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Latest On Coronavirus: Florida Cases Spike Past 100, No More 24-Hour Walmarts, And More Updates

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 6:10 p.m., Sunday, March 15, according to the Florida Department of Health.

136 – Florida Residents | 6 – Florida Cases Repatriated* | 13 – Non-Florida Residents

Free School Meals Being Made Available

Free meals for children under 18 will be available at Florida schools during the ongoing coronavirus closures, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said Sunday.

Last year, more than 2 million Florida schoolchildren were eligible for free or reduced-priced lunches. Fried said in a statement that activating the summer meals program would provide an alternative to families who rely on these meals.

“For many children, these meals will be the only meals they can count on, so we’re encouraging families to take advantage of this service,” she said.

The state already has activated 934 “break-spot’ locations in Counties across the state including Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Manatee, and Polk.

The program – which normally operates during the summer – may not be operating at all locations during previously scheduled spring breaks. Families are encouraged to check the website SummerBreakSpot.FreshFromFlorida.com to find open locations.

- Mary Shedden

Coronavirus Cases In Florida Pass 100

The Florida Department of Health announced 39 new cases of coronavirus early Sunday morning, including four in the Tampa Bay area. That puts the state over 100 people infected since the first confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported on March 1.

It’s also the largest number announced at one time since the outbreak began.

Three of the four new Tampa Bay area cases are domestic travel-related: a 47 year-old man and a 32-year-old woman in Hillsborough County, and a 67-year-old man in Pasco County.

The fourth is a 17-year-old man from Cuba who tested positive in Hillsborough County. Officials say an epidemiological investigation into his case is ongoing. [Read more]

-- Mark Schreiner

Yankees Minor Leaguer Tests Positive In Tampa

A minor leaguer for the New York Yankees has tested positive for the coronavirus in Tampa, making him the first known player affiliated with Major League Baseball to contract COVID-19.

The Yankees didn’t identify the player.

The team said the player had spent his entire time at the minor league complex in Tampa, and hadn't been over at the main stadium and facilities used by the major leaguers.

-- Associated Press

Dali Museum Closed Until March 31, At The Earliest

The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg will be closed from March 16 through March 31 to help prevent the spread of coronavirus

In a release, officials said the museum’s reopening is subject to change depending on the “circumstances at that time.”

All public events during this time also have been canceled, officials said.

-- Carl Lisciandrello

24-Hour Walmarts Won't Be For The Foreseeable Future

Walmart is closing its 24-hour stores overnight in order to restock shelves decimated by coronavirus demand.

In a tweet, officials announced that starting Sunday, all Walmart stores and Neighborhood Markets would be closed between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. until further notice.

The move was made to “ensure associates can clean and stock products,” the tweet read.

Stores that are not open 24 hours a day will keep their normal hours, the tweet said.

-- Carl Lisciandrello

DeSantis: U.S. Should Consider Domestic Travel Ban

Gov. Ron DeSantis said the Trump administration should consider domestic flights in the ongoing effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Florida, where dozens of cases have been discovered.

"What we're seeing here is cases now where people would've clearly acquired it somewhere else in the United States, brought it here," he said during a news conference in Tallahassee. "Given Florida's relationship to people from New York, you have a lot of interaction."

DeSantis said the state is starting to see some cases come from other states, especially New York, where there are more than 500 cases statewide.

The majority of the Florida cases are also connected to overseas travel.

-- WLRN