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 Tuesday, July 7, according to the Florida Department of Health:
223,783 — Positive Tests | 3,889 — Deaths
CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And Health News Florida
Florida Adds Nearly 10,000 Cases
Another nearly 10,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Florida.
According to the Florida Department of Health's Wednesday report, 223,783 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the state - an increase of 9,989 positive tests since Tuesday.
In the greater Tampa Bay region, the state reported 1,861 more people tested positive in the 24-hour period since the Tuesday report. Hernando County had the highest number of new positive tests it has had in a 24-hour period Wednesday, with 67. The previous high daily increase for the county was 52, recorded on June 27.
The state also reported 48 deaths in 24 hours, bringing the statewide total to 3,889. [Read more]
-- Lisa Peakes
Kriseman Hints At More St. Petersburg Restrictions If Coronavirus Spread Worsens
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman on Tuesday warned that the city might need to take additional action if the recent surge in coronavirus cases in Pinellas County doesn’t ease.
During a Facebook Live update on Tuesday, Kriseman also said St. Petersburg will “lead the way” if the county does not change restrictions currently in place – including mandatory use of masks while indoors at public locations – if the spread worsens.
“We’ll take action if we need to,” Kriseman said. [Read more]
-- Carl Lisciandrello
Polk Mask Order A Recommendation, Not A Mandate
Polk County Commissioners have voted to strongly encourage residents to wear cloth face coverings in public.
It's only a recommendation, not a mandate. During a meeting on Tuesday, commissioners also decided to purchase 1million face masks. They'll be offered to residents for free. Commissioner George Lindsey said it was time for the county to take a formal position on the issue. In earlier meetings, commissioners could not agree on the science behind using face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. RELATED: Where You Must Wear A Mask In Tampa Bay -- Alysia Cruz
Teachers Want Guidance On Reopening
On Monday, Florida's Education Commissioner issued an emergency order for brick and mortar schools to reopen for the fall, with the full array of services schools provide.
It said "school openings must be consistent with safety precautions as defined by the Florida Department of Health, local health officials and supportive of Floridians, young and adult, with underlying conditions that make them medically vulnerable."
But leaders of teachers' unions said they need much more guidance when it comes to protecting everyone involved, students, teachers, aides, bus drivers and others. [Read more]
-- Susan Giles Wantuck
Pinellas Adds Testing Site As ICU Occupancy Reaches New High
Pinellas County will open a new drive-through COVID-19 testing site Wednesday at the Duke Energy for the Arts Mahaffey Theater in St Petersburg.
People do not need to have symptoms to get tested.
"That will give us much more increased capacity - where people can get a test in a timely manner,” said Administrator Barry Burton.
Burton said the recent county rate of around 13 percent positive tests indicates Pinellas needs to do more to prevent becoming like other hard-hit Florida counties. [Read more]
-- Lisa Peakes
Democrats Criticize DeSantis' Coronavirus Response
Florida Democratic lawmakers say the governor is downplaying the state’s rising number of coronavirus cases.
The Florida Department of Health reported more than 7,000 new cases on Tuesday.
Democrats are continuing to call for a statewide mask policy, but Gov. Ron DeSantis has repeatedly rejected the need for it, saying people were smart enough to figure it out.
Fort Lauderdale Democratic state Senator Perry Thurston says the governor is blaming young people instead of taking action.
“We can’t get the young people not to go to the clubs,” Thurston said. “We can’t get the young people to do this, that and the other. However, he’s the governor. The buck stops with him. He has to show leadership. We don’t have that type of leadership.”
DeSantis said Tuesday some “young people” weren’t cooperating with COVID-19 contact tracing efforts.
He also says the increase in cases is driven in part by people in their 20s and 30s.
-- Robbie Gaffney, WFSU
Hillsborough Schools To Require Masks
The Hillsborough County superintendent of schools announced students and staff returning to public schools on Aug. 10th will be required to wear face masks.
Superintendent Addison Davis said the decision comes after consulting with medical professionals from the University of South Florida and Tampa General Hospital, teachers, school administrators, business leaders and local Department of Health officials. [Read more]
-- Daylina Miller
Coronavirus Testing Has Pros, Cons
More people are being tested for coronavirus in Florida as cases spike across the state. This is causing a log-jam, not only in getting tested, but also in receiving results.
Dr. Cindy Prins is an epidemiologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
She says rapid tests recently deployed by the state can produce quicker results and identify positive cases right away. But they are not as accurate as standard tests, and that's something to consider for anyone who wishes to be tested. [Read more]
-- Dinorah Prevost, Bradley George, Carl Lisciandrello
Manatee County To Offer Details On How To Apply For CARES Act Funding
Manatee County Commissioners in June approved a plan to provide millions of dollars in federal money for businesses and organizations hit hardest by the coronavirus.
The first phase of funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security -- or CARES Act -- is arriving through the State of Florida.
Manatee County officials will host two virtual information sessions on how to apply for CARES Act relief. [Read more]
-- Cathy Carter
Florida Matters: Budget Cuts And COVID-19
Governor Ron DeSantis slashed a billion dollars from the state budget. And as the coronavirus pandemic drags on, future cuts are likely.
That's the focus of this week's Florida Matters. This week's guests are State Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) and Dr. Chris Jones, president of Florida Economic Advisors and adjunct instructor of economics at the University of South Florida. [Listen to the episode]
-- Bradley George
Florida Prisons See Hundreds Of Additional Coronavirus Cases
Florida’s prison system recorded 443 new coronavirus cases and an inmate death over the holiday weekend, according to figures released Monday by the state Department of Corrections.
An additional 354 inmates and 89 correctional workers have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. In total, the state has logged 2,443 inmate cases and 622 employee cases, officials confirmed Monday. [Read more]
-- News Service of Florida
WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online at WUSF.org/give