Latest On Coronavirus: 'Shelter In Place' On Hold in Hillsborough; Kriseman Wants Stay-At-Home Order

Mar 23, 2020
Originally published on March 24, 2020 5:48 am

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 23, according to the Florida Department of Health.

1,147 – Florida Residents |6 – Florida Cases Repatriated | 80– Non-Florida Residents | 17 Deaths

Three More Floridians Die From Coronavirus; Florida Department Of Health Corrects Death Toll

The latest update from the Florida Department of Health shows the number of people in the state who have tested positive for COVID-19 is 1,227.

The 6 p.m. update said that 17 people have died from coronavirus - three more than Monday morning. The Department of Health had originally reported four more people had died, but corrected the figure shortly before 11 p.m.

The three people who had died had tested positive for COVID-19 in Clay, Duval, and Palm Beach counties.

The total number of positive tests is 56 more than the 11 a.m. update and 220 since Sunday evening, according to health officials.

-- Lisa Peakes

DeSantis Orders New Yorkers Flying In To Self-Quarantine

Gov. Ron DeSantis is ordering anyone flying into Florida from areas of New York and New Jersey where there's a high prevalance of COVID-19 to self-quarantine for 14 days.

DeSantis made the comments during a Monday afternoon news conference, hours after he warned that an influx of flights to New York could hamper the state’s efforts to contain the coronavirus.

“Hopefully that will be a deterrent for people if you’re simply trying to escape here to avoid the restrictions that have been put in place in your own state,” DeSantis said. “That is probably not a good idea.”

DeSantis said he does not intend to copy other states that have issued statewide lockdowns, but said it is something he would consider if measures that Florida has taken fail to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

-- Carl Lisciandrello

Hillsborough May Vote On Curfew; 'Shelter In Place' On Hold

An order for everyone in Hillsborough County to abide by a curfew between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. may be voted on as soon as Thursday, after a countywide emergency policy group postponed a decision on Monday.

The group, made up of county commissioners, three city mayors, the sheriff and head of the county school board. also indicated it may not issue a shelter-in place order for Hillsborough residents right away.

That may be discussed "at a later date," said County Commissioner Sandy Murman, who led a proposal to get more information before issuing a countywide curfew.  The two-day delay was approved by a 6-2 vote, with Commissioner Kimberly Overman and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor voting no.

The Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group met via conference call Monday to discuss the county's response to coronavirus.  Castor had pressed the group to enact a stay-at-home order to blunt an expected surge of cases of COVID-19.

"Ths is asking people to stay inside, stay away from each other. There are exemptions for businesses to remain in operation," Castor said during the teleconference. "If we continue to put off and put off and put off this to wait for more information, we're going to get behind on this virus.''

Dr. Douglas Holt, head of the Hillsborough County office of the Florida Department of Health, said an order for people to stay at home might not be the best thing to do with just a local or a regional approach, as Gov. Ron DeSantis is not yet ordering shelter-in-place statewide.

-- Steve Newborn

Kriseman Calls for Stay-At-Home Order

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he wants to avoid imposing a statewide lockdown because of the coronavirus, and leave it up to individual counties.

But St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is joining Tampa Mayor Jane Castor in saying a statewide, uniform order would better protect Floridians.

In a Tweet Kriseman posted Monday afternoon, he said if there's no statewide "stay at home" order, cities and other municipalities like St. Pete are likely to move forward on their own.

St. Petersburg spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez later said a stay-at-home order is not imminent.

-- Mark Schreiner

Hillsborough School Site Down

If you're having trouble logging into your child's Edsby account, you're not alone.

As Hillsborough County schools make the switch to remote instruction, teachers and parents are having trouble logging into the county's online learning platform.

When parents tried to log in to their child's Edsby accounts Monday, they were met with an error message.

Grading for area students resume in full Monday, March 30, after a week-long troubleshooting period.

-- Delaney Brown

Gov. DeSantis Details New Coronavirus Testing Initiatives

The Villages retirement community in Central Florida is the latest drive-thru site for coronavirus testing in the state.

Governor Ron DeSantis said Monday morning that people from all over -- not just residents of The Villages -- can drive in with their cars and their golf carts.

"So you'll have 25 volunteer UF health medical professionals, Villages health personnel, and over 100 volunteer UF medical physician and assistant nursing students will work together to operate the testing site,” DeSantis said during a Monday news conference at The Villages. [Read more]

-- Jessica Meszaros

Florida Parks Closed

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is closing all state parks to the public effective Monday.

In the announcement, which came Sunday night, department officials said they tried to keep the parks open with limited operating hours and reduced visitor capacity at the most popular parks. [Read more]

-- Mark Schreiner

Pinellas County To Release Inmates

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has significantly reduced its jail population.

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said at a press conference on Saturday that his agency released about 200 people.

Pinellas deputies are workinThe Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has significantly reduced its jail population after detainees were forced to sleep on the floor because the Florida Department of Corrections stopped accepting inmates from county jails.

At a press conference Saturday about the closure of Pinellas beaches due to coronavirus, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said his agency released about 200 people, and that Pinellas deputies are working to keep the jail population low, including making fewer arrests.

"The officers and the deputies are making good decisions as we ask them to do about using alternatives such as notices to appear and using discretion to make an arrest so that the normal amount of arrests that we see in the jail it's probably about a quarter to a third of what it ordinarily is," said Gualtieri.

Gualtieri said he's been in contact with the State Attorney and others to process the releases. [Read more]

-- Jessica Meszaros

BayCare Consolidates Testing Locations

BayCare Health System is consolidating its drive-through COVID-19 testing sites to one high-volume location per county effective Monday.

According to a release, officials say they are reducing the number of locations in West Central Florida from seven to four.

The hours also are shifting to 9 a.m. to noon, officials said. [Read more]

-- Carl Lisciandrello

Castor Expected  To Urge Stay-At-Home Order

 

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor is expected to ask Hillsborough County leaders to consider a county-wide “stay at home” order today.

Castor is expected to make the recommendation during a 1:30 p.m. meeting of the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group, a consortium of the cities and the county making decisions related to coronavirus.

That board meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. [Read more]

-- Mary Shedden

First USF Student Tests Positive

The first University of South Florida student to be found with COVID-19 was diagnosed over the weekend. The student attends USF St. Petersburg, according to University President Steve Currall.

Currall said in a statement the student is being monitored by the Florida Department of Health’s Pinellas County division and is in self-isolation. The student has not been on the campus since late February. [Read more]

-- Steve Newborn