An epidemiologist answers the biggest questions she’s getting about coronavirus.
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We’ll update this story throughout the day with the latest news about coronavirus and its effects in Florida.
After ballooning to more than 500 cases in Friday’s midday report, the total number of COVID-19 cases jumped again in the evening report from the state Department of Health.
There are now 563 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Florida, according to the state Department of Health.
Eleven Florida residents to test positive for COVID-19 have died, according to the state Department of Health. The state’s eleventh death comes out of Pasco County, where there are seven confirmed cases of COVID-19. The victim is identified as a 46-year-old male who is said to have had contact with a confirmed case. It is the state’s youngest fatality on record.
An additional death was reported in earlier advisories but has since been removed because the victim was identified as a Georgia resident who died in Florida and is listed under Georgia’s jurisdiction, the agency said Friday. That death was listed as a 48-year-old female in Leon County, according to the state Department of Health.
The ages of the deceased range from 46 to 92.
- A 68-year-old female in Orange County.
- A 79-year-old female in Orange County.
- A 77-year-old male in Broward County.
- A 92-year-old male in Broward County.
- A 77-year-old male in Lee County.
- A 77-year-old female in Lee County.
- An 83-year-old male in Duval County.
- A 70-year-old male in Clay County.
- A 71-year-old male in Santa Rosa County.
- A 48-year-old female in Leon County.
- A 70-year-old male in Manatee County
- A 46-year-old male in Pasco County.
Three of the deaths were known to be travel related, two were unknown. The other six were not travel related.
Positive cases continue to increase for those ages ranging from 20-49, where there are 228 confirmed cases, or 40% of the state’s total number of cases. Test results are pending for 1,095 people.
Nearly 6,000 have tested negative for the novel coronavirus, according to data from the state Deparment of Health.
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Several counties around the state have reported no cases of the virus, mostly in North Florida and in the south central portion of the state.
Here are the latest numbers available from the Florida Department of Health:
Number of cases continues to grow; DeSantis issues new orders
Overnight Thursday to Friday the number of Floridians infected grew by 81, a 20% increase to 474 cases, with the state’s Department of Health reporting another 46 cases in non-Florida residents.
That’s a total of 520 cases as the virus has spread to 35 of the state’s 67 counties, records show.
Friday morning, Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered “all movie theatres, concert houses, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys, arcades, gymnasiums, fitness studios and beaches to close in Broward County and Palm Beach County” until March 31.
In a separate order, he also allowed local governments to meet by teleconferencing to comply with the federal guidelines of social-distancing measures. Local governments may now use “telephon(e) and video conferencing,” suspending any Florida laws that require a quorum by physical presence.
Gov. DeSantis orders restaurants to close dining areas
State restaurants and food-service establishments must close their dining rooms and use their kitchens solely for takeout and delivery purposes, under directive issued Friday by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The executive order is to “take immediate effect” and is issued for 60 days, through at least the start of May. Also included in the order is immediate closure of gymnasiums and fitness centers.
If Florida can’t suppress the spread of COVID-19, there might not be enough ventilators for all the patients in the Sunshine State.
Coronavirus preparation prompts Volusia jail to release some non-violent offenders
The Volusia County Branch Jail plans to release 88 inmates who are being held on non-violent charges to help prevent a coronavirus outbreak at the jail, which so far has had no cases of the virus.
The 88 inmates were being held on a variety of misdemeanor and felony charges, including possession of cocaine, reckless driving, trespassing, possession of paraphernalia, defrauding an innkeeper, petit theft, fraudulent use of personal identification, burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, possession of heroin, according to court documents.
The Volusia County Branch Jail’s plan is similar to what is being done in Hillsborough County, which is releasing some inmates to allow corrections staff to work on higher priorities.
UCF student confirmed to have contracted COVID-19
8:34 p.m. Thursday
A University of Central Florida student was confirmed to have COVID-19, according to an email sent out by the university Thursday evening.
“The student is recovering away from UCF, and has our best wishes for good health,” said Rachael Williams, UCF Communications.
“Student Health Services is in direct contact with his roommates and, following guidance from the Department of Health, we’ve reached out to his faculty members and classmates to request they monitor their health.”
Government, hospitals prepare for increase in COVID-19 cases
With tests for COVID-19 heading to every region of Florida, the state is seeing a huge uptick in cases being discovered, and officials are preparing for a potential surge by ordering more supplies than needed to meet the current demand.
