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Florida Cases Pass 19,000, USDA Approves SNAP Online Purchases, Davie Police Chief Placed On Leave Over Comments: Your Coronavirus Update For 4/12

Matthew Peddie

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

Death toll passes 450

Matthew Peddie, WMFE

452 Floridians have died from COVID-19, according to the latest figures from the Florida Department of Health.

Florida has had 19,346 positive cases, and 2,633 people have been hospitalized.

Orange County has 942 cases, the most in Central Florida. The county has had 141 hospitalizations and 13 deaths. Marion County has had the fewest cases at 92, 12 hospitalizations and two deaths. Sumter County, home to the sprawling retirement community of The Villages, has had 110 cases, 27 hospitalizations and nine deaths.

Nationwide, there are 530,830 confirmed cases and 20,646 deaths. The country’s number of deaths topped Italy’s on Saturday, make the U.S. outbreak the deadliest in the world. Across the globe, there are 1.8 million cases and 110,892 deaths.

Updated 3 p.m.

USDA Approves Floridians Using Food Stamps Online

Abe Aboraya, WMFE

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will allow Floridians to buy groceries online with food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

The change is expected to take place later this month, and includes retailers like Amazon and Walmart. Florida has 3 million people on the SNAP program receiving more than $4 billion dollars annually.

Six states, including New York, Alabama and Iowa, already have online grocery shopping with the EBT cards. Check here for more information.

In a statement released Saturday, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said the change will reduce the shopping risk from COVID-19.

Suspect coughs at deputies, says 'I hope you catch corona'

Associated Press

DELAND, Fla. — A suspect in Florida facing charges of battering his mother coughed and blew at deputies while he was being arrested, telling them he hoped they caught the new coronavirus.

The Volusia County Sheriff's Office says deputies were called to a home Brent Smith shares with his mother on Saturday night after she said he shoved her several times, grabbed a butter knife and threatened to kill her. The sheriff's office says that as deputies took Smith into custody, he threatened them and coughed at them from the back of a patrol car, saying that he hopes they catch the coronavirus.

He was being held in jail without bond.

Union: Chief said deputy's virus death caused by gay events

The Associated Press

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida town has placed its police chief on leave after officers alleged he said a deputy died of the coronavirus because he was a “homosexual who attended homosexual" events.

The Fraternal Order of Police said Davie Chief Dale Engle made the comments after officers expressed concerns about their safety following the death of Broward County Sheriff's Deputy Shannon Bennett.

The union said Engle responded by saying Bennett got the disease because he attended gay sexual events. Engle later said in an email to his staff that his statements were not meant to be derogatory.

Herald: DeSantis lawyer pressured law firm not to file suit

The Associated Press

MIAMI (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ general counsel pressured a law firm representing the Miami Herald to stop the filing of a public records lawsuit seeking information from state officials about which elderly-care facilities in Florida had coronavirus cases.

The Herald reported Sunday that the backdoor pressure worked as the Holland & Knight law firm told its senior partner representing the newspaper to abandon the lawsuit.

The Herald is now pursuing the lawsuit using another law firm. Holland & Knight regularly does work for the state. Helen Ferre, a spokeswoman for the governor, says there was no effort to strong-arm the newspaper.

Click here to read more of WMFE's coronavirus coverage.

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