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Latest On Coronavirus: Florida Cases Approach 5,000, Fifth Pinellas County Death Reported, And More

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

Total positive cases of coronavirus as of 6 p.m. Sunday, March 29, according to the Florida Department of Health.

4,768 – Florida Residents | 8 – Florida Cases Repatriated | 182 – Non-Florida Residents | 60 – Deaths

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And WUSF Public Media

NEWSLETTER: Sign Up For Coronavirus Updates From Health News Florida

Over 900 More Floridians Test Positive For COVID-19, Largest One-Day Jump Yet

With more than 900 new positive test results added since Saturday evening, Florida is rapidly approaching 5,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.

According to figures released by the Florida Department of Health just after 6 p.m. Sunday, 4,950 people have tested positive for novel coronavirus. That’s up 912 from the same time Saturday, and almost 1,800 since Friday evening.

It’s the largest one-day increase since testing began earlier this month.

Four additional deaths have been reported since Saturday, bringing the statewide total to 60. Among the latest deaths was a 58-year-old man in Pinellas County. It’s the fifth reported death in Pinellas. State health officials said the man had not traveled recently and had not been in contact with someone else with the disease. [Read more]

-- Mark Schreiner

Early Results: Coronavirus Tests Find No Asymptomatic Cases In The Villages

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says the first week of an ongoing study by the University of Florida in The Villages found no cases of coronavirus among test subjects without symptoms.

UF Health has teamed up with The Villages and the state for a drive-through testing site at the polo field. Researchers are doing two types of tests: clinical tests for people with symptoms and research tests for volunteers without symptoms.

They hope to determine whether older people are likely to carry the virus without getting sick. [Read more]

-- Joe Byrnes, WMFE

DeSantis: NYC Traveler Who Tested Positive For COVID-19 Intercepted In Jacksonville

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said an executive order that requires a 14-day self-quarantine for everyone coming from airports in New York City has already helped to stop the possible spread of the novel coronavirus in Jacksonville.

Speaking during a press conference Saturday afternoon, DeSantis said a traveler who had previously tested positive for COVID-19 was on a flight from a New York City airport to Jacksonville on Friday when he was intercepted at an airport checkpoint and taken to a local hospital, WJCT News partner News4Jax reported.

DeSantis said the man thought his symptoms had lessened enough to travel, but his symptoms returned.

-- WJCT News / News4Jax

DeSantis Orders Attorney General To Investigate South Florida Hospital

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called on the state attorney general Friday to investigate a South Florida hospital charging $150 per test for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus spreading rapidly across the state.

While DeSantis did not name the hospital, the Miami Herald reports Larkin Community Hospital operates a drive-thru testing site in Hialeah and charges $150 per test.

“We’ve seen reports of a hospital in the city of Hialeah and Miami-Dade that’s charging individuals $150 to get tested for COVID-19,” DeSantis said in a news conference. “That’s not acceptable here in the state of Florida. The president has made clear… the tests are free. ... I’m going to ask Attorney General [Ashley] Moody to immediately investigate this hospital.”

-- WLRN / Miami Herald

Sarasota Memorial Has 4 More Positive Cases, Including Health Care Worker

Four more people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, a spokeswoman said Saturday afternoon. A total of 30 positive tests have come back to SMH, and 16 patients remain hospitalized. One person has died of coronavirus complications at the hospital.

A female member of the hospital’s “patient care team” has tested positive for coronavirus, and the hospital was notified of this on Friday, the statement said.

The person “has been at home since Monday,” and the case remains under investigation.

“Based on the tracing of the employee's contacts, there is no known exposure to a positive patient at SMH. She is doing well and will be monitored at home for 14 days,” said the hospital statement.

“Patients and staff who had close contact with the employee in the days before she went into quarantine are being notified. As a precaution, several staff members have been asked to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days, and we are testing those who have or develop symptoms.”

-- Kerry Sheridan

DeSantis Secures Shipment Of Hydroxychloroquine From Israel

Hillsborough County is among the areas in the state being hardest hit with coronavirus that will receive a shipment of hydroxychloroquine, a drug that is being touted by some as a possible treatment for the symptoms of coronavirus.

During a news conference on Saturday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he worked with David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel – who he said he considers a friend -- to arrange the shipment from Israeli company Teva Pharmaceuticals.

Hydroxychloroquine is a treatment for malaria that has been referenced by President Donald Trump during his White House coronavirus briefings as a possible treatment for coronavirus. [Read more]

-- Carl Lisciandrello

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