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Coronavirus Live Updates: State Announces Testing Site Closures Ahead Of Potential Tropical Cyclone

COVID-19 testing site
Miami Herald

This post will be updated today, Wednesday, July 29, and through the week with the latest information on COVID-19 in South Florida.

WLRN is committed to providing South Florida with trusted news and information. In these uncertain times, our mission is more vital than ever. Your support makes it possible. Please donate today. Thank you.

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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State Announces Covid Testing Site Closures Ahead Of Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine

Updated Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

The severe weather forecast is closing some coronavirus testing sites across Florida.

State emergency officials announced Wednesday that all state-run testing sites are shutting down -- starting 5 p.m. Thursday.

They're expected to reopen at the latest by Wednesday, Aug. 8, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

In a news release, the department said the testing sites contain tents and other structures that cannot withstand tropical storm force winds.

In its 5 p.m. advisory Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said the tropical system is likely strengthening into a tropical storm by Wednesday night. It's expected to move toward South Florida by Friday night.

– Alexander Gonzalez/WLRN News

BSO To Continue Cracking Down On House Parties, Watching The Tropics 

Updated Wednesday at 12:10 p.m.

For the past two weeks in Broward County, the sheriff's office has been cracking down on large house parties during the pandemic. So far, BSO has broken up 13 parties, issued more than 260 different citations to people, and made 25 arrests for crimes ranging from DUIs to grand theft in the process, according to Sheriff Gregory Tony. 

Tony told reporters at a news conference via Zoom this morning that deputies will continue to break up large gatherings. 

"This operation has been very pivotal in our ability not only to just break up the crime patterns that we're seeing, but also for helping reduce the spread of COVID-19,” Tony said. “We have no interest at this point in time to discontinue having this type of enforcement.”

Tony also addressed another type of gathering that COVID-19 will make more difficult, for residents and for law enforcement: people taking refuge at hurricane shelters in the event of a major storm this season.

"We're talking about social distancing so these are gonna be some challenges,” Tony said. “It's imperative that the community take on their own social responsibility and also start to examine options they may have to be out of South Florida, to push inland or even to push out of the state in advance.”

Forecasters are continuing to follow Potential Tropical Cyclone 9 in the Caribbean. It's potential effects on Florida are still unclear for the time being.

— Caitie Switalski / WLRN News

Florida COVID-19 Cases Increase By 9,446, Deaths Increase By 216

Updated Wednesday at 10:55 a.m.

The Florida Department of Health confirmed an additional 9,446 cases on Wednesday. The state has a total of 451,423 confirmed positive cases, according to the state's health department.

Wednesday's update included 216 new deaths among Florida residents, the highest one-day increase recorded so far and beating Tuesday’s record of 186. The statewide number of deaths increased to 6,333.

- WLRN News

Broward Hospitals Nearing Capacity With Overflow Patients From Miami-Dade

Updated Wednesday at 6:15 a.m.

Broward County hospitals now are as full as Miami-Dade’s as they take on the spillover of coronavirus patients coming from the south.

Miami-Dade has been the hardest-hit county in Florida for the spread of the virus, with most positive new cases in the state. After weeks of relative quiet in the COVID units, the situation reversed course in July as Jackson Memorial and other Miami-Dade hospitals saw a flood of patients and asked the state to send more nurses to help with the surge.

Now, overflow patients from Miami are pouring into Broward. Although Miami-Dade has more cases of the virus, both counties have seen hospitalizations spike. According to state data, Miami-Dade has 17% available capacity at all of its hospitals as of Tuesday. Broward has 16% available capacity.

To read more, visit our news partner at the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

- Cindy Krischer Goodman/Sun Sentinel

Nearly 3,000 South Florida Businesses Closed Due To The Pandemic — Some Forever

Updated Wednesday at 6:15 a.m.

Not every business is listed on the consumer review site Yelp. But of the many South Florida businesses that are, COVID-19 has claimed nearly 3,000.

A total of 2,991 businesses closed in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro area between March 1 and July 10, according to a report from Yelp. That number includes temporary and permanent closures.

Of the total closures, 1,949 businesses are marked as permanently closed as of July 10, including 417 restaurants and 285 retail businesses. U.S. Census figures from 2017 — the most recent data available — indicate there were 169,582 businesses in the metro area. Yelp would not say how many South Florida businesses are listed on its site.

To read more, visit our news partner at the Miami Herald.

- Yadira Lopez/Miami Herald

DeSantis: 'We Might' Extend Eviction Protection

Updated Wednesday at 6:15 a.m.

Gov. Ron DeSantis appears to again be waiting until the deadline to announce if he will extend an executive order to help prevent foreclosures and evictions amid job losses and financial problems caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic. With the current order set to expire on Saturday, DeSantis was asked if he would approve another extension.

“We might,” he told reporters during a press conference at AdventHealth Orlando on Tuesday. “We’ll have an announcement on that soon.” The governor waited until late on June 30 before issuing the latest monthly extension of his April 2 executive order, which offered protections for people facing foreclosures or evictions.

DeSantis issued the April order, which he has extended three times, as COVID-19 began to take hold in Florida. At the time, the Department of Economic Opportunity was still working to make paper applications available for unemployment assistance.

The online system had been overwhelmed as 348,000 applications were submitted between mid-March and the start of April. The state agency reported Tuesday that, from March 15 through Monday, more than 3.3 million jobless claims have been filed, of which 1.8 million claims have been paid a total of $11.96 billion.

The federal government is responsible for $9.2 billion of the payments. The pandemic has seen the state’s jobless count grow from 2.8 percent in February, when 291,000 Floridians were considered out of work, to 10.4 percent in June, with 1.02 million people unemployed.

The June number is a drop from the April peak of 13.8 percent, when 1.218 million Floridians qualified as unemployed.

- News Service of Florida