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Orange County Bracing For Patient Surge; Case Numbers Expected To Peak Earlier; DeSantis Wants Churches To Social Distance: Your Coronavirus Update For 4/6

Photo: Orange County YouTube
Photo: Orange County YouTube

Florida case data is updated at approximately 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. daily.

Updated 6:15 p.m.

Hospitalizations tick up as cases surge

Matthew Peddie, WMFE

1,719 people have been hospitalized with coronavirus and and Florida now has 13,629 coronavirus cases according to the latest figures from the state department of health.

254 people have died from COVID-19.

Miami-Dade and Broward County continue to be the epicenter of the pandemic in Florida,  with 8,746 cases between them.

Orange County has the most cases of any county in Central Florida, with 754 cases, 93 hospitalizations and 9 deaths.

In Sumter County, home of The Villages retirement community, 81 people have tested positive for coronavirus, 26 people have been hospitalized and five have died. Lake County has 107 cases, 26 hospitalizations and two deaths.

Hover over the map to see case numbers in other counties.

Seminole County calls on community to help enforce stay at home order

Danielle Prieur, WMFE

Seminole County Commission chair Jay Zembower is calling for the community to help enforce the  stay at home order. 

In a press conference on Monday, Zembower said they don’t have a way to track people who have tested positive for coronavirus. 

“In some cases as we heard last week, neighbors have actually called and said, ‘Hey we know our neighbor was tested and we’re not sure if they should be out running around’.”

He said there have been no citations issued for people not following the order, and any interactions with deputies have been educational in nature reminding people to avoid large gatherings of more than ten people.

But he said the county did have to close down boat ramps after a group of people tried to have a fishing tournament last week.

“FWC as well as our sheriff had already warned on several occasions for these people to disperse. Not only these but others. When they failed to do so it left us no other option but to look out for the best of public safety which was close the boat ramps.”

Updated 5:22 p.m. 

Orange county preparing for surge this month of cornavirus patients

By Brendan Byrne, WMFE

Orange County leaders are preparing for a surge of coronavirus patients at the end of April or early May. The county has tested around 7,200 thousand residents and is carefully monitoring predictive models of the virus.

“We work in close partnership with the Florida Department of Health, as well as other healthcare providers since this is a healthcare crisis. To understand when they potentially will see a surge meet or exceed the current capacity within our hospital systems," said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings. "We're planning for that."

Some hospitals in the county are reporting ICU beds at 60 percent capacity. Demings said the county is working with state and federal agencies to get the resources needed to handle the surge.

Florida’s projected peak of COVID-19 cases expected sooner

Abe Aboraya, WMFE

Researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation now say Florida will have its peak April 21, with 242 people dying in a single day. 

Previous projections had the peak happening on May 3rd. 

The state is projected to be short 769 intensive care beds, and will need a total of more than 2-thousand ventilators.

DeSantis Calls On Churches To Social Distance, Says Jobless Claims Process To Get A Boost

By Amy Green, WMFE 

Gov. Ron DeSantis is calling on churches to follow social distancing guidelines as Christians celebrate Holy Week and Easter this week. 

It’s an about-face from a stay-at-home order DeSantis issued last week excluding places of workshop as “essential.” Here’s the governor Monday morning.  

“We want people during this time to be spiritually together but to remain socially distant. Please keep God close, but keep COVID-19 away.”

DeSantis commended churches that have found innovative ways to worship together, like some that have gathered outdoors with people remaining in their cars. 

He also says more than 2,000 state employees are being tapped to help respond to the tsunami of unemployment claims generated by the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The governor says the employees work across state government, and many are considered “non-essential” in their departments.

He acknowledged the unemployment benefits system has been fraught with problems. 

“Nothing is even close to as sudden as this, and if you look at the claims that are made throughout the history with recessions or whatever, this is so far and above this in a short period of time.” 

DeSantis says 72 new servers will help boost the online portal run by the Department of Economic Opportunity, where the jobless file claims. 

Meanwhile training lasted through the weekend to prepare new workers for call centers. 

Updated: 1:20 p.m.

Florida Cases pass 13,000

Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Florida added nearly 1,000 coronavirus cases overnight according to figures from the Florida Department of Health, bringing the case total to 13,324.

1,592 people have been hospitalized statewide, and 236 people have died.

Miami-Dade and Broward County continue to be the epicenter of the pandemic in Florida,  with more than 6,500 cases and nearly 500 hospitalizations between them. 46 people have died in Broward County and 38 people have died in Miami-Dade from COVID-19.

Orange County has the most cases of any county in Central Florida, with 744 cases, 89 hospitalizations and 8 deaths.

In Sumter County, home of The Villages retirement community, 80 people have tested positive for coronavirus, 25 people have been hospitalized and two have died. Lake County has 104 cases, 25 hospitalizations and two deaths.

Hover over the map to see case numbers in other counties.

Two die in Ocala, first Marion County deaths from COVID-19

Joe Byrnes, WMFE

Two Ocala residents have died from the coronavirus, the first deaths reported in Marion County.

The county health departments says an 88 year-old man and a 58-year-old man died over the weekend.

As of Sunday evening, Marion County had 50 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Six patients were hospitalized.

Drive-thru testing site opens at UCF

Matthew Peddie, WMFE

A drive through testing site opens today at UCF . The University of Central Florida is partnering with a private genetics testing lab, Aventus Biolabs, to operate the site. 

Tests are available by appointment only. People who want to get tested should first contact Aventus by calling 855 282 4860.

Tests will be carried out at UCF’s parking garage A on University Boulevard, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The test takes about 10 minutes, and results should be available within 48 hours. 

Aventus can test about 250 people per day. 

Testing sites open in Brevard County

Brendan Byrne, WMFE

Multiple drive-through testing sites are opening throughout Brevard today.  Testing is available by appointment only. Residents must have COVID-19 symptoms — which includes a fever of 100.4 or higher, cough and shortness of breath. 

They also must meet one of the following requirements: Be older than 65, have a health condition, are a first responder or have a prescription from a doctor. 

Click here for more details.

Turtle conservation work continues during the pandemic

Danielle Prieur, WMFE

Beaches throughout Florida are closed but that hasn’t stopped researchers at the University of Central Florida and Florida Atlantic University from their turtle conservation work. 

Researchers teamed up with the US Coast guard to release three six-month-old green sea turtles into the ocean off the coast of Fort Lauderdale. 

Tracking the turtles will help researchers preserve habitats that are crucial to their growth and development. 

A team of UCF students will continue to count turtle nests on Florida’s East Coast, while maintaining social distancing.

Click here to read WMFE's previous coronavirus coverage.

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