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Coronavirus Latest For 03/23: Florida Now Has Over 1,200 Cases

Gov. Ron DeSantis gives an update.

Updated 9:10 p.m.

Florida cases climb to 1,227

Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Florida now has 1,227 cases of coronavirus according to the department of health. 18 people have died of COVID-19, and 1,237 people are being monitored.

Dade County has the highest number of cases, with 278 people testing positive for the virus.

In Central Florida, Orange County has the highest number of cases, with 48 people testing positive and two deaths.

Five TSA officers have tested positive for coronavirus.

Other Central Florida cases:

  • Osceola County- 25 cases
  • Seminole County- 22 cases
  • Volusia County- 16 cases
  • Brevard County- 7 cases
  • Lake County- 9 cases
  • Sumter County- 8 cases
  • Marion County- 4 cases

Testing for coronavirus has ramped up in recent days, with a testing site opening in the Villages on Monday and a site preparing to open at the Orange County Convention Center Wednesday.

Statewide, 431 cases have been confirmed by the Florida Department of Health, and 796 have been tested by private labs.

Updated 6:44 p.m.

Fifth Orlando International Airport TSA Worker Tests Positive for Coronavirus

Danielle Prieur, WMFE 

A fifth TSA officer at Orlando International Airport has tested positive for coronavirus.

Federal Security Director Pete Garcia notified TSA officer at the airport of the case in an email Monday.

The officer is at home and will not be able to return to work until they are cleared by a doctor. They were last at the security checkpoint on Thursday, March 12.

The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority says it will continue to deep-clean work areas, break rooms, and employee shuttles. GOAA recommends employees practice good hygiene, clean frequently used areas, and stay home if sick.

The agency says screeners in the following states have tested positive for coronavirus: California, Florida, Georgia, New York, Ohio, and Virginia.

Updated 5:44 p.m.

DeSantis Wants New Yorkers Arriving In Florida To Self-Quarantine

Carl Lisciandrello, WUSF

Gov. Ron DeSantis is issuing an executive order that anyone flying into Florida from regions in New York and New Jersey where there are a large number of cases of COVID-19 to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival.

DeSantis made the comments during a Monday afternoon news conference, hours after he warned that an influx of flights to New York could hamper the state’s efforts to contain the coronavirus.

DeSantis said he’s not looking to follow suit with other states that have issued statewide lockdowns, but said it is something he would consider if measures that have been taken by the state fail to contain the coronavirus outbreak in Florida.

DeSantis said he has spoken with President Donald Trump about how the influx of out-of-state residents could impact Florida’s efforts.

“If you look at what happened in New York, when they did the stay at home order, what did people do? Well, a lot of people fled the city and they’re going to stay with their parents, or flying,” DeSantis said. “We’re getting huge amounts of people flying in. We’re looking at how to address those flights. I talked to the president last night about that.”

Earlier Monday morning, DeSantis announced a testing partnership with the University of Florida while also admonishing some “selfish” people who he said have not taken seriously the restrictions placed by the state to encourage social distancing.

Updated 4:30 p.m.

Florida cases climb as testing ramps up

Matthew Peddie

The number of coronavirus cases in Florida has climbed to 1,171 according the Florida Department of Health. Fourteen people have died of COVID-19 in Florida.

As of Monday, Dade County had the highest number of cases, with 267, followed by Broward County with 258 and Hillsborough County with 73.

There are 45 cases in Orange County, 24 in Osceola County, 20 in Seminole County, 15 in Volusia County and 7 in Brevard. See the latest numbers on this interactive map.

Testing sites are ramping up around the state. A drive up testing site opened in the Villages monday, and a testing site is scheduled to open at the Orange County Convention Center Wednesday.

Updated 4:15 p.m.

MegaCon postponed

MegaCon Orlando has been postponed to Thursday June 4 through Sunday June 7.

The event at the Orange County Convention Center brings tens of thousands of fans annually. MegaCon says it is following the recommendations of the CDC and the Florida Department of Health in postponing the convention.

Current ticket purchases will be honored at the June event and guests unable to attend can receive a refund on their tickets up until May 21.

Updated 2:49 p.m.

