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Death Toll Ticks Past 800, Orange County Task Force Meets Wednesday: Your Coronavirus Update For 04/20

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings gives an update on coronavirus on Monday April 20th. Image: Orange TV

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Updated at 7 p.m. 

Florida death toll has ticked up past 800, with 14,000 hospitalizations

Danielle Prieur, WMFE

Florida is reporting 27,058 coronavirus cases, 823 deaths and 4,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 according to the latest numbers from the state department of health.

In Orange County there are now 1,216 cases, with 209 hospitalizations. Twenty seven people have died from COVID-19 in the county.

Osceola County has 410 cases and five deaths, while Polk County has 335 cases and fourteen deaths.

In Sumter County, home of The Villages retirement community, there are 153 cases and 34 hospitalizations. Eleven people in the county have died.

Hover over the map for data from other counties.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings says task force will meet Wednesday

Danielle Prieur, WMFE

An economic task force will meet Wednesday to discuss reopening Orange County. The group includes leaders from hospitals, theme parks, resorts and small businesses. 

Mayor Jerry Demings says the task force will meet regularly for the next thirty days.

He asked residents to be patient as the county reopens, but he said three tornados in Central Florida tomorrow are a reminder that hotels need to open soon.

“In just a couple of weeks we’ll enter that phase where we go into the hurricane season. Without the hotels, we can not adequately shelter people in case of a storm,” Demings said.

Demings said protests like the one in downtown Orlando last week calling for a stay-at-order to be lifted, have little to no effect on the decision to re-open businesses. 

City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer asked residents to be patient with the process and said he wasn’t aware of plans for another protest happening at Lake Eola this weekend.

“I’m not aware that anybody’s tried to get an 18A permit which you need to have to gather and we’re not renting the park for gathering so I’m not sure that’s gonna happen,” Dyer said.

Dyer said social distancing and other safety protocols like wearing masks have flattened the coronavirus curve in the county.

Updated at 1 p.m. 

At least 789 Floridians have died from COVID-19, according to the latest figures from the Florida Department of Health.

Florida has a total of 26,660 positive cases and 3,842 hospitalizations.

Orange County leads Central Florida in the number of cases with 1,204. The county has had 199 hospitalizations and 23 deaths. 

Marion County has the region’s fewest number of cases with 125. Sumter County, home to the sprawling retirement community The Villages, has 147 cases. 

Nationwide, there are 761,991 cases and 40,724 deaths. Worldwide, there are 2.4 million cases and 167,369 deaths. 

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

Governor launches “Re-Open Florida” taskforce

Brendan Byrne, WMFE

Governor Ron DeSantis has launched a task force to re-open Florida. Members include public officials and executives from the private sector.

“How do you run a business where you’re minimizing the close contacts between employees or between an employee and a customer? How do you do it in ways where the environment is less conducive to to transmitting this thing?” asked DeSantis Monday. “I think there’s a whole lot of ideas out there, and I think you guys will be a part of getting us in a good direction to be able to go forward.”

Leaders from Disney, Universal, Lockheed Martin, AT&T and others will help the Governor design a plan to re-start businesses that shut down during the coronavirus pandemic.

At a kick-off meeting, Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Mark Wilson urged members to think about all of Florida’s diverse job sectors — from tourism, to constriction to agriculture. “Florida is unlike any other state in the country and we have at least four areas that you need to take a close look at we’re going to have to have a very surgical reopening to Florida.”

An estimated 3.4 million private sector jobs in Florida are affected by the pandemic

The Governor’s task force will meet daily, with a final meeting this Friday.

Agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried, who has criticized DeSantis’ response to the pandemic, was not invited to the executive task force.

“I was not asked to serve alongside my fellow Cabinet members on the task force, which has no voice on its membership representing Florida’s $137 billion agriculture industry. That is deeply concerning given the impacts of COVID-19 on Florida’s second largest industry, and given the progress my team has made working with federal, state, local, and retail partners to reduce negative impacts to Florida agriculture,” said Fried in a statement.

Only 6% of Floridians applying for unemployment benefits received checks

Brendan Byrne, WMFE

Only six percent of Floridians who applied for unemployment benefits have received a paycheck.

Of the 652,191 confirmed claims, only 40,193 have resulted in any type of payment. So far, 25 percent of claims have been rejected by the state.

The Florida Department of Economic opportunity released a new online dashboard to track claim statistics. Florida’s unemployment system, which faced slowdowns and an increase in call volume, is now under the guidance of  Jonathan Satter from the Department of Management Services.

Read more…

State lists data for Long Term Care facilities and correctional institutions

Blaise Gainey, WFSU

Over the weekend the state started listing coronavirus data for specific long-term care facilities and correctional institutions.

As of Sunday night, the amount of inmates with the virus is 113, along with 80 corrections workers. Three of the facilities have it the worst.

Sumter Correctional Institution in Bushnell reports 24 COVID-19 infections, Blackwater River Correctional Facility in Milton has 40 and Tomoka Correctional Institution in Daytona Beach has 47.

As for the long-term care facilities, in Leon County there are 64 positive cases including residents and staff. All are associated with Tallahassee Developmental Center.

OCPS changing meal pick up hours

Danielle Prieur, WMFE

Starting today, Orange County Public Schools meal distribution sites will only be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 

The school district said the change will allow people to limit their trips out of the house, and reduce their exposure to coronavirus. 

Parents will be given breakfast and lunch for two days on Mondays and Wednesdays, and three days on Fridays to ensure children have enough food throughout the week and the weekend.

Governor Ron DeSantis announced over the weekend that schools would not reopen for the academic year.

Walk, run or surf – but don’t sunbathe on Florida beaches

The Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Some local Florida governments are reopening beaches for limited activity. Beaches in St. Augustine were open for walking, running and swimming Saturday for the first time in weeks.

Florida never issued a statewide closure of beaches. The decisions were left to local governments. And in places where they are opening, there are restrictions.

Walking and running are allowed, sunbathing isn’t. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ response has led to a nationwide misconception that he ordered the reopening of beaches, so much so that the hashtag #FloridaMorons was trending on Twitter with criticism about the decision DeSantis didn’t actually make.

Click here for more of WMFE’s coverage of coronavirus.


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About Matthew Peddie

Host of WMFE's Intersection & Assistant News Director

A recent transplant to the Sunshine State, Matthew Peddie grew up in New Zealand and studied journalism at the University of Western Ontario. After graduating with an MA in Journalism he returned to Christchurch, working as a reporter for Radio Live and Radio New Zealand. He’s reported live from the scene of ... Read Full Bio »

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