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Florida adds more than 800 new coronavirus cases, one new Pinellas death

The state death total Sunday night reached more than 200 people.
Firefighter/Paramedic William Fletcher (center) wears COVID-19 personal protective equipment and EMT Mya Jones wears basic level personal protective equipment during a press conference in the parking lot of Northwest Community Pool in St. Petersburg Tuesday, March 31, 2020
St. Petersburg Fire Rescue, in partnership with Sunstar Paramedics, has developed a strategy to deploy COVID-19 Strike Teams. The primary objective of these strike teams will be to respond to potential COVID-19 calls to reduce the frequency of exposure for the rest of the agency. COVID-19 Strike Team personnel are not to access or use fire station facilities, in an effort to reduce the risk to our agency, so that we can maintain staffing and resource levels to continue in our mission of protecting the entire community. The intent is for the Strike Team units to be in a constant state of readiness where needed and will be strategically located throughout the city.
Firefighter/Paramedic William Fletcher (center) wears COVID-19 personal protective equipment and EMT Mya Jones wears basic level personal protective equipment during a press conference in the parking lot of Northwest Community Pool in St. Petersburg Tuesday, March 31, 2020 St. Petersburg Fire Rescue, in partnership with Sunstar Paramedics, has developed a strategy to deploy COVID-19 Strike Teams. The primary objective of these strike teams will be to respond to potential COVID-19 calls to reduce the frequency of exposure for the rest of the agency. COVID-19 Strike Team personnel are not to access or use fire station facilities, in an effort to reduce the risk to our agency, so that we can maintain staffing and resource levels to continue in our mission of protecting the entire community. The intent is for the Strike Team units to be in a constant state of readiness where needed and will be strategically located throughout the city. [ JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times ]
Published Apr. 5, 2020
Updated Apr. 6, 2020

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Florida jumped by more than 800 in 24 hours on Sunday. In total, the state has more than 12,000 positive cases and more than 200 deaths, according to Florida Department of Health data.

There were 87 cases added in the Tampa Bay area, including Manatee and Citrus counties. One new death in the region was reported in Pinellas County, which has now had eight total deaths.

Related: MONDAY UPDATE: Florida adds more than 1,000 coronavirus cases, 18 deaths as state works to get more tested

The state reported most of the new cases Sunday morning. Some were added in the evening.

The state now has 12,350 total positive cases and 221 deaths. More than 1,500 people have been hospitalized.

South Florida still leads in the number of confirmed cases. There are more than 250 confirmed cases among staff and residents of long-term care centers across Florida.

The numbers are expected to continue to increase with more testing. On Saturday, state officials announced they had tested more than 100,000 people, the highest of any state other than New York.

During the weekend, the focus of the coronavirus pandemic in Florida fell on churches and prisons.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, houses of worship stood vacant as some people worshipped online or prayed in their homes. Christians at congregations such as Atonement Lutheran Church in Wesley Chapel drove up to collect palm fronds that had been blessed for Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week.

The Pastor’s Blog at Idlewild Baptist church in Lutz explained the decision to cancel services there even though Gov. Ron DeSantis allowed them to continue in an order he issued last week. “Here’s why. We are governed by a higher law, and that law is the second of the two greatest commandments, Jesus gave us to live out ... ‘to love our neighbor as ourself.’”

In Tampa, pastor Rodney Howard-Browne at the River of Tampa Bay Church said in an online post that he was canceling services Sunday “to take a deep breath and calm down." Howard-Browne was arrested before DeSantis issued his order for violating Hillsborough County’s emergency coronavirus orders by holding two services at the church March 29.

Howard-Browne said he has not made a decision yet about whether to hold services next Sunday, Easter.

Meantime, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri spoke Sunday about a detention deputy who tested positive for coronavirus, saying tests show the virus did not spread in the jail.

“I can’t speak to the concerns that are being raised about other jails in Florida or the country,” Gualtieri said, "but I can tell you our process here is creating a wall between the people who are coming in and the people who are already there."

The state Department of Corrections also reported its first two cases of coronavirus among inmates held at state prisons, both at the privately operated Blackwater River Correctional Facility near Pensacola.

A Democratic state lawmaker warned of a “ticking time bomb” in the state’s prisons. Twenty-three prison staff members and contract staff had earlier been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

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