This post will be updated today 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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Two Broward Election Poll Workers Test Postive For COVID-19
Thursday, March 26 at 4:50 p.m.
Two poll workers that participated in the Florida Presidential Preference Primary this month have tested positive for the Coronavirus.
The Broward County Supervisor of Elections office sent out an email notice Thursday afternoon saying it was alerted of two poll workers’ test results.
One of the people worked at the Martin Luther King Community Center in Hollywood, (Precinct V011) only on election day. The other person worked at the David Park Community Center in Hollywood, (Precinct V020), as well as the Weston early voting location. Other poll workers and county staff at those locations have been notified.
“By way of this advisory, voters who voted in person on March 17th at either of those locations or who voted early at the Weston early voting location may wish to take appropriate steps and seek medical advice,” an Elections spokesperson said.
— Caitie Switalski
Broward County Orders Residents To Shelter In Place
Thursday March 26 at 3:40 p.m.
Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry, has ordered people to shelter in place during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The “Safer at Home Policy" strongly urges people to stay home except for doing essential activities, like getting groceries or going to work if you need to.
All non-essential businesses are still closed, except for maintaining basic operations. The countywide order will last until the local state of emergency is lifted. The order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
— Caitie Switalski
Sick Crew To Come Ashore As Cruise Ships Remain Offshore Near PortMiami
Thursday, March 26 at 3:35 p.m.
Two cruise ships carrying more than a dozen sick crew members will have to remain offshore near PortMiami while those who are ill are brought ashore.
The Costa Magica and Costa Favolosa say they have 13 crew members with respiratory and pneumonia-like symptoms. In a statement Thursday afternoon, Miami-Dade County said only the sick will be allowed ashore and taken to area hospitals by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.
Officials say six crew members are being transported by small boats attached to the Costa Magica. An unspecified number will be moved from the Costa Favolosa this afternoon.
Once ashore, rescue units equipped to move patients with infectious diseases will take them to area hospitals. The hospitals were not named.
The Coast Guard has ordered the ship to remain three miles offshore.
Earlier this month, the Italian cruise line announced that it was canceling all cruises for its 11 ships for the coming months after several were blocked over concerns about the spreading virus. Costa is part of Carnival, the world’s largest cruise company, headquartered in Doral.
— Jenny Staletovich
Immigration Detainees In Broward Say Conditions Are Troubling
Thursday, March 26 at 2:35 p.m.
More than 500 immigrants being detained at the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach have signed a joint letter raising concerns about what they say are troubling conditions in the facility.
The detainees say the facility, which is operated by Broward-based GEO Group, lacks the infrastructure needed to keep good hygiene necessary to prevent from infection. Visitations have been canceled, the letter says, and the capacity for the library has been limited to 10 people or less at any given time, down from 30.
“But yet we still gather for breakfast, lunch and Dinner [sic] with over 300 people at a time in the cafeteria,” says the letter. “We have a lot of flu like symptoms going around and we are getting frightened.”
ICE has acknowledged that crowded conditions in detention facilities could pose extra risks of spreading COVID-19. Last week it announced that it would halt most arrests, in an effort to “ensure the welfare and safety of the general public as well as officers and agents.”
One recent incident at Broward Transitional Center was cited in the letter. On March 17, a water outage left detainees unable to bathe, wash hands or flush toilets for five hours, according to the letter.
“Over the years, detainees held in ICE custody have been routinely subjected to poor, and often appalling, medical care. Detainees are entirely at the mercy of ICE to determine what medical care, if any, they get. Lives are literally at stake, and the urgency to obtain the release of those confined in immigration detention now cannot be overstated,” Cheryl Little, the director of Americans for Immigrant Justice Executive, a non-profit, said in a statement.
— Daniel Rivero
Broward Physician Dies of COVID-19
Thursday, March 26 at 2 p.m.
A Broward doctor is the county's first medical professional to die from the new coronavirus.
Dr. Alex Hsu, who practiced internal medicine at Northwest Medical Center in Margate, died from the disease, the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. He was 67.
Hsu, who became a victim this week, would be the fourth person in Broward to die from the coronavirus.
There are now 2,355 confirmed cases across Florida, and 28 deaths, with the number of confirmed virus cases now rising by the hundreds daily thanks to increased testing.
— Marc Freeman & Eileen Kelley / Sun Sentinel
Florida sees five new deaths and 378 more coronavirus cases as total surpasses 2,300
Thursday, March 26 at noon
Florida’s Department of Health on Thursday morning confirmed 378 additional cases of COVID-19 and five new deaths, bringing the state total of confirmed cases to 2,355. The death toll is now at 28.
The deaths were not in South Florida, according to the state’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard. No other information about the deaths were immediately available.
Of the total cases, 2,235 are Florida residents and 120 are non-Florida residents who were tested or isolated in the state.
— Michelle Marchante / Miami Herald
Number Of Florida Cases Jumps By 510 In One Day
Thursday, March 26 at 9 a.m.
Increased testing for the coronavirus has caused the number of confirmed cases to skyrocket in Florida. Wednesday saw the biggest increase in cases over a single day so far, with 510 new cases more than the day before.
Three of those cases were at Atria Willow Wood, the Fort Lauderdale assisted-living facility that’s the site of Broward’s three deaths . At least 13 Willow Wood residents are infected, and three tests are still pending, two of which are employees.
More people are infected in Hollywood — on average — than anywhere else in South Florida. But what’s going on in Hollywood could be closer to the truth of what’s going on with the virus in the rest of the state. “It’s not that we have more cases,” Hollywood Mayor Josh Levy said. “It’s that other places don’t know what they have.”
— Marc Freeman & Brooke Baitinger / Sun Sentinel
Read more at the Sun Sentinel.