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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. Send us your comments and questions about our coverage, and what matters most to you.

This map shows the current coronavirus cases and deaths in Florida.

Sign up for our newsletter to get daily updates and analysis from our team and NPR, and go to our Coronavirus Q&A to submit your questions.

The Florida Department of Health is providing daily updates on the number of people infected in the state. It also is providing a list of things you need to know.

Here's how you can help your children fight boredom while they're not in school.

Check out the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention website for updates and a national map. 

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

These are anxious times for people like Melvin Rodrigue, who lived through Hurricane Katrina. It destroyed his home and shut down his famed Galatoire's restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

This is far worse, he says.

"I think Katrina is going to prove to be a cakewalk compared to this," Rodrigue says. Insurance paid for his losses then. This time, it won't.

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

Plant Hall building at University of Tampa
University of Tampa

The University of Tampa reports that six students, including five who traveled together for Spring Break, have tested positive for COVID-19.

One student who travelled internationally tested positive at the student health center on March 16, and is self-isolated on campus. Four of the remaining five students who were on spring break are self-isolating and on campus, university officials said in a statement Saturday evening.

One of the students did not return to campus but is self-isolating. None needed to be hospitalized.

Florida's coronavirus dashboard screengrab
State of Florida

The number of people who have tested positive for coronavirus in Florida jumped by 200 on Saturday, after the state announced 105 new cases during its evening update.

Gov. ron DeSantis in front of a podium
Facebook

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Saturday that state officials are looking at the possibility of putting people who test positive for the coronavirus in facilities such as hotels to help prevent them from spreading the virus to family members.

front of publix store
CARL LISCIANDRELLO/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

As other areas of the economy contract, Publix announced Friday that it is hiring thousands of workers to meet “unprecedented demand.”

Coronavirus map and dashboard from state of florida
State of Florida

Two more people have died from the coronavirus in Florida, state officials announced at 11 a.m. Saturday and another 95 patients have tested positive.

One of the deaths was in Broward County, where cases of COVID-19 are among the highest in the state, according to the Florida Department of Health. The other was in Duval County. Twelve people have died from the disease in Florida.

the White house
Noah Fortson / NPR

The White House is holding a live briefing on the coronavirus pandemic. 

Colonel Stephen Snelson
Facebook

A Navy sailor assigned to the United States Central Command headquarters at MacDill Airforce Base was diagnosed with COVID-19, an official said. 

The sailor had recently traveled overseas and upon his return, he followed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Colonel Stephen Snelson, commander of the 6 Air Refueling Wing, said in a Facebook video posted on Friday night.

The sailor immediately went into quarantine at his off-base home and practiced social distancing from his friends and family, Snelson said. When he started showing symptoms, he alerted the Florida Department of Health who tested him, he said.

President Trump has made a lot of promises about actions that his administration is taking to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Not all of them have been exactly on the mark — and some have yet to pay off as advertised.

Naval hospital ships

The president announced on Wednesday that the Navy would dispatch its two hospital ships, the USNS Comfort and the USNS Mercy, to help treat patients and free up land-based hospitals for coronavirus patients.

When Jennifer Haller heard that researchers were looking for volunteers to be injected with an experimental coronavirus vaccine, the Seattle mother of two rolled up her sleeve.

Well, not literally. Haller, 43, the first person to receive the vaccine, was wearing a tank top when a pharmacist, sheathed in gloves, a mask and protective eye gear, injected her with an experimental vaccine named mRNA-1273. It made her arm a bit sore, "but besides that, no, no side effects," she says.

I miss work. I know as I say this that I'm blessed to have rewarding work as a lot of Americans suddenly don't. Working from home for most of the week has made me marvel at how much so many can do these days, on laptops and small screens.

But spending most of the workday in bedroom slippers, pondering whether to shave, shampoo or even brush my teeth — because after all, who'll see me besides my family? — also reminds me how much we can miss the walls, cubicles, hallways and, most of all, the people in our workplaces.

At least nineteen long-term care facilities in Florida have either a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19. The disease has already proven deadly at one senior care facility in Broward County. Four residents have tested positive for the virus at an assisted living facility in Jacksonville.


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

Florida Matters Wants To Hear Your Coronavirus Stories

Mar 21, 2020
Empty Business
U.S. Air Force

The threat of coronavirus has turned every aspect of life upside down. WUSF’s Florida Matters wants to hear from you.

