Latest On Coronavirus: 777 New Cases; Public Life Begins To Resume; And More - WUSF Public Media | Tampa NPR, Local News Coverage

Latest On Coronavirus: 777 New Cases; Public Life Begins To Resume; And More

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. Sunday, May 17, according to the Florida Department of Health:

44,369 – Florida Residents |  1,219 – Non-Florida Residents | 1,973  – Deaths

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Florida Coronavirus Cases Now Past 45,000

Florida health officials reported Sunday that 45,588 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the state; an increase of 777 people since Saturday.

Eighty-five new cases are in the Tampa Bay area.

Statewide, 1,973 people have died due to complications from the coronavirus; an increase of nine since Saturday.

The Department of Health confirmed three deaths in the Tampa Bay region, including two in Hillsborough County and one in Polk County.

Details about the people who died locally was not available Sunday afternoon.

Tampa Bay area positive tests as of 11 a.m. Saturday, May 16:

  • Hillsborough: 1,614 (1,559 local, 55 non-resident)
  • Pinellas: 1,022 (978 local, 44 non-resident)
  • Manatee: 849 (845 local, 4 non-resident)
  • Polk: 736 (726 local, 10 non-resident)
  • Sarasota: 508 (492 local, 16 non-Sarasota resident)
  • Pasco: 316 (306 local, 10 non-Pasco resident)
  • Hernando: 109 (103 local, 6 non-Hernando resident)

Public Life Starts To Resume

Guests flocked to a theme park shopping district, a casino fired up its slot machines and businesses prepared for serving customers in Florida on Sunday, months after the coronavirus pandemic forced life to ground to a halt over health safety concerns.

During this flurry of activity, signs were everywhere that life had changed — and that people were clamoring to return to some semblance of normal.

In Orlando, it was the first weekend since Universal CityWalk reopened on Thursday. The Orlando Sentinel reported that visitors entered wearing obligatory face masks, having their temperatures taken by workers as stickers marked the 6-foot space required between guests.

The spinning Universal Studios globe at the far end of CityWalk was a typical selfie spot as guests flocked to take photos, many of whom removed their masks to flash their smiles.

Elsewhere, people ate at the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium. Tables were spread out to enforce social distancing guidelines, with some people not wearing masks so they can eat. Read More.

— Associated Press

Vice President Pence To Visit Orlando Nursing Home

Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to visit a nursing home in Orlando and deliver personal protective equipment on Wednesday.

In a news release sent Saturday, his office said that the nursing home visit is part of an initiative to deliver PPE to more than 15,000 nursing homes across America.

Afterwards, Pence is scheduled to participate in a discussion with hospitality and tourism leaders to talk about plans for reopening. Read more.

— Associated Press

Florida Health Care System: 35,000 Virus Tests ‘Unreliable’

The results of more than 35,000 COVID-19 tests ordered by Florida-based health care system and performed by a third-party lab are unreliable, with the majority of the questionable tests having been conducted in Florida, the company said Saturday.

According to AdventHealth, a faith-based health care system, the situation has created “unacceptable delays.” In a statement, AdventHealth didn’t name the third-party lab. The tests were a mixture of positive and negative results, and some tests that hadn’t been yet returned.

“While we work successfully with many other labs across multiple states to provide COVID-19 tests for our communities, we have terminated our contract with this particular lab and share in the disappointment and frustration this situation has created. We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience and uncertainty it has caused,” Terry Shaw, president/CEO of AdventHealth, wrote in the statement.

The company will notify the patients who are impacted with a letter and a phone call.

“Teams across our organization are working around-the-clock to remedy the situation,” said Daryl Tol, president and CEO of AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division, in a statement to the Orlando Sentinel. “We take our responsibility to safeguard everyone who entrusts us with their care very seriously.”

About 25,000 of the unreliable tests were in the central Florida area. Read more.

— Associated Press

Hillsborough County Neighborhood Parks Reopening Monday

Hillsborough County is reopening its neighborhood green spaces and dog parks on Monday, but portions of its parks remain off limits.

The county released a statement saying it is open to “passive” recreation, meaning people must obey social distancing guidelines. It is opening tennis, pickleball and volleyball courts, but says organized sports and groups are not yet allowed to resume.

The county is not yet opening the following: recreation centers/buildings, athletic fields, playgrounds, shelters, splash pads, skate parks. Events and park programs also are not restarting.

People are encouraged to bring water for themselves and their pets. Outdoor restrooms will be open at staffed sites, the county said in a statement.

Hillsborough County’s nature preserves and some conservation parks opened earlier this month. That includes:

  • Flatwoods Conservation Park, 14302 Morris Bridge Road, Thonotosassa, and 18205 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa
  • Morris Bridge Off-Road Biking Area, 12651 Morris Bridge Road, Thonotosassa
  • Alderman’s Ford Conservation Park, 100 Alderman’s Ford Park Drive, Plant City, for hiking and biking only
  • Upper Tampa Bay Trail and all parking areas
  • ONLY the boat ramp at E.G. Simmons Conservation Park

— Mary Shedden

Pasco County Elections Rescheduled to June 30, 2020, After Postponement

Pasco County municipal elections will be held on June 30, after they were delayed in April due to coronavirus safety concerns, Gov. Ron DeSantis’s office said in an executive order issued Saturday.

Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley requested the initial postponement, and for voting to be rescheduled for the cities of San Antonio and Dade City.

The decision to postpone in April “protected the health and safety of the voters, poll workers and my staff,” Corley said in a letter to DeSantis.

Dade City has three races for city commission, and San Antonio has three city council races. A mayoral race in Zephyrhills was canceled after a candidate was disqualified.

— Kerry Sheridan

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