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The latest updates on the COVID-19 outbreak in South Florida.

Coronavirus Live Updates: Florida's COVID-19 Death Toll Surpasses 8,200

This post will be updated today, Friday, August 7, and through the weekend 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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QUICK UPDATES

Florida Reports More Than 6,200 New COVID-19 Cases On Sunday

Updated at 3:20 p.m. Sunday

More than 6,200 new cases of COVID-19 were reported statewide in the past day, according to the latest data from the Florida Department of Health. 

Since Saturday, 77 Floridians have died from the virus, which brings the total to almost 8,200 deaths in Florida since the pandemic began. The largest percentage of deaths is of people 75 to 84 years of age. 

According to a separate entity — the Agency for Health Care Administration — Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties combined have about 17 percent of adult I-C-U beds available. Most are in Palm Beach County.

-Verónica Seragovia/WLRN News

Florida Reports Most COVID-19 Cases In A Week, Deaths Now Total 8,238

Updated Saturday at 12 p.m.

Florida reported another 187 COVID-19 deaths on Saturday, to go along with the highest daily total of infections in a week.

The coronavirus still has its grips on a state where 8,238 people have died from disease complications and 526,577 people have been diagnosed with infections.

It’s been three consecutive days of increases in both COVID-19 cases and fatalities, though the totals are not close to the record highs set last month. There were 180 deaths reported on Friday and 120 deaths listed on Thursday; the peak was 257 deaths on July 31.

Read more from our news partner the Sun Sentinel

-Marc Freeman/Sun Sentinel

State Rep. Shevrin Jones Denied Ability To Donate Plasma At His Event, Due To FDA Policy

Updated Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Rep. Shevrin Jones was denied the ability to give plasma on Friday because of a federal policy that prohibits blood donations from most gay men.

Jones, a Democrat who represents West Park in the state House of Representatives and who is running for a state Senate seat, is the first and only out gay Black man in the Legislature.

Jones organized the plasma drive Friday at Koinonia Worship Center in Hollywood so he, his parents and his brother — all of whom tested positive for COVID-19 and have now recovered — could donate antibody-rich plasma to be used in treating patients currently battling the disease caused by the coronavirus. His father, Eric Jones, is mayor of West Park.

The event was scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Friday evening, Jones tweeted that while his family members and 20 others donated plasma during the drive, he was “deferred” because of his sexual orientation.

“Too bad my blood plasma isn’t good enough,” Jones tweeted.

In his tweets, Jones said he was disappointed in OneBlood, a Florida-based blood donation center that administered the plasma donations during the drive. However, it is a long-standing and controversial federal policy that prohibits most gay men from donating blood.

The Food and Drug Administration’s policy barring men who have sex with men from donating blood dates back to 1983 and is rooted in fears over the AIDS crisis.

Under pressure from advocates who have called the rules discriminatory, the FDA revised the policy in 2015 to allow gay and bisexual men who have not had sex with other men for at least a year to give blood. Fearing a blood shortage because of the pandemic, the agency again relaxed the rules in April, accepting donations from men who have not had sex with men for at least three months.

Sexually active gay and bisexual men are “deferred.”

In a text Friday night, Jones called his deferral an “obvious discriminatory act.”

“Painful is an understatement,” he wrote.

Susan Forbes, a spokeswoman for OneBlood, said her organization is bound by the federal policy.

“When people want to reach out to donate, we feel for them when they’re deferred for any reason,” Forbes said. “We have to follow the rules and regulations handed down by the FDA. We don’t make the rules, but we certainly have to play by them. There’s nothing else that we can do.”

State Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat, was among those who tweeted support for Jones and argued the FDA should change the rules.

— Jessica Bakeman/WLRN News

Statewide Cases Surpass 518,000, South Florida Deaths Increase Above 3,500

Updated Friday at 12:45 p.m.

Florida surpassed 518,000 positive cases of COVID-19 as Florida’s Department of Health confirmed an additional 7,686 cases of COVID-19 on Friday. Florida has a total of 518,075 confirmed positive cases, according to the state's health department.

Friday's update also included the announcement of 180 new deaths, increasing the statewide number to 7,927. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties make up 3,510 of those reported deaths. Monroe County has reported eight deaths due to COVID-19. 

-WLRN News

State Lawmaker Who Recovered From COVID-19 Is Donating Plasma

Updated Friday at 10 a.m.

A Broward County state lawmaker whose whole family tested positive for COVID-19, and has now recovered, is hosting a plasma drive in Hollywood on Friday.

Rep. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat from West Park who is running for a state Senate seat, was hospitalized with the disease caused by the coronavirus and still experiences an occasional cough and fatigue. But he said he has now tested negative for the virus, as has his father, West Park Mayor Eric Jones, as well as his mother and brother.

“I actually just got off the phone with my mom not too long ago, and she was just very grateful that she's feeling better, and her and my dad are on the mend,” Jones said. “My dad has started back working out. She's been working out. COVID has really changed their mindset on how they need to take care of themselves and why it’s important to take care of themselves.”

Jones is hosting a plasma drive and is donating himself. Local hospitals are treating COVID-19 patients with the antibody-rich plasma of those who’ve recovered.

“What we went through could have been far worse. And I believe everyone should have a chance to live. If I can give that to someone, then I'm all in,” Jones said.

The drive is being held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Koinonia Worship Center in Hollywood.

— Jessica Bakeman/WLRN News

Updated Friday at 7:00 a.m.

South Florida a Hotspot for COVID-19-And for Vaccine Trials

First came the coronavirus in record numbers in South Florida. Now come the vaccine makers looking for a fertile testing ground for whether their inoculations work.

The big names in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine have descended, setting up test sites in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. They are recruiting thousands of volunteers who have not yet been infected for six or more large-scale vaccine studies.

The studies, or phase 3 trials, are the final step before a vaccine is licensed, and a key component of Operation Warp Speed, the national effort to accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines by 2021.

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

-Cindy Krischer Goodman/Sun Sentinel

Florida COVID Cases Now Past 510,000 as the State Sees 7,650 New Infections

Florida’s Department of Health on Thursday confirmed 7,650 additional cases of COVID-19, pushing the state’s known total to 510,389. There were also 120 Florida resident deaths announced, bringing the statewide resident death toll to 7,747.

There were no new non-resident deaths announced, leaving the non-resident death toll at 124.

Florida has seen a slight decrease in newly confirmed cases in the past two weeks.

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

-Michelle Marchante/Miami Herald

Symptom Checks and COVID screenings: Here’s What DeSantis’ Order Means For Restaurants

Before Wednesday, if a Florida restaurant employee got sick with COVID-19, the state required that they produce two negative tests before returning to work.

But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its guidelines regarding restaurant employees three weeks ago. Now, Florida has changed its tune.

Per a new executive order signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday, restaurant employees who get sick with the highly contagious disease will no longer have to produce negative tests to return to work. Instead they will need to pass a screening for symptoms such as fever, loss of smell, loss of taste or shortness of breath.

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

-Samantha J. Ross/Carlos Frias/Miami Herald