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Coronavirus in Florida latest: counting the dead, coming back to work and conditioning for next season

What you need to know for Sunday, May 17.
Allison Harris puts on her mask before starting her shift waitressing at Baba on May 8 in St. Petersburg.  She said she was both nervous and relieved to be getting back to work after a seven-week furlough.
Allison Harris puts on her mask before starting her shift waitressing at Baba on May 8 in St. Petersburg. She said she was both nervous and relieved to be getting back to work after a seven-week furlough. [ JAMES BORCHUCK | Times ]
Published May 17, 2020
Updated May 17, 2020

The novel coronavirus reached yet another agonizing milestone in Florida on Saturday when the statewide death toll for the relentless respiratory infection surpassed 2,000.

By Sunday morning, the combined number of Florida residents whose deaths are attributed to the COVID-19 virus and non-residents whose deaths occurred in the state reached 2,040. Since March 1, the day the Florida Department of Health announced its first reported coronavirus infection, the number of confirmed cases has grown to 44,811.

Saturday saw the number of COVID-19 cases tracked by the state increase by 673 and the number of related deaths grow by 47.

Among those who have been tested for the coronavirus by the state of Florida, approximately 7 percent have received a positive diagnosis, the state’s Saturday update said.

In Florida, 83 percent of coronavirus deaths are people 65 and older

To better understand the lives claimed by the coronavirus in Florida, the Tampa Bay Times analyzed data and reports from the Florida Department of Health and medical examiner offices around the state, compiling a list of each coronavirus-related death through May 13.

The reporting found that, statewide, 83 percent of those who have succumbed to the virus were age 65 or older. One in four people over the age 85 with a confirmed infection has died.

The percentage of deaths tied to nursing homes and long-term care centers has been steadily increasing over the past several weeks across the state. Now, at least 43 percent of deaths statewide can be attributed to long-term care facilities — the equivalent of 875 lives lost.

MLB outlines testing, other safety protocols in detailed proposal to players

Major League Baseball fans were gifted their first glimmer of hope for a new season this weekend when the MLB released its first full safety and health proposal to players for resuming play during the coronavirus pandemic, reports said Saturday.

The 67-page draft, sent to teams on Friday, includes: social-distancing rules for the dugout and locker room; a virus testing plan that calls for multiple tests a week (though not daily) for on-field personnel; and travel, transit and lifestyle precautions when teams are outside the ballpark and on the road.

For high school athletes, school schedules put season prep in limbo

How long the coronavirus will keep Florida’s schools shuttered remains a guessing game most local officials have given up trying to play. But even if the coronavirus dissipates and the state’s prep football season plays out as scheduled, coaches are grappling with a dilemma that grows more serious each day.

Limbo is cutting into their preparation time.

For now, the season is scheduled to start with preseason games the week of Aug. 12-15. But what if schools don’t open until July? Is that enough time to properly condition a player after two months of isolation?

Tampa Bay Times reporter Joey Knight posed those questions to coaches at high schools throughout the Tampa Bay area. Here’s what they said.

Without a job, endless days of waiting and worry

Businesses throughout the state, including in the Tampa Bay area, have been gradually reopening to the public since May 1. Come Monday, even the hardest-hit counties in Florida — Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach — will attempt to reignite commerce after a nearly two-month shutdown.

The total stop on commerce left many Floridians like Allison Harris, a 40-year-old waitress at St. Petersburg eatery Baba, suddenly unemployed with no income, no savings and no idea how long they would be out of work.

The latest numbers released by the state show that more than 1.3 million people have flied claims on Florida’s beleaguered unemployment website. Untold legions more have been shut out due to technical glitches and hours-long wait-times by phone.

After eight long weeks of uncertainty, Harris has returned to waiting tables in St. Pete. But restaurants look a lot different in the strange afterlife of a pandemic.

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