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Coronavirus Live Updates: Miami-Dade School Leaders Start Planning For A Fall Reopening

Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho
Daniel Bock
For the Miami Herald

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

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Miami-Dade School Leaders Start Planning For A Fall Reopening — And It Could Look Very Different

Updated 2:30 p.m. Wednesday

Temperature checks before students board school buses. Personal protective equipment like masks for teachers. Staggered start and end times for classes. A “hybrid” of online and in-person instruction. Reduced enrollment numbers.

These are all possibilities under consideration by leaders of Miami-Dade County Public Schools as the district plans to reopen campuses in the fall with the uncertainty of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic hanging over the future like fog on the horizon.

“We are going to prepare for every eventuality as we pray and hope that none of them come to pass,” Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said during a virtual school board meeting on Wednesday.

Carvalho told school board members he plans to assemble a task force of experts to chart the path forward. He also proposed adding a chief health officer as a new cabinet position in his administration specifically to monitor the district’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

School board members were supportive but raised questions about the logistics and finances of making Carvalho’s vision a reality. Some expressed their anxieties about a potential outbreak.

“I have to say, as the superintendent was speaking, I was having palpitations at the thought of having our students back in our buildings, if it’s going to look like it looks like right now,” school board member Susie Castillo said. “And that’s the question. We don't know what it’s going to look like in August. But we’re only three months away. And personally, it scares me.”

During the meeting, Carvalho also told board members only 15 of the district’s more than 48,000 employees have tested positive for COVID-19. He said that meant the district was either lucky or well-prepared.

— Jessica Bakeman

Florida Cases Push Past 33,000. Death Toll Rises To 1,218

Updated noon Wednesday

Florida’s Department of Health on Wednesday morning confirmed 347 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total of confirmed cases to 33,193 as the governor prepares to announce “Phase 1” of the state’s reopening plans.

There were 47 new deaths also announced, bringing the statewide death toll to 1,218. 

This is the lowest total number of newly confirmed cases reported in Florida since Saturday, when the state confirmed 306 additional cases of COVID-19 and decreased its COVID-19 case updates from twice a day to once a day.

On Tuesday, the state had reported 708 additional confirmed cases and 83 deaths — the highest total of new deaths reported on a single day. Of Wednesday’s 47 reported deaths, 22 were in South Florida, according to the state’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard. 

Fourteen people died in Miami-Dade, bringing the county’s death toll to 338. Three people died in Broward, raising the county’s death count to 182, and five people died in Palm Beach County, bringing the county’s death toll to 178. Additional details about the deaths was not immediately available.

Read more at our news partner, the Miami Herald.

— Michelle Marchante / Miami Herald

South Florida Using Controversial Drug For COVID-19, Despite FDA Warnings

Updated Wednesday 7 a.m.

A malaria drug pitched by President Trump as an effective weapon against COVID-19 remains in wide use in South Florida, despite studies that show it can cause fatal side effects.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning last week on hydroxychloroquine, saying it could cause “serious and potentially life-threatening heart rhythm problems” in COVID-19 patients. The agency did not say the drug shouldn’t be used for the disease, only that patients should be screened and monitored to reduce the risk.

Several South Florida hospital systems say they continue to use the drug, but only in hospital settings where patients can be closely watched, as the FDA recommends.

Read more at the Sun Sentinel.

-David Fleshler / Sun Sentinel

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