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Coronavirus in Florida latest: Deaths pass 500, Hillsborough curfew, essential wrestling

Here’s what you need to know for Tuesday, April 14.
This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the 2019 novel coronavirus.
This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the 2019 novel coronavirus. [ AP ]
Published Apr. 14, 2020

Florida’s total of confirmed coronavirus diagnoses climbed past 20,000 on Monday, with deaths topping 500. New deaths were reported in Citrus, Polk and Manatee counties.

Hillsborough curfew confusion

Hillsborough officials voted Monday to impose a nightly curfew, making the county’s social distancing measures the strictest in the Tampa Bay region. But there was confusion as to exactly what residents can and cannot do when it takes effect. The curfew started Monday and will run nightly between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.

In related Hillsborough news, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said Monday that county residents should be required to wear masks when conducting essential business starting on Thursday. Her proposal to the county’s Emergency Policy Group appears likely to pass at its Thursday meeting.

Some portions of Pinellas beaches could re-open

A majority of Pinellas County’s seven commissioners said Monday they want information so they can consider opening private pools at condominiums and sections of county beaches for exercise and recreation. The commission will discuss the ideas at a meeting Thursday.

Social distancing for a year?

Floridians will be keeping their distance and wearing face masks for up to a year until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed, Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees said Monday. The comments appear to conflict statements by Gov. Ron DeSantis and his political ally, President Donald Trump, about returning to pre-coronavirus life.

So when will life in America, and Florida specifically, return to normal? Experts say there’s no satisfying answer. Some do not believe people will be back cheering at ballgames or celebrating holidays in big groups until fall at the earliest.

National Guard enlisted for nursing home testing

Gov. Ron DeSantis is enlisting the National Guard to bolster strike teams in an effort to bring testing to hundreds of elder care centers.

Grocery stores, pharmacies ... wrestling?

Professional wrestling is an essential business that can stay open despite coronavirus-related restrictions statewide, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis. WWE will continue taping and airing live from the empty WWE Performance Center near Orlando, even during the month-long “shelter-in-place” DeSantis announced April 1.

Pandemic hits during Tampa Bay apartment boom

Apartment construction in Tampa Bay was booming when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Now that the virus is striking a blow to the economy, has the market been overbuilt?

Disney workers furloughed, stage stay-at-home protest

Walt Disney World will place 43,000 employees on temporary furloughs after the park struck an agreement with unions representing the workers. Some of those employees staged stay-at-home protests Monday aimed at Florida’s beleaguered unemployment system.

Speaking of unemployment, Times business columnist Graham Brink points out the number of Americans filing jobless claims in the last three weeks is unprecedented.

Pet groomers forced to close

Florida’s safe-at-home order forced pet groomers to close, affecting their businesses for at least the next month.

Coronavirus in Florida podcast: DeSantis’ pandemic performance

Gov. Ron DeSantis has seen his popularity dinged a month into the coronavirus pandemic. In the latest episode of Coronavirus in Florida podcast, host Allison Graves talks to Dr. Susan MacManus, a retired political science professor from the University of South Florida, about the criticism levied at the governor and what this might mean for his political future.

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