The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Florida has now surpassed 400, according to Thursday evening’s advisory from the state Department of Health.
An 83-year-old male in Duval County confirmed to test positive for COVID-19 has also died, according to the state Department of Health. His death is the state’s ninth linked to the novel coronavirus. Duval County currently has 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on record, according to the state Deparment of Health.
Confirmed cases jumped by 42 in Thursday evening’s report. Under directive from Gov. Ron DeSantis, the state Department of Health is reporting the number of cases twice a day.
Nine confirmed to test positive for COVID-19 have died in the state. The ages of the deceased range from 48 to 83.
- A 68-year-old female in Orange County.
- A 79-year-old female in Orange County.
- A 77-year-old male in Lee County.
- A 77-year-old female in Lee County.
- An 83-year-old male in Duval County.
- A 70-year-old male in Clay County.
- A 77-year-old male in Broward County.
- A 71-year-old male in Santa Rosa County.
- A 48-year-old female in Leon County.
While the greatest percentage of cases continues to be reported in those 50 and older, there’s a growing number of cases reported in those 40 and younger. The Department of Health reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 14 for those between 10 and 19 years, 56 for those 20 to 29 and 43 in those ages 30-39.
6-year-old in South Florida has tested positive for coronavirus
A 6-year-old girl in Florida has tested positive for the coronavirus, authorities have confirmed.
The Palm Beach County unit of the Florida Department of Health has confirmed that the student at a suburban Boca Raton school is the same 6-year-old reported earlier this week as the youngest person to contract the illness so far in the county. A state report had said it was a boy.
Curbside food pickup zones debut in downtown Melbourne, Cocoa Village
Designated curbside food pickup zones debuted Thursday across downtown Melbourne and Cocoa Village, encouraging customers to grab takeout orders from nearby restaurants and shops during the new coronavirus crisis.
The zones are intended to boost flagging sales as the pandemic takes a financial toll on Space Coast eateries and small businesses. Some have closed, while others have shuttered dining rooms, reduced hours and switched to offering takeout and deliveries.
Publix, Target, Dollar General offer ‘senior shopping hours’
Amid coronavirus concerns, Publix aims to be that place “where shopping is a pleasure.”
Less than a week after the Lakeland-based grocery chain announced it would close its stores two hours early to restock and clean, Publix released times and days for “senior shopping hours.” Older adults and those with underlying health conditions are more susceptible to COVID-19.
Fifth resident of Jacksonville senior living center tests positive for virus
A fifth resident of the Camellia at Deerwood senior living center on Jacksonville’s Southside has tested positive for the coronavirus.
An email sent Thursday by the senior center’s management said it had received confirmation from the Florida Department of Health about the diagnosis.
Diaz-Balart has virus, will members of Congress get tested?
The question facing other members of Florida’s 29-member congressional delegation, including those who would be most vulnerable according to health officials’ guidelines, is whether they will request a conronavirus test as a precaution.
Miami Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart revealed on Wednesday that he tested positive for coronavirus and is symptomatic. He was the first member of Congress to test positive for the virus at the center of a global pandemic. Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams of Utah later announced he, too, had tested tested positive for COVID-19.
OJ industry warned not to mislead public during COVID-19 crisis
While orange juice sales soar during the coronavirus pandemic, industry leaders warned not to promote OJ as beneficial for preventing COVID-19 with more money being pumped into marketing campaign.
National shortages threaten COVID-19 response while scientists try to get needed resources
A global and national shortage of critical supplies needed to carry out COVID-19 testing threatens to hamstring the United State’s beleaguered pandemic response.
Researchers across the country are sending out waves of emails with urgent calls for reagents, the basic chemical compounds needed to test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus by isolating and identifying its genetic identity. They also need masks and swabs.
Officials from Florida to Oklahoma and California have started to sound the alarm.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday alluded to a lack of supplies in Florida labs.
“We’re making sure the labs have enough reagents to be able to do the tests,” he said.
EPA says tap water safe during COVID-19 outbreak
As shoppers clear shelves of water bottles and filters at Walmart and elsewhere, public utility, environmental and health officials assure tap water is and will remain safe to drink during the coronavirus outbreak.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state health department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency insist the risk to drinking water is low.
‘If I get corona, I get corona’: Coronavirus pandemic doesn’t slow spring breakers’ party
It’s spring break and even a pandemic doesn’t appear to be stopping some people’s plans.
As many Americans continue practicing social distancing to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus, videos and photos of spring breakers in Florida have poured in, showing many undeterred by the threat of COVID-19.
“If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day I’m not going to let it stop me from partying,” spring break goer Brady Sluder told Reuters in Miami.
Several Florida cities and counties have decided to close beaches to limit the spread of the virus.
“It’s really messing up with my spring break. What is there to do here other than go to bars or the beach? And they’re closing all of it,” a woman named Brianna Leeder said in a CBS News video.
Brevard’s beaches remain open for now
Brevard County’s beaches will remain open for now, although the county is urging beachgoers to avoid having large gatherings there.
