STATEWIDE — The Florida Department of Health on Saturday said there are dozens more coronavirus cases in the state.
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Currently, there are 706 confirmed cases in Florida residents and 57 cases in non-Florida residents. As recently as Friday evening, there were 563 cases. There are now 12 deaths in Florida, compared to 10 the night before.
The new breakdown, as of Saturday night from the Florida Department of Health, is:
- Hillsborough County: 45
- Pinellas County: 28
- Orange County: 24
- Osceola County: 18
- Manatee County: 13
- Seminole County: 12
- Volusia County: 11
- Polk County: 10
- Citrus County: 8
- Pasco County: 7
- Hernando County: 6
- Brevard County: 5
- Lake County: 4
- Sumter County: 4
- Marion County: 2
Many Florida counties saw new cases, which can be viewed in the interactive graphics down below.
Among the new cases: The University of Tampa was notified that five UT students, traveling together and with other UT students during spring break, tested positive for COVID-19. One of the students did not return to campus after spring break, and three returned to campus. All are self-isolating – the latter three on campus -- and none have been hospitalized.
Despite the latest numbers, Gov. Ron DeSantis continued to urge residents not to panic.
DeSantis said there are "thousands of additional swabs going to places across the state," mentioning in particular Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville.
In Tampa, Mayor Jane Castor announced Saturday that testing stations will open Monday at Raymond James Stadium for people who fear they have been exposed.
And DeSantis said three new federally supported test sites will be opening in the next week in Jacksonville, Orlando and Miami. These sites will test those 65 or older with symptoms of COVID-19, and first responders and healthcare workers regardless of symptoms.
The Jacksonville site at TIAA Bank Field Lot J opened Saturday. The Miami-Dade County site at Hard Rock Stadium is set to open on Monday. The Orlando site at the Orange County Convention Center is set to open on Wednesday.
Curfews in Orange, Osceola counties
Meanwhile, Orange and Osceola counties have seen curfews.
"From 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night, there will be a countywide curfew, inclusive of the municipalities. Please be mindful of this curfew and only go out if it's required for work," said Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday, the same day the curfew began.
DeSantis also issued an executive order putting more restrictions on restaurants suspending all "dining in" and allowing only take-out or delivery options.
The order also mandates that all gyms and fitness centers within the state be closed.
Rep. Melony Bell (R-District 56), who represents Polk County, was one of the legislators who asked the governor for the closure of gyms and fitness studios in a letter sent Thursday.
"We don’t know who has it, who is the carrier, what they're touching," said Bell as she listed reasons for the closure.
AdventHealth, Orlando Health Announced Ban on Social Visits of Patients
It also means new changes to some of Central Florida's largest healthcare providers.
AdventHealth announced it would be banning social visits for patients as the coronavirus continues its spread.
AdventHealth says patients under 18 years old will be allowed to visit with one parent or guardian with them.
Visitors will also be permitted in end-of-life situations. The new policy begins Monday.
In the meantime, AdventHealth is encouraging patients and loved ones to use technology to stay connected through FaceTime and Skype instead.
The company stated it knows a policy like this is tough, but the decision was not one made lightly, stressing that this is needed to protect the patients as well as medical staff and the community overall as the coronavirus continues its spread.
Just like AdventHealth, on Saturday, Orlando Health announced that it is suspending routine visitations in its hospitals to combat COVID-19.
The guidelines are similar and that Orlando Health stated that all visitors would be screened and must not have any symptoms or exposure of the coronavirus. In fact, no visitors will be allowed in the room of a patient who either has or is suspected of having COVID-19.
In addition, Orlando Health is stopping hospital visits after 9 p.m., except for emergency situations.
This is not the only change AdventHealth implementing: A ban on elective and not-life-threatening surgeries at their hospitals.
The governor on Friday signed an executive order statewide, banning elective surgeries across Florida.
"… the more we looked at it, much more than that, the personal protective equipment. This is in such short supply. We need to make sure all our healthcare providers are saving it and using it for potential COVID-19 cases," said DeSantis.
That executive order went into effect immediately. DeSantis says this policy will free up needed hospital bed space for patients with coronavirus.— Rachael Krause
AdventHealth will allow some exceptions, allowing patients under 18 to have 1 parent or guardian present. Visitation will be allowed in end of life situations. The healthcare provider says the ban on social visits isn’t an easy decision but a necessary one #N13COVID19 @MyNews13 pic.twitter.com/w6olXGSjJe— Rachael Krause (@RKrause_News) March 21, 2020
TSA: Third Officer at OIA Tests Positive for COVID-19
While state health officials continue to work to get drive-through testing facilities up and running, with some officials saying that people must meet a criteria before being allowed to be tested, the Transportation Security Administration says a third officer who works at the Orlando International Airport tested positive for COVID-19.
According to officials, the officer had not worked at the airport since Monday.
TSA says any officers who had come into contact with those infected were notified. However, security remains open at Orlando International Airport.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Orange County Department of Health to monitor its employees.
Other places, like hotels, installed #HandSanitizer dispensers for guests and visitors to help stop the spread of the #virus. #corona #coronavirus #COVID_19 #COVID19 #COVID #N13COVID19 3/3 @MyNews13 pic.twitter.com/jlISX0WXGo— Anthony Leone (@AnthonyLeone) March 20, 2020
US Senate Debates "Recovery Rebates"
With more restrictions announced on Friday, many people are really starting to feel the pinch.
For instance, in downtown St. Petersburg, many businesses are now affected, especially the bars and restaurants that were forced to close or adjust to delivery or to go orders only.
It has led to questions about where government leaders are at in terms of aid. On Friday, U.S. Senate Republicans rolled out a $1-trillion economic stimulus plan.
At the center of the proposal are what is called "recovery rebates," which would provide payments of up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples at certain income levels.
However, there is disagreements from both sides of the aisle about whether those payments are enough.
"There are many, many who have lost their jobs. One check, when they may be out of work for three or four months, is not going to be enough," said U.S. Sen. Chuck Shcumer, D-N.Y. and the Senate minority leader.
The Senate's Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, "We want to engage the Treasury Department in targeted lending. Not bailouts, but loans to key sectors and industries this pandemic is hurting."
Negotiations are expected to continue on Saturday and the goal is to have some relief agreed on by Monday.
— Tim Wronka