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If you think you might have coronavirus, call the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 866-779-6121 or email

State Mandates Testing For Staff At Disabilities Facilities

2 hours ago
Sunland Center
Google Maps

Group homes and other facilities that care for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities will be required to start testing staff members every other week for COVID-19 beginning Aug. 24, under an emergency rule issued late Monday by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration.

American football is famous for being a full-contact sport. That presents a challenge for trying to keep the coronavirus at bay.

But the NFL is going for it, with some changes.

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

Sky Lebron/WJCT

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday he would be “cautious” about linking school reopenings in Florida to COVID-19 positivity rates in communities.

As the start of the school year nears for many students, not all college professors are ready to head back to the classroom. The United Faculty of Florida, a union that represents college and university faculty and staff, is calling on the governor to move all classes online for the next semester.

man wearing a black face mask during a meeting
Sarasota County Schools

Children who attend school in Sarasota County will have to wear either a mask or clear face shield, except in a handful of circumstances, the school board decided by a unanimous 5-0 vote on Tuesday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends mask-wearing in public because it may slow the spread of coronavirus, especially when six feet of distance cannot be maintained. However, it does not recommend face shields as a substitute for masks.

Most Americans support Trump administration efforts to stop immigrants from coming to the United States as long as it's done in the name of slowing the spread of the coronavirus, according to a new NPR/Ipsos poll.

But Trump's anti-immigration rhetoric during the pandemic has done little to budge public opinion on other immigration policies, the poll found. Most of Trump's policies, including his border wall, remain unpopular except among Republicans.

Officials in Florida say cases of the coronavirus are continuing to decline, an indication that efforts to halt the spread of the disease are working. In Miami-Dade County, Mayor Carlos Gimenez told commissioners Tuesday, "I am pleased to announce it appears we have leveled off."

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Sam Barrett, the 18th Air Force commander, salutes Col. Benjamin Jonsson, assuming 6th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) commander, during an assumption of command ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Aug. 4, 2020.
Senior Airman Ryan C. Grossklag / U.S. Air Force

MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa has a new leader. Col. Benjamin R. Jonsson assumed command of the 6th Air Refueling Wing Tuesday during a socially-distanced ceremony.  

Florida Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard
Florida Department of Health

Deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Florida spiked again Tuesday.

The daily figures from the Department of Health shows the deaths of 245 people were reported statewide since Monday, bringing the total dead from the coronavirus to 7,402.

Watch Live: Gov. Ron DeSantis News Conference

Aug 4, 2020
Gov. Ron DeSantis
The Florida Channel

Gov. Ron DeSantis is updating the media. 

Private Colleges Eye COVID-19 Liability, Testing Concerns

Aug 4, 2020
Rollins College archway
Rollins College

As private colleges and universities set plans to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the head of a statewide association is raising concerns about liability protections and virus testing costs.

Whether institutions can be held liable for students, faculty and staff members getting sick on campus is a top concern for school leaders as they gear up to reopen campuses for the fall term.

Randy Fine in his hospital bed during a video interview

State Representative Randy Fine has been hospitalized with COVID-19.

The Republican lawmaker, who represents southern Brevard County, tested positive for the coronavirus about two weeks ago. His wife and two sons also tested positive, but he says they have already recovered.

Fine spoke with me by telephone on Monday.

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

With the national death toll from COVID-19 passing the grim 150,000 mark, an NPR/Ipsos poll finds broad support for a single, national strategy to address the pandemic and more aggressive measures to contain it.

Two-thirds of respondents said they believe the U.S. is handling the pandemic worse than other countries, and most want the federal government to take extensive action to slow the spread of the coronavirus, favoring a top-down approach to reopening schools and businesses.

Hillsborough County

The Emergency Policy Group that has guided Hillsborough County through the pandemic likely had its last meeting Monday. County commissioners are set to vote Wednesday on absorbing the duties of a group made up of local mayors and countywide officials.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is launching a new campaign aimed at defeating COVID-19. Fried introduced the new initiative, called ‘Be Smart Florida,” Monday morning.

“S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that stands for; S - social distance, M - mask up, A - avoid large crowds, R - remember to wash your hands, and T - throw away disposable items like gloves, masks, and wipes," said Fried.

Florida Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard
Florida Department of Health

Florida’s daily coronavirus case numbers have shown fewer new positive tests in recent days.

State health officials reported 4,752 new cases Monday, bringing the total of those who’ve tested positive for the virus to 491,884. It was the lowest single-day number of new positive tests since June 23.

A collapse in demand for suits and other office attire is leading another storied retailer across the brink, with the parent company of Men's Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank filing for bankruptcy.

Parent company Tailored Brands had been struggling with debt and flagging demand before the coronavirus pandemic. But the temporary store closures and collapse in apparel sales during the health crisis took their toll.

Safety Net Hospitals Seek ‘Fair Share’ Of Federal Money

Aug 3, 2020
Tampa General Hospital

Congress, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, set aside $13 billion to help safety-net hospitals that treat a majority of poor, elderly and disabled patients.

But some of Florida’s largest safety-net hospitals - including Jackson Memorial, UF Health Shands and Tampa General - didn’t qualify for the funding included in a federal-stimulus bill known as the CARES Act, while seeing their finances deteriorate as they shifted from providing “elective” surgeries and procedures to dealing with coronavirus cases.

Editor's Note: The following opinion piece urging all of Floridians to wear face masks, practice social distancing and good hygiene, has been signed by 135 academic, business, community and health care leaders across Florida. 


This story is part of an NPR nationwide analysis of states' revenue and budgets during the pandemic.

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

White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said on Sunday that the U.S. is in a "new phase" of the pandemic, urging people to follow public health guidance as cases continue to climb in many parts of the United States.

"What we're seeing today is different from March and April," Birx said on CNN's State of the Union. "It is extraordinarily widespread — it's into the rural as equal urban areas."

State Prisons Chief, Top Aide Test Positive For Coronavirus

Aug 2, 2020
prison sign
Florida Department of Corrections

As COVID-19 spreads throughout the state’s prison system, Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch and one of his top lieutenants have tested positive for the virus, the state agency announced late Friday night.

Florida Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard
Florida Department of Health

The Florida Department of Health reported Sunday that 7,104 people tested positive for the coronavirus since Saturday. It’s the lowest number of new cases reported in a single day since July 6.

That brings the total number of cases statewide to 487,132.

Florida Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard
Florida Department of Health

The Florida Department of Health reported Saturday that 9,642 people tested positive for the coronavirus in the past 24-hour period.

That brings the total number of cases statewide to 480,028.

Scientists are in a sprint to find a vaccine that could stamp out the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, said on Friday he's "cautiously optimistic" that a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine will be ready for distribution in early 2021.

Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET

A coronavirus vaccine could be ready for distribution by the end of the year, and distributed to Americans in 2021, the nation's top infectious disease specialist told lawmakers Friday.

While it typically takes years to develop vaccines, new technologies, the lack of bureaucratic red tape and the human body's robust immune response to COVID-19 have hastened the process, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

Rep. Kathy Castor
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asking the government to work with manufacturers to increase production of substances known as “reagents” needed to process coronavirus test results.