To fight the coronavirus pandemic, they are also preaching the gospel of social distancing, shutting down bars and nightclubs, closing beaches and parks and zoos, and trying to make sure hospitals have enough room to accommodate patients who have more extreme symptoms of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
Restaurants, bars could face license suspensions should they violate COVID-19 executive order
5:15 p.m. Thursday
Restaurants, bars and nightclubs that do not comply with restrictions in the governor’s COVID-19 executive order may face license suspensions, according to Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
Bars and nightclubs across the state that derive more than 50% of their gross revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages are required to stop the sale of alcohol under the order.
The order also requires restaurants to limit their occupancy rate to 50% and follow CDC guidelines by ensuring a 6-foot distance between groups while limiting parties to no more than 10 people.
As worries mount, ‘look for the helpers’ – and if you safely can, be one
5:33 p.m. Thursday
Unlike COVID-19, that Mr. Rogers-like “Look for the helpers” mentality is spreading in a productive viral way. Individuals and teams of like-minded people are reaching out to see what others need. They’re starting support groups through social media. Assisting family and friends.Rallying help through their churches and other groups. Tossing aside political affiliation in a time of shared uncertainty.
Look for the helpers in this worry-filled time — they’re out there.
6-year-old in South Florida has tested positive for coronavirus
4:12 p.m. Thursday
A 6-year-old girl in Florida has tested positive for the coronavirus, authorities have confirmed.
The Palm Beach County unit of the Florida Department of Health has confirmed that the student at a suburban Boca Raton school is the same 6-year-old reported earlier this week as the youngest person to contract the illness so far in the county. A state report had said it was a boy.
Publix offers ‘senior shopping hours’
3:30 p.m. Thursday
Amid coronavirus concerns, Publix aims to be that place “where shopping is a pleasure.”
Less than a week after the Lakeland-based grocery chain announced it would close its stores two hours early to restock and clean, Publix released times and days for “senior shopping hours.” Older adults and those with underlying health conditions are more susceptible to COVID-19.
National shortages threaten COVID-19 response while scientists try to get needed resources
11:39 a.m. Thursday
A global and national shortage of critical supplies needed to carry out COVID-19 testing threatens to hamstring the United State’s beleaguered pandemic response.
Researchers across the country are sending out waves of emails with urgent calls for reagents, the basic chemical compounds needed to test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus by isolating and identifying its genetic identity. They also need masks and swabs.
Officials from Florida to Oklahoma and California have started to sound the alarm.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday alluded to a lack of supplies in Florida labs.
“We’re making sure the labs have enough reagents to be able to do the tests,” he said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, here are some steps you can take if you think you have coronavirus.
‘If I get corona, I get corona’: Coronavirus pandemic doesn’t slow spring breakers’ party
9:34 a.m. Thursday
It’s spring break and even a pandemic doesn’t appear to be stopping some people’s plans.
As many Americans continue practicing social distancing to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus, videos and photos of spring breakers in Florida have poured in, showing many undeterred by the threat of COVID-19.
“If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day I’m not going to let it stop me from partying,” spring break goer Brady Sluder told Reuters in Miami.
Several Florida cities and counties have decided to close beaches to limit the spread of the virus.
“It’s really messing up with my spring break. What is there to do here other than go to bars or the beach? And they’re closing all of it,” a woman named Brianna Leeder said in a CBS News video.
Walton County attorney and beach advocate Daniel Uhlfelder interviews spring breakers about why they’re not worried about COVID-19.
Pensacola News Journal
Cash collection on state toll roads suspended; drivers to receive bill in mail
8:45 a.m. Thursday
The Central Florida Expressway Authority is suspending cash collection for tolls on Florida roads, shifting to license plate tolling, known as Pay by Plate.
The change when into effect at 8 a.m. today March 19, according to a news release from the organization.
The temporary suspension was made to reduce the potential exposure of both drivers and employees from the COVID-19 virus.
Drivers who normally pay cash at toll booths will continue to pay the cash rate and will receive a Pay by Plate billing statement in the mail for tolls incurred.
It’s vital to clean surfaces you touch every day amid the coronavirus outbreak. Here are mistakes to avoid.
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- Prepare for coronavirus pandemic, experts say, but don’t panic
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