Coronavirus Live Updates: DeSantis’ Top Donor Checks Into Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach
This post will be updated today, Thursday, April 2, with the latest information on COVID-19 in South Florida.
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For Most Florida Hotel Guests, It’s Past Checkout Time. But Not For DeSantis’ Top Donor
Thursday, April 2, updated at 4 p.m.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has pointed the finger at New Yorkers for the spread of the coronavirus in the state, and required that visitors to Florida coming from New York and surrounding states be screened and self-isolate after entering Florida.
And Palm Beach County has ordered that hotels stop taking reservations.
But it’s a different world when you’re a billionaire.
Kenneth Griffin, the 38th richest American and the biggest backer of DeSantis’ 2018 gubernatorial campaign, has quietly flown in traders and staff from New York and Chicago to set up shop in the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the arrangement.
Griffin’s Citadel Securities has set up a makeshift trading floor in the swank hotel, secluded behind a wall of palm trees and other dense foliage, despite orders from Palm Beach County requiring hotels to stop taking reservations this past Monday.
— Ben Wieder / Miami Herald
Palm Beach Sheriff Says Arrests Could Be Made For Breaking Emergency Orders
Thursday, April 2, updated at 12:15 p.m.
Palm Beach Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said in a video statement on Thursday that the vast number of people are complying with both local and statewide emergency orders, barring many activities and large gatherings. Before a statewide stay-at-home order goes into effect tonight, Bradshaw said his office has been trying to "walk softly" when it comes to enforcement. But that approach could have its limits, the sheriff suggested.
"I want to be very clear about non-compliance. We will enforce the emergency orders, and non-compliance could result in your arrest," said Bradshaw.
Enforcement of various stay-at-home orders has been an open question across the state. Various cities in South Florida have stringent stay-at-home orders already in effect, including Weston, Fort Lauderdale, Doral and Miami Gardens. After being contacted by WLRN, none of those municipalities confirmed that any citations or arrests have been made for non-compliance.
— Danny Rivero
Florida Coronavirus Cases Pass 8,000 And DeathToll Jumps To 128, With 27 New Fatalities
Thursday, April 2, updated at 11:45 a.m.
Florida’s Department of Health on Thursday morning confirmed 237 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total of cases to 8,010. The death toll has jumped to 128, with 27 newly reported deaths.
Information about the deaths were not immediately available.
Of the total confirmed cases in the state, 7,495 are Florida residents and 515 are non-Florida residents who were diagnosed or isolated in the state.
Health officials say 1,058 people are hospitalized because of COVID-19 complications.
— Michelle Marchante, Miami Herald
Florida Nursing Home Workers Struggle To Find Protective Masks, Supplies
Thursday, April 2, updated at 10:10 a.m.
More than two weeks after Florida ordered all nursing home workers to wear protective masks, many in South Florida are still struggling to find supplies.
“Employers are smaller and don't have the same supply chain expertise as large hospitals,” said Dale Ewart, the Service Employees International Union’s regional director for South Florida healthcare workers.
A third to half the nursing homes represented by the union say they have inconsistent supplies, Ewart said.
“In some places, workers have resorted to wearing bandanas because there's nothing else,” he said.
Supplies of masks have been strained as the coronavirus spread across South Florida. On Thursday, the Florida Department of Emergency Management said it had received its third shipment of supplies from the national stockpile, including more than a half-million N95 masks and nearly 1.3 million surgical masks. In a statement, the office said the supplies are being distributed across the state.
Agency head Jared Moskowitz has also put in a request for another two million N95 masks, 5,000 ventilators, five mobile intensive care units and 5,000 more hospital beds to deal with the forecast surge in cases in the state, the statement said. The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) now expects the number of cases in the state to peak May 3.
But Ewart said Thursday his agency had so far not heard back after pleading with state officials to provide supplies to nursing home workers who may be overlooked.
“The problem is everyone, all healthcare providers and unions, and individual workers, are all scrambling to find sources for masks,” he said. “Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo in New York said it’s like eBay. What we need is the federal government to be using the power it has to be ramping up the manufacture of the masks and then coordinating the distribution.
”Even if the state receives a supply, Ewart also worries masks meant to be disposable will again run short if the distribution is not fixed.
“They're all doing their best to find whatever supplies are out there. [But] it's not a problem that they can resolve on their own,” he said. “And if we don't take care of our healthcare workers, then the whole system falls apart.”
— Jenny Staletovich
Florida COVID-19 Cases Near 8,000; Death Toll Is At 101
Thursday, April 2, updated at 6 a.m.
Another day, another 1,000 or so cases of COVID-19 recorded in Florida, brinigng the state to a total of 7,773, as of Wednesday night.
The state also reported that 16 more people have died because of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, raising the total number of deaths to 101. According to health officials 990 people are hospitalized throughout Florida because of the coronavirus.
Palm Beach County continues leading the state with the number of deaths there at 22. Only 49 additional COVID-19 cases were recorded Wednesday, bringing the total number to 616 that low number could be attributed to limited testing in the county.
There are 45 more deaths whose coronavirus test results are pending, the county's medical examiner told the Sun Sentinel.
Broward reported 116 more cases of COVID-19, raising the total to 1,348 cases and the death toll to 13.
The state removed one death that was listed Monday night in Broward's data, according to the Miami Herald. The Florida Health Department hasn't responded to the Miami Herald's questions on the case that has since disappeared.
Miami-Dade still leads the state with 214 cases and four new deaths added on Wednesday, bringing the total numbers to 2,416 cases and 11 deaths.
Monroe County reported three more cases, bringing their total to 30 cases and zero deaths.
Experts estimate that the virus will peak in Florida sometime around early May with 136 deaths per day and 5,500 or more deaths in total by early August.