STATEWIDE — The total number of coronavirus cases in Florida has passed 11,000.
The majority of the cases are in the Miami-Dade area but the number of cases have risen quickly in Central Florida and the Tampa Bay area.
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Based on the current White House models, health officials predict Florida's coronavirus peak will happen in early May.
At a White House coronavirus task force briefing Saturday afternoon, President Donald Trump warned the U.S. will be facing the "toughest" weeks ahead as the rise in coronavirus cases accelerates, saying "there will be a lot of death."
At the same time, the President once again reiterated his desire to have the U.S. "open for business."
"We don't want to be doing this for months and months and months. This country wasn't meant for this," Trump said at the news conference.
As the country prepares for an expected wave of coronavirus cases in the coming weeks, the Army Corps of Engineers said it has had an increase in requests for field hospitals. Florida does have sites for field hospitals but there is a push for more.
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The army corps said the requests made by cities for field hospitals shot up this past week.
They have now assessed more than 80 potential spots across the country – and these include hotels, convention centers, arenas, college dorms and other locations.
They expect to have to look at even more.
On Friday, the army corps general said he’s concerned about the numbers in Florida. And how many hospitals that could mean.
"I'm personally worried about Florida, OK,” said Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite. “Only because if there is, obviously there's an age issue here to a degree and I know the leadership of Florida is engaged, my colonel in Florida is talking to the leadership of Florida. We have a couple of nominated sites that we're looking at, premature to say where they are."
Many of the facilities being eyed right now are in New York and California.
Governors are describing in stark terms the dog-eat-dog global marketplace they must navigate for the protective gear doctors, nurses and other front-line medical workers need as they brace for an expected wave of patients.
Florida has field hospitals in place in Orlando, Broward County and Ocala. On Saturday morning, the testing site at the Orange County Convention Center was forced to wrap up early wrapping up early as the site met the federal mandate of 250 tests for the day.
Should more be opened, it would take a few weeks to get them up and running.
Face coverings recommended; Trump says he won't wear one
President Donald Trump announced new federal guidelines Friday recommending that Americans wear face coverings when in public to help fight the spread of the new coronavirus. The president immediately said he had no intention of following that advice himself, saying, “I’m choosing not to do it.”
The new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages people, especially in areas hit hard by the spread of the coronavirus, to use rudimentary coverings like T-shirts, bandannas and non-medical masks to cover their faces while outdoors.
The president exempted himself from his administration’s own guidelines, saying he could not envision himself covering his face while sitting in the Oval Office greeting world leaders.
“It’s a recommendation, they recommend it,” Trump said. “I just don’t want to wear one myself.”
The new guidance, announced as states are bracing for critical shortfalls like those that other parts of the world have experienced, raises concern that it could cause a sudden run on masks.
New normal in place as stay-at-home order takes effect
A new normal is now in place as the governor's “safer at home” order - effectively a stay-at-home order - took effect overnight Thursday into Friday. For now, the order lasts until April 30. People are only supposed to leave home for essential services.
- Grocery stores
- Doctor visits
- Gas stations
- Caring for a loved one
- Recreational activities
Learn more about the order here.
Meanwhile, system issues have been plaguing many Floridians from filing for unemployment.
Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Ken Lawson apologized to the thousands of people trying to sign up for unemployment benefits.
Lawson apologized during a teleconference shared on Facebook. He says his agency has received more than a million phone calls with a third of them about issues with PIN resets.
A new contractor has been hired to handle the PIN reset issues. Also, a paper application is being created for people to fill out and mail in.
The director is blaming the system lags on the coronavirus because so many people are now unemployed and trying to sign up.
Gov. Ron DeSantis is sending extra help to get the job done. He signed an executive order on Thursday hoping to speed things up.
The governor is sending more manpower as he is directing all agency heads to assign employees to help out the Department of Economic Opportunity.
He says there are some 25,000 state employees who are telecommuting or considered non-essential, so some of their roles may be changing.
Meanwhile, some relief could be coming to those who were not impacted by the halt of evictions of federally backed mortgages. DeSantis says he will sign an executive order suspending foreclosures and evictions for 45 days statewide.
The submission deadline is 12 p.m. on Saturday, April 4, for those individuals who have partially completed their application. Submitted applications will be reviewed for eligibility and then processed based on funding availability.
Applicants who do not receive funding under the initial disbursement will remain on a waiting list until additional funds become available.