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Latest On Coronavirus: Florida Tops 15,000 Cases And 300 Deaths, USF Virtual Commencement, And More

The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

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

Total positive cases of coronavirus as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 8 according to the 

15,234 – Florida Residents | 9 – Florida Cases Repatriated | 464 – Non-Florida Residents | 323 – Deaths

CORONAVIRUS:  Complete Coverage From WUSF And WUSF Public Media 

NEWSLETTER:  Sign Up For Coronavirus Updates From Health News Florida

Florida Cases Exceed 15,000

The latest information from the Florida Department of Health shows that 15,698 people have contracted COVID-19 in Florida, and 323 people have died in the state.

COVID-19 infections are expected to peak in Florida in two weeks, and Wednesday morning's report is consistent with that projection, indicating that coronavirus activity has yet to taper off.

951 more people have tested positive in the past 24 hours.

Among the most recent Tampa Bay deaths:

  • A 55 year-old man from Hillsborough County whose travel history or contact with other people with COVID-19 are unknown,
  • An 85 year old man from Pinellas County who was determined to have been in contact with another infected person
  • A 75 year-old woman from Manatee County with no history of travel or known contact with another person

-- Lisa Peakes

USF Announces Virtual Spring Commencement

The  is announcing plans for the thousands of students whose traditional commencement ceremonies scheduled for May have been cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

USF will expand the number of its in-person ceremonies, scheduled for August 6 through 9, to provide spring graduates an opportunity to participate. Those plans are subject to what recommendations for large gatherings are like come this summer. [ Read more]

-- Mark Schreiner

DeSantis Pushing Hydroxychloroquine

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to stock hospitals with Hydroxychloroquine. DeSantis has been  working with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries to get shipments of the drug.

Dr. Sunil Kumar specializes in pulmonary and critical care medicine. He works at Broward Health Medical Center. Kumar says his center was initially using Hydroxychloroquine with a Z-Pak, an antibiotic. He says his center has started using Hydroxychloroquine with different medications. But he says it's just one of several experimental options for treating coronavirus patients.

"I have to be very careful. I don't want people to assume that's the only thing that's available," Kumar says. [ Read more]

-- Robbie Gaffney, WFSU

Food Banks: How To Help, And Get Help

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic are taking a toll on how and where people are getting food. While supplies are sometimes taxed in some grocery stores, people without jobs and without an income still need to eat.

Throughout Tampa Bay, food banks and pantries are attempting to serve the community. Here are some of their stories: [ Read more]

-- Vanessa Henry

DeBartolos Donate $7.65M To Tampa General Hospital

Former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., who now lives in the Tampa Bay area, has donated $7.65 million to Tampa General Hospital to help support their COVID-19 relief efforts.

DeBartolo and his wife, Candy, made the donation over five months, according to a news release.

It includes money to pay for equipment, including ventilators, and to open a dedicated unit to treat COVID-19 patients.

“It is critical that, in times of need, our community members with the means to do so find ways to give back and support our first responders who are on the front lines of this battle,” DeBartolo said in the release. “I have been so encouraged by the outpouring of love from our community and wanted to do something to honor these health care heroes.”

Forbes lists DeBartolo as the 319th richest person in the U.S. with a net worth of $2.6 billion. He runs DeBartolo Holdings out of his Tampa office, and in 2007, co-founded the Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School with former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks, a fellow Pro Football Hall of Famer.

--  Carl Lisciandrello

Pinellas Clarifies Essential Services List

To help local businesses comply with public safety rules under the statewide and county "Safer at Home" orders, Pinellas County has issued expanded guidance on which services are considered essential during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, animal shelters, automotive dealers and repair shops, bicycle shops, gun sales, insurance, moving companies and Realtors are among the essential services added to the existing guidance.

The updated guidance also adds several types of businesses to a list of non-essential services, which means they must close under the order. These include: boat and kayak sales, charters and rentals, tailors and alterations, yard, garage and estate sales and others.

-- Mark Schreiner

Florida Attorney General Warns Of Price Gouging

Florida’s Attorney General is cracking down on price gouging for supplies meant to stop the spread of COVID-19. That includes protective masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant.

The agency says it saw third-party sellers on Amazon hiking prices and has issued more than 40 subpoenas. Attorney General Ashley Moody released a video on her YouTube page urging Floridians to report price gouging when they see it.

“Our office has secured more than $100,000 in refunds for consumers and issued dozens of subpoenas to further our price gouging investigations,” Moody said. “We will not relent in these efforts to protect Floridians from gouging and COVID-19 related scams during this unprecedented time of crisis.”

There are three ways to report price gouging. People can call 1-866-9NO-SCAM, visit, or download a price gouging reporting app called NO SCAM.

-- Robbie Gaffney, WFSU

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Carl Lisciandrello is digital news editor of WUSF Public Media.
Carl Lisciandrello
Carl Lisciandrello is digital news editor of WUSF Public Media.
Lisa Peakes is the local host of NPR's All Things Considered on WUSF 89.7.