Julio Ochoa

Health News Florida Editor

Julio Ochoa is editor of Health News Florida.

He comes to WUSF from The Tampa Tribune, where he began as a website producer for and served in several editing roles, eventually becoming the newspaper’s deputy metro editor. 

Julio was born and raised in St. Petersburg, and received a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University. He earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Colorado and worked at a paper in Greeley, Colo., before returning to Florida as a reporter and as breaking news editor for the Naples Daily News.

Contact Julio at 813-974-8633, on Twitter at @julioochoa or email

a lab technician puts liquid into beakers

Florida’s largest health insurer is waiving out-of-pocket costs for members who need treatment for COVID-19.

drive-thru testing for coronavirus
Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

Starting Wednesday, people who have symptoms of COVID-19 can get tested at Raymond James Stadium.

Pinellas County Sheriff Gaultieri and Clearwater Beach Chief Dan Slaughter hold a news conference on Clearwater Beach
Pinellas County Sheirff's Office Facebook

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri was critical on Saturday of the national media’s coverage of  local spring breakers, which he said led to the closure of all county beaches this week.

Florida's coronavirus dashboard screengrab
State of Florida

The number of people who have tested positive for coronavirus in Florida jumped by 200 on Saturday, after the state announced 105 new cases during its evening update.

front of publix store

As other areas of the economy contract, Publix announced Friday that it is hiring thousands of workers to meet “unprecedented demand.”

Coronavirus map and dashboard from state of florida
State of Florida

Two more people have died from the coronavirus in Florida, state officials announced at 11 a.m. Saturday and another 95 patients have tested positive.

One of the deaths was in Broward County, where cases of COVID-19 are among the highest in the state, according to the Florida Department of Health. The other was in Duval County. Twelve people have died from the disease in Florida.

Colonel Stephen Snelson

A Navy sailor assigned to the United States Central Command headquarters at MacDill Airforce Base was diagnosed with COVID-19, an official said. 

The sailor had recently traveled overseas and upon his return, he followed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Colonel Stephen Snelson, commander of the 6 Air Refueling Wing, said in a Facebook video posted on Friday night.

The sailor immediately went into quarantine at his off-base home and practiced social distancing from his friends and family, Snelson said. When he started showing symptoms, he alerted the Florida Department of Health who tested him, he said.

WUSF will be providing the latest news and information on coronavirus in Tampa Bay and across the state. Here are the latest developments:

WUSF will be providing the latest news and information on coronavirus in Tampa Bay and across the state. Here are the latest developments:

state coronavirus dashboard
State of Florida

A Manatee County patient has become the state’s seventh fatality from the coronavirus, state officials announced on Tuesday.

State charts showing emergency room admission rates
State of Florida

A fifth person has died in Florida from the coronavirus, state officials announced Monday evening.

The person died in Orange County, a release from the state said, but no other details were provided.

Coronavirus dashboard
Florida Department of Health

The Florida Department of Health announced 19 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, bringing the total number in the state to 155.

Photo of Charles & Margery Barancik
Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation

A Longboat Key police officer has been fired following a crash that killed well-known philanthropists Charles and Margery Baranick.

Voters across the country say health care is one of their top issues going into this year's election.

It ranks as the top issue for Democrats and independents and just below the economy for Republicans, polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation has found.

Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

Florida has its first two cases of COVID-19 as patients in Hillsborough and Manatee counties tested positive for the virus, officials from the Florida Department of Health announced Sunday night.

Moffitt Cancer Center
Thomas Iacobucci / WUSF Public Media

Moffitt Cancer Center is being sued by its former director who says he was forced to resign over his alleged ties to China.

Moffitt Cancer Center
Thomas Iacobucci

An investigation by Moffitt Cancer Center found that its CEO, director and four researchers did not report their participation in a Chinese program that was paying them tens of thousands of dollars.

Daylina Miller/WUSF News

A Trump administration proposal that would allow states to apply for Medicaid block grants likely won’t have much of an impact on Florida’s program, unless the state decides to expand Medicaid.

The state is quietly closing offices that provide help to people applying for food stamps and Medicaid in several Florida counties.

Patients would get expanded access to prescription drugs under a bill in the Legislature that allows pharmacies to operate medication-dispensing kiosks.

Six people received minor injuries when two cruise ships, including one traveling out of Tampa, collided near the port of Cozumel, Mexico.

Florida House of Representatives

House Speaker Jose Oliva is calling for further investigation into the Moffitt Cancer Center and its ties to China after the center’s CEO, director and four researchers announced their resignations on Wednesday.

the campus of Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt Cancer Center

Updated at 3 p.m. ET:

The president and CEO of Moffitt Cancer Center resigned on Wednesday amid an investigation into Chinese efforts to influence or compromise U.S. researchers.

Rep. Jackie Toledo speaks during a press conference in Tampa
Julio Ochoa / WUSF Public Media

A Tampa lawmaker is hoping to lower drug prices and improve care for Floridians by regulating companies that serve as middlemen in the health care industry.

Nearly 700,000 uninsured Floridians are eligible for free health insurance through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, according to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ budget proposal, released last month, provides Floridians with some insight into his health care priorities for 2020.

Red tide appears to have receded from much of the Tampa Bay area this week.

Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew stands at a podium
Julio Ochoa / WUSF Public Media

Floridians suffering from substance abuse disorder or mental illness will have access to housing support in six counties when a Medicaid pilot program begins next month.

pharmacist with pills

State lawmakers are turning to charity to help uninsured patients get their medications.

A bill with bipartisan support would allow pharmacists, doctors and health care facilities to donate unused prescription drugs to a state repository that could be accessed by indigent, uninsured or under-insured patients.

Damian Fernandez
Eckerd College

Eckerd College in St. Petersburg announced the selection on Monday of its fifth president.