Latest On Coronavirus: Florida Cases Pass 27,000, FHSAA Scraps Spring Sports, And More

Apr 20, 2020
Originally published on April 20, 2020 8:09 pm

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, April 20, according to the Florida Department of Health:

26,329 – Florida Residents | 9 – Florida Cases Repatriated | 729 – Non-Florida Residents | 823 – Deaths

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Florida COVID-19 Cases Pass 27,000; Deaths Over 800

Over 27,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Florida, according to the 6 p.m. Monday report from the Department of Health.

There are now 27,058 cases; an increase of 744 since Sunday evening.

823 people have died from the coronavirus statewide; an increase of 49 since Sunday evening. [Read more]

-- Lisa Peakes

‘Saddened’ FHSAA Scraps Spring Sports

Pointing to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ announcement that distance learning would continue through the rest of the school year, the Florida High School Athletic Association said Monday that it is canceling spring sports events, including championship events.

“With the evolving threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19), we must ensure that we do not contribute to the spread of this illness,” a statement posted on the association’s website said. “We are deeply saddened for our student-athletes who have seen their seasons and/or high school careers end so abruptly.

“Our association knows the impact and role high school athletics play in the lives of so many and will continue to work towards the betterment of high school sports. We know this is a trying time, but the health and safety of all is of utmost importance to this association.”

The statement also said that additional eligibility will not be granted for spring athletes.

The announcement came two days after DeSantis said school campuses will remain closed for the rest of the academic year to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

-- News Service of Florida

Florida Slowest State To Process Unemployment Claims

Florida has processed its hundreds of thousands of new unemployment claims more slowly than any other state.

Florida is already among the most inhospitable places to be unemployed, and the economic downturn from the coronavirus outbreak has only added to the misery.

State data now streaming into the Department of Labor shows Florida at the absolute bottom among all 50 states and the District Columbia in the percentage of the unemployed it is serving, lagging behind states big and small.

Only 6 percent of Floridians who applied for unemployment benefits have received a paycheck.

-- Associated Press

COVID-19 Cases At Over 4 Dozen Tampa Bay Area Care Facilities

More than four dozen long term care facilities in the greater Tampa Bay region have patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

Over the weekend, the state of Florida released the names and counties with nursing homes and assisted-living facilities who had patients or employees test positive for Covid-19. That includes 54 facilities in Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Sarasota, Hillsborough and Manatee Counties.

WUSF News on Sunday contacted 11 facilities in Pinellas, which accounts for nearly half of the regional locations listed in the state report. All but one declined comment about the specific number of cases or precautions being taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Some said no one was available to speak to a reporter.  [Read more]

-- Susan Giles Wantuck

Calls For Gov. DeSantis To Not Reopen State

Governor Ron DeSantis is putting together a task force that will help create a plan to open business in Florida. The group meets this afternoon for the first time. In response, Florida Democrats and a medical professional held a press conference this morning to urge the governor to not reopen the state.

There were 1,332 new coronavirus cases in Florida this weekend. That’s a dip compared to last weekend when there were nearly 2,000. Dr. Brent Schillinger, past President of Palm Beach County Medical Society says the change, however, doesn’t mean we’re safe. He says projections of when Florida will reach its peak are all over the place.

"In March we were told that Florida would reach its surge, a peak in new COVID cases by the middle of May. Then a week later it was forecast that April 23 would be the peak," Schillinger said. "Then the next week, which was last Monday, we heard that the surge would be May 6. And then a report that just came out three days ago on Friday said, Oh we’ve already passed our peak it was April 2."

Schillinger says until a large scale expansion of testing is done, social distancing should be practiced. Less than two percent of Floridians have been tested. Schillinger worries those who are asymptomatic and don’t have a test could continue spreading the virus. Florida Congresswoman Donna Shalala believes a national plan should be formed instead of all 50 states deciding when to reopen.

-- Blaise Gainey, WFSU

Guard Injured In Attack At Florida Prison On Coronavirus Lockdown

Officials say a corrections officer was injured during an attack by inmates at a state prison that's become a hot spot for the coronavirus.

The attack happened Sunday at Sumter Correctional Institution in Bushnell. The guard's injuries aren't considered life threatening.

Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch commended the staff and inmates who came to the officer's aid.

Inmates involved in the attack will face disciplinary action including possible criminal charges. The agency's inspector general is conducting an investigation.

There are 24 inmates who've tested positive for the coronavirus at the prison in Bushnell.

-- Associated Press

Publix Requires Face Coverings For Employees'

Publix has announced that it will begin requiring all store employees to wear face coverings beginning on Monday, April 20.

The Lakeland-based grocery store chain said it will also start allowing them to wear gloves, as long as they can continue to safely perform their job duties. [Read more]

-- Brendan Rivers, WJCT

Why Owners Of Florida's Vacation Rentals Are Struggling

Last week, Gov. Ron De Santis extended an executive order suspending short-term vacation rentals because of COVID-19. Short-term renting will not be allowed until at least April 30.

The order only restricts the opening of homes and condominiums, not hotels, inns, and resorts. Long-terms rentals are also allowed. This has sparked a negative reaction among homeowners who rent their places to tourists and who have been greatly affected by the new rules. [Read more]

-- Angela Cordoba Perez

Manatee County's First African-American Commissioner Has Died From COVID-19

Former Manatee County Commissioner Gwendolyn Brown has died from complications related to the coronavirus.

Brown, 68, was the county's first African-American commissioner.

Her death was announced to the public on Friday during an emergency meeting of the County Commission held to discuss COVID-19 and Manatee's temporary curfew. [Read more]

-- Cathy Carter

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