This post will be updated today, Friday, May 1, 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 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.
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More Than 1 Million Florida Workers Have Filed Unemployment Claims
Updated Sunday at 4 p.m.
Florida has now reported over 1 million unemployed workers, a bleak milestone as the state continues to lag on processing a massive caseload.
According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the state has received 1,025,657 unique unemployment claims as of May 3, and has so far paid 452,526.
With a population of 21.5 million people, Florida’s deficient unemployment system has been slow to catch up to the growing number of workers who have been laid off or furloughed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic emergency. The online application system under an understaffed agency has been riddled with glitches since the number of jobless Floridians first began to spike in early March.
Florida COVID-19 Cases Surpass 36,000
Updated Sunday at 11:45 a.m.
The state reported a total of 36,078 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, an increase of 615 since Saturday. Fifteen more people have died from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
South Florida continues to make up more than half the cases of the disease. And more than half the people who have died from COVID-19 in Florida live in the region.
Most of Florida is entering a phased reopening of some businesses on Monday, but South Florida will largely remain closed. Some businesses in the Keys are reopening for locals, but a checkpoint at the county line remains.
Only people who live, own property or have essential jobs in the Keys are allowed on to the island chain.
'Strike Team' Arrives At Keys Nursing Home
Updated Sunday at 11:30 a.m.
A “strike team” of government health professionals began testing all staff at a Florida Keys nursing home Saturday morning for the novel coronavirus after one employee tested positive and tests are pending on two women who died there this week who officials say may have had the disease.
The state Department of Health also sent a “Rapid Emergency Support Team” to the facility to train staff there how to provide clinical care for patients who contract COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, an email sent Saturday from the State Emergency Operations Center stated.
It’s not immediately clear if other patients at the facility have shown COVID-19 symptoms.
Statewide Coronavirus Cases Jump Past 35,000
Updated Saturday at noon
The state has more than 35,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as Florida’s Department of Health confirmed an additional 735 cases of COVID-19 on Saturday morning. Florida has a total of 35,463 confirmed cases.
Saturday's update also included the announcement of 50 new deaths, increasing the statewide number to 1,364. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties make up 766 of those reported deaths. Monroe County has reported three deaths due to COVID-19.
Norwegian Cruise Line Doctor Dies, Medical Officer Says Cause Was Not COVID-19
Updated Saturday at 10 a.m.
A doctor who had been treating crew members with respiratory illnesses died on board the Norwegian Gem on Thursday.
According to an email from Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ chief medical officer Dr. Carlos Gonzalez obtained by the Miami Herald, Dr. Alex Guevara died in his sleep from “cardio-respiratory arrest.”
“I am very sad about his passing,” the email said. “I know gossip has gone around the ships that he had covid-19, BUT HE DID NOT!...Alex has no symptoms of COVID-19, and actually he had done an amazing job treating respiratory cases on board his ship. ”
Read more from our news partner the Miami Herald
Statewide Coronavirus Cases Push Past 34,700 As South Florida Death Toll Hits 751
Updated Friday at noon
Florida’s Department of Health on Friday morning confirmed 1,038 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total of confirmed cases closer to 35,000. The state has a total of 34,728 confirmed cases.
Friday’s daily total of newly confirmed cases is the highest reported in the past two weeks, breaking a weeklong trend of daily totals fewer than 1,000.
There were also 46 new deaths announced, bringing the statewide death toll to 1,314. Of those deaths, 25 were in South Florida.
Read more at our news partner the Miami Herald.
Less Than 2% Of Floridians Have Been Tested For COVID-19, As State Reopens
Updated Friday at 8 a.m.
Just days before most of Florida is scheduled to reopen for business, the rates of COVID-19 testing statewide don't look promising.
The Miami Herald reports that only about 1.8% of Florida residents have been tested for the coronavirus.
The percentages are much lower in rural areas, including counties where nursing homes and prisons have become hot spots for the spread of the virus.
For example, rural Gadsden County has the highest positive rate in the state. Just over 1% of residents there have been tested and out of those who have been tested 19% were positive.
The testing rates in Florida are falling far short of the amount many experts say is necessary to get the most accurate infection rate.
The dean of the University of South Florida’s College of Medicine told the governor last week that Florida needs to test at least 33,000 people every day that's more than double the current rate.
Read more at our news partner the Miami Herald.
Groups Organize Caravan To Support Health Care Workers And Say Thank You
Updated Friday at 6:30 a.m.
Some South Florida activists are organizing a caravan Saturday to raise awareness about health care workers’ efforts during the pandemic.
“In health care, we have heroes that are really exposing their lives and risking not only their health but also the one for their families. So we wanted to bring music and a message of thanks,” said Dr. Carolina Ampudia, who’s helping run the rally.
Ampudia said dozens of cars will be emblazoned with encouraging notes.
The caravan will gather at a Winn Dixie near Jackson Hospital in Miami. Later in the day, the cars will drive to Broward Health Medical Center.
The event ends at 2 p.m. with a public Zoom call featuring health care advocates.