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Flames from Collier County wildfire
Florida Forest Service

Authorities say a section of Interstate 75 known as Alligator Alley has reopened after four brush fires that eventually merged in southwest Florida caused it to close a day earlier.

people sitting by rocks and water with pier
City of Tampa

As part of Phase 1 of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ plan to reopen Florida during the coronavirus pandemic, the city of Tampa reopened 13 park trails, beaches, and dog parks May 4.

Tampa will reopen the rest of the city parks starting Saturday.

Gov. Ron DeSantis at the podium
WFSU

Gov. Ron DeSantis said he will announce Friday additional “phase one” measures to reopen the state’s economy, with the moves expected to include allowing more people to be seated in restaurants and allowing gyms to operate.

Third generation hog farmer Chad Leman, making his daily rounds, points to dozens of 300-pound pigs.

"These pigs should be gone," he said.

He means gone to the meatpacking plant to be processed. But with pork processing plants shut down due to worker safety concerns, he's faced with a grisly task: He needs to kill the pigs to make room for more.

And Leman isn't the only one. With meatpacking plant closures and reduced processing capacity nationwide, America's hog farmers expect an unprecedented crisis: the need to euthanize millions of pigs.

iStock

Another 221,000 Floridians filed for unemployment benefits last week, even as restaurants and retail shops started re-opening with limitations for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic forced the shuttering of businesses around the state.

Updated at 5:19 p.m. ET

Nearly 3 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week — bringing the total to 36.5 million in the past eight weeks, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The number of people filing claims has been steadily dropping for weeks, since hitting nearly 7 million during one week in March. Still, claims remain at historically high levels, suggesting that the coronavirus isn't done pummeling the U.S. economy.

Florida Department of Agriculture And Consumer Services

Four brush fires burning a total of about 400 acres have shut down a section of Interstate 75 in southwest Florida.

people wearing face masks
iStock

A new survey shows a majority of respondents favor requiring people to wear face masks in public. But a large portion says the responses to the pandemic could be worse than the disease.

JONAH HINEBAUGH/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg now has a definite scheduled date.

Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

The journalism at WUSF Public Media has been recognized with three Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, one of the most prestigious broadcast awards in the country.

A smiling man holding a bike aloft
Rob of Sarasota

From job loss, to balancing work from home to the isolation of following stay-at-home orders, coronavirus has changed our everyday lives. WUSF is giving you a voice to share those experiences.

Today, we meet Rob from Sarasota County. He's asked that we not use his last name. Rob was furloughed from his job last month. Before the pandemic, he had an active schedule filled with community events and volunteering.

In his own words, Rob shares some thoughts on the mundane "new normal" routines of staying at home, and his hopes for how his community responds to the country's re-opening.

Florida Association of Broadcast Journalists

WUSF News earned 15 awards from the Florida Association of Broadcast Journalists Saturday night in a contest that recognizes the state’s best work from 2019.

WUSF won eight first place awards and seven honorable mentions for stories presented both on WUSF 89.7 and online at WUSFNews.org.

On Thursday, the Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, reported 56 wildfires burning over 7,000 acres statewide, including about 3,000 acres in Northwest Florida.  

Updated at 11:43 a.m. ET

The Labor Department delivered a historically bad employment report Friday, showing 20.5 million jobs lost last month as the nation locked down against the coronavirus. The jobless rate soared to 14.7% — the highest level since the Great Depression.

The highest monthly job loss before this was 2 million in 1945, as the nation began to demobilize after World War II. The worst monthly job loss during the Great Recession was 800,000 in March 2009.

iStock

Future telephone numbers issued to people in Hillsborough County will start with a 656 area code, the state Public Service Commission announced Thursday.

A woman in black shirt sits at a computer
Taynisha Berenguer

Last week, Hillsborough County Social Services opened up a special call center, designed to help people who lost their jobs or had their pay cut due to the coronavirus pandemic. The county had $15 million in federal funds to distribute, and eligible callers could get help paying two months of mortgage or rent, plus one month of utilities. The call center ran out of money within four days, and has since closed down.

Calls were answered by public library employees like Taynisha Berenguer, who says even though she’s accustomed to people asking her all kinds of questions in her usual role, answering the Social Services line during the COVID-19 pandemic was quite an education.

