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Latest On Coronavirus: Over 100,000 Florida Cases, DeSantis Gets Tough On Crowded Bars, And More

Jun 23, 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 Tuesday, June 23, according to the Florida Department of Health:

103,501 — Positive Tests | 3,238 — Deaths

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Florida Now Has 100,000 Positive Cases

The state’s Tuesday report listed 103,501 cases, an increase of 3,284 positive tests since Monday, according to the Florida Department of Health. 

Pasco County reported its highest daily increase in new cases, with 82 since Monday’s report.

The state reported 65 deaths statewide Tuesday, 18 in the Tampa Bay area, bringing the statewide total to 3,238. This includes 12 in Pinellas County, the highest number of deaths recorded in a 24-hour period for Pinellas.

-- Lisa Peakes

DeSantis: 'Zero Tolerance' For Bars That Don't Follow Crowd Guidelines

A bar near the University of Central Florida has had its state alcoholic beverage license suspended for violating reopening guidelines after 13 employees and at least 28 customers tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation announced Monday night the emergency suspension of the license of The Knights Pub in Orlando. The suspension came two days after Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state would begin cracking down on restaurants and bars that fail to follow coronavirus guidelines.

During an appearance Tuesday in Orlando, DeSantis said there will be “no tolerance” for businesses that don’t try to meet the 50 percent indoor occupancy requirement.

“If you go in and it's just like mayhem, like Dance Party USA, and it's packed to the rafters, that's just cut and dry, and that's not just an innocent mistake,” DeSantis said during a news conference at Orlando Regional Medical Center. [Read more]

-- News Service of Florida

Hillsborough Makes Masks Mandatory In Businesses

Face masks will now be required when entering a business in Hillsborough County.

The county's Emergency Policy Group adopted the ordinance on a vote of 5-3 Monday after more than two hours of debate.

Non-compliance with the ordinance could result in misdemeanor charges. Sheriff Chad Chronister, who voted against it, warned compliance could put a strain on the county's law enforcement agencies. [Read more]

-- Bradley George

Coronavirus Concerns Shift Presidential Debate From Michigan To Florida

A presidential debate scheduled for Oct. 15 will no longer be held at the University of Michigan.

University President Mark Schlissel sent a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates explaining that coronavirus concerns made the logistics too difficult for the school to pull off.

"Given the scale and complexity of the work we are undertaking to help assure a safe and healthy fall for our students, faculty and staff and limited visitors — and in consideration of the public health guidelines in our state as well as advice from our own experts — we feel it is not feasible for us to safely host the presidential debate as planned," he wrote. [Read more]

-- Scott Detrow, NPR

More St. Petersburg PD Employees Test Positive

Nine more St. Petersburg Police Department employees have tested positive for the coronavirus since last week.

That brings the total of department employees who have tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic to 11.

A department spokeswoman says the seven officers and two civilian who tested positive have all been quarantined at home. At least two others who were in contact with members of the group are still waiting for results.

Two of them have shown symptoms, while the rest have not.

-- Mark Schreiner

Ashley Moody Warns Of Contact Tracing Scams

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is warning Floridians of scammers trying to impersonate health officials.

Moody says the calls are going out from people pretending to be contact tracers to get personal details from victims. She's advising people to verify that contact tracing calls are coming from county health departments. [Read more]

-- Robbie Gaffney, WFSU

Trial For Confessed Parkland Shooter Delayed By Pandemic

The trial for the confessed Parkland school shooter, Nikolas Cruz, has been pushed back again, this time with no new date in sight, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

At a status hearing Monday, Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer said it's unclear when it will be possible to get a group of people into the courthouse to hold jury selection. 

"We have to take it one day at a time, quite frankly," Scherer told public defenders for Cruz and attorneys for the state on the Zoom call. "I don't know whether or not we're going to have to figure out some other way to select a jury in this case. I don't think anyone knows at this point."

Scherer was aiming to begin the trial sometime this summer, after delays in the past.

-- Caitlin Switalski, WLRN

Pasco School Superintendent Tests Positive For COVID-19

The Pasco County School District on Monday announced that Superintendent Kurt Browning has contracted COVID-19.

Browning, 61, had minor symptoms on Friday, including a fever, chills, and achiness. The positive test results came back Sunday, the district said in a statement.

Browning is now in isolation at home.

“My symptoms are relatively minor, but I’m not taking this lightly,’’ he said.

In the past few weeks, he has spent some time working at his district office. But the district said Browning has been informed that his interactions do not “amount to close contact and do not require self-isolation or testing for those he came in contact with.”

-- Mary Shedden

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