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Coronavirus

News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida and WUSF can help. Our responsibility at WUSF News is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

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FROM THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH:

If you think you might have coronavirus, call the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 866-779-6121 or email COVID-19@flhealth.gov

Updated at 1:40 p.m. ET

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, told members of Congress on Tuesday that although he can't predict the ultimate number of infections and deaths related to the coronavirus, "it's going to be very disturbing."

Gov. Ron DeSantis
The Florida Channel

Gov. Ron DeSantis is updating the media on the coronavirus outbreak in Florida.

Mamie Brown is getting up earlier than ever these days.​

"A typical day for me starts about 4:30 to 5:00. I actually naturally wake up. I think part of that's my anxiety right now," she said. "And then when I do, very first thing in the morning is catch up on to-dos around the house and paperwork."

She's a self-employed lawyer in Fairbanks, Alaska, specializing in helping small businesses with things like contracts and HR issues. But now she and her husband are juggling work and their kids, ages 8 and 4.

Victoria Mejia
Zoom

On Florida Matters this week, we're taking a look at life behind the front lines - the front lines of the war on the coronavirus.

Many first responders - doctors, nurses and people just willing to lend a hand - have forsaken the relative comfort of their own hometowns and ventured into the epicenter of the virus outbreak.

The head of the World Health Organization is warning that the COVID-19 pandemic is speeding up, and he criticized governments that have failed to establish reliable contact tracing to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Speaking at a briefing in Geneva, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: "We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is this is not even close to being over."

"Although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up," he said.

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

Downtown high rise with view of street and bay.
Sarasota City Government

Citing concerns over the spread of coronavirus, the city of Sarasota is joining a growing list of Florida cities that require the wearing of face masks in public spaces.

The Sarasota City Commission approved the measure at a special meeting on Monday.

A growing number of leading Republicans are publicly embracing expert-recommended face masks as a means to slowing the spread of the deadly coronavirus, in the wake of more than 125,000 Americans killed by the virus.

In recent months, the topic of wearing masks has become politically divisive, despite official health guidance that they are one of the best defenses to restricting the spread of the deadly respiratory disease, COVID-19, from one person to another.

The coronavirus keeps spreading around the United States. New hot spots are emerging and heating up by the day. The death toll keeps mounting. So how can the U.S. beat back the relentless onslaught of this deadly virus?

Public health experts agree on one powerful weapon that's gotten a lot of attention but apparently still needs a lot more: testing.

A new analysis that researchers at Harvard conducted for NPR finds that more states have begun to do enough testing to keep their outbreaks from getting worse, but most are still falling short.

construction workers wearing masks
istock

Requirements to wear face masks in Hillsborough County businesses and public spaces will continue for another week, but there are some adjustments.

Cars lined up at drive-thru testing site at Tropicana Field.
St. Petersburg Police Department

As coronavirus cases in Florida have surged, so has the demand for testing and Tampa Bay area health officials are struggling to keep up.


Spiking coronavirus numbers in the Florida Keys are causing consternation among public officials, and questions about whether the county will once again close to visitors.

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

According to the Florida Department of Health's Monday report, 146,341 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the state - an increase of 5,266 positive tests since Sunday, and the sixth straight day the number of new cases surpassed 5,000.

gas price sign
CARL LISCIANDRELLO/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

Florida’s recent surge in coronavirus cases could mean reduced prices at the gas pump once again.

According to AAA, the increase in cases could mean reduced travel – and as a result, reduced demand for gas and a leveling off of prices that increased when Florida officials began reopening the state a few weeks ago.

Dr. Elias Zerhouni knows the dangers of infectious disease outbreaks. He was director of the National Institutes of Health in 2005 when bird flu appeared poised to become more infectious to humans. Fortunately, that pandemic never materialized, but he says it served as a warning of what was to come.

Zerhouni has been a member of the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and head of global research and development for the pharmaceutical company Sanofi.

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

Liquor bottles at bar
DAYLINA MILLER/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

Florida’s ban on serving alcohol to people in bars will be reevaluated daily, the state’s top business regulator said in a series of tweets over the weekend that also offered apologies for the crackdown.

bar graph of coronavirus cases
Florida Department of Health

Florida health officials reported more than 8,500 new cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, the fifth straight day the number of new cases surpassed 5,000.

Florida Hospital Bed Availability Varies By County

Jun 28, 2020
hospital bed
National Institutes of Health

About 76 percent of the state’s hospital beds and about 79 percent of adult intensive-care unit beds were occupied Friday as Florida faces a continuing surge in COVID-19 cases, according to information posted online by the state Agency for Health Care Administration.

As the number of COVID-19 cases in Florida skyrockets, Department of Corrections officials reported Friday that two more state inmates have died of complications from the novel coronavirus.

The recent deaths bring the toll of inmate fatalities in Florida’s prison system to 23.

construction workers wearing masks
istock

Business groups say a "patchwork" of local face-mask ordinances across Florida is creating confusion for store owners and customers.

Youtube screenshot of man
Sarasota Memorial Hospital Youtube

The chief executive of Sarasota Memorial Hospital said Friday it’s “scary” how fast COVID-19 cases are rising and that younger patients are increasingly among those hospitalized.

After seeing the number of COVID patients at the hospital dip to eight in May, and even a brief period when the intensive care unit had no COVID patients for a few days, CEO David Verinder said the outlook has worsened.

Updated at 7:54 p.m. ET

Ready or not, the NBA restart is a go.

It appears the league is as ready as it can be to play three months of basketball inside a protective bubble near Orlando, Fla., while on the outside coronavirus cases currently soar.

Whether it's a success – at this point all one can do is dust off the oldest of clichés.

Time will tell.

Citing the unrelenting spread of the coronavirus, a federal judge has ordered that all children currently held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody for more than 20 days must be released by July 17.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee of California issued the scathing order Friday afternoon, saying the Trump administration had failed to provide even the most basic health protections for children and their families amid the pandemic.

She described the ICE-operated facilities as being "on fire," adding that "there is no more time for half measures."

DAYLINA MILLER/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

State tax revenues showed little improvement in May as the  economy continued to suffer heavy damage from the coronavirus pandemic, a new report shows.

Residents and staff of long-term care facilities account for at least 40% of U.S. deaths from the coronavirus. In reaction, nursing homes have banned family visitors, scrambled for scarce personal safety equipment, and attracted scrutiny from state and federal lawmakers.

What's received less attention is that many nursing homes have remained virtually COVID-19-free. If researchers could figure out what made the difference, that could help protect nursing home residents now and in the future.

But so far, their studies have drawn wildly different conclusions.

A sign says reserved parking respiratory clinic.
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

Hillsborough County officials are reporting a 61 percent increase in coronavirus cases from a week ago.

Close to one in five of people tested have been positive the past seven days.

Airlines Want Flyers To Feel Safe, But Grab Bag Of COVID Policies Adds Turbulence

Jun 26, 2020
As consumers consider traveling again, they discover the public health guidelines in place for flying often are a messy patchwork of precautions that lack the teeth to protect passengers.
Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

Tony Scott boarded an American Airlines flight May 25 from Los Angeles to Dallas. It was a trip he felt he had to take despite concerns about the coronavirus. His son, who lives in Texas, was having health problems.

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

Florida health officials reported nearly 9,000 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, crushing a previous single-day high of 5,511 set on Wednesday.

DAYLINA MILLER/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

The consumption of alcohol at Florida bars was suspended Friday as Florida reported nearly 9,000 new coronavirus cases in a 24-hour period.

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