Coronavirus

There will be no curfew in Hillsborough County, after all.

But starting at 10 p.m. Friday, county residents will be asked to "shelter at home" - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

In Florida’s prison system, if employees test positive for COVID-19, or are suspected of having been in contact with someone who has, they’ll have to use the personal leave time they've accrued when sent home for quarantine.

Labor unions are calling on Governor Ron DeSantis to fix Florida’s unemployment system before a wave of joblessness hits the state.

In a telephone press conference on Thursday, the AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union and Unite Here, which combined represent more than a million workers and their families in Florida, say the cumbersome system has been crashing as workers race to apply for benefits. The state’s unemployment office received about 200,000 inquiries just last week.

Up until now the only way for most people to get tested for COVID-19 is if you show clear symptoms and have a referral from a medical professional. Either that, or by being a politician, an NBA player or a celebrity.

But a new study done in coordination with the University of Miami and Miami-Dade County plans to change that in a way researchers hope will better help tackle the outbreak.

Jacksonville-based Southeastern Grocers is the latest supermarket chain to install plexiglass partitions between cashiers and customers to try and help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Orders to stay-at-home are nearly impossible to follow for the 500 homeless people living on Jacksonville’s streets.

As coronavirus cases continue to swell in Florida, closures, cancellations, and curfews are increasing.

A total of 74,021 Floridians filed for unemployment last week, 11 times more than filed the week before. That's according to new figures from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Help Wanted: Retired Doctors And Nurses Don Scrubs Again In Coronavirus Fight

Mar 27, 2020
A male doctor in  a white lab coat uses a stethoscope to check a male patient's heart.
iStock

Laura Benson retired from nursing in 2018, but this week she reported for work again in New Rochelle, New York, where the first cluster of COVID-19 cases occurred a few short weeks ago.

Updated at 5:50 p.m. ET

President Trump has signed a historic $2 trillion economic recovery package into law Friday afternoon, shortly after the House of Representatives approved the bill.

In an Oval Office ceremony Friday, the president thanked Republicans and Democrats "for coming together, setting aside their differences and putting America first" to pass the legislation. Trump was joined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. No Democrats were present at the signing.

Updated 9:31 p.m. ET Thursday

The U.S. now has more coronavirus cases than any other country in the world, surpassing China's total and highlighting how rapidly the virus can move through a population.

The U.S. logged more than 83,000 cases as of 8 p.m. ET Thursday, while China reported more than 81,00 infections, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The latest figures on coronavirus tests run so far in the U.S. were put at about 552,000, according to government officials during the Thursday's briefing of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

"The testing is going very, very well," President Trump said.

gov ron desantis in the state capitol.
Governor's Press office

Gov. Ron DeSantis has shut down bars and restaurants, cut off visitation at nursing homes and prisons and ordered senior citizens to stay home, as he attempts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

As people self-isolate and self-quarantine to help stop the spread of coronavirus, abusers frequently have greater access to their victims. Meanwhile, victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse have less acess to help.

The United States is still on the upswing when it comes to the number of COVID-19 infections and the increasing worry has people looking for information on the disease. But not all information being floated is legitimate. Florida A&M University epidemiologist Dr. Perry Brown discusses where people should turn for good information, and how to discern fact from fiction.

So far, Monroe County has only seen a few cases of COVID-19 — three cases by the 6 p.m. Tuesday update. But the 100-mile-long island chain only has three hospitals — and one of them is a temporary facility while a new one is built to replace the building destroyed by Hurricane Irma.

Senate Unanimously Passes Massive Coronavirus Aid Plan

Mar 26, 2020
Wikimedia Commons

The Senate passed an unparalleled $2.2 trillion economic rescue package steering aid to businesses, workers and health care systems engulfed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Homeless centers in Florida are having to turn people away people right now. Some who lost their jobs because of coronavirus are now also losing their chances for shelter.

Hillsborough County could soon be under a weekend and weeknight curfew -- as early as Friday.

On Wednesday, members of the county's Emergency Policy Group unanimously approved setting up a vote for the curfew during their next meeting  at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

The move to limit the spread of coronavirus would set up a countywide curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. weeknights; and from 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.

As the spread of COVID-19 in Florida increases the load on the health care system, Pinellas and Hillsborough county officials are asking for donations of medical supplies.

Grocery giants Publix and Winn-Dixie say they will begin installing plexiglass barriers at the cash registers to protect its workers and customers from the coronavirus.

A statement from Winn-Dixie parent company, Southeastern Grocers, says all of its stores should have the barriers installed by April 3; a Publix spokeswoman says its stores should have the barriers up within the next two weeks.

Statewide, the Department of Health is reporting 1,977 people have tested positive for the coronavirus. The total, which was reported at 6 p.m. Wednesday, is an increase of 510 cases since Tuesday evening’s update.

Twenty-three people have died in Flordia from COVID-19, an increase of three from Tuesday evening.

Pinellas County residents are being directed to stay at home for one week, starting Thursday morning, under a stay-at-home resolution approved by county commissioners Wednesday.

First responders in the Tampa Bay area who have contact with the public are starting to test positive for COVID-19.

Tampa Police Department Chief Brian Dugan announced Wednesday that a 26-year-old officer who just started on the job has tested positive for coronavirus.

WUSF will be providing the latest news and information on coronavirus in Tampa Bay and across the state. Here are the latest developments:

The Florida Department of Health announced the first positive case of COVID-19 in Manatee County on March 1.

Twenty-five days later, the county is opening its first drive-thru testing site. The four-day event starts Thursday and is limited to 200 people with an appointment and a doctor's prescription.

President Donald Trump has declared Florida a disaster area because of the new coronavirus outbreak.

As the number of coronavirus cases in Florida continues to grow exponentially, some predictive models show things could get bad, fast. Many hospitals are gearing up for a possible surge in sick patients.

Despite urgent pleas from governors and mayors across the country, Defense Secretary Mark Esper cautioned on Wednesday that the U.S. military is not positioned to deploy nearly enough medical resources to address the scale of the coronavirus outbreak. And warning that the pandemic will "inevitably" alter the global strategic balance, he said the virus cannot be allowed to overtake national security as the Pentagon's top priority.

During a news conference Wednesday evening, President Trump said: "We don't have to test the entire state in the Middle West or wherever they may be. We don't have to test the entire state. I think it's ridiculous. A lot of those states could go back [to work] right now, and they probably will."

He's correct that the entire population of a state does not need to be tested right now. However, all 50 states do have cases, and those small- and medium-sized outbreaks may be growing exponentially.

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