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Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Re-Open Florida Task Force has launched a public comment submission portal open to all Floridians.

MARIA TSYRULEVA/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

Folks who have been hoping Pinellas County officials will move forward with a plan to reopen the county’s beaches now have a powerful ally.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

Two years ago, a group of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and their teacher worked together to finish making a yearbook after tragedy.

This year, some of the same students are putting out another yearbook, again, under circumstances that are anything but normal. The coronavirus pandemic. 

 

Hurricane Dorian satellite
NOAA

Florida officials are considering adjusting the state’s hurricane-response plans to prepare for the possibility of an early storm season intersecting with the COVID-19 pandemic, Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz said Friday.

 


Some parts of the state are gradually reopening, even as the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continue rising.

Tampa Bay skyline at sunset
Visit Tampa Bay

State and local officials are optimistic that Florida may be past the peak of coronavirus infection, but a new report from the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council shows that the six area counties are going to take longer to financially recover than most parts of the country.

As the world's 1.8 billion Muslims begin observing the holy month of Ramadan, traditionally a time of dawn-to-dusk fasting, festivities and communal prayer, an unprecedented global pandemic is changing the celebration this year in equally unprecedented ways.

FLORIDA PUBLIC RADIO EMERGENCY NETWORK

A line of heavy thunderstorms is crossing the Florida Peninsula this morning and is likely to continue throughout the day.

Damaging winds, large hail, and tornadoes are possible across North Florida beginning as early as midday Thursday, as a powerful low pressure storm system carves through the Deep South. 

The risk of potentially destructive weather is greatest in the Panhandle Thursday afternoon and evening, followed by The

A contentious civil rights trial is slated to start next Monday in federal court. On the one side sits the state of Florida and a slew of other states supporting it.

On the other, thousands of potential voters who are currently barred from participating in elections because of the one thing they lack: money.

Closed sign at Upper Tampa Bay Park
CARL LISCIANDRELLO/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

Things are returning to normal across Tampa Bay.

Library worker, wearing mask, handing out unemployment form
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM/FACEBOOK

Libraries around the Tampa Bay area are offering paper unemployment forms to people who don’t have access to a printer.

(Updated at 10:45 a.m. Thurs., April 23, with Sarasota County information)

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

Sarasota County Commissioners have voted to reopen beaches.

But there will be restrictions.

Beginning Monday, people will be able to walk, swim and fish at Sarasota County beaches. These are deemed as "essential activities" outlined by Governor Ron DeSantis' stay-at-home order.

Mayor Rick Kriseman stands behind a podium at the city's emergency operations center
City of St. Petersburg

While some models say Florida and St. Petersburg may have passed the peak rate of coronavirus infections, that doesn’t mean people should be throwing house parties anytime soon.

In his weekly COVID-19 update, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said Tuesday the city will not be lifting social distancing orders without a serious review.

Epcot at night
iStock

Expect “virtual” or expanded FastPass-style lines, staggered seating on rides, online food ordering and limited crowds when Florida’s major theme parks eventually reopen after being shuttered during the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Philip Bryant

It appears Tom Brady will be reunited with his favorite receiver in Tampa Bay.

Tornadoes, wind damage and hail are possible again in parts of Florida for the second time this week.

Another strong storm system is poised to sweep across the Southeast Thursday Night and Friday, producing clusters of strong thunderstorms ahead of it. The risk of destructive weather is greatest in the Florida Panhandle Thursday afternoon and evening, followed by peninsular locations along and north of I-4 Thursday night and Friday.

Rainbow wrist bands
Daylina Miller/WUSF News

St. Pete Pride, one of the largest LGBTQIA celebrations in the Southeast, has announced it is postponing this year’s event due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Manatee County administration bulding with an American Flag
Cathy Carter

After almost two-and-a-half weeks, Manatee County Commisioners have lifted a temporary local curfew.

The board first voted to enact the measure on April 3. It was in effect every night from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department would support legal action against states that continue to impose strict social distancing rules even after coronavirus cases begin to subside in their respective states.

In a Tuesday interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, Barr called some current stay-at-home orders "burdens on civil liberties" and said that if they continued and lawsuits were brought, his department would side against the state.

South Florida has been sizzling in recent weeks, with a slew of new record high temperatures, and a record for the number of records being smashed.

There’s something else heating up: the ocean. And that could be bad for hurricane season.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, left, and St. Petersburg Mayor  Rick Kriseman
CITY OF TAMPA/FACEBOOK

The leaders of Tampa and St. Petersburg  spoke to each other - and their communities - during a Facebook Live video Monday afternoon.

crowd in stands at Tropicana Field
Tampa Bay Rays

The Pinellas County School District and Tampa Bay Rays are working to ensure area high school seniors receive a traditional graduation ceremony at Tropicana Field.

A woman at a podium is surrounded by advocates holding TPS support signs and American flags.
Holly Pretsky/WLRN

Since taking office, President Donald Trump has ended protections for immigrants from six countries affected by natural disasters, war, or other dangerous conditions.

In Florida, about 3,000 of the people at risk for losing legal Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, work in the health care industry. TPS allows them to live and work in the U.S. These people will be sent back to their home country when the Department of Homeland Security terminates their status.

Updated at 4:53 p.m. ET

The dramatic collapse in worldwide demand for oil led to an extraordinary development on Monday: U.S. oil prices fell below zero for the first time ever, and kept falling.

The key U.S. oil benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, settled at negative $37.63.

Driven by a trading contract deadline, traders desperately looked for buyers for the barrels of oil they normally hold in their books. But buyers were hard to find — even when the oil was being given away for free.

Unemployment claim form
iStock

Florida has processed its hundreds of thousands of new unemployment claims more slowly than any other state.

A broken line of thunderstorms will be sweeping across Central Florida Monday, and some of the cells could produce damaging wind gusts up to 60 mph and frequent cloud-to-ground lightning. An isolated tornado or hail is also possible from the strongest storms, although those risks appear low at this time.

House with a pool for rent.
Airbnb.com

Last week, Gov. Ron De Santis extended an executive order suspending short-term vacation rentals because of COVID-19. Short-term renting will not be allowed until at least April 30.

The order only restricts the opening of homes and condominiums, not hotels, inns, and resorts. Long-terms rentals are also allowed. This has sparked a negative reaction among homeowners who rent their places to tourists and who have been greatly affected by the new rules. 

woman who was an elected official in Manatee County, Florida
Manatee County Government

Former Manatee County Commissioner Gwendolyn Brown has died from complications related to the coronavirus.

Brown, 68, was the county's first African-American commissioner.

Lakeland Police (Facebook)

A union representing the Lakeland Police Department has requested its members be given extra "pandemic pay" for working during the coronavirus outbreak.

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