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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

sign requiring masks on wall outside mall store
Daylina Miller

With the number of COVID-19 cases climbing in the Tampa Bay area and statewide, two more local governments approved mandatory mask requirements Tuesday.

Florida University Reopening Plans Given Green Light

Jun 23, 2020
students in university lecture hall
iStock

As Gov. Ron DeSantis increasingly points to young adults as the source for a spike in coronavirus cases in Florida, public universities across the state are moving forward with plans to reopen campuses in the fall. 

The Florida university system’s Board of Governors on Tuesday approved individual reopening plans put together by each of the state’s 12 state universities.

Coronavirus Test Kit
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

With more than 100,000 cases of COVID-19 in Florida now, public health experts are saying a second spike in infections is underway.

Donna Petersen is dean of the College of Public Health at the University of South Florida. She says it's impossible to completely eliminate the illness, but wearing face coverings and keeping six feet apart from others really does help slow the spread.

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

According to the Florida Department of Health's Tuesday report, 103,503 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the state - an increase of 3,286 positive tests since Monday.

In the Tampa Bay area, the state reported 599 more people tested positive in a 24-hour period. Pasco County reported its highest daily increase in new cases, with 82 since Monday’s report.

DAYLINA MILLER/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

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.

Mask wearing has become a topic of fierce debate in the United States.

Updated at 2:50 p.m. ET

At a hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health and other federal officials said that no one had told them — including President Trump — to slow down testing for the coronavirus. The statements came after Trump has repeatedly said that more testing would lead to more infections being revealed.

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.

Miami-Dade schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho
Miami-Dade Public Schools

Many schools find themselves overwhelmed by the potential expenses that would come with operating under pandemic-induced social distancing guidelines. Those include protective equipment, staff for smaller classes and additional transportation to keep students spread out on bus rides.

The burdens loom large in particular for underfunded districts that often have neither the space nor the budgets to accommodate new health protocols. The superintendent in Hartford, Connecticut, shudders at how to afford a scenario in which each teacher had dramatically fewer students.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

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.

Gov. Ron DeSantis during news conference
Wilfredo Lee/AP

A group of Democratic state senators are among those calling for an apology from Governor Ron DeSantis, after he said farmworkers’ lifestyle is facilitating COVID-19 spread.

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

walker next to nursing home bed.
iStock

More than a third of COVID-19 deaths in the United States so far happened at nursing homes.

Now Congress is demanding answers from five of the companies that run them, including one with 69 facilities in Florida. 

people wearing face masks
iStock

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.

How Those With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Cope With Added Angst Of COVID

Jun 22, 2020
While CDC guidelines such as hand-washing are generally easily accomplished, OCD compulsions are usually never satisfied, says one expert.
iStock

Before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the United States, Chris Trondsen felt his life was finally under control. As someone who has battled obsessive-compulsive disorder and other mental health issues since early childhood, it’s been a long journey.

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

According to the Department of Health, the number of people who’ve tested positive for the coronavirus in Florida has passed 100,000.

On Friday, March 13, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence stood in the White House Rose Garden to declare COVID-19 a national emergency. But the risk of the disease, Pence told the nation, remained low. 

“We don’t want everybody taking this test; it’s totally unnecessary,” Trump assured Americans. “This will pass.”

Service member walking out of a hospital to applause from doctors and nurses in scrubs.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Omar N Rubi / U.S. Navy

Some doctors and nurses with the U.S. Air Force Reserves are warning the public not to underestimate the continued threat posed by the coronavirus. They were among thousands of military personnel who deployed to New York City during the height of its COVID-19 pandemic.


As much of the country presses forward with reopening, a growing number of cities and states are finding that the coronavirus outbreak now has a foothold in a younger slice of the population, with people in their 20s and 30s accounting for a larger share of new coronavirus infections.

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

The state of Florida reported more than 3,000 new cases of coronavirus for the fourth consecutive day Sunday.

DeSantis Eyes Bars, Restaurants But Stays The Course

Jun 21, 2020
Man at podium in front of flags
Florida Governor's office / Facebook

Confronted by yet another record day of new coronavirus infections, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday said the state would begin cracking down on restaurants and bars that don’t follow guidelines limiting the number of people inside the establishments but stood by his decision not to mandate that people wear masks.

The National Institutes of Health has halted its study of hydroxychloroquine, a drug President Donald Trump has promoted as a possible treatment for COVID-19 and once claimed to be taking himself.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the agency said that although it did not appear hydroxychloroquine caused harm to patients in the study, it was also "very unlikely to be beneficial."

Shanna LaFountain has been a nursing assistant in New England for 20 years. About two months ago, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, she stopped working.

"It was an extremely hard decision," she said.

LaFountain has three children and made the decision once their schools closed and their learning went online.

"My son was not answering teachers, not doing assignments," she said. "I had to be home with my children."

Updated 5:45 p.m. ET

President Trump on Monday extended a freeze on green cards for new immigrants and signed an executive order to suspend new H-1B, L-1, J and other temporary work visas for skilled workers, managers and au pairs through the end of the year.

The goal of the move is to protect 525,000 jobs as part of the White House response to job losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic, said a senior administration official, who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity. NPR first reported the impending order on Saturday.

Gov. Ron DeSantis at the podium
WFSU

Pointing to a “significant” increase in the number of coronavirus cases among younger people, Governor Ron DeSantis reiterated the need for Floridians to practice social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.

Beam Throngprasertchai and family pose for a picture at the airport
Photo courtesy of Beam Throngprasertchai

When COVID-19 took the states by storm in early March, Annie Ramita watched the students in her University of Florida dorm slowly trickle out, until the only residents left were herself and a fellow resident assistant from China.

Earlier this week, researchers in the United Kingdom announced preliminary results from a clinical trial that showed a low-cost steroid called dexamethasone appeared to lower the risk of death in patients with COVID-19.

The researchers said the anti-inflammatory drug reduced the number of deaths in COVID-19 patients on ventilators or oxygen alone by one-third.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

For the third consecutive day, the state of Florida set a record for the number of daily reported positive cases of coronavirus, surpassing 90,000 total cases.

Aaron McCullough brought his 3-year-old daughter, Ariana, to a playground in a leafy, residential suburb of Rochester, New York, on a day in mid-June when temperatures topped out at 94 degrees.

The playground is one of seven spray parks in the city that offer cooling water to area residents whenever temperatures exceed 85 degrees.

Except during a pandemic.

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