New guidelines, announced Monday afternoon by President Donald Trump, call on Americans to avoid social gatherings involving groups of 10 or more for the next 15 days, as part of efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Cash collection on state toll roads suspended; drivers to receive bill in mail
The Central Florida Expressway Authority is suspending cash collection for tolls on Florida roads, shifting to license plate tolling, known as Pay by Plate.
The change when into effect at 8 a.m. today March 19, according to a news release from the organization.
The temporary suspension was made to reduce the potential exposure of both drivers and employees from the COVID-19 virus.
Drivers who normally pay cash at toll booths will continue to pay the cash rate and will receive a Pay by Plate billing statement in the mail for tolls incurred.
Canadians begin exodus home from Southwest Florida fearing coronavirus insurance issues
Many Canadians are making an early exodus from Southwest Florida because of insurance concerns related to the coronavirus global pandemic.
With the U.S. announcing Wednesday that the Canadian border would be shutting down for nonessential travel and flights beginning to dwindle, Canadians who usually winter in the area through Easter have changed those plans.
Stores designate shopping time for seniors vulnerable amid coronavirus
Some retailers — including Walmart, Albertsons, Whole Foods and Target — are setting aside time for their most vulnerable customers to shop.
Acknowledging that older adults and persons with underlying health conditions are more susceptible to COVID-19, a growing number of stores are dedicating time or opening earlier for senior shoppers and other at-risk groups.
Because of panic shopping, which has left store shelves empty, at-risk groups including seniors have had difficulty getting supplies.
Tallahassee hospitals confirm first three cases, death
9:57 p.m. Wednesday
Leon County hospital officials announced three coronavirus cases and the first death in Leon County on Wednesday night as the number of Floridians infected by the virus continues to climb.
The first case of COVID-19, which proved fatal, was confirmed by Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare at about 8:15. p.m. Minutes later, Capital Regional Medical Center announced two more cases.
2 members of Congress, including one from Florida, test positive for COVID-19
7:27 p.m. Wednesday
Two members of Congress, Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida and Ben McAdams of Utah, have tested positive for coronavirus, causing other members who may have been exposed to go into self-quarantine and raising the question of whether there are more cases on Capitol Hill.
Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., announced Wednesday that he tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the first known member of Congress to contract the rapidly spreading virus.
Diaz-Balart, 58, who represents parts of Miami and South Florida, said in a statement that he decided to self-quarantine in Washington Friday night after voting with hundreds of his colleagues on the House floor for a coronavirus relief package. He said he decided to stay in Washington because his wife has pre-existing conditions, and thus is more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus.
Bar & grill establishments interpret governor’s order differently, bemoan lack of guidance
6:29 p.m. Wednesday
Owners and managers of Marco Island eateries with stand-alone bars inside say there’s been little guidance as what to what constitutes compliance for them after the governor put in restrictions Tuesday in response to COVID-19.
To slow the spread of the disease, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order called for bars and nightclubs to close for 30 days and for restaurants to reduce capacity by 50% while keeping 6-foot social distancing.
Bar and grill types of establishments, though, have questioned how the order translates to their stand-alone bars as they attempt to come into compliance.
Coronavirus spurs sales of handguns, rifles and bullets
4:15 p.m. Wednesday
Shotguns, rifles and handguns are selling fast at Buck’s Gun Rack in Daytona Beach as people worried about the coronavirus’ siege on society buy firearms and ammunition.
Buyers are concerned about the future, so they are preparing just in case, said Forrest Buckwald, the owner of Buck’s Gun Rack at 607 W. International Speedway Blvd.
“They want to do home defense,” Buckwald said, “and think maybe there will be a social breakdown, perhaps with the panic. They don’t know how bad the situation is going to get socially.”
Ammo.com, which sells ammunition online, says it has had a big spike in business since February, according to its website, where a graphic details sales in states.
Sales in Florida were up 235 percent, according to the website. The most popular calibers in the Sunshine State by sales volume were the 9 mm posting an increase of 315 percent followed by .223-caliber rounds for rifles, such as the AR-15, up by 368 percent. Another rifle round, the 5.56×45, was up by 413 percent.
Trump invoking Defense Production Act to speed coronavirus resources
12:47 p.m. Wednesday
President Donald Trump said he is invoking the Defense Production Act, which allows the administration to expedite and expand the supply of resources.
Trump did not say specifically what powers he would execute, but the act could allow him to step up production of respirators and other medical equipment.
DeSantis says K-12 must remain closed through April 15
6:41 p.m. Tuesday
Gov. Ron DeSantis says students must remain off school campuses until at least April 15.
DeSantis made the announcement at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. He added that he and Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran were waiving state testing requirements for the school year and the requirements that students must take the test to graduate or advance to the next grade.
“Parents may at their discretion choose to keep their child in the same grade for the 2021 school year,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis orders bars, nightclubs closed
11:20 a.m. Tuesday
Gov. Ron DeSantis today ordered all bars and nightclubs to close effective 5 p.m. Tuesday.
He also announced that four University of Florida students have tested positive for the coronavirus, including at least one who had traveled internationally.
The governor is also recommending that all restaurants follow California in reducing capacity by 50 percent and distancing tables to make sure there is six feet of separation between groups of diners.
“This is the floor for the foreseeable future,” DeSantis said.
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