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Coronavirus in Florida latest: Deaths pass 1,100, nursing home data, ‘baby steps’ to re-opening

Here’s what you need to know for Tuesday, April 28.
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. 28, 2020

Florida reported 14 new deaths related to the novel coronavirus in its Monday update, a lower number than the number of reported deaths seen much of last week. But it’s not clear if that’s a true decrease in deaths. Find out why here.

State releases nursing home data

After weeks of hesitation, the state has published a list that shows how many residents and staff of long-term care facilities have tested positive for coronavirus. Nearly 400 nursing homes and assisted living facilities have had at least one confirmed case of the highly contagious virus, according to the list. More on this here.

One of Tampa Bay’s nursing home victims is Clayton Snare, 95, who lived in St. Mark Village, a Palm Harbor retirement community that last week reported a flare-up of COVID-19 cases among residents and staff. Read more about Mr. Snare here.

Baby steps for re-opening, governor says

Florida has flattened the curve and Hillsborough County is doing especially well, but don’t expect a quick re-start of Florida’s economy, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday during a visit to Tampa. DeSantis offered few details on what will happen May 1 when his stay-at-home executive order expires, but said it would be “methodical, slow and data driven."

The city DeSantis visited Monday was unrecognizable from the one he last saw March 2 — the day he confirmed that the new coronavirus had reached Hillsborough County and the Sunshine State.

One question hanging over much of the state is when and how to re-open beaches. Some Florida beaches already have reopened, while many, including those in Tampa Bay, have not. Officials are pondering that question — the Pinellas County Commission will discuss the issue today. Here are five things to know about why Florida’s beaches are closed, what’s happening to beaches elsewhere and what’s next.

Hillsborough testing policy changes

People in Hillsborough County who want to be tested for the coronavirus no longer have to be showing symptoms. Now, anyone who wants to get tested can get a test, and more people should be getting tested, officials said Monday.

In Pinellas, officials opened a one-day, pop-up testing site in St. Petersburg’s Childs Park neighborhood on Monday to make testing available to those who may find it harder to get — minorities, people without a car, and anyone lacking health insurance. The Health Department will offer a similar service at the Frank Pierce Recreation Center in Bartlett Park on Saturday morning.

St. Pete mayor’s re-opening metrics

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman announced the four metrics he’s watching to make decisions about re-starting the city’s economy. The first is the number of positive coronavirus tests — he wants to see that number stay flat or decline for 14 days. Find out more about the metrics in this story.

Help for Pinellas families, businesses

Pinellas County families and businesses struggling under the statewide stay-at-home could get one-time payments worth thousands of dollars under two programs the County Commission is scheduled to approve today. This story has more information, including who qualifies for help.

Blue Angels to visit Tampa Bay on Saturday

The U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration team the Blue Angels begin a national tour of flyovers this week to honor first responders and essential personnel helping the nation during the coronavirus pandemic. The Tampa Bay area is one of the Florida cities the team will visit Saturday.

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Fifth state prison inmate dies

A 72-year-old inmate at a Northwest Florida prison has died as a result of COVID-19, the local medical examiner’s office confirmed on Monday. Dana Peterson is the fifth known death in the state prison system to date.

Gig workers still waiting

Florida’s independent contractors and gig economy workers are still unable to apply for unemployment assistance. The state announced April 16 that it would create a new unemployment benefits system for gig workers within 10 days. But late Monday, no new site had been opened. More here.

Trump’s popularity in Florida

Polls show President Donald Trump’s popularity is diminishing in Florida and he is falling behind former Vice President Joe Biden. Strategists say dissatisfaction with the president’s performance during the pandemic could do lasting damage in a state Trump’s campaign has treated as a must-win.

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