Coronavirus

Florida Legislature
Florida House of Representatives

State lawmakers on Thursday approved a record $93.2 billion budget for next year, with attention already focused on a potential need to revisit the spending plan this summer as the novel coronavirus upends the economy.

laptop next to a stethoscope and patient chart
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Florida’s largest medical association is asking the state’s insurance commissioner to require insurance companies to reimburse health care providers the same rates for providing telehealth services as in-person health care.

Despite one Tampa Bay area politicians' calls for it to shut down for 30 days due to the danger of the oronavirus, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa remains open.

Following the recommendations of experts, staying at home and keeping a social distance is very important to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. It can also be exhausting, especially for the parents whose children are staying home instead of going to school.

This list of resources can be helpful for those families who are running out of ideas of what to do during the quarantine. 

Many small businesses have closed or cut staff due to coronavirus. But federal and state help is available.  

The University of Central Florida is decontaminating a residence hall and classrooms after a student tested positive for COVID-19.

The coronavirus death toll in Florida now stands at nine.

According to information released at 6 p.m. Thursday by the Florida Department of Health, the number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the state jumped by over 100 in one day.

The Pinellas County Commission voted unanimously to close public beaches and parking areas effective 11:59 p.m. Friday and lasting until April 6th.

In a move to prevent the spread of coronavirus, on Thursday evening Monroe County ordered hotels and other tourist lodging — like vacation rentals and RV parks — to close at 6 p.m. on Sunday.

The county cited "the increasing cases [of coronavirus] in the counties north of Monroe County." As of 5 p.m. Thursday, there had been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Keys.

Hotels were directed to stop taking reservations immediately. The order is for two weeks, to be re-evaluated every day.

Employees at the Florida Department of Health, the state agency that is managing the response to COVID-19, are not being allowed to work from home, even if their jobs are involved in research or other kinds of administrative work, several employees told WLRN.

Updated Tuesday, May 26

Coronavirus test sites are popping up throughout South Florida as the number of cases continues to climb. As of Monday, May 25, the state has confirmed more than 50,000 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. More than half of those cases are in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties. 

When Marlins Park opened in 2012, a neomodern shrine to baseball rising in Miami’s Little Havana, Duane Thwaites figured he’d found his dream job.

The Brooklyn native moved to Miami nearly 30 years ago, raised his four kids, got hired for opening day and returned every season, climbing the ladder to supervise a concession.

“It's just hard to explain why I like the job and I stick with it, but it's, you know, I feel it's like my passion,” said Thwaites, 51.

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.

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