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Your Tuesday Update: OCPS Survey Shows Little Support For In Person School; DeSantis Focuses On Positive Developments; Leesburg Approves Mask Order

Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke at a round table discussion at AdventHealth Orlando Tuesday. Image: The Florida Channel

DeSantis focuses on “positive” developments

Joe Byrnes, WMFE

As the pandemic rages in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis continued to focus today on “positive” developments.

At a press conference with AdventHealth officials in Orlando, he noted the improved outcomes for people hospitalized due to COVID-19 and a decrease in coronavirus-related emergency room visits.

He summed up his four main objectives since the beginning of the pandemic, which has infected more than 440,000 people in Florida and killed more than 6,000.

“One, protect our vulnerable, particularly our elderly in our long-term care facilities. Two, expand testing, which we’ve obviously done because we’re getting almost a hundred thousand results a day. Three, practicing adequate social distancing. And then, four, you know, support our health care workers and our hospitals.” 

DeSantis said he would have an announcement soon on whether he’ll extend a moratorium on evictions. 

He also said the federal government is planning to send 15-minute point-of-care tests to some nursing homes, which could allow them to resume family visits.

DeSantis considers nursing home visits as death toll rises

The Associated Press

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is thinking of relaxing his assisted living facility visitation ban even as Florida’s death count from the coronavirus has spiked to a new height with 191 reported fatalities.

That brings the total number of coronavirus deaths in Florida to more than 6,100. The health department also reported 9,230 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total for the pandemic to nearly 442,000.

Statistics show the number of patients treated in hospitals statewide for the coronavirus was steady over the past 24 hours at just over 9,000.

That’s down from about 9,500 a week ago. Gov. Ron DeSantis planned a news conference in Orlando to discuss the coronavirus outbreak.

Survey reveals Orange County teachers; parents not ready for face to face learning

Amy Green, WMFE

An Orange County Public Schools survey of parents and teachers shows that most are not ready yet for face-to-face learning as the number of coronavirus cases surges in Florida. 

More than 62% of parents and 63% of teachers chose a virtual option called LaunchEd@home, although some teachers indicated they want to teach from their classrooms. 

Nearly a third of parents and third of teachers favored face-to-face learning. 

The school district is the fourth-largest in the state, educating some 215-thousand students. 

Leesburg approves mask order

Joe Byrnes, WMFE

The Leesburg City Commission approved a resolution yesterday to encourage mask-wearing in the battle against COVID-19.The resolution is modeled on the early version of Mount Dora’s mask requirement.

Leesburg requires wearing masks inside public places along with social distancing. But the resolution makes it clear the rule merely encourages voluntary compliance. There is no penalty for violating it.

Still, Commissioner Jay Hurley opposed the resolution.

Now our community is finding themselves in the battle of mask and no mask,” said Hurley.

“And we’re going to jump right in the middle of that and get everybody all fired up, like we don’t have enough things to think about.”

Mount Dora, meanwhile, has toughened its resolution on face coverings. The rule is mandatory now, but there is no penalty for violating it.

OCPS moves up school start date

Amy Green, WMFE

Orange County Public Schools announced Monday it is moving up the start of the academic year from August 21st to August 10th, as was previously scheduled. 

The change applies to students signed up for face-to-face learning and also LaunchEd@home, a hybrid option school leaders say eventually will involve face-to-face and virtual learning. 

On August 10th both face-to-face and LaunchEd@home students will begin learning at home. Face-to-face students will report to campus August 21st. 

Orange County Virtual School students also will start the academic year August 10th.  

Reopening Bars would be difficult, says Dyer

Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer says it’s going to be difficult to re-open bars at the moment. 

The secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Halsey Beshears, said he planned to discuss reopening with bar and brewery owners this week. 

Dyer said the challenge is maintaining social distancing and mask wearing in a bar. 

“So it’s an extremely difficult situation. If bars are going to be open, I think there needs to be some strict monitoring. We need to be able to hold the owners accountable,” said Dyer.

“It’s going to be difficult, and I have great sympathy for the bar owners.”

Orange County mayor Jerry Demings said reopening is “ripe with significant challenges.”

“I don’t know that I can support the bars, opening up as they were. So for me, we’ll have to have the social distancing as a requirement, the wearing of masks as a requirement,” said Demings.

Health Department monitors outbreaks at three assisted living facilites

Matthew Peddie, WMFE

The Florida Department of Health in Orange County is monitoring COVID-19 outbreaks at three assisted living facilities. 

At Ocoee Health Center, 66 residents have fallen ill with COVID-19 and four residents have died. Some 30 staff have also tested positive.

The other facilities are Guardian Care and Terra Vista in Orlando. 

Health officer for Orange County, Dr. Raul Pino, said even as the health department monitors these cases, the overall numbers for the county are trending in the right direction.

Vice President Pence Visits UM As Vaccine Trials Enters Phase Three

Veronica Zaragovia, WLRN

Vice President Mike Pence came to the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Monday, where researchers are entering phase three for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Pence said the US is not waiting until the end of clinical trials to create the vaccines.

“We’re actually having these companies produce the vaccines as we speak and as soon as they’re confirmed to be safe and effective, we’ll have tens of millions of doses able to distribute across the country,” he said.

He credited President Donald Trump for the quick progress.

But in a statement, the Florida Democratic Party said the President and Governor Ron DeSantis’s response has “left Florida as the global coronavirus hotspot.”

The biotechnology company Moderna is handling this trial phase. Of the 1,000 people participating in the trial, half of them will get a vaccine, the other half a placebo.

UM is one of many trial sites across the U-S.

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