Florida Keys

Howard Cohen / Miami Herald

The Florida Health Department in the Keys reported 74 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday, which is the highest ever reported in the island chain. But the number is not quite as bad as it appears, according to Monroe County’s top health official.

Key West’s Fantasy Fest Is Canceled Due To COVID-19

Jul 9, 2020
Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Service

Fantasy Fest, Key West’s annual 10-day celebration of the scantily clad and the silly since 1979, won’t happen this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The theme for 2020 was going to be “Roaring 2020’s and Future Fictions.”

Organizers confirmed the cancellation Thursday on Facebook, ending speculation that the city would possibly host the huge event that pours cash into workers’ hands and company wallets at a time when South Florida is suffering through the COVID-19 crisis.

Mark Hedden / WLRN

The reason the Florida Keys are wary of COVID-19 — and put up a checkpoint keeping visitors out for more than two months — has always been the same: the limited hospital capacity on the island chain. As the numbers of coronavirus cases rise, that capacity is becoming an increasing concern.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Beaches will be closed in South Florida for the Fourth of July weekend but people are still going to be on the water — on boats. From Palm Beach County to the Keys, law enforcement is gearing up to handle  crowds and to try enforcing social distancing, and other rules, on the water.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

The new school year in the Keys could happen three different ways, depending on what's happening with the coronavirus.

Matias J. Ocner / Miami Herald

America’s birthday celebration in the Florida Keys this year won’t include any public displays of fireworks.

The last remaining fireworks show set to go off in Monroe County on the Fourth of July was canceled Wednesday by Marathon city leaders in an emergency meeting called to discuss the issue.

Spiking coronavirus numbers in the Florida Keys are causing consternation among public officials, and questions about whether the county will once again close to visitors.

Leaders Shut Off The Florida Keys To Outsiders For Weeks. Now, COVID-19 Cases Are Suddenly Rising

Jun 27, 2020

Three weeks ago, the Florida Keys had an empty feeling. Shops were shut. Restaurants had a few locals. And two checkpoints blocked tourists from entering the island chain. The COVID-19 rate also was low. With visitors shut out, Keys leaders hoped the virus would be, too.

Fast-forward to now, and many tourists are back. They’re spreading out on the beaches, filling the restaurants — at least to the new limited capacity — and strolling Duval Street.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released its plan to help the Florida Keys adapt to rising seas. The $5.4 billion plan would include elevating more than 7,000 homes and buying out almost 300.

Gerard Albert III / WLRN

June 19 commemorates the day the last enslaved African Americans learned of their freedom in Galveston, Texas — more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

This year, Juneteenth was observed amid continuing demonstrations and other events addressing systemic racism, injustice and police violence. In South Florida, people danced, remembered and looked ahead.

Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Bureau

There’s a lot of talk about the new normal, but what does that mean in a place where the old normal had changed so much already?

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Earlier this month, right after the Keys reopened to visitors, Monroe County commissioners voted three to two against making masks mandatory inside businesses. They did recommend the wearing of masks.

But after a couple weeks of watching how people are behaving, they decided to revisit the issue.

Gwen Filosa / Miami Herald

As the Keys ramp up its tourism economy, hotels are being encouraged to let guests know about COVID-19 tests with results in an hour at the local hospital, and local governments are modifying requirements for masks and temperature checks.

Bob Care / Florida Keys News Bureau

As a tourist destination, the Keys rely on events to bring people to the island chain. But large gatherings are discouraged during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Key West City Commission this week gave the go-ahead to an event that usually draws large crowds to the island's Atlantic shore: Fourth of July fireworks.

The Shutdown Hit The Florida Keys Hard. What Will It Take To Get Back To Business?

Jun 1, 2020
Charles Trainor Jr. / Miami Herald

Tourism is the lifeblood of the Florida Keys. It pumps up jobs and tax dollars. Supports fishing, hotels, restaurants.

So with more than five million people who visit Monroe County in a normal year, the island chain typically has the lowest unemployment rate in the state. But with tourists banned from entering the Keys since late March because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Monroe County’s unemployment rate shot up to the second highest in Florida, a whopping 17.5 percent.