Coronavirus Live Updates: Miami-Dade Set To Reopen More Businesses, Launches Contact Tracing App
This post will be updated today, Wednesday, Sept. 16, and through the week with the latest information on COVID-19 in South Florida.
WLRN staff continues to add to community resource lists, including this article on where kids and families can get food while schools are closed, and this post about whether and where to get tested for coronavirus.
The dedicated website for the Florida Department of Health, including information about symptoms and numbers of cases, can be found here.
The dedicated website from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can be found here.
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Miami-Dade Set To Reopen More Businesses, Launches Contact Tracing App
Updated Wednesday at 3:55 p.m.
More businesses will be allowed to reopen starting Friday, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced Wednesday.
During a news conference, he said he would sign an executive order to authorize the county's next round of reopening.
Certain entertainment venues — including movie theaters, bowling alleys, concert halls, convention spaces, banquet halls and arcades — will be allowed to start up again at 50 percent capacity. These places must continue to follow the county’s coronavirus restrictions, Gimenez said.
Bars and nightclubs remain closed. Gimenez said his team and medical experts will meet with business owners next week to determine “what’s doable.”
He said they would operate like restaurants. That means bar counters would remain prohibited even during this staggered reopening.
The county also launched a contact tracing app that notifies users if, for a certain period of time, they’ve been close to someone who’s tested positive for COVID-19.
“By using the app, you will be keeping yourself and others safer while ensuring your privacy is protected,” Gimenez said during the Wednesday news conference. “This app does not track you.”
— Alexander Gonzalez/WLRN News
Teachers Union Leader On School Reopening: ‘Our Lives Are At Stake'
Updated Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.
’More than two-thirds of Broward County voters agree schools should reopen only when the safety of students and employees can be guaranteed, according to a recent poll commissioned by the Broward Teachers Union.
Meanwhile, 27 percent of voters want schools open so parents can go back to work and the local economy can continue to recover.
South Florida teachers union leaders announced the survey results during a news conference in Miami on Wednesday. The presidents of BTU and the United Teachers of Dade argued schools in their districts aren’t ready to bring students back.
Both districts are considering resuming in-person classes by early next month. The union leaders said they’re not convinced class sizes will be small enough to allow for social distancing, that classrooms will be outfitted with soap and hand sanitizer, or that air filtration in schools will be good enough to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
UTD President Karla Hernandez-Mats asked teachers and others who support them to sound off on social media using the hashtag: #SafeSchoolsSFL.
“We need an emphasis on health and safety — not politics,” Hernandez-Mats said during a press conference outside of the union’s offices in Edgewater. “Our lives are at stake.”
Representatives from the Miami-Dade and Broward school districts did not immediately return requests for comment.
Read the full poll results here.
Watch the press conference below:
—Jessica Bakeman/WLRN News
Statewide Coronavirus Cases Increase By More Than 2,300, Death Toll Just Shy Of 13,000
Updated Wednesday at 11:31 a.m.
Florida surpassed 670,000 positive cases of COVID-19 as Florida’s Department of Health confirmed an additional 2,355 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday.
Florida now has a total of 671,201 confirmed positive cases, according to the state's health department.
Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward counties make up 725 of the newly reported cases. Monroe County only added four cases overall.
Wednesday’s update also included the announcement of 152 new resident deaths, increasing the statewide number of Florida residents who died up to 12,939.
— By WLRN News
Teachers Union Calls For Schools Chief’s Removal; Board Considers 'Improvement Plan'
Updated Wednesday at 10 a.m.
Palm Beach County’s teachers union is calling for Schools Superintendent Donald Fennoy to be removed from office, saying teachers have “lost all faith” in his ability to successfully reopen campuses next week.
Classroom Teachers Association President Justin Katz announced the move in an email to members Wednesday morning.
“CTA has tried to work with the current superintendent, but we have lost all faith and now have zero confidence that a righting of this rudderless ship is possible without immediate change,” Katz wrote.
Read more at the Palm Beach Post.
— Andrew Marra/Palm Beach Post
FPL Will Resume Disconnections For Unpaid Bills In October
Updated Wednesday at 8:58 a.m.
Florida Power & Light plans to resume disconnecting electric service of customers with past-due bills as early as Oct. 1, the utility announced.
The company, provider of electric service for all of South Florida, suspended disconnections in March to help customers suffering economic hardship caused by COVID-19.
FPL announced the resumption in a news release outlining the utility’s plans to help past-due customers get current by providing one-time bill credits of up to $200.
Read more from our news partner at The South Florida Sun Sentinel.
— By Ron Hurtibise / The South Florida Sun Sentinel