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Latest On Coronavirus: Record Number Of Daily Deaths, School Districts Delay Openings, And More

Jul 15, 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, July 14, according to the Florida Department of Health:

291,629 — Positive Tests | 4,409— Deaths

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And Health News Florida

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Record Number Of Deaths

Tuesday’s report from the Florida Department of Health shows it was the deadliest day for COVID-19-related deaths since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Health officials reported 132 deaths in the state since Monday’s report. It’s the largest number of deaths the state has recorded in a 24-hour period. The previous high was 120 deaths; recorded on July 9.

In the greater Tampa Bay region, health officials reported 44 deaths; also the highest since the pandemic began. 42 deaths were recorded for the region on July 9.

Pinellas County reported 26 deaths; almost doubling its previous high of 14 recorded July 5. [Read more]

-- Lisa Peakes

School Districts Delay Openings

Three school districts in the greater Tampa Bay region are pushing to move their start dates back amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Manatee County School Board voted Tuesday to delay the start of school a week until Aug. 17.

Polk County is planning to open Aug. 24 at the earliest.

And Sarasota County is seeking a two-week delay, until Aug. 31. 

The plans would have to be approved by the state Department of Education. [Read more]

-- Carl Lisciandrello

Teachers Protesting Plans To Reopen Schools

Pinellas County teachers, parents and students protested in Largo Tuesday against the reopening of in-person classes next month.

And there's a rally planned for Hillsborough schools Wednesday at a Florida Department of Education board meeting in Dover.

Jennifer Kious, an English teacher at Durant High School in Plant City, said teachers, faculty and parents are afraid to go back to regular in-person classes as COVID-19 cases continue to shatter records.

She said this is an unacceptable way to start the school year.

“Teachers’ voices, especially in Florida, haven't always been heard,” said Kious. “Gov. DeSantis has said that this is the year of the teacher and he's made a commitment to wanting to listen to teachers and work with teachers, but we haven't really seen that yet as far as the pandemic.” [Read more]

-- Jessica Meszaros

Tampa Resident With Lupus Urges Floridians To 'Do Their Part' In Coronavirus Fight

From job loss, to balancing work from home, to the isolation of social distancing, coronavirus has changed our everyday lives. WUSF is giving you a voice to share those experiences.

Today we meet Carlos Perez, 42, of Tampa. He's a former health worker who has lupus, an autoimmune disease that makes him especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

Perez has managed to stay safe thus far by strictly following public health guidelines but knows others in his community haven't followed suit.

In his own words, Perez shares his concerns watching cases surge in Florida. [Listen to the postcard]

-- Stephanie Colombini

Pasco Movie Theater Shooting Trial Delayed Again 

The trial for a former Tampa police captain who fatally shot a man inside a Pasco County movie theater six years ago has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Curtis Reeves Jr., who is now 77, is charged with the second-degree murder of Chad Oulson during an argument over the use of a cellphone in a Wesley Chapel movie theatre on January 13, 2014.

Oulson had been texting his daughter during the movie previews. Reeves, who was sitting behind him and, apparently annoyed by the behavior, asked him to stop. There was an argument during which witnesses said popcorn was thrown by Oulson and Reeves responded by shooting Oulson in the chest.

-- Lisa Peakes and Mark Schreiner

USF President's First Year Punctuated By Coronavirus, Accreditation - And More

While he faced "expected" concerns like the consolidation of the accreditation of the three USF campuses under one umbrella, he also had to deal with crises like the coronavirus pandemic and racial equity concerns of faculty, staff, and students.

Currall speaks with WUSF's Mark Schreiner about those issues on this week's Florida Matters. [Listen to the episode]

-- Mark Schreiner

A Month Away From Start Dates, School Districts Still Working Out Reopening Plans

School districts across the state continue to work on their plans for re-opening. But is it safe with coronavirus cases spiking in record numbers?

Matthew Hazel is a high school teacher in Orlando and a member of the Orange County Teachers Association.

He said teachers in schools with inadequate ventilation and crowded hallways are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

“Sure, everyone’s gonna wear masks. But if you’re stuck in the same recirculated air for seven hours, I don’t know how safe that can possibly be,” he said.

Hazel was a guest Tuesday on The State We're In - a Facebook Live show from WUSF and WMFE in Orlando. He was joined by Jeff Solochek,  an education reporter with the Tampa Bay Times.  [Watch the episode]

-- Dinorah Prevost, Carl Lisciandrello and Matthew Peddie