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Health News Florida
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 can help. Our responsibility is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

Latest On Coronavirus: Schools Closed Through May 1, Pastor Arrested, And More

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.. Monday, March 30, according to the

5,489 – Florida Residents | 9 – Florida Cases Repatriated | 215 – Non-Florida Residents | 71 – Deaths

CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And WUSF Public Media

NEWSLETTER: Sign Up For Coronavirus Updates From Health News Florida

Florida Schools To Remain Closed Through May 1

Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran is recommending the state’s K-12 public schools remain closed through May 1.

Guidance from the Florida Department of Health and the CDC led to Monday's decision. In addition, President Trump announced Sunday the extension of social distancing guidelines through the end of April.

The decision is up the state’s 67 county school boards, not Corcoran. Most have indicated they'll follow the recommendation.

Distance learning, which began for many districts Monday, will continue during that time.

--  Mark Schreiner

Hillsborough To Reopen Raymond James Stadium Testing Site

Hillsborough County Emergency Management has secured another 1,500 COVID-19 testing collection kits from the state and will be re-opening its community collection testing site in the Raymond James Stadium parking lot in Tampa.

The site will reopen Wednesday and run from 8 to 11 a.m. through Friday.

Drive-thru testing will be administered by appointment only to symptomatic patients that have pre-registered and been pre-screened through Hillsborough County's call center. People who do not have a designated primary care physician or are uninsured are eligible for pre-screening and pre-registration through the call center.

They'll take appointments Tuesday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 813-272-5900. [ Read more]

-- Mark Schreiner

Hillsborough County Sees Largest Daily Increase In COVID-19 Cases

According to figures released by the Florida Department of Health just after 6 p.m. Monday, 5,704 people have tested positive for COVID-19.

71 people have died in Florida from the coronavirus.

The total number of people testing positive is up 754 from the same period Sunday evening.

Hillsborough County again led the Tampa Bay area in new infections, with an increase of 45 people over the same time Sunday. It was the largest daily increase for the county since the coronavirus outbreak began. [ Read more]

-- Lisa Peakes

Tampa Pastor Arrested After Church Hosts In-Person Worship

The pastor of a Tampa church who hosted two large Sunday services, even busing people in, is free on bond after being arrested.

Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne of The River Church violated Hillsborough County's safer-at-home order said Sheriff Chad Chronister.

Howard-Browne was arrested on a warrant for unlawful assembly and violation of public health emergency rules, both of which are second degree misdemeanors. Hillsborough authorities confirmed his arrest via email, saying he was taken into custody at his home in Hernando County around 1:30 p.m. Monday.

He bonded out for $500.

In a Facebook video, Howard-Browne said worship services are protected by the First Amendment. It's also exempt from the county order, he said.

"We are not a non-essential service. We are vital to any community, to health and the well-being,” he said. “And the very thought that if people come to church, you're going to kill them, that's garbage." [ Read more]

-- Bradley George & Daylina Miller

DeSantis: Cruise Ship With Sick Passsengers Not Wanted At Florida's Ports

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn't want a cruise ship where four people died and others are sick to offload passengers for treatment in the state.

Speaking at a news conference at a testing center outside the Hard Rock Stadium on Monday, he said Florida can't treat outsiders right now.

The Holland America cruise line says the passengers on board include 304 Americans. DeSantis said doctors should be sent to treat passengers on board.

DeSantis also told a press conference that he expects South Florida's four counties — Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe — to be on near-lockdown until mid-May.

-- Associated Press

Sarasota County Reporting 2 Nursing Homes Treating People With COVID-19

Two Sarasota County nursing homes are treating people with coronavirus.

At a press conference Monday, Chuck Henry, a health officer with the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County, acknowledged active cases of covid-19 in the elder care facilities.  He said the department remains in contact with all of the county's assisted living facilities.

"Anytime we hear of an illness, even before a diagnosis is made, we're sending local teams out to meet with staff at those facilities to make sure that those individuals are being properly isolated, that they have the PPE they need and that they are doing all their infectious control procedures to prevent spread in those facilities,” said Henry.

Seniors are most at risk from the illnesses caused by the coronavirus.

Last week, Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees issued a health advisory asking people 65 and older and people with serious “underlying medical conditions” to stay in their homes.

-- Cathy Carter

State Sent Weekend Emergency Alert

The emergency alert text message you received over the weekend — warning you to social distance — was from the state.

During a press conference Saturday afternoon, Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state would be sending a text message out to all Floridians to reiterate the Florida Surgeon General’s public health advisory:  “FL Surgeon Gen: Stay home if 65+ or have medical conditions. All Follow social distancing,” the text read.

“Protect yourself. Now’s not the time to go outside,” DeSantis said.

- WLRN

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