Florida Keys

Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Service

In Monroe County, tourism provides the primary source of jobs and sales tax revenues. So the county has been hit hard as coronavirus shut down all travel. On Tuesday, the county announced plans to start cutting its payroll.

Richard Congdon

This essay was part of an episode of The Sunshine Economy, focused entirely on the impact of the coronavirus on the tourism industry of the Keys:

The Keys may be a chain of islands where we love to talk about our independence and resilience. But we're also a peninsula, permanently tethered to the mainland, starting in 1912 when Henry Flagler ran his railroad tracks all the way to Key West.

Monroe County Sheriff's Office

When Monroe County put up a checkpoint to limit entry to the island chain, they thought they had an easy way to identify people who live in the Keys.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

At the Roman Catholic basilica in Key West there's a grotto, where the faithful pray when hurricanes are approaching the island. And islanders are turning to it now, as they face a different threat.

ICE Inmates Moved From Keys Jail To Krome On Mainland

Apr 5, 2020

After nearly 23 years of housing immigration inmates for the federal government, the Monroe County detention center in Key West abruptly severed its contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, officials confirmed.

The move to quietly bus 48 detainees from the Monroe County detention center on Stock Island to the Krome detention center in Miami-Dade County in the middle of the night Friday was made after the sheriff’s office requested that all immigration inmates be picked up and transferred out.

Courtesy Celine Peccatte and Lizzy Hoke

By putting an end to travel and gatherings of people, the coronavirus has stopped not only businesses and conferences but also important personal events. Like weddings.

Monroe County Sheriff's Office

When Monroe County put up its check points at the county line on Friday, sheriff's deputies were joined by state troopers who were stationed in the Keys. But not for long, according to Monroe Sheriff Rick Ramsay.

Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Bureau

On this Monday, March 30, episode of Sundial:

Key West Mayor Teri Johnston

The Florida Keys have closed hotels, vacation rentals, some beaches and parks because of COVID-19. 

courtesy: Keys News Service

Fifty percent unemployment? 

That's the guess from Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi. 

Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Service

The Florida Keys checkpoints at the county lines on U.S. 1 and Card Sound Road will remain up, Monroe County officials said Sunday.

So far, Monroe County has only seen a few cases of COVID-19 — three cases by the 6 p.m. Tuesday update. But the 100-mile-long island chain only has three hospitals — and one of them is a temporary facility while a new one is built to replace the building destroyed by Hurricane Irma.

Charles Trainor Jr. / Miami Herald

Monroe County is setting up a roadblock to make sure only Keys residents can drive onto the island chain.

Tourist Towns Without Tourists: Keys Close Down To Visitors

Mar 21, 2020
Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Imagine the Florida Keys without tourists.

Carol Wightman, an owner of the Marquesa Hotel since it opened 32 years ago in Key West, simply can’t.

She was stunned by the county’s decision to shut down lodging to tourists.

“You might as well shutter the whole town,” Wightman said.

AFP/GETTY IMAGES

After 30 people were tested in the Florida Keys for the novel coronavirus, the Florida Department of Health said late Thursday night there was one presumptive positive COVID-19 case in the island chain.

Shortly after 10:30 pm., a Monroe County spokewoman sent an email saying the case is travel related and has not been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To protect the person’s privacy, health officials did not disclose the name nor the location of the person who has tested presumptive positive.

Mark Hedden / markhedden.com

In a move to prevent the spread of coronavirus, on Thursday evening Monroe County ordered hotels and other tourist lodging — like vacation rentals and RV parks — to close at 6 p.m. on Sunday.

The county cited "the increasing cases [of coronavirus] in the counties north of Monroe County." As of 5 p.m. Thursday, there had been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Keys.

Hotels were directed to stop taking reservations immediately. The order is for two weeks, to be re-evaluated every day.

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