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Coronavirus in Florida latest: Cut funding, unemployment applications, and lack of hospital supplies

Here’s what you need to know for Sunday, April 5
Toronto Blue Jays minor league baseball player Luis De Los Santos wears a mask while he prepares to fly home along with his teammates from the Dominican Republic at the Tampa International Airport in Tampa, Florida on Sunday, March 15, 2020. Flight schedules for departures and arrivals remain normal during the coronavirus pandemic.
Toronto Blue Jays minor league baseball player Luis De Los Santos wears a mask while he prepares to fly home along with his teammates from the Dominican Republic at the Tampa International Airport in Tampa, Florida on Sunday, March 15, 2020. Flight schedules for departures and arrivals remain normal during the coronavirus pandemic. [ OCTAVIO JONES | Times ]
Published Apr. 5, 2020

Positive coronavirus cases in Florida continued to increase on Saturday, surpassing 11,000. Nearly 200 people have died.

Florida saw a pandemic coming. State leaders dismantled the programs to fight it.

Despite knowing as early as 2005 that a mass pandemic could affect Florida, state leaders cut research funding, jobs and requirements to fight the disease to the fullest extent.

Those cuts, focused on the bottom line, left the health department in a weaker state to fight coronavirus, according to former employees. For years, the department struggled to contain and investigate even smaller disease outbreaks.

Local health workers say they’re unprepared, short on supplies for coronavirus fight

Dozens of healthcare workers interviewed by the Tampa Bay Times said their hospitals have had to ration supplies. They’ve had to re-wear masks for days at a time. Others said they weren’t allowed to wear personal protective equipment they brought in themselves.

St. Petersburg offers money to small businesses affected by stay-at-home order

Using money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the city of St. Petersburg is offering small businesses the chance to get cash as part of the new Fighting Chance Fund. Businesses with less than 25 employees which can prove a revenue loss are eligible for $5,000. City residents who were employed by small businesses who have had their pay affected could be eligible for $500.

Florida unemployment applications offered on paper

As Florida residents continue to struggle with a broken unemployment website, the agency responsible have begun offering paper applications people can mail in. This would take longer than an application being processed on a functional website. One state representative said she was told there would be a way to submit the forms electronically, but there aren’t details about that yet.

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