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Coronavirus Live Updates: WATCH LIVE: Under State Pressure, Miami-Dade School Board Reconsiders Reopening Date

Alberto Carvalho 8_31 press conference Miami Herald.jpeg
Daniel A Varela/Miami Herald
Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho speaks at a press conference on Aug. 31, 2020, recounting the software outage that hindered connection to online learning for thousands of students and teachers on the first day of the 2020-21 school year.

This post will be updated today, Tuesday, September 29, 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.

To receive WLRN's coronavirus updates newsletter on Wednesdays and Saturdays, sign up here.

QUICK UPDATES

WATCH LIVE: Under State Pressure, Miami-Dade School Board Reconsiders Reopening Date

Updated Tuesday at 5 p.m.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools stands to lose up to $84 million if the district moves forward with a plan to bring some students back to school buildings starting Oct. 14, according to a school board member.

School board members are now discussing whether to reverse their decision from last week, when the board voted for a phased mid-October reopening.

Tuesday's meeting was called in response to a Friday letter from State Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran threatening the district with a potential loss of funding if they didn’t reopen Oct. 5 or provide school-by-school explanations for why they couldn’t.

The district’s state-approved reopening plan, submitted over the summer, pledged that the board would make a decision by Sept. 30 about whether to reopen schools on Oct. 5, if local health conditions supported a return to in-person classes.

The board’s decision during last week’s 29-hour marathon meeting to open schools later than Oct. 5 contradicted that plan, attracting scrutiny from Corcoran.

State leaders agreed to fund schools based on enrollment levels from before the pandemic, since thousands of public school parents have chosen private, charter or home school instead, given the myriad personal and educational challenges presented by COVID-19. Additionally, state officials have said if campuses don’t reopen, schools will be funded based on their actual enrollment — and that means the potential loss of tens of millions of dollars for large school districts at a time when they are facing unprecedented expenses.

During Tuesday’s meeting, which began at 1 p.m., school board member Steve Gallon III responded to public speakers’ contentions that the board’s local control was being usurped by the state.

“With all due respect, this is not about local control. We have that authority to rip this plan up, rip up the letter [from Corcoran] and proceed under the current statutory framework for school funding,” Gallon said. “However, ripping up that plan has consequences: $54 million worth of consequences — up to $84 million, according to our CFO [chief financial officer].”

The meeting, which is taking place in person at the school board administration building in downtown Miami, is ongoing. Watch here.

—Jessica Bakeman/WLRN News

Rapid COVID-19 Test Kits Headed To Florida

Updated Tuesday at 1:10 p.m.

Florida will receive 400,000 rapid-test kits a week that can be used to detect COVID-19 infections at schools, senior centers and long-term care facilities, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday at a news conference in Clearwater. The Florida Division of Emergency Management will take the lead in distributing the test kits, which are coming from the federal government, said division Diretor Jared Moskowitz, who joined DeSantis at Morton Plant Hospital for the announcement.

“We will do our part to make sure that this gets out as fast as possible,” said Moskowitz, whose agency has been in charge of distributing personal protective equipment, such as gowns, face shields, gloves and masks to long-term care facilities.

The federal government requires that the tests be performed in settings that operate under what is known as a CLIA Certificate of Waiver, which, DeSantis said, requires that the tests be conducted by nurses. But DeSantis said the state will request a waiver of that requirement, saying it isn’t a good use of nurses’ time.

“We're going to work really hard on this. This is significant. I've been frustrated with how the testing has gone, because it seems anytime we did something, then there would be something that happened. Maybe the labs are backed up. Maybe this, maybe that,” DeSantis said. “This is probably as happy as I’ve been about testing in an awful long time.”

The rapid test is one of two diagnostic tests for COVID-19 that indicate whether a person has an active coronavirus infection. Molecular tests, such as RT-PCR tests, detect the virus’ genetic material, but can take from a day to a week to get the results. Antigen tests detect specific proteins on the surface of the virus and come back within 15 minutes. However, antigen tests can have false negatives, and results may need to be confirmed with molecular tests.

Nevertheless, DeSantis said Tuesday that he may use some of the rapid test kits coming to Florida to supplant PCR testing that the state is conducting, saying it would reduce costs by 75 percent. In all, DeSantis said Florida would receive 6.4 million rapid test kits under the federal government’s plan to provide more than 150 million kits across the nation.

The federal plan was first announced in August and reiterated Monday by President Donald Trump.

— News Service of Florida Staff

Statewide Coronavirus Cases Increase By 3,266 Resident Death Toll Reaches 14,143

Updated Tuesday at 11:55 p.m.

Florida surpassed 700,00 positive cases of COVID-19 as Florida’s Department of Health confirmed an additional 3,266 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

This report comes after Monday's data showed the lowest single-day count since June at 738. Florida now has a total of 704,568 confirmed positive cases, according to the state's health department.

Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward counties make up 1,043 of the newly reported cases. Monroe County only added eight cases overall.

Tuesday’s update also included the announcement of 106 new resident deaths, increasing the statewide number of Floridians who died to 14,143.

— By WLRN News

Palm Beach County Offering More Assistance To Businesses Hurt By COVID. Mortgage Next.

Updated Tuesday at 6:37 a.m.

Palm Beach County has millions of federal dollars left to give to residents and businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

After awarding about 3,000 local businesses more than $50 million, the county’s Restart Business grant program fueled by federal CARES Act dollars reopened to applicants on Friday on a first-come, first-served basis.

Businesses forced to close or limit their activities because of state or county orders can receive up to $25,000. Applicants will be required to provide documents such as tax returns, payroll reports as well as an active Palm Beach County business tax receipt or exemption from the tax collector’s office.

Read more from our news partner at the Palm Beach Post.

— Hannah Morse / Palm Beach Post