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Coronavirus in Florida latest: Record death increase, sheriff opposes beach opening, curfew Q&A

Here’s what you need to know for Wednesday, April 15.
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. 15, 2020
Updated Apr. 16, 2020

Florida on Tuesday recorded its smallest daily increase in reported cases of the novel coronavirus in more than two weeks. The number of new deaths reported, however, hit a daily record of 72, including nine in the greater Tampa Bay region.

Pinellas sheriff opposes limited re-opening of beaches

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has already made up his mind on the idea floated by county commissioners to reopen the county’s beaches in a limited capacity. Gualtieri said Tuesday the coronavirus pandemic has not peaked in Pinellas and he fears reopening the beaches would further spread the virus.

During a public meeting Monday, a majority of Pinellas County commissioners said they want information for a Thursday meeting so they can consider opening private pools at condominiums and parts of the county’s beaches for exercise and recreation.

Hillsborough curfew Q&A

Do you have questions about Hillsborough County’s curfew and mask orders that took effect this week? We’ve got answers in this Q&A.

Teachers union to governor: Keep schools closed

Florida’s statewide teachers union called on Gov. Ron DeSantis Tuesday to “declare the previously unthinkable” and keep schools closed through the end of the school year due to the coronavirus.

In other school news, Florida learned Tuesday its school system will receive about $173 million as part of a roughly $3 billion aid package that will be distributed to the nation’s governors.

About that essential wrestling...

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday defended declaring professional wrestling an essential service and raised the possibility of holding other televised sporting events in empty venues as residents shelter. DeSantis said people are “starved” for new entertainment.

Call for Cabinet meeting

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on Tuesday repeated a call for Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state Cabinet to jointly address issues related to the coronavirus pandemic. DeSantis and the Cabinet haven’t met since Feb. 4.

High court on Zoom

The Florida Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next month via teleconference, an effort to move cases along while maintaining social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the court announced Tuesday. The May 6 arguments will happen via a Zoom meeting, marking a first in the court’s 160-year history.

Tennis courts, dog parks close in St. Pete

Tennis courts, dog parks, pickle ball courts and skate parks will close in St. Petersburg later this week to help the city “stay ahead” of the coronavirus, Mayor Rick Kriseman announced Tuesday.

Kriseman also announced there will be a second phase of the city’s Fighting Chance Fund, which provides $5,000 grants to small businesses that have been affected by the virus shutdown and $500 to their employees.

Relief fund in Tampa

Help is on the way for Tampa residents and businesses hit by the pandemic. Mayor Jane Castor on Tuesday unveiled One Tampa, a new relief fund for residents and small businesses facing economic uncertainty.

Help for refugees in Tampa Bay

Navigating a pandemic in a new country poses a unique set of challenges for refugees in Tampa Bay. Several local organizations are trying to help.

Making masks while awaiting deportation

A family from Venezuela facing deportation is producing masks from its Tampa apartment and distributing them free to people who need them. “Something is something, especially when people feel helpless during this pandemic."

Animal fostering flourishes

Animal shelters around Tampa Bay say the number of volunteers fostering cats and dogs at their homes while the animals await adoption has grown quickly over the past few weeks because people are working and studying from home.

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