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COVID-19 Morning Edition

Florida Department of Health

State health officials reported 3,255 new COVID-19 cases, Thursday, increasing Florida's total to 674,456 cases. The Florida Department of Health also reported 147 new coronavirus-related deaths, Sept. 17, bringing the statewide death toll to 13,247 fatalities.

Of the 5,018,057 COVID-19 tests that have been reported in Florida so far, the overall positivity rate stands at 13.44%. The latest single-day positivity rate stands at 4.44%.

The total number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations in Florida since the start of the pandemic has now risen to 42,047 patients. However, data reported yesterday through the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration's hospitalization dashboard shows there were 2,383 hospitalizations as of Thursday afternoon with COVID-19 as a primary diagnosis. The current hospitalization rate is down by more than 70% from July.

Here in the Southwest Florida region including Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee, Manatee and Sarasota Counties, state health officials reported 284 new cases of the virus, Thursday, for a total of 56,272 cases.

There were also 13 new coronavirus-related deaths reported in the Southwest Florida region, Sept. 17, including four new fatalities each in Lee and Sarasota Counties, three new deaths in Charlotte County and two new fatalities in Collier, for a total of 1,352 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

Florida continues to see a steady decline in first-time unemployment claims, even as several large hospitality and entertainment companies have extended and imposed large-scale layoffs because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Labor, Thursday, reported just under 34,000 first-time unemployment claims in Florida during the week that ended September 12, down from more than 40,000 in the previous week.

The numbers are well off a peak in April when more than 900,000 claims came in during a two-week period. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is set to release detailed unemployment information for August, Sept. 18.

The department reported 1.125 million Floridians out of work as of mid-July.

New DEO Executive Director Dane Eagle, a former state House majority leader from Cape Coral who was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis this month, says his goal remains to get all eligible Floridians paid.

“Floridians who are looking for help are going to get the answers they need. So, we are going to get that done. We are going to put it behind us, and brighter days are ahead,” said Eagle.

Florida, which provides up to $275 a week for 12 weeks in state unemployment benefits, has used nearly two-thirds of the $4 billion set aside in its unemployment trust fund.

Eagle said that’s a situation for the Florida Legislature to address during the 2021 session.

Florida State University has investigated some 45 students for violating the school's COVID-19 safety rules. The university has come under scrutiny for the behavior of some students who've flouted safety protocols.

The university says it can't disclose which students and what rules they may have violated due to federal student privacy laws. Punishment for violating school rules includes reprimands, getting kicked out of dorms, suspension, and expulsion. FSU officials say most of the cases were reported through the university's website and encourages students to continue using it. An Instagram account, maskupfsu calls people out for not wearing masks by posting pictures and videos of maskless students.

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.

Tom Urban - News Service of Florida
Robbie Gaffney is a recent graduate from Florida State University with degrees in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Before working at WFSU, they recorded FSU’s basketball and baseball games for Seminole Productions as well as interned for the PBS Station in Largo, Florida. Robbie loves playing video games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Their other hobbies include sleeping and watching anime.