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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: Spike In Tampa Bay Deaths, Hillsborough Reopening Its Parks, And More

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
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 11 a.m. Thursday, April 30, according to the Florida Department of Health:

32,810 – Florida Residents | 889 – Non-Florida Residents | 1,268 – Deaths

CORONAVIRUS:  Complete Coverage From WUSF And Health News Florida

NEWSLETTER:  Sign Up For Coronavirus Updates From Health News Florida

Spike In Tampa Bay Deaths

Coronavirus deaths are spiking in the seven counties around the Tampa metro area this week. Over the past three days, there have been 45 deaths across Sarasota, Manatee, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk, Pasco and Hernando counties.

That's more than any three-day span since the COVID-19 outbreak began.

Twenty-one of the deaths were reported Tuesday. And the state reported 12 Tampa Bay are deaths on both Wednesday and Thursday.

Overall, 1,268 people have died in Florida; an increase of 50 since Wednesday morning. [ Read more]

-- Lisa Peakes

Hillsborough Parks Are Reopening

After they were closed more than a month ago, the majority of Hillsborough County parks, preserves and trails will be reopening within the next week.

County officials said visitors will still need to adhere to social distancing guidelines, and portions of the parks will remain closed – including playgrounds, picnic areas, and kayak/canoe facilities.

Nature preserves will open on Saturday, along with the E.G. Simmons Conservation Park. Several conservation parks, and walking trails in six neighborhood parks, will reopen on Monday. [ Read more]

-- Carl Lisciandrello

What Politicians Are Saying About Phase 1

The announcement of Gov. Ron DeSantis' plan to reopen the state amid the coronavirus pandemic has drawn both praise and criticism from a slew of representatives and local leaders across Florida.

Some lawmakers thanked the governor for what they call a step in the right direction.

Others criticized him for not addressing continued problems with the unemployment system and the lack of testing in the state. [ Read more]

-- Jonah Hinebaugh

More Than 432,000 Jobless Claims Last Week

Labor officials say more than 432,000 Floridians filed for unemployment benefits last week. It was the most of any U.S. state.

It's the latest wave of jobless claims that have swamped the state’s beleaguered unemployment system since coronavirus-caused lockdowns closed theme parks, shuttered restaurants and halted travel.

The U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday that 432,465 initial claims for jobless benefits were filed in Florida last week. That's down slightly from the previous week’s more than half-million claims.

More than 2 million jobless claims have been filed in Florida since mid-March, and more than 835,000 claims have been verified by state workers.

-- Associated Press

What Restrictions Are Eased Under Phase 1 Of Reopening

Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday told Floridians what “Phase 1” of his plan to re-open the state looks like. Relaxed restrictions will take effect Monday, May 4 statewide with the exception of Florida’s hardest-hit counties, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward.

Here's a guide of what restrictions are relaxed, and what you still won't be able to do. [ Read more]

-- Ryan Dailey, WFSU

Manatee Beaches To Reopen With Parking Restrictions

Manatee County beaches will reopen  onday under social distancing guidelines, and with restrictions on parking.

Visitors will receive two hours of free parking each day, “to enjoy the beach with minimal restrictions,” according to a news release. Those parked longer than two hours will receive a parking citation and fine.

The parking spaces at the county’s three public beaches will be open starting Monday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Parking is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Unlike other areas that have opened their beaches just for “essential activities” such as running, biking and fishing, sunbathing at Manatee beaches will be allowed. [ Read more]

-- Carl Lisciandrello

DeSantis Announces Plans To Reopen State

Governor Ron DeSantis says plans to reopen the state of Florida will begin next week, but excludes Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

During a Wednesday afternoon news conference, DeSantis announced that starting Monday, restaurants and retail locations will be able to reopen to customers, at about 25 percent capacity.

Elective surgeries also can resume statewide.

It’s been several weeks since DeSantis issued shutdown orders across the state, severely limiting business and other activities.

But he says other restrictions will be lifted not by a certain date, but based on data about the number of positive cases of COVID-19. [ Read more]

-- Mary Shedden

State Officials Block Medical Examiners From Releasing Data On Deaths

State officials are blocking Florida medical examiners from releasing their own list of coronavirus deaths, according to the Tampa Bay Times, which had previously reported the medical examiners' death count was at one point 10 percent higher than the official number released by the state.

Health News Florida's Stephanie Colombini spoke with Times reporter Kathleen McGrory, who along with Rebecca Woolington  has been covering the story.  [ Read more]

USF Discusses Phased Approach For Fall Reopening

While Florida businesses and institutions are trying to figure out how - and how fast - they'll reopen under Gov. Ron DeSantis' plan, universities are also discussing how they will bring students back to campus.

Like many others, the University of South Florida is looking at a phased approach.

During a Tuesday virtual Town Hall for students, System President Steven Curall said that USF’s goal is to reopen the three campuses for the fall semester. [ Read more]

-- Angela Cordoba Perez

The Changes Coming To Tampa International Airport 

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to reshape daily life, Tampa International Airport has begun to make changes and preparations for the return of passengers and other personnel in this time of uncertainty. 

After alluding to the changes last week, airport CEO Joe Lapano made the official announcement  Wednesday, dubbing the airport-wide effort as, “TPA Ready.”

The list includes mandates that call for social distancing, use of face coverings, plastic shield barriers, surface disinfection, and touchless transactions. [ Read more]

-- Thomas Iacobucci

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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.