LISTEN LIVE

Latest On Coronavirus: Over 700 New Cases; Hillsborough Cases Soar; Carnival Investigated

May 2, 2020

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 11 a.m. Saturday, May 2, according to the Florida Department of Health:

34,555 – Florida Residents | 908 – Non-Florida Residents | 1,364 – Deaths

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And Health News Florida 

NEWSLETTER: Sign Up For Coronavirus Updates From Health News Florida

Increase of 735 Florida Cases

The Florida Department of Health reports 35,463 people have now tested positive for COVID-19; an increase of 735 cases since Friday morning.

As of Saturday, 1,364 people have died in Florida; a daily increase of 50. 

-- Julio Ochoa

Hillsborough Reports Highest Number Of COVID-19 Cases After Opening Testing

Hillsborough County reported the largest number of COVID-19 cases in a single day on Saturday, a few days after it started providing tests to anyone who wants one.

The county added 77 positive cases, for a total of 1,240, according to the Florida Department of Health. The previous single-day high of 61 in Hillsborough had been recorded on April 12.

As state and local leaders work to reopen businesses and allow other activities, they are testing more people to determine who has the virus and to keep them from spreading it.

Speaking in Orlando on Saturday, Governor Ron DeSantis said more people than ever are being tested and few are coming back positive.

The state received results from 19,000 tests on Friday and 723 were positive, DeSantis said.

“So that’s a positivity rate of 4.1% and if you look over the last 10 days, the positivity rate in the state of Florida has been between 6.1 percent and 4.1 percent,” DeSantis said.

A lower rate of positive tests means officials are testing enough people to capture all of those infected with COVID-19 in a community.

The World Health Organization sets the benchmark at 10 percent or fewer positive tests.

When Hillsborough county opened testing to everyone last week, the number of people tested doubled from an average of 600 to 1,316 on Thursday and 1,160 on Friday.  The percent of positive cases rose from an average of 3.1 over the previous week to 6 percent on Friday.

-- Julio Ochoa

Carnival Cruise Line Subject Of Congressional Investigation

Congress is investigating Carnival Cruise Line for its response to the coronavirus pandemic. A House committee wants to know why Carnival didn't act sooner to protect the health of passengers and staff.

The chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Peter DeFazio, sent a letter to Carnival CEO Arnold Donald asking for all documents relating to the cruise line's response to the pandemic. DeFazio (D-Oregon) cites concerns raised by the outbreak on the Diamond Princess in March, in which more than 800 people were infected and 10 people died.

Outbreaks of norovirus aboard cruise ships led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to issue warnings to the industry long before emergence of the coronavirus. "Based on the Carnival Corporation's response to the current coronavirus crisis," DeFazio wrote, "it appears that sort of advice was not heeded." Citing a Bloomberg report, he notes at least nine of Carnival's ships had coronavirus outbreaks with at least 39 deaths and more than 1,500 confirmed infections.

Currently, the cruise industry is on hold. The CDC has issued a no-sail order banning cruises until at least July 24. When travel restrictions eventually are lifted, DeFazio said Congress and the public needs assurances that Carnival and the cruise line industry "are instituting necessary measures to ensure that the safety of the traveling public and crew members."

-- Greg Allen, NPR

What Reopening Pinellas County Will Look Like

In two unanimous votes, the Pinellas County Board of Commissioners decided Friday to extend the local state of emergency while allowing some businesses to resume in accordance with Governor Ron DeSantis’s plan to reopen the state.

Here's what that plan means for Pinellas County.

Restaurants and Bars:

Restaurants and other dining establishments may reopen indoor dining areas at 25% of the building’s capacity. Groups will be limited to ten, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Outdoor seating as long as appropriate CDC social distancing guidelines are followed. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said that he’s spoken with a number of cities about closing streets to allow restaurants to expand their outdoor dining options.

Bars, pubs, and nightclubs will remain closed.

To read about retail, beaches, pools, playgrounds and more, click here.

-- Delaney Brown

  • Delaney Brown