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Coronavirus Live Updates: Statewide Coronavirus Cases Surpass 82,000 Mark, Death Toll Passes 3,000

Matias J. Ocner
Miami Herald

This post will be updated today, Wednesday, June 17, and through the week 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 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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Statewide Coronavirus Cases Surpass 82,000 Mark, Death Toll Passes 3,000

Updated Wednesday at noon

Florida surpassed 82,000 positive cases of COVID-19 as Florida’s Department of Health confirmed an additional 2,610 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. Florida has a total of 82,719 confirmed positive cases, according to the state's health department.

Wednesday's update also included the announcement of 25 new deaths, increasing the statewide number to 3,018. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties make up 1,654 of those reported deaths. Monroe County has reported four deaths due to COVID-19. 

— WLRN News

South Florida Superintendents Ask DeSantis To Veto Bill Increasing Pension Costs

Updated Wednesday at 9:45 a.m.

Superintendents representing more than half of Florida’s 3 million public school students are asking Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto a bill that would increase districts’ pension obligations by $233 million amid the looming financial crisis caused by COVID-19.

If approved, HB 5007 would cost Miami-Dade County Public Schools an additional $30 million in contributions to the Florida Retirement System on behalf of its employees. The jump would be $23 million for Broward County Public Schools and $15.5 million for the School District of Palm Beach County.

“An increase this large would be difficult at any time, but what makes it especially untenable now is the unprecedented financial uncertainty of our state, our nation, and the world,” the superintendents wrote in the letter, obtained by WLRN and first reported by POLITICO.

The superintendents said the costs would be easier to absorb if they were phased in over time or if the state provided additional aid to offset the increases. Otherwise, the districts would likely have to make budget cuts.

“You are boldly leading Florida through a crisis of a severity prior governors never could have contemplated,” the school district leaders wrote to DeSantis, a Republican. “Your leadership will be the deciding factor in how well our state’s major organizations, both public and private, overcome this crisis. We respectfully request the needs of our children and communities be a top priority as you consider the statewide impact of these rate increases.”

On Wednesday afternoon, the Governor's press office emailed this statement in response to the letter:

"The Governor reviews all legislation and believes that there is great importance in ensuring that there is adequate funding for the Florida Retirement System based on the recommendation from the Revenue Estimating Conference. The strength of the Florida Retirement System must be protected so that retirees can rely on the benefits available once they retire."

Here’s the full letter:

—Jessica Bakeman/WLRN

Officials Split On How To Handle Rise In Cases

Updated Wednesday at 7:30 a.m.

In Florida, where there's a surge of new COVID-19 cases, officials are divided over what to do about it. The state saw 2,783 new cases Tuesday. It was the third time in a week that Florida set a new daily record.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other Republican officials, including President Trump, say the rising number of new cases was expected and is mostly the result of increased testing. Florida is now testing more than 200,000 people a week, more than double the number tested weekly in mid-May.

But local officials and public health experts are concerned about other statistics that show that the coronavirus is still spreading in Florida. The state's Department of Health reports that the number of people showing up in hospital emergency rooms with symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 is rising. Also worrisome — the percentage of people who are testing positive for the virus is going up.

Read more at NPR.

— Greg Allen/NPR