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Your Sunday Updates: 10 have died of COVID-19 in Florida prisons; Floridians take hesitant steps back to public life; masks for ‘Tiger King’ fans

The state of Florida has reported two COVID-19 deaths at Sumter Correctional Institution in Bushnell. Photos: FDOC

Big Cat Rescue founder now selling coronavirus masks

The Associated Press

CITRUS PARK — Are you a cool cats or kitten? There’s now a coronavirus mask out there for you.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that Big Cat Rescue founder Carole Baskin, prominently featured in Netflix’s “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness,” started selling face masks with her oft-quoted catchphrase Saturday.

The dual-layered tie masks feature the words “Hey all you cool cats and kittens” above a whiskered feline smile. Viewers of the popular docu-series know that’s Baskin’s catchphrase.

Masks cost $11 each and come in black or leopard print. The masks are being sold to raise money to help big cats. Portions of the proceeds also support first-responders.

Big Cat Rescue and its founder have been the subject of much attention since being featured on TV in “Tiger King.”

Floridians take first, hesitant, steps back to public life

The Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG  — Guests flocked to a theme park shopping district, a casino fired up its slot machines and businesses prepared for serving customers in Florida on Sunday, months after the coronavirus pandemic forced life to ground to a halt over health safety concerns.

During this flurry of activity, signs were everywhere that life had changed — and that people were clamoring to return to some semblance of normal.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a “full Phase 1” reopening of the economy, which include gyms, starting Monday.

Just over 653,000 people in Florida have been tested for coronavirus as of Sunday afternoon. According to state health statistics, there have been more than 45,500 confirmed cases in the state, and at least 1,973 deaths.

Note: The preceded item was update at 5 p.m.

10 Florida prison inmates have died of COVID-19

Joe Byrnes, WMFE

The number of reported prison deaths in Florida from COVID-19 rose to 10 last week.

The state has not yet disclosed where the 10th inmate was held.

But seven were at Blackwater River Correctional Facility, a private prison in Milton, and two were at Sumter Correctional Institution in Bushnell.

Those prisons — along with Tomoka CI in Daytona Beach — were among the first Florida prisons to have outbreaks in April.

Now, at least 11 prisons have reported multiple cases. One thousand sixty-four inmates and 235 staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.