A portion of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge collapsed into Tampa Bay in May 1980 after it was struck by a cargo ship.
"The Skyway Bridge Disaster" / YouTube

A documentary about the 1980 Sunshine Skyway disaster has been released for on-demand audiences as the tragedy reaches its 40th anniversary. 

A private company with permission to conduct a controlled burn this week in Santa Rosa County could be hit with a hefty price tag for letting the fire get out of control.

At 9 p.m. Wednesday, the Monday fire, named the Five Mile Swamp fire, had consumed 2,000 acres of land in central Santa Rosa County, destroyed a dozen homes and damaged several other structures.

Clearwater Beach
DAYLINA MILLER/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

As more folks flock to Pinellas County beaches now that they’re open, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has launched a tool that will help beach-goers plan their day.

Updated at 8:43 a.m. ET

Another 3.2 million people filed for unemployment for the first time last week, bringing the total number of jobs lost during the coronavirus crisis in the last seven weeks to at least 33.5 million.

Last week's number was down from the nearly 3.9 million initial claims filed the week ending April 25, and filings have fallen for five weeks in a row.

The claims numbers come one day before the release of the April jobs report, which is expected to show a staggering jump in unemployment to around 16%.

Woman playing a guitar and singing
SRQLive

From job loss, to balancing work from home to the isolation of following stay-at-home orders, coronavirus has changed our everyday lives. WUSF is giving you a voice to share those experiences.

Today, we meet Sarasota based singer-songwriter Sara Nelms. Before the pandemic, Nelms had an active schedule with gigs at bars, restaurants and clubs.

In her own words, Nelms shares what it means to be a performer at this time of social distancing.

Hundreds of thousands laid-off workers who can’t get their unemployment money from the state of Florida got more bad news Wednesday. A state judge says she had no authority to order the immediate payment of jobless claims.

blurred rows of library shelves with books
iStock

According to “Phase 1” of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ plan to reopen Florida, libraries can open at 25 percent capacity. However, the plan leaves the decision up to local governments.

Some Tampa Bay area counties are acting quicker than others to reopen.

A pandemic and a hurricane? Yes, it could happen.

Imaging self-isolating at home, and being without power, running water, or access to food for days, if not weeks. It’s a reality we hope never materializes, but one we can’t be certain of. Therefore, attempting to stock up on everyday essentials now will make surviving a storm much easier, and it could possibly save your life.

Mosquito season isn't officially here yet, but they are starting to appear already.

And this year, there's a new question: can mosquitoes spread coronavirus? 

If there's some good news, the answer is "no."

Find Your Evacuation Zone

May 6, 2020

Not everyone needs to evacuate from a hurricane, but if you do, knowing your zone will make it much easier to know when to go.

As a hurricane approaches, emergency managers will tell residents when to leave based on the zone they live in. Even if you can’t see the water, it may still be necessary to evacuate depending on your proximity to nearby waterways and points of access. Conversely, if you don’t need to evacuate, you may be asked to ride out the storm at home to prevent unnecessary traffic on evacuation routes.

Determine Your Risk from a Hurricane

May 6, 2020

Hurricanes are not just a coastal problem. Life and property can also be at risk hundreds of miles inland. The hazards, however, are not the same for all locations.

Most residents in hurricane prone areas understand how intense the winds can be. However, many may not realize -- or prepare for -- other hazards a storm presents, several of which that are far more deadly than the wind.

Understanding your risk is the first step to preparing for the possible life-altering effects from a storm.  

Updated at 10:06 p.m. ET

The IRS has paid out more than $207 billion in coronavirus relief payments to individual taxpayers, as part of the $2 trillion package passed by Congress known as the CARES Act.

And among the recipients of those $1,200 payments are the bank accounts of dead individuals — a problem that could impact millions of American families.

DIOCESE OF ST. PETERSBURG

Some Catholics across Tampa Bay will soon be able to attend public Masses again. Just not on Sundays.

Health Care worker's hands holding COVID-19 testing kit.
Manatee County Government

Governor Ron DeSantis was in Sarasota Tuesday to discuss the state’s latest response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at a new COVID-19 testing site at the University Town Center Mall, the governor said Florida is ramping up testing and loosening restrictions on who can get screened for the virus.

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