PBS and NPR for Southwest Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

COVID-19 Morning Update

Florida Department of Health

With the exception of June 8, the number of new coronavirus cases reported by state health officials each day has topped one thousand people since June 3; That was the case again, Tuesday, as the Florida Department of Health reported 1,096 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 66,000.

State health officials also reported 53 new coronavirus-related deaths, Tuesday, increasing the statewide death toll to 2,765 fatalities.

The total number of people in Florida who have been hospitalized due to the virus has now reached 11,185 patients. Of the 1,259,283 tests that have been performed in the state so far, 5.2 percent have been positive for the virus and that rate continues to slowly trend downward.

In the Southwest Florida region encompassing Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee, Manatee and Sarasota Counties, state health officials reported 158 new confirmed cases of the virus and 15 new deaths, Tuesday, including seven deaths in Lee County, six new fatalities in Manatee County, and one new death each in Sarasota and Hendry Counties.

Manatee County has $1.3 million available to disperse to residents in need through the Manatee CARES Housing Assistance Program.

The funds are from the federal Housing and Urban Development and State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP) program for people experiencing financial hardship resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

From June 10-12, Manatee residents can apply for relief funds to be used to pay for overdue rent, mortgage or utility bills. Eligible applicants may receive up to $1,500 per month for up to three months.

Because the City of Bradenton receives its own federal funds and SHIP funds, Manatee officials said City of Bradenton residents are ineligible for Manatee County CARES funding.

County officials are expecting thousands of people to apply, so they will select applications to review using a lottery-style drawing that will take place on June 16.

Demonstrations are planned for today, June 10, in Tallahassee, Orlando and Tampa, as well as online throughout the week, to bring attention to the struggles of Floridians who've lost their jobs amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but who have received only partial payments, or nothing at all, in unemployment benefits from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

The Palm Beach Post reports, since March about two million Florida workers have filed unemployment claims, but many have been met with months of delays and frustrations, as the state's unemployment system has been unable to keep up with the pace of claims being filed.

Even those who have been approved, can only receive up to $275 a week for 12 weeks from the state and many recipients say they haven't received the additional $600 in federal unemployment support.

The U.S. Senate's top Democrat, Chuck Schumer and ranking Democrat in the Senate's Finance Committee Ron Wyden, are calling on the U.S. Department of Labor's inspector general to investigate Florida's struggling unemployment system. They're calling on the Department of Labor to investigate why it's taking so long for Florida to disperse benefits to out-of-work Floridians.

Such calls are not coming from Florida's own U.S. Senators, Republicans Rick Scott and Marco Rubio.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has dismissed the call for a federal investigation calling it "partisan." The state legislature's top GOP leaders are also rebuffing a call for a special session to help repair the unemployment system.

Thousands of international students in Florida are facing uncertainty about their immigration status amid the pandemic.

Foreign students are usually required to take a certain number of in-person classes to meet visa requirements. However, universities had to shift classes online through the summer, and many plan to keep some courses online when campuses reopen in the fall.

In March, the Department of Homeland Security relaxed the rules to allow students to continue their studies remotely, but the federal exception has not been extended to the fall.

Plus, global travel restrictions could make it difficult for international students to obtain visas or book flights to the U.S. in time to start the fall semester.

The Collier and Lee County School districts are reviewing their partnerships with Oakes Farms, following Facebook posts from owner Alfie Oakes that have sparked a petition and a planned protest this weekend.

Alfie Oakes has expressed ideas in Facebook posts that the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement are hoaxes and he's called George Floyd a, "disgraceful career criminal.”

As of Wednesday morning, more than 10,800 people have signed a Change.org petition calling for local school districts to cut ties with Oakes Farms.

A Collier school district official tells the Naples Daily News the district paid Oakes an estimated $150,000 earlier this year when it's main supplier of fresh produce could not provide. The district says it’s taking Oakes comments "seriously."

The Lee County School District has a three-year contract with Oakes Farms that is up at the end of June, 2021. A school district spokesman says they're reviewing the contract.

In a statement to the Naples Daily News, Oakes writes QUOTE, "It would be a sad day in America if the school system chooses who to buy from because of their political beliefs.”

A group called the Activist Protection League of Southwest Florida is planning to protest outside Alfie Oakes Seed to Table market at 2:00 p.m., Saturday. More than 500 people on Facebook have indicated their interest in attending.

Meanwhile, Oakes is organizing a counter-protest Saturday at 1:00 p.m.

Andrea Perdomo is a reporter for WGCU News. She started her career in public radio as an intern for the Miami-based NPR station, WLRN. Andrea graduated from Florida International University, where she was a contributing writer for the student-run newspaper, The Panther Press, and was also a member of the university's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.
Gina Jordan reports from Tallahassee for WUSF and WLRN about how state policy affects your life.