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The latest updates on the COVID-19 outbreak in South Florida. This page ended its updates as of August 2020. Head here for additional stories on COVID-19 and the pandemic.

Coronavirus Live Updates: Re-Entry Stickers For The Keys, FPL Cuts May Bills

A limited supply of tests for coronavirus in Florida and across the United States remains a primary challenge in trying to slow the spread of COVID19, the disease caused by the virus.

This post will be updated today, Monday, March 30, with the latest information on COVID-19 in South Florida.

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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 the 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 Tuesdays and Saturdays, sign up here.


How To Get A Re-entry Sticker For The Florida Keys
Updated 4:25 p.m.

Monroe County residents will be able to pick up vehicle re-entry stickers at county and some city fire stations between 1 and 5 p.m. until further notice. Stickers are also available at the tax collector’s Plantation Key, Marathon, and Key West offices from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Re-entry stickers, normally used for hurricane evacuations, are being used as proof of residency for the coronavirus checkpoints at the county line.

The county cautions that re-entry stickers are limited and that, unless you are traveling back and forth frequently, an I.D. with a Keys address, deed, lease or tax bill with a Keys address is sufficient.

Marathon residents can pick up a sticker at the Marathon fire station. The Key West and Islamorada fire stations are not participating.

The Key Largo Fire Department, the Tavernier station, and the Key Largo Dept. of Motor Vehicles are out of stickers. They are on order, according to the county.

To get a sticker bring proof of Monroe County residency: local identification, hard copy utility bill, deed, lease or tax bill and the registration of the car that will need a sticker. For the participating fire stations, please knock on the door and show the proof at the window and then move to the parking lot. The firefighter will put on personal protective gear and walk the sticker to you, which may take a few minutes. Do not go to the fire station if you are feeling sick.

— Nancy Klingener


Miami-Dade Halts Construction Inspections After COVID-19 Spreads At Permit Center
Updated at 4:19 p.m.

After most of its permitting staff went into self-isolation because of multiple coronavirus cases within their ranks, Miami-Dade is suspending construction inspections and telling builders to hire their own engineers to review work for safety and code compliance.

The measure, outlined in an emergency order from Mayor Carlos Gimenez, means the idling of the county arm responsible for inspecting construction sites outside of city limits and areas in municipalities governed by Miami-Dade inspections, such as for county buildings and land. The order does not apply to city inspection units.

The order dated March 28 includes new forms and instructions requiring builders to hire independent architects or engineers to inspect their work. The rules specify the engineer may not have a “financial stake” in the project.

Read more at our news partner the Miami Herald.


Governor Opposes Letting Ship With 189 Sick People Dock In South Florida
Updated at 2:26 p.m.

The Holland America cruise ship dealing with the deaths of four people and that has 189 sick people aboard shouldn’t come to South Florida to “dump” all of the ill passengers, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday.

“We cannot afford to have people who are not even Floridians dumped into South Florida using up those valuable resources," DeSantis said, adding he is in touch with the White House over the fate of the Zaandam, as well as a companion ship, the Rotterdam, where some passengers were moved. “We view this as a big, big problem and we don’t want to see people dumped in southern Florida right now.”

DeSantis made his remarks while appearing on Fox News on Monday morning. The ships have crossed the Panama Canal and could reach South Florida by late Wednesday or early Thursday, according to Ellen Kennedy, spokeswoman for Port Everglades. That is, “if the ship is permitted to dock,” she said.

Read more at our news partners the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Gov. DeSantis Orders Unified Safer At Home Restrictions For South Florida Counties
Updated at 1:02 p.m.

As South Florida remains the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in the state, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday he’s issuing an executive order to unify the region’s response.

“This gets all four counties operating under the same sheet of music,” DeSantis said during a news conference outside Hard Rock Stadium, where the Florida National Guard and the state have been running a drive-through testing site.

The order aims to codify a common set of rules that address “safer at home” – sometimes described as shelter-in-place – rules for the southeastern part of the state: Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach counties.

Read more here.

FPL Plans To Cut May Bills
Updated at 11:23 a.m.

Buoyed by lower-than-expected natural gas costs, Florida Power & Light plans to slash May electric bills as customers grapple with the novel coronavirus.

Utilities are required to pass along savings to customers when power-plant fuel costs drop, but those savings typically show up on bills over a series of months. FPL’s plan, announced Monday, would lump together fuel savings this year into a one-time bill reduction in May.

The plan needs approval from the Florida Public Service Commission, and a detailed proposal is expected to be filed with the regulatory panel this week.

Read more here.

Florida Coronavirus Cases Near 5,000 — The Biggest Jump In A Single Day
Updated at 6:30 a.m.

Florida officials confirmed 912 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, on Sunday night. That brings the state's total number of cases to 4,950, just one day after it had passed 4,000. 

Sixty people in Florida have died because of the virus and 633 people have been hospitalized throughout the state.

President Trump praised how Florida is handling the crisis at a press conference on Sunday.

"They're doing a very good job," he said, adding that the federal government had fulfilled 100 percent of the state's request for supplies. 

The president's praise comes after health experts criticized Governor Ron DeSantis for not issuing a statewide stay-home order as the number cases in the state continue rise. 

South Florida continues to be the state's biggest hotspot with 1,448 cases in Miami-Dade County, 992 cases in Broward, 368 cases in Palm Beach County and 20 cases in Monroe County.

-Leslie Ovalle