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COVID-19 Morning Report

Florida Department of Health

The Florida Department of Health reported 2,583 new COVID-19 cases in Florida, Sunday, increasing the statewide total to 621,586 cases.

State health officials also reported 14 new coronavirus-related deaths of Florida residents, Aug. 30, bringing the statewide death toll to 11,263 fatalities since the beginning of the pandemic. Sunday's increase in deaths marks the lowest single-day increase in COVID-related fatalities since June 22.

Sunday marked the eighth consecutive day the state reported fewer than 4,000 new cases of the virus in a day. Of the 4,606,568 tests that have been reported in Florida so far, the overall positivity rate stands at 13.49%.

The total number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations in Florida since the start of the pandemic has now grown to 38,410 patients.

Here in the Southwest Florida region including Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee, Manatee and Sarasota Counties, state health officials have reported a total of 52,928 COVID-19 cases and 1,206 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Gov. Ron DeSantis made the case that it was safe for tourists to fly on airplanes to come to Florida.

DeSantis spoke Friday at a forum on airline travel with industry executives at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, just as the number of newly reported coronavirus cases grew by more than 3,800 people.

That's down from peaks averaging nearly 12,000 cases daily in mid-July.

Florida airports recorded an estimated 8.8 million passengers from March through June, down from around 24 million a year earlier, amid widespread public worries about contracting the virus while flying and national and international travel restrictions.

DeSantis says he hasn’t heard of any cases where an airline passenger had caught the virus from being on an airplane.

"If you came to me in March, I would have said ‘man I don’t know about flying because it’s in close contact, maybe someone starts to cough on you or whatever.’ The fact of the matter is you have just not seen airlines lead to outbreaks, and people should understand that."

Airport executives spoke of the impact coronavirus is having on their business.

“JetBlue is very proud of that in our 20-year history we've never furloughed any crew members, and so we're pulling every lever that we can to not get there, to make sure that we continue that,” said Andres Barry, president of JetBlue Travel Products. “But it's hard. The current revenue situation is untenable. And it's a lot of important jobs.”

Florida’s community and state colleges will now have to send coronavirus case updates to the Governor’s office. The change came down at Friday’s meeting of the college presidents.

Indian River State College President Ed Massey said he doesn’t have the time to send detailed, daily infection and quarantine information to the governor. Massey said employees are overwhelmed with trying to deal with student enrollment and retention, along with getting them to comply with campus safety rules.

Tallahassee Community College President Jim Murdough called the reporting request “extremely cumbersome.”

College System Chancellor Kathy Hebda said other schools are reporting and those reports haven’t been very detailed. There are no names or personal information involved. She said the governor’s request comes as that office is learning of outbreaks at mostly K-12 schools through news reports and not from schools themselves.

A Palm Beach County doctor in charge of clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine blames politics for the fact that the study has been put on hold. The FDA wants to expedite the approval process for vaccines.

Dr. Larry Bush told the Palm Beach Post that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering whether they can bypass trials. Instead, drug companies would rely on a recent study from Europe that deemed the vaccine effective.

Bush is the study’s chief investigator and said the FDA is looking at whether the vaccine can be approved using a process called “emergency utilization access."

He said if the Trump administration does approve that process, the true effectiveness of the vaccine would be in question and it would set a bad precedent for future vaccine trials.

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

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.
Daniel Rivero is a reporter and producer for WLRN, covering Latino and criminal justice issues. Before joining the team, he was an investigative reporter and producer on the television series "The Naked Truth," and a digital reporter for Fusion.