Do you own a small business, or work for one in the retail or restaurant sector? How has your work life changed? 

Here Are 10 Big Issues From The 2020 Florida Legislative Session

Mar 21, 2020
NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Florida lawmakers finished the 2020 legislative session Thursday by passing a $93.2 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

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

At 6 p.m. Friday, the Florida Department of Health reported a 46-year-old man from Pasco County had died.

But just before 10 p.m., the Department retracted that and released a statement saying, "This was reported in error, there were no new fatalities in Florida associated with COVID-19 as of 6 p.m." 

Investigators Blame Spread Of Coronavirus, Two Deaths At Broward Facility On Employees

Mar 20, 2020
Exterior of assisted living facility with vehicles in front of it
Google Maps

Two residents of a Broward County assisted living facility have died from COVID-19, and at least five more have tested positive for the virus after it was spread by people who worked there, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday.

DeSantis sounded exasperated that one facility serving seniors had so many infections.

People wading in water, kayakers row past
Pasco County Parks, Recreation, Natural Resources Department

Pasco County is the latest Tampa Bay area county to close its beaches because of the coronavirus.

Starting at 8 p.m. Friday, the beaches at Anclote River Park, Robert J. Strickland Memorial Park, Robert K. Rees Memorial Park and Sunwest Park will temporarily close.

Sorry we are closed sign board hanging on a door of cafe
iStock

In the latest move to slow the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Friday closing all Florida restaurants and food establishments to on-site customers.

However, they still may run their kitchens to provide delivery or take-out services.

An aerial picture of Clearwater beach.
Pinellas County Marketing and Communications

It’s hard to gauge just how many people are on Florida beaches today, but the sentiment across social media platforms is the same: locals are furious at both the spring breakers and government officials.

While Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state will not forcefully close public beaches due to COVID-19 concerns, several cities and counties have taken the initiative to do so, including Pinellas County, which closes its beaches Friday by midnight.

Seminole Hard Rock building
Seminole Hard Rock Casino

Seminole Hard Rock casinos across Florida will close temporarily to help stem the spread of coronavirus.

The fact that the novel coronavirus appeared in the middle of flu season has prompted inevitable comparisons. Is COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, pretty much similar to the flu or does it pose a far greater threat?

Although there are still many unknowns about COVID-19, there is some solid information from researchers that sheds light on some of the similarities and differences at this time.

Symptoms

Cities across the U.S. are clamping down on large gatherings, and the CDC is recommending no more than 10 to a meeting — leading to disappointment for a lot of brides and grooms.

Thu Nguyen and Allen Gross stopped at the county courthouse in San Antonio on Monday to pick up their marriage license. I caught up with them right afterward and — given the current pandemic — stood as far away as my microphone would allow. They did get the license, but the moment isn't as happy as it could be.

Normally, right now, much of this country would be consumed by March Madness.

Ruth Owens, 93, has lived in the same small town in the mountains of Tennessee her whole life. It's her compassion for others that led her to want to take care of her community.

Before she retired at age 85, Owens inspired several of her children and grandchildren to follow in her footsteps into nursing, including her grandson, James Taylor.

"It takes a special person to be a nurse," she told Taylor, 41, during a StoryCorps interview in April. "That was the most rewarding profession that you could have. So I'm real thankful for that."

Updated at 5:48 p.m. ET

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday afternoon issued an order for all Illinois residents to stay at home, as the deadly coronavirus has spread to a quarter of the state's counties and infected more than 500 people.

The stricter limits go into effect on Saturday.

Updated at 12:15 p.m. ET

U.S. taxpayers will have a three-month extension to file their taxes because of the coronavirus pandemic, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday.

He said that at the president's direction, "we are moving Tax Day from April 15 to July 15."

"All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties," Mnuchin added.

At the same time, he encouraged people who are set to receive refunds to file earlier so that they can get their money more quickly.

Updated at 2:05 p.m. ET

The White House sought to show that it's in control of the sprawling coronavirus crisis on Friday even as it acknowledged enduring shortfalls in key supplies.

Administration officials also said they're imposing new controls on travel and restricting passage through the northern border with Canada and the southern border with Mexico following agreements with those governments.

Here were some key points from the latest briefing.

Too few tests

front of publix store
CARL LISCIANDRELLO/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

Publix and Winn-Dixie will allow senior citizens and those at high risk of coronavirus to shop during specific hours to help avoid their potential exposure.

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