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COVID-19 Morning Update

Florida Department of Health

For the second consecutive day, the number of new cases of the coronavirus reported by state health officials topped 2,000 new confirmed cases.

The Florida Department of Health reported 2,610 new cases of COVID-19, Wednesday, following Tuesday's single-day record high of 2,783 cases.

The statewide total number of cases now stands at 82,719. State health officials also reported 25 new coronavirus-related deaths, June 17, increasing the statewide death toll to 3,018 fatalities.

Of the 1,486,759 COVID-19 tests that have been performed in Florida so far, 5.6% have been positive for the virus. The rate of positive test results had been trending downward, but has begun to climb again.

According to state health officials, there have been 12,389 hospitalizations due to the virus since the pandemic began.

Here in the Southwest Florida region encompassing Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee, Manatee and Sarasota Counties, Florida Department of Health data shows 339 new cases, yesterday and one new death each in Hendry, Lee and Manatee Counties.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman signed an order, Wednesday, requiring all people working inside city limits to wear a mask. The order goes into effect Friday at 5:00 p.m.

Kriseman also is working with city attorneys in an effort to require all city residents to wear masks in public as soon as next week. His announcement comes as Florida is seeing record increases in the number of cases of COVID-19. This week, several downtown St. Pete restaurants and bars shut down after employees tested positive.

“We've all seen the signs, no shoes, no shirt, no service. Well, I'm going to suggest you add masks to that with or without a city order,” said Kriseman.

“So, if someone is in violation, or they refuse to put on a mask or to leave, call us. We have your back.”

Kriseman said city workers will be monitoring and visiting businesses to make sure they are following the order.

Nursing homes and assisted living facility staff will be required to be tested for COVID-19 every two weeks, under a pair of emergency rules issued by Gov. DeSantis’ administration Wednesday.

Facilities that don’t comply with the emergency rules could have their licenses revoked or suspended, while facing administrative fines. The new rules reinforce the focus DeSantis has placed on trying to slow the spread of coronavirus in facilities that house many of the state’s most vulnerable residents.

“You test once and you’re negative, that’s great, but you can get it two weeks later. So, to constantly go back to the staff, which will be the entry point for this, is something that is very, very significant. So, we’re going to continue to do that,” said DeSantis.

There were just shy of 4,200 long-term care residents with COVID-19 and more than 2,400 infected staff members, as of June 16th.

Sixty-one percent of residents with coronavirus have been transferred out of the facilities where they contracted the disease, and into hospitals or other state designated COVID-19 facilities.

Gov. DeSantis has received the state legislature’s spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year. The delivery comes a day after DeSantis warned of looming budget cuts. DeSantis told reporters he’s trying to preserve state worker and teacher pay raises, but that cuts will be coming.

“There’s going to be a lot more vetoes. It’s kind of the veto equivalent of the red wedding from Game of Thrones,” said DeSantis.

“There’s going to be things in my budget that I’m definitely going to veto just because the fiscal picture is different. I think we’re probably hopefully going to recover quicker than we thought two months ago.”

The state has lost nearly $890 million in revenue and that number is expected to climb even higher, even as businesses reopen.

DeSantis is hoping for a quick recovery. He doesn’t anticipate lawmakers will have to return to Tallahassee early to address the budget and said the state will use some federal money to plug the budget holes.

Officials with the Estero-based car rental giant Hertz say the company has put its plans on hold to sell $500 million worth of stock. The AP reports, trading in the company's shares were halted before the announcement and then later resumed trading.

Hertz filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month. On Monday, Hertz said it received approval from bankruptcy court to proceed with the stock sale, which would be an unusual move, and a risky one for investors, given the company's unsteady bearings amid a bankruptcy reorganization.

Florida’s tourism marking arm Visit Florida is applying for an $8 million federal grant. Former state lawmakers and Visit Florida CEO Dana Young said it could be a game changer in helping local governments attract more tourists as the state tries to regain lost revenue ground.

“It will be such a win-win for everyone if we’re able to get these funds and use that to augment what we already have. It will be a tremendous boost to our campaign for sure,” said Young.

Tourism is Florida’s biggest economic driver and the coronavirus-induced closures of beaches, hotels, restaurants and theme parks has put a massive dent in the state’s economy.

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.
Tom Urban is the Assignment Manager for .
Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas. She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. When she’s not working, Lynn spends her time watching sci-fi and action movies, writing her own books, going on long walks through the woods, traveling and exploring antique stores. Follow Lynn Hatter on Twitter: @HatterLynn.
Alysia Cruz is the WUSF Stephen Noble news intern for the fall 2019 semester. She earned her Bachelor’s degree at the University of South Florida in Communication and is now enrolled at USF St. Petersburg, pursuing her Master’s in Digital Journalism & Design concentrating on food writing.