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Coronavirus Latest For 3/27: More than 3,000 People in Florida Have Tested Positive for Coronavirus

Photo: Kelly Sikkema @kellysikkema

Update 9:00 p.m.

More than 3,000 people in Florida have tested positive for coronavirus

Matthew Peddie, WMFE 

Florida now has more than 3,000 coronavirus cases. 

As of Friday night, The Florida Department of Health reported 3,198 cases, including 3,054 cases in Florida residents. 

503 people have been hospitalized, and 46 people have died. 

Miami Dade has 869 cases, the most of any Florida county.

Orange County has the most cases in Central Florida, with 174 cases, including a nine-year-old girl. Forty-one people have been hospitalized and four have died. 

Sumter County, home to the sprawling retirement community of The Villages, has 29 cases, and Lake County has 27 cases. 

Other Central Florida counties:

  • Osceola–56 cases
  • Seminole–54 cases
  • Volusia–43 cases
  • Polk–28 cases
  • Brevard–20 cases
  • Marion–9 cases

Orlando Ballet says it will pay its dancers through the end of the season 

The Orlando Ballet says it will continue to pay dancers through the end of the season. 

In a statement, board president Jonathan Ledden said the decision is not contingent on whether performances resume or not.

Ledden said to date there have been no staff layoffs. 

He said employees including dance instructors are developing online experiences for audience members and students with social distancing in mind.

“To be a ballet dancer it takes an incredible amount of determination and perseverance,” Ledden said.

“We know that the curtain will rise again for Orlando Ballet. We look forward to seeing you on that day and sharing in this beautiful art form together as a community.”

Central Florida Community Arts offers online programs

Central Florida Community Arts is offering online programs to help people de-stress while they are social distancing.

Local musicians and theme park performers will put on free, live-streamed concerts from their homes on the nonprofit’s Facebook page most days starting at 6 pm. 

Music is family-friendly and ranges from rock and pop to Broadway favorites. 

CFCArts’ music therapist Ashley Lewis will hold free relaxation sessions for people of all ages and abilities also on the CFCArt’s Facebook page on Wednesdays at 10 am. 

Participants do not need to own their own musical instrument.

And writers, singers and actors can enter weekly challenges that will culminate in virtual readings, a musical montage, and podcast series on the arts. 

Update 7:20 p.m. 

Seminole County issues social distancing order

Danielle Prieur, WMFE 

Seminole County has announced a social distancing order to try and limit the spread of coronavirus. 

The order, which takes effect on Sunday night,  allows businesses to remain open, but employees and patrons must practice social distancing by staying six feet apart. 

Group meetings are limited to ten people or fewer and businesses must reduce their occupancy by 30 percent.

Stores must maintain six feet of social distancing at checkpoints and staging areas between workers and customers. 

The order does not apply to essential employees and businesses including first responders, healthcare workers, construction and transit workers, and childcare providers.  

The order is not a stay-at-home order like those in place for Orange and Osceola Counties.

County leaders say they will continue to re-evaluate the need for a shelter-in-place order on a daily basis.

Brevard County reverses decision to close beaches

Brevard County has rescinded an order to close county beaches this weekend.

The County Emergency Management Office said a COVID-19 policy group voted Friday to keep the beaches open. The order doesn’t apply to municipal beaches. 

The city of Melbourne says its beaches will also remain open, but beach parking will be closed.

Cocoa Beach, Satellite Beach, Indian Harbor Beach, and Indialantic will close public beaches and public beach access on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Any access to the beach including over the dunes is prohibited and noncompliance will be strictly enforced.

The penalty in Cocoa Beach has been set at $500. 

Update 5:30 p.m. 

SeaWorld furloughs 90% of its workers

Danielle Prieur, WMFE

Seaworld will temporarily furlough more than 90 percent of its employees starting on April 1. 

In a SEC filing Friday, the company said those employees will not receive compensation throughout the furlough period beginning March 31. 

Workers may be eligible for unemployment benefits subject to local regulations.

SeaWorld said it is uncertain how long the furlough will last, due to the temporary park closures, but conditions will be reassessed. 

The company said it looks forward to welcoming back employees and guests when it is safe to reopen. 

Read the full filing here.

Walt Disney World & Disneyland to remain closed until further notice

Amy Green, WMFE

The Walt Disney Company announced today  its theme parks in Orlando and California will remain closed until further notice. 

The company had announced earlier this month it would close the parks through the end of March, to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Now the company says the parks will be shuttered indefinitely. 

It says cast members have been paid since the parks closed, but that will end April 18th. 

Universal Orlando announced on March 24th that it would extend the closure of its parks until April 19th.

Update 4:30 p.m. 

