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Coronavirus Latest For 3/31: Sumter County Issues Stay-At-Home Order; Florida Cases Over 6,700

Gov. Ron DeSantis gives update

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Updated 6:30 p.m.

Sumter County issues stay at home advisory

Joe Byrnes

The Sumter County Commission has renewed its COVID-19 emergency declaration for another week and issued an advisory urging people to stay at home.

It is not an enforceable stay-at-home order like those in Orange and Osceola counties.

Commission Chairman Steve Printz says they are following the lead of the health department, governor and CDC. The county is emphasizing personal accountability and responsibility.

Updated 6:10 p.m.

Florida case numbers continue to climb

Florida has 6,741 coronavirus cases according to the latest numbers from the state department of health. 857 people have been admitted to hospital with COVID-19 and 85 people have died.

Orange County has the most cases in Central Florida, with 363 cases. Fifty six people have been hospitalized and four have died.

Sumter County, home to the sprawling retirement community of The Villages, has 49 cases, and Lake County has 59 cases.

Other Central Florida counties:

  • Osceola–107 cases
  • Seminole–99 cases
  • Volusia–75 cases
  • Polk–88 cases
  • Brevard–34 cases
  • Marion–25 cases

Updated 5:50 p.m. 

Governor Ron DeSantis is resisting calls to issue a state-wide stay-at-home order and the closing of non-essential businesses to stop the spread of coronavirus. 

He said seniors and those with underlying health conditions should remain at home, but a state-wide order would hurt the economy. 

“Some of these things when businesses are closing, in some parts of the state when it closes for a month, it just ain’t coming back and it’s going to be very difficult. So I’ve been mindful of the second and third order effects of these things.”  

DeSantis said he’ll follow any directive from the White House if it asks to issue the order in the future.

Some counties across the state have already issued stay-at-home orders and shuttered non-essential businesses to slow the spread of the virus.

Updated 4:09 p.m.

Orange County Convention Center testing site removing 65+ age requirement

Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Beginning April 1st, there will no longer be an age requirement of 65 and older to get tested for coronavirus at the Orange County Convention Center site.

Orange County announced the update in a tweet. People still have to be showing respiratory symptoms and have a fever 99.6 and higher, or have pre-existing conditions to get a test.

First responders and front line medical workers do not have to be showing symptoms to get a test.

Updated 2:11 p.m.

Florida Blue Waiving Costs For Patients Hospitalized From COVID-19

By Abe Aboraya, WMFE

The state’s largest insurance company is waiving costs for patients who get treatment for COVID-19 – including charges for patients who are hospitalized.

Florida Blue announced it will waive all out-of-pocket costs for individual plans bought through the Affordable Care Act exchanges, Medicare Advantage plans and other individual plans. The new policy also applies to group health plans.

“Many in our state are already facing financial uncertainty due to this health crisis, and we do not want the fear of out-of-pocket health care costs preventing them from seeking potentially lifesaving treatment for COVID-19,” said Pat Geraghty, Florida Blue president and CEO, in a statement.

Additionally, the company says it will not require pre-authorization for patients to be transferred out of the hospital to nursing homes and longterm care facilities. That change is designed to give hospitals more beds.

“Many in our state are already facing financial uncertainty due to this health crisis, and we do not want the fear of out-of-pocket health care costs preventing them from seeking potentially lifesaving treatment for COVID-19,” said Pat Geraghty, Florida Blue president and CEO, in a statement.

Additionally, the company says it will not require pre-authorization for patients to be transferred out of the hospital to nursing homes and longterm care facilities. That change is designed to give hospitals more beds.

Updated 8:32 a.m.

Orange County Hits 300 Cases

By Abe Aboraya, WMFE

Orange County now has 300 confirmed cases of coronavirus, making it the county with the fourth most cases in Florida.

At last check, there are 5,704 total cases in Florida. According to data from the Florida Department of Health, 715 patients are hospitalized and 71 have died.

There were 637 new cases identified Monday in Florida. There are now 300 total cases in Orange County, ranking it 4th in number of cases in the state behind Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach county. That region of the state has nearly 60 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the state.

On average in the last two weeks, anywhere from 7 to 13 percent of tests for coronavirus are positive. That percentage has been inching up, with 13 percent positive on Monday.

Updated 8:19 a.m.

Education Department Closes Schools Through April 30

By Lynn Hatter, WFSU

Students in Florida’s public schools won’t be in classrooms anytime soon. The Florida Department of Education has ordered schools be closed until at least April 30th.

The directive comes after President Donald Trump extended federal social distancing guidelines to April 30th. Many Florida school districts have taken up distance learning to keep kids engaged academically.

The success of the effort dependents largely on follow through, and whether students have the technology available to make it work. Already there have been concerns regarding distance learning for students with disabilities.

The school year in many counties is slated to be over at the end of May. The Florida Department of Education has previously said it could extend the school year until June 30th but many districts say they’d need help paying for teachers for that time as most teacher contracts are up at the end of the regular school year.

Updated 9 a.m.

Florida Power And Light Seeks Rate Decrease

Associated Press

Florida Power & Light is telling customers the company is seeking a one-time decrease of about 25 percent in power bills as the result of lower fuel rates due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In an email sent Monday, the company noted that approval from the state’s Public Service Commission is needed before the discounted rate would go into effect in May. The company said the typical residential customer would see a reduction of about 25 percent of the regular monthly bill. The plan would vary by rate class.

Regulators are voting today on the proposed decrease.


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