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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 Cases Pass 500,000, DeSantis Considers Nursing Home Visits, 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 Wednesday, Aug. 5, according to the Florida Department of Health:

502,739 — Positive Tests | 5,409 — Daily Increase | 7,627 — Deaths

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Florida COVID-19 Cases Pass 500,000 Mark

The number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Florida has passed the half million mark.

With Wednesday's report, 502,739 people have tested positive since the start of the pandemic. State health officials reported 5,409 positive tests since Tuesday.

Florida is the second state after California to record 500,000 cases.

In the greater Tampa Bay area, 991 new positive tests were reported Wednesday.

Information from the Florida Department of Health also includes 225 additional deaths recorded in the state since Tuesday, bringing the total dead from the coronavirus to 7,627. It’s the fifth time the daily death toll has been above 200.

In the greater Tampa Bay region, 33 people were reported dead in the 24 hours since Tuesday’s report. [Read more]

-- Lisa Peakes

DeSantis Considers Nursing Home Visits

It's been more than four months since Florida halted all outside visits to nursing homes and assisted living facilities in an effort to protect residents from COVID-19. The policy has helped keep elderly residents safe, but Gov. Ron DeSantis said he's heard from many who were distressed that they couldn't be with family members in their final moments. "It leaves a mark," he said.

DeSantis said he wants to begin allowing people who test positive for antibodies to visit family members in long-term care facilities. People with antibodies, he said, aren't at risk of catching or further spreading the virus. He's appointed a committee of advocates and officials to look at other measures to allow family members to visit nursing homes. [Read more]

-- Greg Allen, NPR

Sarasota Mandates 'Face-Covering' In Schools

Children who attend school in Sarasota County will have to wear either a mask or clear face shield, except in a handful of circumstances, the school board decided by a unanimous 5-0 vote on Tuesday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends mask-wearing in public because it may slow the spread of coronavirus, especially when six feet of distance cannot be maintained. However, it does not recommend face shields as a substitute for masks.

Masks have become a divisive issue in the broader public, and school board members acknowledged that their decision to allow a choice between masks and shields aimed to cut down on opposition to face-covering among children in schools. [Read more]

-- Kerry Sheridan

BayCare Resumes Elective Surgeries

BayCare Health System announced that starting next Monday, it will resume all non-urgent surgeries and procedures at six hospitals in Hillsborough County.

BayCare officials say the change comes after increased staffing and a downward trend in COVID-related hospital stays in recent weeks.

The hospitals had postponed inpatient, non-urgent surgeries to provide more hospital bed capacity in the community for COVID-19 patients.

-- Daylina Miller

Trump Praises Mail-In Voting In Florida As 'Safe And Secure'

After condemning mail-in voting for months, President Donald Trump is now encouraging Floridians to cast their ballots by mail, assuring in a social media post Tuesday that the state’s election system “is Safe and Secure.”

The Republican president has repeatedly linked mail-in ballots with fraud and erroneously claimed last week that elections officials have sent out "hundreds of millions of universal mail-in ballots" throughout the nation.

But Trump more than once has singled out Florida -- a crucial battleground state -- as an exemplar of how mail-in voting should be conducted. He doubled down on the message in a Tuesday tweet. [Read more]

-- News Service of Florida

DeSantis 'Cautious' About Tying Florida School Reopenings To Coronavirus Positivity Rate

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday he would be “cautious” about linking school reopenings in Florida to COVID-19 positivity rates in communities.

The governor's remarks came a week after the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics sent a white paper to DeSantis advising that schools should not reopen unless they are in locales with a positive COVID-19 test rate below 5 percent when averaged over a 14-day period.

The pediatricians said that in many areas of Florida where districts are grappling with reopening classrooms amid the pandemic, “coronavirus prevalence will not decrease enough in the next 4-6 weeks to make the benefits of school attendance outweigh the risks.” [Read more]

-- News Service of Florida