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COVID-19 Morning Report

Florida Department of Health

State health officials reported 2,582 new COVID-19 cases, Wednesday, bringing Florida's total to 722,707 cases. The Florida Department of Health also reported 137 new coronavirus-related deaths, Oct. 7, increasing the statewide death toll to 15,084 fatalities.

Of the 5,466,927 COVID-19 tests that have been reported in Florida so far, the overall positivity rate reduced slightly to 13.22% and the latest single day positivity rate fell to 4.14%.

In the Southwest Florida region including Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee, Manatee and Sarasota Counties, health officials reported 230 new cases of the virus Wednesday for a total of 60,111 infections.

There were also 11 new coronavirus-related deaths reported in the Southwest Florida region Wednesday, including five new fatalities in Lee County, three new deaths in Sarasota, two deaths in Collier, and one fatality in Charlotte County for a total of 1,459 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

The CDC has released a report about a newly discovered long-term impact of COVID-19 infections. The report finds that a new syndrome can happen with adult survivors of the coronavirus, leading to multiple organ failures and possible death.

University of Miami researcher Laura Beauchamps helped with the report, and said she has seen multiple cases of the new syndrome in Miami.

"So these cases are presenting with very severe symptoms of multiorgan failure. They would be coming with heart attacks and strokes, and they're coming with kidney function that was severely affected,” said Beauchamps.

The syndrome had been known to happen in small children but researchers are just starting to learn about how it can impact adults.

Researchers are still studying what causes the long-term effects of COVID, but Beauchamps said they suspect the coronavirus might cause widespread blood clotting that leads to organ failure.

Florida residents who haven't paid their electricity bills during the COVID-19 pandemic will have their power disconnected after the Florida Public Service Commission sided with utility companies Tuesday. Opponents say this puts people's health at risk in what's already a dangerous pandemic.

Attorney with Florida Power & Light and Gulf Power, John Burnett said they've been reaching out to customers about payment options.

“Unfortunately it is FPL and Gulf's experience that most customers experiencing hardships do not engage the company or seek assistance until they receive final notice,” said Burnett.

Mary Corugedo is Florida State Director at the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC. She said when people's electricity gets cut, it means their medication may go bad, they can't circulate air in their homes, they can't cook and they might end up in crowded shelters.

“We really need to press our elected officials to come up with a plan so that both sides are able to meet their needs and that we are not putting people in danger by evicting them or by requiring them to pay bills that they can't pay right now,” said Corugedo.

The utility companies have begun disconnections. They told the commission they may consider waiving reconnection fees.

Hundreds of thousands of fast-turnaround COVID-19 tests will soon be on their way to Florida's assisted living facilities and senior communities.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday that the state expects to receive 400,000 batches of Abbott BinaxNOW tests each week.

Unlike other kinds of COVID tests, that can take as long as a week to get results, the BinaxNOW tests can get them in just 15 minutes.

Some 280,000 testing kits will be distributed weekly to long-term care facilities and senior communities, so occupants, staff and visitors can get tested.

The remainder will go to state-run testing sites and school districts.

The union representing Walt Disney World employees says it has reached a deal with the company that avoids layoffs for full time cast members. More than 8,000 part-time employees, though, will lose their jobs.

The Service Trade Council Union represents about 43,000 Walt Disney World employees. More than 25,000 of them have been recalled to their jobs during Disney’s phased reopening.

The union said Disney had planned to change the employment status from furlough to layoff for 5,299 full time and 8,857 part time cast members.

After several days of negotiations, the union said no full-time employees will be laid off, and the company agreed that there will be no permanent layoffs.

Anyone who is laid off in the future will retain their seniority, rate of pay, and the right to return to their previous job at Disney until October 1st, 2022. That means they’ll be given priority to be rehired before Disney hires new employees off the street.

Some 8,800 part time employees who have been on furlough will be laid off though, with park attendance and resort occupancy not yet back to pre-pandemic levels.

“As incredibly difficult as it is to take this action, this agreement helps us preserve many full-time jobs,” said a Disney spokesperson in a statement.

“For those affected by this decision, we thank you for all your dedication. While we don’t know when the pandemic will be behind us, we are confident in our resilience, and we hope to welcome back Cast Members where we can.”

Disney announced last week that 28,000 of its employees across the country would be laid off. The company notified state and local officials that it would let go 6,700 non-union employees beginning in December.

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Verónica Zaragovia
Matthew Peddie
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.