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Latest On Coronavirus: Cases Push Past 46,000, DeSantis Blames Paperwork, And More

May 18, 2020

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 11 a.m. Monday, May 18, according to the Florida Department of Health:

45,208 – Florida Residents |  1,234 – Non-Florida Residents | 1,997  – Deaths

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DeSantis Blames Paperwork For Unemployment Issues

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday that most remaining unsettled claims in the state’s heavily criticized unemployment system are due to incomplete applications.

DeSantis said forms often lack Social Security numbers or information about wages earned when the applicants were employed or they improperly list reasons for people being out of work. [Read more]

-- News Service Of Florida

Seminole Hard Rock Will Be First To Reopen

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa will reopen on Thursday, after being closed for about two months due to the coronavirus.

The company's “Safe and Sound Program” includes temperature checks, a face mask requirement and a 50 percent reduction in guest capacity throughout the resort, among many other changes.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa is the first of six Seminole Gaming casinos to reopen in Florida.

Opening dates for the others have not yet been confirmed. The Tampa location will open Thursday at 7 p.m. [Read more]

-- Jessica Meszaros

Hillsborough County Parks Reopening 

If the car traffic in the space of 10 minutes on Sunday afternoon was any indication, people are eager to get back to birdwatching or just walking in the woods of Lettuce Lake Park, in northern Hillsborough County.

It's one of many parks closed by the county in an attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus. Hillsborough County is opening Lettuce Lake Park and others Monday so people can exercise and let their dogs have a good run. [Read more]

-- Susan Giles Wantuck

Pasco Schedules Elections

Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley says the Municipal Elections originally scheduled for April 8 will now take place on June 30. 

The elections include three city commission races in Dade City and three city council races in San Antonio. The mayoral race in Zephyrhills was canceled after a candidate was disqualified. The elections were delayed by Gov. Ron DeSantis due to COVID-19 after Corley requested the postponement for the health and safety of voters, poll workers and elections staff.  People are encouraged to contact the Pasco County Supervisor of Elections' office to request a vote-by-mail ballot. -- Mark Schreiner Disney Springs Reopening Comes With A Warning 

As Walt Disney World prepares to allow some third-party shops and restaurants to open at its entertainment complex later this week, it’s posting a warning.

The warning posted Monday on the website for Disney Springs says while enhanced safety measures are being taken, there's “an inherent risk" of exposure to COVID-19 in any public place where people are present.

The opening of some shops and restaurants at Disney Springs on Wednesday marks the latest baby steps Orlando’s theme park resorts are taking toward reopening.

They have been shuttered since mid-March when the spread of the new coronavirus forced them to close their gates.

-- Associated Press

Miami-Dade, Broward Counties Reopen

Florida's two most populous counties are joining the rest of the state in the first step toward what many are calling the new normal.

Miami-Dade and Broward counties enter Phase 1 of the state's reopening plans today.

This is after nearly two months of being on a near-total shutdown in an effort to keep people safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Miami-Dade County released a draft guide called the "New Normal," outlining the new rules businesses will have to follow once they reopen.

The county is requiring anyone who is going back to work to wear a mask and if any employee tests positive, that business must test all staff and hire deep cleaners to sanitize the premises.

The City of Fort Lauderdale gave commercial gyms the green light to reopen on Monday, defying a county ordinance that says gyms must remain closed. Miami-Dade and Broward aren't allowing gyms to reopen until a later phase.

Both Miami-Dade and Broward county officials said they will work together about when to reopen beaches, but no date has been set yet.

-- WLRN

Florida Keys Reopening To Visitors June 1

The Florida Keys will reopen to tourists on June 1, more than two months after the island chain closed to visitors to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.

The Monroe County Emergency Management said Sunday that checkpoints that barred visitors from coming into the Florida Keys will be removed next month.

The statement says hotels and other lodging establishments will also be allowed to reopen at 50% occupancy.

Businesses must implement sanitation stations and follow the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s cleaning guidelines for COVID-19.

The Florida Keys have been closed to non-visitors since March 22.

-- Associated Press

Statewide Phase 1 Reopening Starts Today

After Florida’s initial step toward reopening weeks ago saw a more cautious approach than was allowed by the White House, Governor Ron DeSantis is rolling out what he calls “full Phase 1” starting today.

DeSantis’ “full Phase 1” looks a little bit more like the White House’s first phase guidelines – further opening up capacity in restaurants and retail businesses in the state, for starters.

Florida’s most-affected counties of Miami-Dade and Broward will join the rest of the state in Phase 1 today. [Read more]

-- Ryan Dailey, WFSU

Vice President Pence To Visit Orlando Nursing Home

Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to visit a nursing home in Orlando and deliver personal protective equipment on Wednesday.

In a news release sent Saturday, his office said that the nursing home visit is part of an initiative to deliver PPE to more than 15,000 nursing homes across America.

Afterwards, Pence is scheduled to participate in a discussion with hospitality and tourism leaders to talk about plans for reopening. [Read more]

-- Associated Press

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