Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew stands at a podium
Julio Ochoa / WUSF Public Media

State versus federal? Which data set nursing homes should rely on as a benchmark for coronavirus testing has been a pressing question for Florida facilities the past several weeks as they begin using rapid testing kits provided by the federal government.

Katka Pavlickova / Unsplash

Holly Donohue didn’t find @maskoffuf on Instagram. It found her. 

The 20-year-old elementary education junior opened her inbox in early September to see a follow request from an account she wasn’t familiar with — complete with a profile picture of a cartoon alligator wearing a mask. 

Thursday’s report from the Florida Department of Health recorded the deaths of 147 people due to complications from COVID-19 since Wednesday, bringing the statewide death toll to 13,247.

It’s the third straight day there have been over 140 coronavirus-related deaths reported in the state.

Sixteen of the deaths occurred in the greater Tampa Bay region.

The deaths were recorded by the state since Wednesday’s report, but they may have occurred days or weeks earlier.

UCF Keeps Tabs On Coronavirus Through Testing And Surveillance

Sep 17, 2020
UCF building with logo on side

The University of Central Florida is working to slow the spread of the coronavirus through testing and surveillance. Cases are updated at the end of each week on the COVID-19 page.

Dr. Michael Deichen, associate vice president of UCF Student Health Services, says the university is working with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County on contact tracing.

Students’ Mass Migration Back To College Gets A Failing Grade

Sep 17, 2020
Miche Mix / Unsplash

Who thought it would be a good idea to move thousands of teenagers and young adults across the country to college campuses, where, unencumbered by parental supervision, many college kids did what college kids do?

Researchers in several University of South Florida departments - including medicine, nursing and business - are recruiting volunteers from Tampa General Hospital's COVID-19 clinic for a new wearable devices study to predict when symptoms will worsen.

Health News Florida's Daylina Miller spoke with the principal investigator, Matthew Mullarkey, about the study, which is working to determine why some people get so sick from COVID-19 while others don't.

Daylina Miller: Can you tell us a little about about this study?

After many establishments were closed for months amid the coronavirus pandemic, Florida’s top business regulator believes bar and craft-brewery owners will do a better job this time of self-enforcing state safety restrictions.

But Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears said Wednesday his agency won’t go easy on bars and breweries that violate rules such as indoor occupancy limits.

With coronavirus-related restrictions at long-term care facilities being eased, an industry leader is warning that without protections against civil liability there will be more legal cases and eventually an increase in insurance rates.

State officials sounded the foghorn Monday to let bars serve on-premise alcohol again, but for many Florida establishments, it wasn’t much of a change. Bars throughout Leon County have been using a workaround that allowed them to operate as restaurants.

After a state-wide shutdown, bars were allowed to reopen early in June, but that didn’t last long. State officials said too many people were gathering in large groups and weren’t following social distancing guidelines. They limited bars to serving alcohol only for off-premise consumption. Then officials made another change.

When the coronavirus enters the body, usually through the nose, mouth or eyes, it takes over cells and starts to multiply. By analyzing a molecular or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, a lab technician may find out how much of the virus you have.

Back in July, I experienced one of these PCR tests. I sat down on a chair, and a nurse pulled out a clean, long stick with a brush on one end. I knew it needed to go deep into the nasal passage.

Dave Adamson

Evans High School’s football team has reported five positive coronavirus tests, and its Thursday game against West Orange High School has been canceled, the Orange County school district said.

Florida's COVID-19 Death Toll Exceeds 13,000

Sep 16, 2020

The latest report from the Florida Department of Health shows the deaths of 154 due to complications from COVID-19 have been recorded since Tuesday, bringing the statewide death toll to 13,100.

Nineteen of the deaths occurred in the greater Tampa Bay region.

The deaths were recorded by the state since Tuesday’s report, but they may have occurred days or weeks earlier.

Since Tuesday’s report, 2,355 people tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 671,201.

Updated at 6:50 p.m. ET

President Trump on Wednesday again said widespread distribution of a vaccine against the coronavirus would happen before the end of the year, directly contradicting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield. The CDC chief testified earlier Wednesday that a vaccine would not be widely available until next spring or summer.

Trump said he expects the government to be able to distribute a vaccine "sometime in October," though "it may be a little later than that."

Lack Of Antigen Test Reporting Leaves Country 'Blind To The Pandemic'

Sep 16, 2020

More than 20 states either don’t release or have incomplete data on the rapid antigen tests now considered key to containing the coronavirus, which has sickened more than 6 million Americans. The lapses leave officials and the public in the dark about the true scope of the pandemic as untold numbers of cases go uncounted.

The gap will only widen as tens of millions of antigen tests sweep the country. Federal officials are prioritizing the tests to quickly detect COVID-19’s spread over slower, but more accurate, PCR tests.

Household income in the United States rose sharply last year while poverty declined — fruits of a record-long period of economic growth that ended abruptly when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

An annual report from the Census Bureau shows median household income jumped 6.8% in 2019, to $68,700. That's the highest since the government started keeping track in 1967.

