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Universal Closed Through May 31st; State of Florida To Take Over OCCC Test Site; TSA Reduces Officer Hours: Your Coronavirus Update for 4/9

A Florida Department of Health worker puts together a kit. Photo: Danielle Prieur
A Florida Department of Health worker puts together a kit. Photo: Danielle Prieur

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

Updated 6:00 p.m.

Death toll passes 370

Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Florida is reporting 16,826 coronavirus cases,  371 deaths and 2,298 people hospitalized with COVID-19 according to the latest numbers from the state department of health.

In Orange County there are now 860 cases, with 104 hospitalizations. Thirteen people have now died from COVID-19 in the county.

Osceola County has 295 cases and five deaths, while Polk County has 234 cases and seven deaths.

In Sumter County, home of The Villages retirement community, there are 100 cases and 27 hospitalizations. Seven people in the county have died.

Hover over the map for data from other counties.

Updated 5:20 p.m.

Universal Orlando to stay closed through May 31st

Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Universal Orlando says its theme parks will stay closed until at least May 31st. 

Staff will continue to be paid through April 19th. From April 20th, most employees will receive 80 per cent of their pay. 

Hourly, part time employees will be furloughed beginning May third. 

Updated 4:30 p.m.

State of Florida to take over OCCC test site so it can stay open beyond the weekend

Nicole Darden Creston, WMFE

The State of Florida is taking over the COVID-19 drive-through testing site at the Orange County Convention Center.

During today’s coronavirus response update, Governor Ron DeSantis told reporters that the state will provide resources for the site.

He added that the site should be able to provide more than the 250 tests per day that were available under federal restrictions.

Schedule reduced even further for Orlando TSA officers

Danielle Prieur, WMFE

TSA officers at Orlando International Airport are being told to reduce their hours again to try and slow the spread of coronavirus.

TSA officers are being put on a two day per week schedule, down from three days a week. They will be paid for the days they would otherwise be working.

Eleven TSA officers at Orlando International Airport have tested positive for coronavirus.

Updated 4:02 p.m.

Volusia County drive thru sites to open Monday, says State Rep. David Santiago

Danielle Prieur, WMFE

State Rep. David Santiago (R- Deltona) said three drive through coronavirus testing sites in Volusia County will open on Monday. 

Santiago said the sites at Advanced EmUrgentCare in Orange City and Family Health Source in Daytona Beach and Deland will offer screening and testing by appointment. 

Five AdventHealth Centra Care sites are also providing testing in Volusia county.

Orlando Patients Being Treated For COVID-19 With The Blood Of Those Who Recovered

By Abe Aboraya, WMFE

Orlando area patients are starting to get treated for COVID-19 with the blood of patients who have recovered.

When you get a virus, your body creates antibodies to help fight off that kind of infection if you get it later. The idea behind convalescent plasma is to use someone else’s antibodies to fight COVID-19.

Convalescent plasma has showed promise as an early treatment for SARS, MERS and EBOLA before a vaccine could be developed.

Orlando Health confirmed that a patient started convalescent plasma treatment last night at Orlando Regional Medical Center, although further details aren’t immediately available. Check here for more.

[caption id="attachment_151722" align="aligncenter" width="617"]

Orlando area hospitals have started treating COVID-19 patients with the blood of those who have recovered. (photo courtesy OneBlood)[/caption]

Updated 3:42

AdventHealth Offering Drive-Up COVID-19 Testing At Daytona International Speedway

Abe Aboraya, WMFE

Drive-thru testing will begin Friday at the Daytona International Speedway in Volusia County.

AdventHealth will offer 500 tests. The hospital said it will take insurance information, but patients will not be charged out-of-pocket costs.

A doctor’s order isn’t required for testing. The hospital says it will follow CDC guidance on who can be tested. People interested can visit here to schedule an appointment.

Updated at 3:07 p.m.

