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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 2:16 p.m. ET Saturday

Major League Baseball will shut down and disinfect all 30 teams' Spring Training facilities in Florida and Arizona, as the coronavirus continues to make its presence felt.

The league says players and other personnel will need a negative test for the virus before they can get back into the facilities after the deep cleaning.

Before the announcement late Friday night, several teams made the decision on their own to shut down.

DeSantis Says Coronavirus Masks Should Be Voluntary, Citing Constitution

Jun 20, 2020
Fresh Take Florida

While calls to require residents to wear face masks grow louder amid rising COVID-19 cases, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to maintain his position that mask-wearing should be voluntary.

As COVID-19 continues to spread in Florida—with a record number of Floridians diagnosed with the virus on Friday. Florida’s health department announced more than 3,800 cases. While more people are getting tested, the percentage of people testing positive is going up — above 10 percent for two out of the past three days.

Tampa General Hospital
Tampa General Hospital

Though a state dashboard shows some hospitals are nearing capacity, Gov. Ron DeSantis and health care executives from around Florida said Friday there are more than enough hospital beds to deal with a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Coronavirus cases are surging in Florida, with more than 89,000 cases and 3,104 reported at the time of this story's publication. 

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

The Florida Department of Health reported yet another surge Friday in people testing positive for the coronavirus.

Overall, the department reported 89,748 total cases statewide, an increase of 3,822 in 24 hours and 615 more than the record number of cases posted Thursday.

Thomas Iacobucci/WUSF Public Media

The Tampa Bay Lightning closed their facilities Thursday after five team employees tested positive for the coronavirus, a person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press.

Preparing to present plans Tuesday to the university system’s Board of Governors, leaders of state universities have continued this week to finalize details of how they will reopen campuses for the fall semester.
Associated Press

Preparing to present plans Tuesday to the university system’s Board of Governors, leaders of state universities have continued this week to finalize details of how they will reopen campuses for the fall semester.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SCHOOLS

School districts across Florida are announcing plans for the coming school year. Some across Tampa Bay are also soliciting feedback from parents on the best ways to proceed.

What would you like to see? Are you comfortable with classrooms opening full-time with precautions, or should school districts expand options for online learning?

Amid New Surge In Florida Coronavirus Cases, Children Resume Sports Across State

Jun 19, 2020
Youth baseball players take a knee on the field
Lauren Witte/Fresh Take Florida

Fifteen-year-old softball player Riley Diedrick wanted nothing more than to race alongside her friends.

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

Members of the state's Suicide Prevention Coordinating Council say the pandemic will likely increase how many people will die this year. The group is drafting recommendations to help people in crisis.

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

The Transportation Security Administration withheld N95 masks from staff and exhibited "gross mismanagement" in its response to the coronavirus crisis – leaving employees and travelers vulnerable during the most urgent days of the pandemic, a senior TSA official alleges in a new whistleblower complaint.

A line graph showing the a drastic increase in the daily number of coronavirus cases in Hillsborough.
PolicyLab / Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

According to an updated model by PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Florida has the potential to be the next epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

The projections point to the rising number of cases in Hillsborough County and surrounding areas over the past few weeks.

people wearing face masks
iStock

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said Thursday she'll enact an ordinance requring people working with the public to wear masks to prevent transmission of the coronavirus. It would also require anyone walking into a business in the city to wear masks.

Pasco County Schools photo of four children sitting outside a school building
Pasco County Schools

The Pasco County School District has presented three options for returning students in the fall that work around the coronavirus pandemic.

iStock

More than 86,000 Floridians applied for new jobless benefits last week.

State Boosts COVID-19 Testing For Long-Term Care Workers

Jun 18, 2020
Under the emergency rules, which take effect July 7, nursing homes and assisted living facilities will be banned from allowing any staff members into the buildings who have not been tested for COVID-19.
iStock

Staff members at nursing homes and assisted living facilities will be required to be tested for COVID-19 every two weeks under a pair of emergency rules issued Wednesday by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration.

Facilities that don’t comply with the emergency rules could have their licenses revoked or suspended and face administrative fines. The new rules reinforce a thrust by the Republican governor to tamp down the spread of the deadly respiratory disease in facilities that house tens of thousands of seniors across the state.

Farmworkers: DeSantis’ Remarks About Coronavirus Spread ‘Shameful’

Jun 18, 2020
Gov. Ron DeSantis said clusters of "overwhelmingly Hispanic" day laborers and agriculture workers are the source for Florida's recent surge in coronavirus cases.
Daylina Miller / WUSF

Farm workers are pushing back after Gov. Ron DeSantis said clusters of “overwhelmingly Hispanic” day laborers and agriculture workers are the source for Florida’s recent surge in coronavirus cases.

Updated at 10:21 a.m. ET

Another 1.5 million people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time last week, a decline of 58,000.

But the number who are continuing to seek the payments is continuing to fall as workers return to their jobs. The Labor Department said continued claims dipped by 62,000 to 20.5 million.

In the past 13 weeks, since the early days of the coronavirus crisis, new claims have totaled a staggering 45.7 million. New weekly filings peaked at nearly 6.9 million in March and have been dropping ever since.

NASA

When astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken launched from Kennedy Space Center last month, NASA and SpaceX made history. It was the first human launch from the U.S. since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011 — and the public-private partnership did it in the middle of a global pandemic.

An NPR survey of state health departments shows that the national coronavirus contact tracing workforce has tripled in the past six weeks, from 11,142 workers to 37,110. Yet given their current case counts, only seven states and the District of Columbia are staffed to the level that public health researchers say is needed to contain outbreaks.

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

ERIK ODDIN

Governor Ron DeSantis claimed hundreds of airport employees had tested positive when that number is actually only in the single digits.

Protesters during the Black Lives Matter rally in South Tampa on Saturday carried signs including some that called for the defunding of police.
Julio Ochoa/WUSF Public Media

Linda Breen has been self-isolating for months. She's 69 and has a respiratory issue that she says puts her at risk if she were to catch the coronavirus.

man wearing a mask
Rick Kriseman Facebook Page

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is continuing to ease restrictions related to the coronavirus, despite the state seeing record increases in new cases of COVID-19.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman responded with an order on Wednesday requiring workers inside city limits to wear a mask starting Friday at 5 p.m.

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

The Tampa Bay area continues to see unsurpassed numbers of new coronavirus cases, with 551 more people testing positive since Tuesday.

It’s the first time the regional daily increase in the number of people testing positive has topped 500.

More than a month after Gov. Ron DeSantis began restarting Florida’s economy, his administration has not issued guidance for how state agencies should reopen offices to workers and the public.

Tampa fireworks show
iStock

The city of Tampa has canceled its Fourth of July fireworks show due to the rise in coronavirus cases.

DeSantis To Keep State Open Despite Surge In Coronavirus Cases

Jun 17, 2020
Gov. Ron DeSantis at the podium
NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Saying society needs to "function," Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed Tuesday to keep Florida open despite a recent surge in the number of people infected with COVID-19.

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