Florida coronavirus update: More than 100 deaths

The Whole Foods in Wellington is not stocking its prepared-foods hot and cold bars as stores throughout the country take extra precautions to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
KRISTINA WEBB/PALMBEACHPOST.COM/TNS

BY TONY MARRERO
TAMPA BAY TIMES/TNS

Florida’s coronavirus death toll reached the triple digits Wednesday, surpassing 100. The number of cases statewide increased by more than 1,000 in a single day and nearly 1,000 people have been hospitalized.

Florida has accumulated the fifth-largest caseload in the United States, according to the New York Times.

STATEWIDE ORDER

The biggest news Wednesday came when Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a stay-at-home order for Floridians, limiting all activity in the state to essential services over the next 30 days to try to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Local leaders scrambled Wednesday afternoon to understand the implications of the order, many saying they were awaiting advice from their attorneys.

PASTOR CANCELS SERVICES

The defiant Tampa pastor who was arrested this week after holding two crowded services despite Hillsborough County’s stay-at-home order announced he is canceling services for now.

Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne announced Thursday in a Facebook Live stream that he was shutting down services at the River of Tampa Bay Church to protect his flock from “tyrannical government.”

QUARANTINE HOTELS

Hillsborough County has created the Tampa Bay area’s first quarantine and isolation facility using two motels near the University of South Florida, giving those who have been infected or exposed to the coronavirus a place to stay without endangering family members at home. Officials announced the news Wednesday. 

Together, the hotels can provide 362 rooms for people who have tested positive for the coronavirus to isolate, or for those who have been asked to quarantine after being exposed to the virus.

In other Hillsborough news, a lot fewer people than expected came to be tested for COVID-19 at a testing site at Raymond James Stadium.

SHORTAGES AT HOSPITALS

The medical centers serving the nation’s veterans are not immune to the shortages of staff, equipment and supplies that have plagued hospitals fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Government inspectors have confirmed that the problem has spread to veterans’ hospitals including the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System in St. Petersburg and the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa.

BARS GET WARNINGS

Back on March 17, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an emergency order for all bars and nightclubs to close for 30 days, but the bars that also sold food could remain open and only sell food for that period.

In the nine days that followed, inspectors and liquor agents told nearly 900 bars that were defying the order that they needed to close, records show.

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