Coronavirus

On the last day of Florida’s annual legislative session, state lawmakers normally pass the budget for the next fiscal year and then adjourn “sine die” — which means, it’s over until next time.

Then dozens of people crowd into the rotunda between the House and Senate chambers in the Capitol building in Tallahassee, waiting to see the ceremonial ending: Each house’s sergeant at arms drops a handkerchief to the floor at the same time. It’s a tradition that goes back nearly a century.

Health care workers are among those on the front lines of the coronavius outbreak. As more of them start to become sick, they're starting to speak out about the risks they're facing and asking for changes to working conditions in hospitals.

Jacksonville will likely have two more COVID-19 testing sites by week’s end. 

Supermarkets across the First Coast have plans in place to keep the food and supplies flowing, despite demand surges on some items, and many are giving older shoppers time alone in the store before doors open to the general public.

On Wednesday night, two Leon County hospitals reported the first three confirmed cases of coronavirus in the area. One of those people, a woman transferred from a Georgia hospital, died. The community now braces itself for more cases.

Gov. Ron DeSantis says he wants to look into removing some of the requirements for collecting unemployment benefits as layoffs pile up in response to concerns about the coronavirus.

Small businesses in Tallahassee are already facing financial impacts from efforts taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

As empty shelves become a more familiar sight during the COVID-19 outbreak, and more people are out of work due to social distancing, the Harry Chapin Food Bank is facing some challenges trying to get food to those who need it.

Normally, Harry Chapin provides food for about 28,000 people a week across five Southwest Florida counties primarily through donated items from food retailers. The recent absence of many grocery items has put a strain on that model, said the organization’s Chief Development Officer, Barbara Evans.

Normally, right now, much of this country would be consumed by March Madness.

Aside from the financial assistance the Trump administration and Congress are considering for individuals, small business and corporations, the federal government itself could be the beneficiary of a huge injection of money if lawmakers and the White House agree to it.

Pharmacy staff who prepare IV drugs inside hospitals are the latest health care workers decrying a shortage of masks as they scramble to prepare medicines for patients with diagnoses ranging from cancer to COVID-19.

U.S. and Mexican officials say that the two countries are working on an agreement to halt nonessential travel across their shared border while keeping vital trade links open as part of an effort to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a tweet on Thursday referring to the disease caused by the virus, said he was working closely with his Mexican counterpart, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard, "on travel restrictions that balance protecting our citizens from further transmission of #COVID19."

Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered California's 40 million residents to stay at home indefinitely in the widest-ranging directive so far of any state as it grapples with a growing novel coronavirus epidemic that has killed 150 people nationwide.

The order late Thursday called on people to remain in their homes with exceptions only for essential travel. The move follows similar restrictions issued earlier this week for the San Francisco Bay Area.

In the early 1990s, two dozen House lawmakers pitched an idea of voting electronically. The proposal didn't get very far.

Now, as the coronavirus threat grows, one of original sponsors of that measure is trying again.

"At the time we didn't have ... the electronic communications we have today to safely vote remotely," said Ohio Republican Rob Portman, who is now a senator. "Now we do."

Portman is co-sponsoring a resolution with Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois to allow remote voting.

And Portman has a lot more company this time.

Hillsborough County will open drive-thru coronavirus testing sites at Raymond James Stadium and the Florida State Fairgrounds – as soon as necessary supplies comes in.

Sarasota and Manatee counties will close all public beaches amid worries about the spread of the coronavirus.

Several malls in the Tampa Bay area are closing temporarily to help stem the spread of coronavirus.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Cases of the coronavirus have now topped 10,000 in the U.S. The U.S. State Department today issued an advisory warning Americans against travel abroad. President Trump announced he's mobilizing FEMA to help with the administration's response.

coronavirus computer image.
istock

Low-income Floridians seeking benefits such as food stamps, temporary assistance or Medicaid coverage will no longer be able to apply for them in person because of the coronavirus outbreak.

barbed wire prison fence
WMFE

Florida prisons have temporarily stopped accepting new inmates, a move aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus in state correctional facilities but that shifts the burden of housing offenders to local officials.

A walker rests beside a small nursing home bed.
iStock

Residents at 19 long-term care facilities across the state have tested positive or are suspected of testing positive for the novel coronavirus, Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew said Wednesday.

As Florida ramps up its efforts to screen for coronavirus, it's starting to open drive-thru testing sites across the state. But there's still challenges with supplies and testing availability.


Hillsborough County is releasing inmates as it prepares for the coronavirus. Sheriff Chad Chronister said the order applies to 164 people charged with minor offenses who cannot make bail.

Calling it the hardest decision he's had to make as the leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg, Bishop Gregory Parkes announced Wednesday that he’s suspending all public Mass celebrations in the Tampa Bay area.

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

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says state emergency managers are working on a contingency plan for The Villages.

Positive tests for coronavirus have popped up in Lake and Sumter counties, and the large retirement community is at particular risk because of its aging population.

Governor Ron DeSantis said Wednesday that supply delays are slowing the state's ability to ramp up testing for COVID-19.

Fourteen more people have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases to 328. In addition, an eighth person has died.

The latest death was someone who had previously tested positive in Clay County. No other information was released.

The Clearwater City Council voted Wednesday 4-1 to close public beaches for two weeks over fears of coronavirus -- but the order doesn't begin until Monday morning.

Pages