Drive up testing site opens in The Villages

– Joe Byrnes, WMFE

Drive-thru coronavirus testing in The Villages got underway this morning.

76-year-old Jim Wilson queued up in a golf cart. He’s had a persistent cough since returning from Honduras. Wilson was directed to one of the six testing stations. 

“Two weeks ago I was very probably nonchalant and thought there was overreaction,” said Wilson.

“I’d have to say in the last five or six days, that’s changed considerably.”

 UF Health will process his sample. But they will also test many others who have no symptoms as part of a research project into COVID-19 among seniors.

Anyone who wants to be tested can apply online at ufhealthcovid.com. Tests are limited and applications start at 8 a.m. for the next day

Florida governor wants to avoid statewide virus shutdown

The Associated Press

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he wants to avoid imposing a statewide lockdown because of the coronavirus.

Speaking Monday at The Villages retirement community, DeSantis said he doesn’t want to impose undue hardships on the two-thirds of Florida counties with few or no confirmed cases.

He said he still believes a county-by-county approach is best. Some counties such as Miami-Dade and Broward have closed beaches and other gathering spots and imposed severe restrictions on businesses that can be open.

DeSantis said he also doesn’t want to close daycare centers because medical personnel and other essential employees need someone to look after their children.


Updated 11:04 a.m.

Kennedy Space Center employee tests positive for COVID-19

Brendan Byrne, WMFE

An employee at the Kennedy Space Center has tested positive for COVID-19.

The employee was last at the center more than ten days ago. Officials believe the employee acquired the virus after beginning teleworking and there’s no additional risk at KSC.

NASA has ordered all of its centers to mandatory teleworking. Access to Kennedy Space Center is restricted to mission-essential personnel.

Florida agency gears up for increased unemployment assistance claims

Brendan Byrne, WMFE

Florida plans to hire 100 new people to take calls from residents requesting unemployment assistance as calls to the agency surge.

There were more than 130,000 calls to Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity last week to apply for reemployment assistance as businesses closed doors. That’s up from only 28,000 calls the week before.

That prompted the DEO to hire 100 new customer service positions in Orlando and Tallahassee to field questions about Floridians hoping to apply for reemployment assistance.

The DEO said more than 5,3000 residents have applied for reemployment assistance last week. The state provides money for those who are out of work and who meet certain criteria — up to $275 a week.

Individuals filing for reemployment assistance will not have to prove they are looking for a new job as state leaders have directed people to minimize public contact.

Those interested in applying can visit FloridaJobs.org. More info on requirements and application process can be found here.

Florida coronavirus cases increase to 1,007

WMFE staff

Florida’s reported cases of COVID-19 exceeded 1,000 on Sunday evening.

The total number of coronavirus cases was 1,007, a 32% increase over 24 hours. Thirteen have died in Florida from the virus.

Orange County has 33 cases, the most in Central Florida. Orange County has had ten hospitalizations from COVID-19.

Sumter County, home to the sprawling retirement community of The Villages, has five confirmed cases, the lowest in Central Florida. Lake County has six cases.

In South Florida, Broward and Dade counties combined to have 444 cases, 0r 44 percent of all Florida cases. Statewide, results are pending for 933 tests and the state is monitoring 1,147 people.

Updated 7:56 a.m.

Click here to tell us your coronavirus story

Florida Closes All State Parks

Amy Green

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is closing all state parks effective today Monday to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The agency said too many people are visiting the parks, even after steps like limiting operating hours and reducing capacity at the busiest parks.

The agency says it needs to close the parks in accordance with the guidance restricting gatherings of more than 10 people.

Updated 8:04

Drive-through testing coming next week, will only screen “high-risk” individuals

Brendan Byrne, WMFE

The Florida Department of Health says only high-risk individuals will be eligible for testing at drive-through testing sites opening this week — including one at the Orange County Convention Center. 

Only high-risk individuals will be eligible for the drive-through testing site. Initially, that includes anyone 65 years or older with a temperature above 99.6° and  showing respiratory symptoms.

The sites will also test all first responders and healthcare workers, regardless of any symptoms.

Individuals do not need a referral from a doctor to be tested. Anyone who meets the criteria will be tested, regardless of insurance.

Updated Sunday, March 22

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