Florida COVID-19 Infections Top 54,000; Polk County Has Highest Daily Increase In Cases
WUSF will be providing the latest news and information on coronavirus in Tampa Bay and across the state. Here are the latest developments:
Here are the latest figures as of 11 a.m. Saturday, May 23, according to the Florida Department of Health:
48,814 – Florida Residents | 1,313 – Non-Florida Residents | 2,233 – Deaths
CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage From WUSF And Health News Florida
Florida Now Has 50,000 Cases
The Florida Department of Health reported Saturday that 50,127 people have tested positive for the coronavirus; an increase of 676 cases since Friday. There were 108 new infections reported in the Tampa Bay region.
The total includes 48,814 Florida residents and 1,313 non-residents.
The health department also reported 43 new deaths due to complications from COVID-19 since Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 2,233.
The daily report from the health department includes information released by the state on an individual day. Cases and deaths in the report may have happened days or weeks earlier, according to state officials. [Read more]
— Carl Lisciandrello
Hillsborough Approved For Short-Term Vacation Rentals
Hillsborough is among the latest counties to be approved to open short-term vacation rentals in Florida.
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation on Friday approved the county’s plan to safely allow for short-term rental operations.
As of Friday, 38 of the state’s 67 counties have had their plans approved by the state. In the Tampa Bay area, this includes Pinellas, Hillsborough, Sarasota, Manatee, Hernando and Citrus counties. [Read more]
— Carl Lisciandrello
DeSantis Lifts Restrictions On Youth Activities
Youth sports and summer camps will be free to continue operations, after a Friday morning announcement from Gov. DeSantis lifting all restrictions on the activities effective immediately.
“We believe that this is what makes sense based on the data and observed experience,” DeSantis said. “We are not going to be instituting a lot of rules, or really any rules.”
It will be up for local governments to decide if they want to add any required guidelines for camps and youth activity organizations to implement.
DeSantis said he’s seen other states implement too many rules for reopening these activities. [Read more]
— Sky Lebron, WJCT
Gualtieri: Don’t Cram The Beaches
Memorial Day weekend is usually one of the busiest on Florida’s beaches.
But Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Friday that won’t be the case this year. Speaking to reporters at an outdoor beach command center, he said Pinellas leaders want to make sure there’s no spike in the number of COVID-19 cases.
“It’s not business as usual,” he said. “The beaches are open, but they are not freely open, in that everybody can just cram in and jam in and do what people normally do on Memorial Day or the Fourth of July or any other great weekend during the summer on the Pinellas beaches.”
Gualtieri said 300 deputies will be patrolling Pinellas beaches, keeping groups of people at 10 or less, and enforcing social distance guidelines that recommend a distance of at least 6 feet. [Read more]
— Mary Shedden
Will Virus Keep Florida Spectators From Astronaut Launch?
In the age of coronavirus, Florida officials and NASA are split on whether it’s a good idea for spectators to show up for next week’s space launch.
In ordinary times, the beaches and roads along Florida’s Space Coast would be packed with people eager to witness the first astronaut launch from Florida in nine years.
NASA and Space X are urging people to stay at home next Wednesday for safety reasons.
But officials in Brevard County, home to the Kennedy Space Center, are rolling out the welcome mat in an effort to jump-start a tourism industry hit hard this spring by coronavirus lockdowns.
— Associated Press
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