After Website Crash, Pinellas Coronavirus Vaccine Appointments Fill Up Quickly
WUSF will be providing the latest news and information on coronavirus in Tampa Bay and across the state. Here are the latest developments:
Total positive cases of coronavirus as of 11 a.m. Tuesday, April 28, according to the Florida Department of Health:
31,986 – Florida Residents | 860 – Non-Florida Residents | 1,171 – Deaths
CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And Health News Florida
DeSantis Vows ‘Methodical’ Reopening
Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday that reopening the state after coronavirus-caused shutdowns will be “very methodical” and “data-driven,” and some people might think it is too slow.
Appearing at Tampa General Hospital, DeSantis talked of regional reopenings as he tried to temper anticipation about “non-essential” businesses opening their doors again to customers.
“It’s not going to be something that a switch is going to be flipped,” DeSantis said of his month-long stay-at-home order that ends Thursday. [Read more]
— News Service of Florida
Utility Customers To Get Break On Bills
In what one regulator called a “no-brainer,” customers of four major utilities will get a break on upcoming electric bills as they grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.
The state Public Service Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved proposals that will lead to one-time savings in May for customers of Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy Florida and Gulf Power and savings spread over a longer period for customers of Tampa Electric Co.
“This is a truly a no-brainer for me, quite frankly, and I appreciate (the utilities) taking an early initiative to help their customers in such a time of need,” Commissioner Julie Brown said. [Read more]
— News Service of Florida
Unemployment Website To Undergo Maintenance
Florida’s unemployment website will be unavailable for all but new claims each night as the system undergoes maintenance and the state works on a backlog of claims because of the coronavirus, the Department of Economic Opportunity said Tuesday.
“DEO will be conducting nightly maintenance to the CONNECT (online unemployment) system to process claims and payments faster,” a news release from the department said. “CONNECT will be available from 8 a.m. to 7:59 p.m. daily. This schedule does not affect individuals that wish to file a new claim.”
As of Tuesday morning, the state had received 1.94 million claims since March 15, with 824,412 considered “unique,” as some people have filed duplicate claims.
Of the unique claims, the state had processed 664,158, or 80.6 percent, and made weekly payments of up to $275 to 392,051 people, or 47.6 percent.
About 37 percent of the processed applicants had been deemed ineligible for unemployment compensation. Payments had totaled $523 million.
— News Service of Florida
State Now Releasing Nursing Home Numbers
The state is now releasing information about the number of patients and staff who have COVID-19 in individual nursing homes.
Last week, the state began releasing the names of long-term care facilities with positive COVID-19 cases. But information about how many cases and deaths at each facility was not provided.
During a press conference at Tampa General Hospital on Monday, reporters pressed Gov. Ron DeSantis for more information.
“So I’m going to look exactly how, what form they are putting it out for everybody and if it’s inadequate we’re going to address it,” DeSantis said. [Read more]
— Julio Ochoa
Pinellas Expected To Vote On Beach Openings
Beaches and pools in Pinellas County could reopen soon.
DeSantis: Anyone Who Wants A Test Can Get One
State and local officials are trying to get the word out to the public that anyone who wants a coronavirus test can get one now.
They have lifted restrictions on symptoms and travel history that were previously in place to ensure supplies got prioritized for those most in-need.
— Stephanie Colombini
Hillsborough Hotline For Financial Help
Hillsborough County opened up a new hotline on Monday for people who have lost their job or have reduced wages because of coronavirus, and need help paying for their housing and utilities.
The numbers for the Rapid Response Assistance Call Center is (813) 274-3710 or (813) 274-6710. It is open to callers from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The county opened a second number Monday morning due to high call volume. County officials are also asking people to be patient when calling. [Read more]
— Kerry Sheridan
Schools To Take Economic Hit
Florida’s economy could take an estimated $859 million hit as a result of school campuses being closed for six weeks during the coronavirus pandemic.
Census Officials Say Delay Is Necessary
The U.S. Census Bureau is in need of more time to get the results of the 2020 count due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Bureau is asking Congress for an additional 120 days to deliver final numbers.
Wilbur Ross, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary, and Steven Dillingham, U.S. Census Bureau Director, said in the statement that though the Bureau is still collecting data online, as well as via phone and mail, they have temporarily suspended field data collection. [Read more]
— Vanessa Henry
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