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Six more deaths in the Tampa Bay region as Florida coronavirus toll nears 300

A total of 14,747 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus as of the state’s Tuesday evening update.
Hernando County officials closed Alfred McKethan Park on Pine Island beginning Tuesday due to concerns over the coronavirus. That beach and the beach at Rogers Park in Hernando Beach are closed until further notice.
Hernando County officials closed Alfred McKethan Park on Pine Island beginning Tuesday due to concerns over the coronavirus. That beach and the beach at Rogers Park in Hernando Beach are closed until further notice. [ Karen Peterson ]
Published Apr. 7, 2020
Updated Apr. 7, 2020

Florida’s death toll from the coronavirus is nearing 300, with 42 new reported deaths Tuesday — including in the Tampa Bay area.

The state reported 296 coronavirus-related deaths as of Tuesday evening. It counted two new deaths each in Hillsborough and Manatee counties and one more in Pinellas.

In addition, Franca Panettone, a 46-year-old woman who had previously been reported as positive, became Hernando County’s first confirmed coronavirus-related death.

Her family said Panettone had Down syndrome and had been hospitalized due to the coronavirus for more than a week before she died Monday.

“She was a beautiful person. Even though she had a disability, she had a lot of worth and value. She loved every single one of us,” said Maria Cain, Panettone’s oldest sister. “She’d meet someone and tell them she loved them. She was just full of life.”

So far, a total of 19 people in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Hernando counties have been known to have died from the coronavirus.

The majority of the newly reported coronavirus deaths were in South Florida.

A total of 14,747 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus as of the state’s Tuesday evening update, an increase of 1,100 cases from 24 hours earlier.

That includes 1,168 known coronavirus cases in Tampa Bay. Hillsborough County now has 608 confirmed cases, Pinellas has 387, Pasco has 122 and Hernando has 51 known cases.

Nearby, Manatee County has confirmed 164 cases, Citrus County has 51 and Polk County has 199.

Statewide, 1,894 people have been hospitalized at some point due to the coronavirus. The state does not provide data on the number of people who have recovered.

The number of confirmed cases does not show the full extent of the spread of the infection in the Sunshine State because some people who may be infected may not be getting tested.

Case numbers are expected to keep rising as more people are tested and as the virus keeps spreading through communities, public health experts have said.

So far, more than 138,000 people in Florida have been tested for the coronavirus, putting the rate of positive results at nearly 11 percent. More than 1,400 people have samples awaiting testing, the state said in its evening update.

The newly reported coronavirus deaths in the Tampa Bay area include a 77-year-old male and a 55-year-old male in Hillsborough County, 57-year-old and 71-year-old males in Manatee County, and a 76-year-old female in Pinellas County.

Across Florida, reports of law enforcement officers, grocery store workers, prisoners and others who have had to self-quarantine or who have contracted the disease have increased.

On Tuesday, the state Department of Juvenile Justice announced that an employee at the Pinellas Juvenile Detention Center in Largo has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The employee hasn’t been at work since March 27. The agency did not say when the positive test came back. New detainees are being sent to the Pasco County juvenile facility while officials monitor the children and staffers currently at the Pinellas facility.

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Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Corrections on Tuesday said 37 corrections workers, spread over 17 prison facilities and three probation offices, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The latest count is an increase from 29 workers confirmed Monday by prison-system officials.

Related: The last days of Rosemarie Gabriele, Pasco County's first coronavirus victim

The state’s case tracking includes residents and visitors diagnosed in Florida as well as a small number of Floridians who were tested and isolated elsewhere.

Times staff writer Romy Ellenbogen and the News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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