Testing shut down for now at polo field in The Villages

Joe Byrnes, WMFE

UF Health has temporarily shut down its drive-through testing site at the polo field in The Villages.

A shortage of clinical test kits is to blame. A UF spokesman said they’re hoping to get more and reopen the testing site next week.

It opened with a press conference by Gov. Ron DeSantis on March 23rd.

In the first week, UF tested nearly 2,300p eople, most of them for strictly research purposes. An additional 800 people were tested in the first two days of April.

Note: The above item has been updated with additional information from UF.

Updated 12:30 p.m.

Florida's coronavirus cases pass 16,000

Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Florida's coronavirus cases continue to tick up with 16,364 testing positive according to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health.

2,149 people have been hospitalized and 354 people have died from COVID-19.

Orange County has 857 cases, with 96 hospitalizations and 11 deaths.

In Sumter County, home of The Villages retirement community, there are 98 cases and 27 hospitalizations. Seven people in Sumter County have died of COVID-19.

Hover over the map for data from other counties.

Demand slows at Orange County Convention Center site as other testing centers come online.

Danielle Prieur, WMFE

The Florida National Guard tested 322 people at the Orange County Convention Center drive through coronavirus testing site yesterday 

Spokesperson Lauren Luna said she expects the site will continue to administer between 250 and 350 tests per day for the rest of the week depending on guidance from the state.

Last week the site was running out of tests within minutes, but demand has slowed in recent days. 

“We’re really attributing that to the fact that other community based testing sites are popping up and they’re able to alleviate some of the load from this site,” said Luna.

The site will need more kits from the federal and state governments to stay open past Sunday.

People with a fever of 99.5 degrees or higher with respiratory symptoms or pre-existing conditions can get tested at the site, along with healthcare providers and first responders who don't need to be showing symptoms to get a test. 

Election Supervisors Request Flexibility on Polling Sites, Early Voting, Mail-In Balloting

Lynn Hatter, WFSU

Florida’s election supervisors are asking Governor Ron DeSantis to give them more time to mail out ballots.

They also want to shrink the number of polling sites and start early voting, earlier. The changes are being requested as supervisors anticipate a shortage of poll workers in the coming elections.

Many are slated between now and November. League of Women Voters President Patricia Brigham said the group is backing the request.

“Accommodations do need to be made and we’re hopeful the governor will listen to the supervisors and those of us who believe these changes are really needed,” said Brigham.

The League is urging voters to request mail-in-ballots early. In the letter to DeSantis, the supervisors say they’re not in a position to go completely vote-by-mail.

DeSantis has said he’s open to working with counties on their elections needs. The Florida Democratic party is concerned shrinking polling sites could disenfranchise some voters.

Outcry over racial data grows as virus slams black Americans

The Associated Press

As the coronavirus tightens its grip across the country, it is cutting a particularly devastating swath through an already vulnerable population:  black Americans.

Leaders in cities hard-hit by the pandemic have been sounding the alarm over what they see as a disturbing trend of the virus killing African Americans at a higher rate, along with a lack of overall information about the race of victims as the nation’s death toll mounts.

An Associated Press analysis found that 42% of the victims whose demographic data was shared by local officials were black, even though African Americans account for roughly 21% of the population in the areas covered the analysis.

Prominent Florida convention center becoming a hospital

The Associated Press

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Two months ago, the Miami Beach Convention Center hosted tens of thousands of Super Bowl guests visiting the NFL’s traveling museum and interactive displays.

Now it is being set up by the Army Corps of Engineers as a 450-bed overflow hospital in case South Florida facilities become overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.

Gov. Ron DeSantis visited the site Wednesday, saying the corps has told him it will be ready by April 21.

That's when models show the disease could be nearing its peak in the state. Almost 15,700 cases have been diagnosed statewide and more than 2,000 people are hospitalized. There have been more than 300 deaths.

Click here for more coronavirus coverage.

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