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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.

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU:

RESOURCES:

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

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.

The VA informed student veterans they may become ineligible for GI Bill education and housing funds if their college transitions from in-person to online classes. Congress has quickly passed a fix.

Gov. Ron DeSantis says he wants to look into removing some of the requirements for collecting unemployment benefits as layoffs pile up in response to concerns about the coronavirus.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered California's 40 million residents to stay at home indefinitely in the widest-ranging directive so far of any state as it grapples with a growing novel coronavirus epidemic that has killed 150 people nationwide.

The order late Thursday called on people to remain in their homes with exceptions only for essential travel. The move follows similar restrictions issued earlier this week for the San Francisco Bay Area.

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

Seminole Hard Rock building
Seminole Hard Rock Casino

Despite one Tampa Bay area politicians' calls for it to shut down for 30 days due to the danger of the oronavirus, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa remains open.

an open sign
Dmon_21/Creative Commons

Many small businesses have closed or cut staff due to coronavirus. But federal and state help is available.  

Student carrying a backpack
Omar Roque @olroque

The University of Central Florida is decontaminating a residence hall and classrooms after a student tested positive for COVID-19.

coronavirus
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The coronavirus death toll in Florida now stands at nine.

According to information released at 6 p.m. Thursday by the Florida Department of Health, the number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the state jumped by over 100 in one day.

video still of beachgoers
Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

The Pinellas County Commission voted unanimously to close public beaches and parking areas effective 11:59 p.m. Friday and lasting until April 6th.

Health workers in protective gear collect swabs from patients who drove up to the testing site.
Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

Hillsborough County will open drive-thru coronavirus testing sites at Raymond James Stadium and the Florida State Fairgrounds – as soon as necessary supplies comes in.

A green lifeguard stand on Siesta Beach, with a few people milling about.
Daylina Miller/WUSF Public Media

Sarasota and Manatee counties will close all public beaches amid worries about the spread of the coronavirus.

Some people look at the weeks ahead and wonder how they will keep themselves from going stir crazy.

Across the U.S., new restrictions have limited in-person gatherings in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus infection, as concern grows from watching its effects on the hard-hit populations of China and Italy, where thousands have died.

WUSF And Coronavirus Coverage For You

Mar 19, 2020

Daily life has radically changed in the last 10 days. Concerns over the spread of the coronavirus have touched every aspect of our lives and are profoundly affecting how we see our future.

The ramifications of this public health crisis are deep and will probably leave lasting effects on America. WUSF Public Media belongs to a system of independent, listener-supported public radio stations created exclusively to serve local communities. In our case, we are the only local NPR station, which means we adhere to its same high journalistic standards to fulfill our mission.

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