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Latest On Coronavirus: Cases Reach 66,000, DeSantis Blasts Unemployment Probe, And More

Jun 9, 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. Tuesday, June 9, according to the Florida Department of Health:

66,000 — Positive Tests | 2,765— Deaths

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State Cases Top 66,000

State health officials reported an increase of 1,096 positive coronavirus tests Tuesday, bringing the state's total cases to 66,000.

In the Tampa Bay area, there were 167 positive tests recorded in a 24-hour period, including 37 in Polk County. It’s the second-highest daily increase in cases for Polk since the outbreak began, one less than the number recorded May 29th

The statewide death toll due to COVID-19 is now 2,765, with 53 deaths recorded since Monday. Sixteen of the deaths are in the Tampa Bay region; including six in Manatee County. [Read more]

-- Lisa Peakes

DeSantis Dismisses Call For Federal Unemployment Probe

Gov. Ron DeSantis dismissed as partisan a request Monday by two Democratic U.S. senators for a federal investigation related to Florida’s handling of unemployment benefits.

“Well, I've never heard of partisan politics in Washington D.C. before. Oh, my goodness. Can you imagine that?” DeSantis, a former congressman, derisively replied when asked in Miami about the request by U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon. “Look, these guys are very partisan. That's all they're doing.”

Schumer and Wyden sent a letter to Scott Dahl, inspector general at the U.S. Department of Labor, requesting an investigation into the federal agency’s oversight of Florida’s problems in carrying out expanded unemployment benefits under a federal-stimulus law known as the CARES Act.

-- News Service of Florida

USF To Discuss Plan To Reopen Campuses

The University of South Florida Board of Trustees is scheduled to discuss a plan to reopen campuses in the fall at a special meeting this afternoon.

A draft of the plan on the board's website shows four gradual phases to reopening. It includes a combination of face-to-face, online, and hybrid classes. The plan will also need to be approved by state officials later this month.

The reopening will come shortly after USF is scheduled to begin operating its three campuses under consolidated accreditation.

At last week's "regular" board meeting, trustees approved a new regulation that sets a single rate of tuition and fees for all students at USF. Jordan Zimmerman is the board chair.

"In short, this alignment pertains to any student who first enrolled on any of our campuses beginning in September 2020,” board chair Jordan Zimmerman said.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission is expected to take up USF's consolidation plan at a meeting later this week. Under state law, USF needs to be under a single accreditation by July first.

-- Mark Schreiner

What Numbers Should You Look To For Reassurance During Florida's Reopening?

Most of Florida has already moved into phase two of Florida’s reopening plan for the novel coronavirus. In most of the state, people can now visit bars, movie theaters and casinos, along with beaches, gyms and restaurants. Of course, this comes with some caveats for social distancing and wearing masks.

Most of South Florida is still in phase one of reopening, with Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties following closely behind the rest of the state. Monroe County is in phase two — the checkpoints at the county line are down and bars have reopened. As more of us venture out into this new normal, a series of questions is on many Floridians’ minds: Is it safe to leave home? What specific numbers should we look toward for reassurance?

The answer is unsurprisingly complex, and even a little bit frustrating.

-- Daniel Rivero, WLRN

Gas Prices Expected To Again Top $2 A Gallon

With coronavirus-related restrictions lifting and Floridians beginning to travel more, gasoline prices are the most expensive they have been in nine weeks.

The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Florida is $1.90, up 2 cents from last week and 14 cents from a month ago, according to the AAA auto club. Also, the price of crude oil is at a three-month high, due to increased demand and production cuts.

AAA spokesman W. D. Williams said he expects prices will top $2 a gallon in the next week or two.

“The economy is rebounding,” Williams said. “People who were working from home are now starting to go back to their normal place of work. So, those daily commutes consume a lot of gasoline systemwide. So, the demand is increasing. We all know that as the demand increases, the prices are going to increase as well.”

Gas prices are still down 70 cents a gallon from a year ago.

-- News Service of Florida

Suspension Of Jury Trial Extended

Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady on Monday issued an order extending through July 17 a suspension of criminal and civil jury trials because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canady initially issued the suspension in March and subsequently extended it to July 2.

Last week, the Supreme Court also announced a pilot program in five judicial circuits aimed at using remote technology to conduct civil jury trials. The circuits that will take part are the 4th Judicial Circuit, made up of Duval, Clay and Nassau counties; the 7th Judicial Circuit, made up of St. Johns, Flagler, Putnam and Volusia counties; the 9th Judicial Circuit, made up of Orange and Osceola counties; the 11th Judicial Circuit in Miami-Dade County; and the 20th Judicial Circuit, made up of Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties.

-- News Service of Florida

Visitors Barred From Prisons Through June 28

As Florida’s prison system has recorded nearly 1,900 COVID-19 cases, the Florida Department of Corrections on Monday announced it is extending a ban on visitors through June 28.

Inmates have been unable to see their loved ones and family members in person since March 11, when the department first suspended in-person visitation across the state.

The ban, which was extended in April, was instituted to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a deadly respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.

In a news release Monday, the department said “the decision to reinstate the normal visitation schedule will be evaluated in consultation with public health experts.”

Inmates will continue to have access to their loved ones through mail, phone calls and video visitation, which cost money.

-- News Service of Florida

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