Coronavirus Live Updates: State Changes How It Reports COVID-19 Data

Apr 24, 2020

This post will be updated today, Friday, April 24, and through the weekend with the latest information on COVID-19 in South Florida.

WLRN is here for you, even when life is unpredictable. Local journalists are working hard to keep you informed on the latest developments across South Florida. Please support this vital work. Become a WLRN member today. Thank you.

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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QUICK UPDATES

State Changes Release Of COVID-19 Data
Updated Sunday at 9:35 a.m.

The Florida Department of Health changed how it would be reporting new coronavirus cases throughout the state on Saturday, going from two updates a day to one.

The immediate effects of this change is that the state saw a steep decline of new daily cases and deaths not seen since late March when new statewide cases began to skyrocket, which contrasts the recent trends of the numbers.

On Saturday, 306 new statewide coronavirus cases were reported, bringing Florida’s total to 30,839. The statewide death toll is now 1,055, with nine new deaths announced.

In contrast, Friday saw 885 new statewide cases, Thursday had 1,072 and Wednesday saw 707. As for deaths in the past three days, the toll rose daily between 59 to 60 new deaths.

Read more from our news partners at the Miami Herald

Re-Open Florida Task Force Launches Public Comment Portal
Updated Saturday at 2:25 p.m.

The public can now comment on the plans to re-open Florida, via an online portal launched Saturday.

The comments are being taken by the Re-Open Florida Task Force, appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

"Floridians may submit feedback on any topic related to the re-opening of Florida’s economy, including the impacts to small business, healthcare, education, tourism, agriculture, retail, recreation and sports and construction," according to a press release from the governor's office.

-Nancy Klingener

State Numbers Show Additional 28 Deaths In South Florida
Updated Saturday at 12:02 p.m.

Florida on Saturday morning released data showing that 612 people have died from COVID-19 in South Florida, according to the Department of Health. That’s an increase of 28 people who have died in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties from Friday morning.

In Miami-Dade County, the epicenter for the state’s outbreak, 295 people have died and 11,005 have become infected.

Statewide, 1,055 people have died and 30,839 individuals have tested positive so far. About 4,849 people have been treated in hospitals.

Read more from our news partner The Sun Sentinel

Pharmacies To Start Testing For COVID-19
Updated Saturday at 10:23 a.m.

With less than a week left before the expiration of his executive order that shut down the state, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday said he would expand the opportunities for people to obtain COVID-19 tests by allowing pharmacists to administer them and 200 National Guard medics to test residents and staff in elder-care facilities.

But as the governor works to understand the extent to which the highly contagious disease caused by the novel coronavirus is prevalent in communities, he left many details unanswered about what’s ahead for testing.

DeSantis said he was inclined to allow asymptomatic people to obtain tests but the rules were still being worked out.

Read more from our news partners at the Miami Herald

Miami-Dade Has Tens Of Thousands Of Missed Coronavirus Infections, UM Survey Finds
Updated Friday at 3:22 p.m.

About 6 percent of Miami-Dade’s population — some 165,000 residents — have antibodies indicating a past infection by the novel coronavirus, dwarfing the state health department’s tally of about 10,600 cases, according to preliminary study results announced by University of Miami researchers Friday.

The study, spurred by Miami-Dade County officials, will be an ongoing weekly survey based on antibody testing — randomly selecting county residents to volunteer pinpricks of their blood to be screened for signs of a past COVID-19 infection, whether they had tested positive for the virus in the past or not. The goal is to measure the extent of infection in the community.

Friday’s results, based on two weeks of countywide antibody testing and about 1,400 participants, found that about half of the people who tested positive for antibodies reported no symptoms in the 14-17 days before being tested. If the trend holds, the findings could have major implications for understanding not only the number of people infected, but also how many have symptoms and, in turn, how the virus spreads.

Read more from our news partner the Miami Herald.

Florida's Unemployment Website Will Be Down For Three Days As State Tries To Make Payments Faster
Updated Friday at 1:34 p.m.

Florida’s unemployment website will be down for three days beginning Friday, the longest shutdown of the system so far as the state tries to catch up with payments for jobless Floridians.

The state Department of Economic Opportunity, which manages the program, said the shutdown is necessary to “process payments faster” on Florida’s CONNECT system.

“We know that not being able to access the system may cause uncertainty, but these updates are designed to expedite the process for payment,” DEO said in a statement.

Read more from our news partner the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Miramar Wants To Stop Blasting During Coronavirus Emergency
Updated Friday at 12:17 p.m.

The Miramar City Commission has passed a resolution asking Gov. Ron DeSantis to temporarily halt blasting from rock mines during the declared state of emergency because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the online news organization the Florida Bulldog is reporting.

Located in northwest Miami-Dade County, White Rock Quarries has long been the target of complaints by residents of Miramar, Pembroke Pines, Doral and other nearby cities who complain of cracks in their homes and pools because of the blasting.

Limestone from the quarry is used as aggregate in road, bridge and other construction.

Read more from our news partner the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Broward Health Plans To Resume Scheduling Some Elective Procedures
Updated Friday at 10 a.m. 

Broward County’s public hospital system, Broward Health, will resume scheduling patients for “priority medical and surgical procedures,” according to an email released Thursday night by hospital spokesperson, Jennifer Smith.

The hospital system will begin scheduling patients for some elective procedures, “pending the state lifting restrictions of elective surgeries.” 

Elective procedures were halted to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus.

Broward County has a field hospital ready to take a surge of COVID-19 patients if hospitals start to reach capacity, but that hasn’t happened as of mid-April. 

Broward Health says it “has the bed capacity to care for both COVID-19 and elective patients,” according to the statement.

Once the rescheduling begins, there will be safety precautions taken. The hospital system plans to screen people who enter its hospitals, and continue its policy of wearing masks, and keeping dedicated units to care only for patients recovering from COVID-19. 

“Countless South Floridians have had their medical care postponed due to the pandemic, and we are carefully laying the groundwork to resume a limited scope of procedures for those patients,” said Gino Santorio, president and CEO of Broward Health in the statement. “The health and safety of our caregivers and patients is our number one priority, and all necessary measures are being taken to help ensure the system safely resuming elective procedures.”

- Caitie Switalski

Florida Sees A Spike With Over 1,000 New COVID-19 Cases, After Days Of Decline
Updated Friday at 7 a.m

After Florida saw its highest day of confirmed cases and then a five-day decline, the state reported over 1,000 new cases on Thursday, going back to the trend lines of early April.

Since Wednesday evening, the Florida Department of Health reported 1,072 new cases, bringing the state total to 29,648. The death toll rose by 60 for the second consecutive day, leading the state deaths to reach nearly 1,000 at 987.

South Florida remains at the epicenter of the state’s cases. As of Thursday evening, the four counties in South Florida — Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe — had 17,647 of the state’s 29,648 cases, or more than half. Miami-Dade had the majority of the cases in South Florida at 10,588 cases.

Read more from our news partner the Miami Herald.