Latest On Coronavirus: Florida Cases Top 33,000, DeSantis Details Plans To Reopen State, And More

Apr 30, 2020
Originally published on April 30, 2020 5:47 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 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 29, according to the Florida Department of Health:

32,318 – Florida Residents | 875 – Non-Florida Residents | 1,218 – Deaths

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Florida Cases Top 33,000

Cases of COVID-19 in Florida have now passed 33,000.

The Department of Health confirms 33,193 people have tested positive for COVID-19; an increase of 347 cases since Tuesday morning.

According to the Wednesday report from the department, 1,218 people have died in Florida from the coronavirus; a daily increase of 47.

Twelve of Wednesday’s deaths were in the Tampa Bay area. [Read more]

-- Lisa Peakes

DeSantis Announces Plans To Reopen State

Governor Ron DeSantis says plans to reopen the state of Florida will begin next week.

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

South Florida Reopens Parks

Some Florida public spaces reopened to visitors as Gov. Ron DeSantis was expected to reveal just what he meant when he said the state will be taking “baby steps” to reopening the economy from the coronavirus shutdown.

Hard-hit Miami-Dade and Broward counties took baby steps Wednesday by reopening such outdoor recreation areas as parks and golf courses, but with heavy restrictions.

The state has reported more than 33,000 confirmed cases since early March and 1,200 deaths.

-- Associated Press

Manatee Beaches Reopening Monday

Manatee County public beaches will reopen next week with restrictions.

Beginning Monday, visitors can walk, swim and fish on county beaches. However, coolers and umbrellas will not be allowed.

Manatee County commissioners also voted unanimously to open beach parking lots, but there will be a two-hour time limit. Only a partial number of spaces will be available. Restrooms will be opened as well but concession stands will remain closed.

Public beaches in Manatee County will open Monday at 10 a.m. The beaches will close at 9 p.m.

-- Cathy Carter

DeSantis To Announce Reopening Plan Today

Appearing Tuesday with President Donald Trump in the White House Oval Office, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he will announce a plan today for the initial phase of Florida’s gradual reopening from the coronavirus pandemic.

He also said he will use a report based on comments from his Re-Open Florida Task Force, which met last week, to roll out recommendations for reviving the economy after coronavirus-caused shutdowns.

“For Florida, going from where we are now to phase one is not a very big leap,” DeSantis said, reiterating comments from the past few days. “I think that will be a small step for us, but we're going to approach it in a very measured, thoughtful and data-driven way. And I think that’s what most of the folks throughout the state are looking for.”

DeSantis issued a 30-day stay-at-home order that expires Thursday, but he hasn’t given a hard date on when “non-essential” businesses can start to reopen and workers can return to their jobs.

-- News Service of Florida

Trump Praises DeSantis During Washington Visit

President Donald Trump on Tuesday praised Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for doing a “spectacular job in Florida,” while the president has clashed with other governors, even criticizing Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp for rushing a reopening.

DeSantis was equally as gracious, saying Florida and the White House have worked well in coordinating testing and protecting nursing home residents.

“That was really kind of state-conceived and executed, but with great federal support it’s made a difference,” DeSantis told Trump.

He noted that with the closure of theme parks and other major businesses, the state has been fortunate to have “billions of dollars in reserve.”

“Even with that, you are facing a hit,” DeSantis acknowledged, before Trump chimed in that, “The fourth quarter (of the year) is going to be really strong, and I think next year is going to be a tremendous year.” [Read more]

-- News Service of Florida

More Issues With State's Unemployment Website

Many unemployed Floridians seeking financial assistance are expressing shock at finding their claims deemed ineligible after waiting more than a month to have their application processed.

The state’s CONNECT website to check status of claims was down for maintenance over the weekend, further frustrating thousands waiting for assistance after losing their jobs because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The website functioned erratically Monday, with many users getting repeated error messages.

Many who filed on the state’s outdated website have been waiting five or six weeks with their claim stuck in pending status. And many were deemed ineligible, despite believing they met the requirements.

-- Associated Press

Trump, DeSantis On Air Travel

President Donald Trump suggested Florida could be “cutting off” travel from Brazil. Gov. Ron DeSantis replied “not necessarily” about Florida imposing a travel ban from the South American country, which has seen a spike in cases of COVID-19, the deadly respiratory disease caused the coronavirus.

But DeSantis said airlines should be required to test passengers before they board international flights to keep people from bringing new cases to Florida.

“Maybe some of these airliners, it should be on them to check before they're getting on and coming to this country,” DeSantis said. “I mean, you've seen what happened with the China flight restrictions that kept a lot of people from seeding the West Coast.”

DeSantis and Trump, whose political partnership remains vital for the president’s reelection efforts this year in Florida, also agreed all airlines should follow Jet Blue, which next Monday will start requiring passengers to wear face masks or other protective facial coverings to try to assure travelers that flying is safe. [Read more]

-- News Service of Florida

DeSantis: Florida Has 'Thousands' Of Ventilators

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday said Florida has thousands of unused ventilators, prompting President Donald Trump to suggest some of the state’s breathing machines could be sent to other countries that need them during the coronavirus pandemic.

[Read more]

Pinellas Reopening Beaches And Pools

Beaches and pools in Pinellas County will soon be reopened.

Pinellas County commissioners on Tuesday voted 6-1 to reopen beaches, parking lots and restrooms starting Monday at 7 a.m. following public comment both for and against the idea.

Beaches and pools in Pinellas County will soon be reopened.

Pinellas County commissioners on Tuesday voted 6-1 to reopen beaches, parking lots and restrooms starting Monday at 7 a.m. following public comment both for and against the idea. [Read more]

-- Sue Giles Wantuck, Carl Lisciandrello

St. Pete Pier Grand Opening On Hold

The opening of the St. Pete Pier has been delayed.

The pier was scheduled for a grand opening on May 30, but St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said Tuesday he is following Gov. Ron DeSantis’ suggestion that large crowds not gather during the month of May.

A new date has yet to be determined, but Kriseman said the wait “won’t be too much longer.” [Read more]

-- Carl Lisciandrello

Hernando County Reopens Parks

Hernando County park and beach locations will reopen starting Wednesday.

Hernando County commissioners on Tuesday voted to reopen all parks and beaches, including Alfred McKethan/Pine Island Park and the Rogers Park beach area.

Visitors must adhere to social media guidelines, and large gatherings. [Read more]

-- Carl Lisciandrello

Fort Lauderdale Reopening Beaches

The city of Fort Lauderdale will join Broward County in reopening parks and marinas today.

Although beaches will remain closed for now, city Commissioner Robert McKinzie warned about reopening them too soon.

“My skepticism for opening back up is that the information I see doesn’t show me that we’re decreasing in cases,” McKinzie said.

At a workshop held Tuesday, McKinzie also brought up Memorial Day.

“I do think we need to speak to that holiday,” he said. “Are we going to have our beach open, or are we going to have our beach closed during that holiday?”

People using parks and marinas will have to follow social distancing guidelines.

-- Sherrilyn Cabrera, WLRN

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