Coronavirus

Florida's Chief Justice Charles Canady late Tuesday ordered state circuit court judges to cancel, postpone or reschedule all but "essential" court proceedings. The stricter measures aim to limit the number of people crowding into courtrooms, after lawyers complained of dangerous conditions due to coronavirus. In addition, one courthouse employee in Miami has tested positive for COVID-19.

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

As states confirm more cases of the new coronavirus disease, local health officials are requesting that people who have tested positive and those who've come in close contact with them isolate themselves at home for 14 days.

Many states have laws that give health department directors the authority to enforce a quarantine on individuals who pose a threat to public health. And if people defy a court-ordered quarantine, they could face fines and criminal charges.

The United States is facing a grim dilemma: either effectively shut down society for months to prevent transmission of the coronavirus or see health care systems overwhelmed by people needing treatment for severe infections.

That's the conclusion of a influential new analysis by a well-respected group at Imperial College London that does computer simulations of outbreaks.

As of March 15, the state of Florida has expanded its criteria for coronavirus testing to allow doctors to test at their discretion.

Florida First State To Get Medicaid Flexibility For Coronavirus

Mar 17, 2020

The federal government has approved Florida’s request to waive some long-standing Medicaid rules and regulations as the state prepares to treat poor, elderly and disabled residents who become infected with the novel coronavirus.

Gov. Ron DeSantis this morning announced a number of measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Florida.

Officials with Hillsborough County and the city of Tampa have been identifying locations to open drive-through testing sites for coronavirus.

A 77-year-old Lee County resident who was previously determined to have COVID-19 died this weekend according to the Florida Department of Health. Another Florida resident diagnosed with the disease died in California. Late Sunday, the NCH Healthcare System reported a fifth positive case of coronavirus in Collier County.  No further details have been released except that the patient was admitted to the hospital March 11 and was placed in isolation, March 13, where the patient remains at this time.

The Florida Department of Health is issuing regular updates as information becomes available on their web site which you can access by clicking here.


The Collier County Board of Commissioners held an emergency meeting on Monday, to discuss the county’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.


Hospitals across the First Coast, including Mayo Clinic and the Orange Park Medical Center, confirm they’re treating coronavirus patients. As the outbreak is expected to worsen, hospitals are taking steps to limit exposure to their patients and staff. Some of those measures pose a challenge to students who are required to have hands-on experience in medical facilities.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced Monday that he is limiting the crowd capacity of establishments for recreational and social gatherings to 50 people and banning the sale of alcohol after midnight.

In South Florida, a normal emergency looks like a column of swirling wind. Hurricanes are our definition of disaster preparation.

But the COVID-19 coronavirus is redefining what an emergency means, and interrupting life is ways many of us couldn’t imagine just a few weeks ago. 

South Florida cities clamped down over the weekend on public gathering spots, ordering restaurants to limit customers and hours and shutting down beaches to combat the spread of coronavirus — then, one day later, President Donald Trump suggested the rules needed to get even tighter: That gatherings should be no larger than 10 people.

The announcement Monday left South Florida governments and businesses and scrambling to overhaul policies to curb a fast-spreading pandemic quickly tightening its squeeze on everyday life and the world’s economy.

The Florida Department of Health announced 19 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, bringing the total number in the state to 155.

Hillsborough County is joining the list of cities and counties limiting the hours restaurants and bars operate and how many people can congregate in them at one time.

Late Monday, Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill issued an Administrator Order that will take effect at noon Tuesday.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announced limits on bar and restaurant hours on Monday night in an effort to halt the spread of coronavirus.

A fifth person has died in Florida from the coronavirus, state officials announced Monday evening.

The person died in Orange County, a release from the state said, but no other details were provided.

As the country tries to meet the growing demand for coronavirus tests, some area hospitals like Tampa General Hospital are doing their own in-house testing.

Coronavirus has upended daily life, and for those who care for children, it can be hard to know what to say, or how to explain. WUSF’s Kerry Sheridan spoke with Dr. Judith Bryant, a USF professor of psychology who specializes in child development, for advice on answering their toughest questions.

In the face of the coronavirus worsening across the U.S. and reordering the daily life of millions of Americans, fewer people view the pandemic as a real threat, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

Just about 56% of Americans consider the coronavirus a "real threat," representing a drop of 10 percentage points from last month. At the same time, a growing number of Americans think the coronavirus is being "blown out of proportion."

Updated on March 30 at 12:30 p.m. ET

Since the first U.S. case of the coronavirus was identified in Washington state on Jan. 21, health officials have identified more than 140,000 cases across the United States and more than 2,500 deaths. By March 17, the virus had expanded its presence from several isolated clusters in Washington, New York and California to all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Once again, President Trump, Vice President Pence and the coronavirus task force spoke to reporters at the White House today, updating the latest guidance on how Americans should try to avoid COVID-19.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

The coronavirus outbreak has already led Georgia and Louisiana to postpone upcoming primary elections, but leaders in four states — Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio — that vote on Tuesday say they will continue as planned.

The Florida Department of Agriculture has announced more than 900 sites in the state that will be serving meals as schools shut down until March 30.  The initial list covers 30 of Florida's 67 counties, including Franklin, Gadsden and Leon in the Panhandle.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Saturday that the Trump administration should consider domestic flights in the ongoing effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Florida, where dozens of cases have been discovered.

National Guard Task Force-Medical Heading For Broward

Mar 16, 2020

The Florida National Guard announced Sunday the activation of a task force to assist with the worsening coronavirus situation in Broward County.

The guard will form Task Force - Medical, made up of all the guard's medical professionals to support the state health department's efforts in Broward, which has emerged as the worst-hit county in Florida.

Despite a positive COVID-19 test from a passenger who had disembarked days earlier, thousands of people were allowed to leave a cruise ship in Miami Sunday without undergoing medical screening.

The former passenger got off the MSC Meraviglia in Miami on March 8 after an eight-day Caribbean cruise, leaving 103 passengers and the ship’s crew aboard for the next voyage. Four days later, after the ship had sailed with thousands of additional new passengers aboard, the Public Health Agency of Canada informed Broward-based MSC Cruises that the former passenger had tested positive.

Updated 8:20 p.m. ET

The Senate reconvened Monday afternoon with a growing sense of urgency to act on pending legislation, and a growing realization that Congress will have to take dramatic, ongoing action to blunt the impact of the coronavirus pandemic to the nation.

"The Senate is committed to meeting these uncertain times with bold and bipartisan solutions," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the floor Monday. "It's what we're going to keep doing in the days and weeks ahead."

UPDATE: FoundCare announced Tuesday that it is no longer taking appointments for its COVID-19 drive-through testing site. The CEO Yolette Bonnet said in a statement that the nonprofit received Monday more than 6,000 calls for appointments. FoundCare says it is booked until April 10, and more testing appointments cannot be scheduled until it receives additional testing kits.

FoundCare, a nonprofit federally qualified health center, is setting up a drive-through testing site for COVID-19 in Palm Beach County, starting Monday, March 16 at 10 a.m.

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