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Your Monday Update: Florida Adds Less Than 3,000 New Cases, Pinellas Sheriff Tests Positive for Coronavirus, Pandemic Challenges Accuracy of Census Count, New COVID-19 Cases in Florida Plunge Ahead of Election

Photo: CDC @cdc
Photo: CDC @cdc

Florida adds less than 3,000 new coronavirus cases

Danielle Prieur, WMFE

The Florida Department of Health has reported 2,678 new coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the total number of cases in the state since the beginning of the pandemic to 576,094 cases.

The state also reported 87 new resident deaths bringing the death toll to 9,539 people since mid-March.

Orange County continues to lead Central Florida with the most coronavirus cases, adding 104 cases today for a total of 33,486 positive COVID-19 tests.

Pinellas sheriff tests positive for coronavirus

Julio Ochoa, WUSF
Pinellas County’s sheriff has tested positive for the coronavirus. A release from the sheriff's office on Saturday said that Bob Gualtieri’s symptoms were mild and began with a loss of taste and smell. He did not have a fever or respiratory issues. The 58-year-old sheriff will follow quarantine guidance from the Florida Department of Health and remain home for 10 days. He planned to continue to work remotely and remain in contact with the command staff at the sheriff's office. No other information was released.

Bourbon-scented sanitizer and wary public challenge census

The Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — It's been an unprecedented year for the once-a-decade head count. The workers at the front-lines of trying to get everyone in the U.S. counted in the 2020 census are facing unprecedented obstacles.

People are wary of talking to strangers in a pandemic and distrustful of government.

Staffers hired to knock on doors have faced a shortened schedule, administrative snafus and concerns about the quality of the protective equipment they’ve received.

Up to a half million census takers started hitting the streets last week to knock on the doors of around 56 million homes that haven’t yet responded to the 2020 census.

New COVID-19 cases in Florida plunge before primary election

The Associated Press TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida health officials are reporting about 3,900 new cases of the coronavirus, the lowest daily total in nearly two months. The number of Floridians dying of the disease — 107 — also took a dramatic downward turn from the last few days. The lower numbers announced Sunday come just days before Florida voters cast ballots Tuesday in primaries across the state for congressional, legislative and other seats. More than 2.3 million people have opted to vote early, instead of braving lines and the risk of infection. Officials, however, have assured voters who decide to show up at the polls on Tuesday that doing so will be safe.

Reporter's notebook: Puerto Ricans living in the center of the COVID-19 outbreak

Latino USA, NPR The Puerto Rican population living in the United States is largely concentrated in New York, New Jersey, and Florida — all of which are regions hit hard by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. An investigation by the Puerto Rico-based Center for Investigative Journalism (or CPI in Spanish) found that stateside Puerto Rican communities live in areas that are at the highest risk of infection and death by COVID-19, a vulnerable position only compounded by factors such as poverty, high unemployment rates, English-language barriers, and lack of health care and insurance. On this episode of Latino USA, CPI reporters Vanessa Colón Almenas and Coral Murphy break down their findings.

Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner announces new antigen testing program

Wilkine Brutus, WLRN Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner announced last week a rapid COVID-19 testing program that can give people results within hours. Kerner says the positive results from the test are highly accurate. "Antigen testing would be very useful for our first responders, deputy sheriffs, police officers, fire rescue, so that we don't have to put them in a quarantine for 14 days, thereby losing very essential personnel and staff that need to be out on the street protecting us." The positive results for the antigen test are very accurate. But if a person tests negative, they should confirm that result by taking a PCR test. Antigen testing will be available to the public at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches sometime next week.

College classes start soon, but some students don't want to come back

Robbie Gaffney, WFSU

As some Florida State University students move into their dorms, others are choosing to stay where they are. One of those students is Gaurav Harshe, a master’s student beginning his first year at FSU. He chose to stay in Colorado and complete classes remotely rather than move to Florida. “Originally, I believe Tallahassee hadn’t had a lot of cases, but with fall semester might mean students moving in there might be an uptick in that and that’s why I felt like Colorado would be the best place to be right now, you know, hunker down and wait it out almost.” Harshe just finished a master’s degree in Colorado, but his family is from Mumbai. He says they were concerned about him moving to Florida, a state dubbed as a ‘hotspot’ for the pandemic. FSU will be requiring people to wear face coverings indoors and is also making testing available for students, staff, and faculty.

Pandemic makes it harder for felons to regain the right to vote in Florida

The Associated Press

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The effort to register Florida's newly eligible felons to vote is being stymied by the coronavirus pandemic and a disputed requirement that felons pay a series of costs. The possibility of adding over 1 million new voters was seen as a potential boon for Democrats in this year's election. But so far only an estimated 100,000 have been added. Amendment 4, passed in 2018, allowed most people who have been convicted of felonies to register to vote after completing their sentences. But now there is a court fight over whether a sentence is completed when the felon finishes prison and probation or only after paying all fines, fees and restitution. The pandemic has also hampered voter registration drives.

Vote by mail in Florida primary already far exceeds 2016

The Associated Press TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida will elect at least two new members of Congress this year, and the Republican primaries in two districts will likely decide who they’ll be. Florida has no statewide races on the 2020 ballot and voters are voting by mail in larger numbers, likely because of the coronavirus pandemic. Tuesday’s primary will largely involve legislative and congressional seats and contests for local office. As of Friday, 1.9 million people had already voted by mail and more than 370,000 people had cast ballots at early voting sites. The vote by mail totals far exceed the 2016 primary, when about 1.3 million people voted by mail.

You 2.0: The Mind's Eye

Hidden Brain, NPR Many idioms in English draw a connection between what we see and what we do. We're told, "Keep your eye on the prize." "Set your sights high." "I saw that coming." Emily Balcetis, a psychology professor at New York University, knows that there's a deep truth to these sayings. As she shows in her book  Clearer, Closer, Better: How Successful People See The World our visual system and our behavior are linked. We can use our sight, she says, to help us make better decisions and reach our goals. "A hidden secret about goal pursuit is that what we see is really tied to what we think, what we decide and what we do," she says. She lays out specific strategies for making the most of our sense of sight. In some situations, it makes sense to narrow our focus. At other times, the key is to change what's in our line of sight, or to make our abstract choices tangible — choices we can see, even feel. This week on  Hidden Brain, in the second episode of our annual You 2.0 series, we look at how we can use visual perception to change our reality.

Liberty County Schools slated to reopen August 31

Robbie Gaffney, WFSU Students in Liberty County will return to classes on August 31st.

Students will have their temperatures checked before getting on the bus or entering the school building. Staff will ask them screening questions to determine if the student needs to be sent home. Masks will be available at entrances for anyone who needs one. Meals will be served in closed containers and students will either eat in the cafeteria or outside. Teachers will regularly disinfect their classrooms and PE teachers will wipe down all playground equipment after each class.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.