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COVID-19 Morning Update

Florida Department of Health

State health officials reported another 1,371 confirmed cases of COVID-19, Wednesday, increasing the statewide total to 67,371 confirmed cases. With the exception of this past Monday, the Florida Department of Health has reported more than 1,000 new cases of the virus each day since June third.

Health officials also reported 36 new coronavirus-related deaths, yesterday, bringing the statewide death toll to 2,801 fatalities including 1,454 deaths in long-term care facilities.

The total number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations in Florida now stands at 11,345 patients. Of the 1,280,003 tests that have been performed in Florida so far, 5.3 percent have been positive for the virus.

Here in the Southwest Florida region including Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee, Manatee and Sarasota Counties, state health officials reported 193 new cases of the virus, Wednesday, and five new deaths including one new fatality in Manatee County and two new deaths each in Lee and Sarasota Counties.

About a dozen unemployed workers spent Wednesday morning at the state capitol, protesting Florida's jobless system.

The state Department of Economic Opportunity has faced a torrent of criticism since the coronavirus pandemic shut down major parts of the economy in March, creating an unprecedented crush of people seeking jobless benefits.

The CONNECT system was not able to handle the surge of applications, forcing the state to scramble to try to shore up the claims process.

According to DEO, 92 percent of more than two million unique unemployment claims had been processed as of Monday. Another 160,000 workers are in a claims verification queue.

Judy Tanzosch, who was furloughed from her construction industry job at the end of March, said she still has not received an unemployment check. Tanzosch said a combination of factors, including lifting some coronavirus-related restrictions and police brutality protests, have slowed the urgency to fix the jobless system.

““The new events, with the Black Lives Matter movement are just making it easier for them to delay paying those claims,” said Tanzosch.

“It’s just really heartbreaking that they are leaving so many Floridians to not be able to pay their bills every month.”

As of Monday, the department reported receiving about 2.2 million unique claims since March 15, with 1.3 million claims processed. More than 1.25 million people had been paid state and/or federal benefits, while another 476 thousand had been ruled ineligible for assistance.

Floridians looking to get their concealed weapons license can apply starting Monday. Online applications had been suspended since March 20.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is holding a press conference, Thursday, to announce that the Tallahassee regional licensing office is reopening. The office has been closed since March. Despite the closure, Fried says the department has still processed more than 84,000 concealed weapons licenses.

The shutdown stopped new online applications from coming in. Fried and Attorney General Ashley Moody briefly sparred over the concealed weapons license issue. An organization called Young Americans for Liberty filed a lawsuit over the shutdown. A June 3 hearing in the case was delayed.

Workouts for student athletes in Collier County public high schools will be permitted to resume Monday, June 15, after private schools in Collier and Lee Counties began conducting practices last month.

Athletic workouts and practices in Collier high schools will be rolled out in phases. During the first week of phase one, athletes will be allowed to practice for no more than 60 minutes in groups of no more than nine students and a coach keeping a six-foot distance from one another and not using any equipment.

The Naples Daily News reports, the second week of phase one will expand workout times to 90 minutes and allow athletes to use some equipment like jump ropes and cones.

Phase two is slated to roll out at June 29 with athletes being allowed to touch a ball, but not sharing a ball. Contact with other athletes will still be prohibited. The workouts are voluntary, so those who don't feel comfortable don't have to participate.

Lee County School officials have not yet released a plan for resuming athletic practices.

Blaise Gainey is a Multimedia Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.
Tom Urban is the Assignment Manager for .
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.