Two More TSA Workers at Orlando International Airport Test Positive for Coronavirus

Danielle Prieur, WMFE

Two more TSA officers at Orlando International have tested positive for coronavirus on Friday, bringing the total to seven workers who are sick. 

In an email to staff, Federal Security Director Pete Garcia said one of the officers has not been at the airport since February 4th, while the other was working as recently as March 13th. 

He says both officers are at home and will not return to work until they are cleared by a doctor. 

Only John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York has more confirmed cases of coronavirus among TSA officers.

The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority continues to deep-clean checkpoints, work areas, and break rooms.  

They recommend workers practice good hygiene and stay at home if they’re sick to stop the spread of the virus.

DeSantis Extends Screenings to visitors from New Orleans 

Danielle Prieur, WMFE

Visitors from New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana will now be screened for coronavirus, as Gov. Ron DeSantis expands measures to try and stop the spread of the virus. 

He said the screenings and a mandatory 14-day period of isolation have decreased travel from New York, New Jersey and Conneticut, and that’s why he’s expanding the executive order. 

“There’s a fear that as New Orleans becomes more of a hot spot, that you could have an influx of people into the Florida Panhandle from Louisiana.”

DeSantis said he’ll set up checkpoints to screen drivers coming into Florida from these states. 

“We are going to be authorizing the use of checkpoints on the roads coming into Florida for the counties and the Florida Highway Patrol.”    

In an update Friday, DeSantis said more than 3,400 people from the tri-state area have been screened at Florida airports. 

Update 12:47 p.m.

Florida Blue Offering Grace Period Through May 31

Abe Aboraya, WMFE

The state’s largest insurance company is giving customers a grace period to pay their bill.

Florida Blue will extend a grace period for customers through May 31 and will not terminate coverage. The grace period applies to Affordable Care Act plans bought on the health insurance exchange.

It also applies to Medicare Supplement plans, and other individual health plans Florida Blue sells. The grace period also applies to most of its employer group health plans.”

“Florida Blue understands our customers and members are facing tremendous uncertainty due to the COVID-19 health crisis. We want to alleviate additional stress and anxiety at this time over the potential termination of their health coverage and allow them to focus on their health and safety,” said Pat Geraghty, Florida Blue president and CEO, in a statement.

Florida Blue also will not disenroll people from dental, life and vision insurance.

Update 6:32 a.m.

More Than 400 Hospitalizations From COVID-19 Statewide

Abe Aboraya, WMFE

Florida has a total of 2,359 positive cases of coronavirus, and 410 people are hospitalized statewide, according to the latest figures from the Florida Department of Health.

Additionally, 29 Floridians have died from COVID-19.

Orange County has 119 cases, the most in Central Florida. That includes 28 hospitalizations.

Sumter County, home to the sprawling retirement community of The Villages, has 24 cases, and Lake County has 26 cases.

Update 6 a.m.

Marion County has ordered Internet Cafes closed to stop the spread of coronavirus

Joe Byrnes, WMFE

Marion County has ordered the closure of internet cafes, bingo halls, bowling alleys, race tracks, theaters and other recreational venues to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The ordinance fills a perceived gap in the governor’s order halting dine-in service at bars and restaurants and closing gyms.

At a special hearing Thursday law enforcement officials characterized the internet cafes as irresponsible and said patrons continued to crowd into them during the pandemic.

Anthony Burden of 326 Hot Spot said they’re not all that way.

“There are some people who are responsible and try to do the right thing at some of these internet cafes,” he said.

“I can’t speak for each and every one of them. And I won’t speak for each and every one of them. I just want to speak for ours that we are doing what we can.”

The countywide rule includes skating rinks, trampoline parks, casinos and indoor climbing facilities — but not the Ocala Drive-in.

Orange County Library Services suspends book delivery

Danielle Prieur, WMFE

The Orange County Library System has suspended its home delivery program to comply with a county-wide stay at home order. 

Patrons can still check out e-books and audiobooks, stream music and movies, and take online classes on the library website. 

Book returns will remain open while all sixteen libraries are closed until further notice. Library fines have been waived. 

In a statement, OCLS says the decision was made to stop non-essential services and to protect the health and well-being of staff.

Department of Health closes some WIC offices

Danielle Prieur, WMFE

Only five WIC offices will remain open in Orange County beginning Monday 30.

Moms will still be able to get benefits at the Church, Semoran, Lake Ellenor and West Colonial locations in Orlando and the Rock Springs site in Apopoka. 

New applicants can continue to use the WIC Call Center at 407-858-1494 to set up an appointment to enroll in the food assistance program.

The Florida Department of Health in Orange County says it’s temporarily closing the Winter Garden and other Orlando locations to practice social distancing. 

The WIC program provides formula, food, and health and nutritional services to low-income moms, babies and children under the age of five.

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