunday, bringing the total of those who have tested positive for the virus to 491,884. Monday saw the lowest single-day number of new positive tests since June 23.

However, testing has been temporarily halted around the state -- including in some south Florida counties hit hard by COVID-19 -- because of Tropical Storm Isaias.

In the greater Tampa Bay region, 858 new positive tests were reported.  It’s the first time since June 30 that the number has been below 1,000.

There were 73 new deaths reported statewide Monday, bringing the total who who have died to 7,157.

Of the 61,000 people tested for the first time, just over 9% Sunday were reported positive. It’s the second straight day the number has been under 10%. [Read more]

-- Lisa Peakes

Sarasota Teachers, Parents Urge Caution

The Sarasota County School Board on Tuesday will offer details on the school district’s reopening plan. They will also finalize the district’s mask policy, determining what constitutes a mask and what exceptions will be made.

The Florida Department of Education last month approved the district's decision to push back the start of school in Sarasota County to August 31st.

But as the number of COVID-19 cases rise, a group of Sarasota County teachers and parents want the school board to reconsider that plan and to hit the pause button on a return to brick and mortar schools. [Read more]

-- Cathy Carter

State Prisons Chief, Top Aide Test Positive

As COVID-19 spreads throughout the state’s prison system, Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch and one of his top lieutenants have tested positive for the virus, the state agency announced late Friday night.

Inch began experiencing mild symptoms shortly after visiting Columbia Correctional Institution, a North Florida prison where 1,300 inmates and 72 corrections workers have tested positive for the virus, according to a press release issued by corrections officials Friday. Deputy Secretary Ricky Dixon has also tested positive for COVID-19, but is currently asymptomatic, the release said. [Read more]

-- News Service of Florida

DeSantis Wants Restaurant Workers To Return To Work

Restaurant workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 could soon return to work without needing a negative test result.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said last week he wants to let restaurant workers who are no longer showing symptoms get back to work.

This comes after a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the dead virus can show up in tests weeks after a person stops being contagious.

“CDC said that can be up to 12 weeks,” DeSantis said. “Where an infection can be 12 weeks old obviously you’re no longer infectious, you don’t have live virus. But it could pick up some of the dead virus in a PCR test. So that obviously is not something that should keep somebody out of work.”

Under an executive order passed in March, restaurant workers who tested positive for COVID-19 were required to get two consecutive negative tests results before employers could let them back in the building.

DeSantis says he wants to “tweak” the state’s “guidance” on the issue, but did not say how the change would apply to people who are asymptomatic, but could still be contagious.

-- Blaise Gainey, WFSU

Rick Scott Wants Economy Reopened As Relief Bill Talks Continue

U.S. Senate lawmakers plan to continue talks Monday over a new coronavirus relief bill.

Republican Senator and former Florida Gov. Rick Scott told NPR it would be a mistake not to reach an agreement.

“I hope that everybody will come back with a renewed focus to say, let’s focus on the virus, focus on the unemployed, focus on reopening our economy,” Scott said. “We’re borrowing an unprecedented amount of money, and we’re never going to be able to pay for this if we don’t get this economy reopened again.”

Republicans are proposing $1 trillion in spending.

Democrats are asking for $3 trillion. Their plan would also extend a $600 unemployment booster until January.

That federal payment for coronavirus relief expired on Saturday.

-- WUSF staff

I wasn't always a morning person. After spending years as a nighttime sports copy editor and page designer, I made the move to digital editing in 2000. Turns out, it was one of the best moves I've ever made.
Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.