The poverty rate declined to 10.5% — the lowest since records began in 1959.

There's a saying going around these days: The future of work is now — put into overdrive by the pandemic that suddenly transformed millions into virtual workers. But the coronavirus has also accelerated a major shift to freelancing that's severing ties between companies and employees.

Two million Americans have started freelancing in the past 12 months, according to a new study from Upwork, a freelance job platform. And that has increased the proportion of the workforce that performs freelance work to 36%.

Florida Steps Back From Long-Term Care Policies

Sep 16, 2020
empty bed in a nursing home

Florida, which embarked on an aggressive strategy to limit the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, is stepping back from some efforts that Gov. Ron DeSantis has touted as keeping down the number of deaths and serious illnesses among seniors.

In recent days, the DeSantis administration has announced it is eliminating state-supported every-other-week testing of workers in long-term care facilities and that it is shuttering 23 nursing facilities dedicated to residents who are battling the coronavirus and cannot be properly isolated in facilities where they normally live.

raul pino speaks at meeting
From Orange County Government video

Orange County public schools have reported no secondary transmissions of the coronavirus since they reopened for face-to-face instruction Aug. 21, a state health official said Tuesday.

Reopening Offers Florida Bar Owners A Lifeline

Sep 16, 2020
Zoom screenshot / WMFE

Florida bars have been thrown a lifeline with the decision to allow them to reopen at 50 percent capacity. The easing of restrictions took place Monday.

When he announced the move to reopen bars on Friday, Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears said he’d talked to hundreds of bar and brewery owners and seen their commitment to health and safety.

Broward Schools To Reopen Oct. 5

Sep 16, 2020

Broward schools plans to reopen its campus on Oct. 5, Superintendent Robert Runcie announced Tuesday.

He said a decline in COVID-19 rates in the state, as well as expectations from Gov. Ron DeSantis and other state leaders, make it time for a return to face-to-face learning.

“We recognize there’s a population that wants to come back to our schools and those families should have that option," he said.

The Sarasota School Board on Tuesday took steps to advance its mask policy until the end of the school year to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

During a midday workshop, board members heard from Sarasota Memorial Hospital infectious disease doctor Manuel Gordillo, who said talk about masks lowering oxygen intake “is just simply a myth, and it should not be in this conversation.”

He also lamented the push — by some members of the community — to end mask-wearing, when the virus is still spreading and there is no vaccine against it.

The vast majority of children dying from COVID-19 are Hispanic, Black or Native American, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers analyzed the number of coronavirus cases and deaths among people under the age of 21 that were reported to the CDC between Feb. 12 and July 31 of this year. They found more than 390,000 cases and 121 deaths.

For parents of adults living with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the coronavirus pandemic has made everyday life especially difficult.

Socialization and life skills programs normally conducted in person, have had to adapt. If they've been able to adapt at all.

Florida COVID-19 Death Toll Nears 13,000

Sep 15, 2020

Tuesday’s report from the Florida Department of Health recorded the deaths of 146 people due to complications from COVID-19 since Monday, bringing the statewide death toll to 12,946.

In the greater Tampa Bay region, there were 26 deaths.

The deaths were recorded by the state since Monday’s report, but they may have occurred days or weeks earlier.

Since Monday’s report, 3,116 people tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 668,846.

Tuesday’s report shows 456 new positive tests in the greater Tampa Bay region.

tallahassee aerial

In the state's poorest ZIP code, 32304 in Tallahassee, low-income residents live side-by-side with college students. That's raising concerns since local coronavirus cases are rising among college-aged people, and low-income people tend to face more negative health impacts if infected.


The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation removed its statewide ban on bars, but in Palm Beach County, restrictions will remain in place.

The county’s step-by-step approach to Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan allows county commissioners to consider spikes in COVID-19 cases.

Reopen Miami-Dade Schools? Not Before Hearing From Medical Advisers

Sep 15, 2020

Members of the Miami-Dade County School Board want to know what health experts think before they make a decision about reopening schools.

Venezuela's health system has been decimated by catastrophic economic collapse. During the COVID-19 pandemic, that's made personal protective equipment, or PPE, especially scarce for Venezuela's health care workers.

One tragic result: of the nearly 500 COVID deaths Venezuela has reported as of this week, almost a third were doctors, nurses and other frontline medical personnel.

Florida Department of Health

Since Sunday’s report, 1,736 people in Florida tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 665,730. It's the lowest single day increase since June 11.

Victor Coronado felt lightheaded one morning last month when he stood up to grab an iced tea. The right side of his body suddenly felt heavy. He heard himself slur his words. "That's when I knew I was going to have a stroke," he recalls.

Coronado was rushed to Mercy Hospital & Medical Center, the hospital nearest his home on Chicago's South Side. Doctors there pumped medicine into his veins to break up the clot that had traveled to his brain.