State leaders continue to mobilize coronavirus testing units as the number of Floridians infected by the disease grows each day.
As of Tuesday evening, Florida’s death toll from the illness had grown by 40. Currently, Florida has 27,869 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 867 deaths. Those numbers have grown by 847 cases since Monday evening. State wide hospitalizations stood at 4,226 Tuesday evening, which reflects the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 since March 1.
Out of all counties in the state, numbers from the FDOH showed Miami-Dade County remained the hardest hit by COVID-19, with more than 10,000 cases confirmed Tuesday evening.
In Central Florida, Volusia, Seminole, Polk and Osceola counties reported new fatalities Tuesday evening, along with a number of new positive cases.
Here is how cases breakdown in the Central Florida by county:
The Florida Department of Health releases statistics on new cases, hospitalizations and deaths twice a day. The next update will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
[INTERACTIVE MAP: Here’s where to get your drive-thru coronavirus test]
Health officials have not said how many people have recovered from the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus since it was first detected in Florida on March 1.
Americans nationwide are struggling as companies continue to lay off and furlough employees due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Associated Press, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said an agreement has been reached on major elements of a nearly $500 billion coronavirus aid package for small businesses, as well as additional help for hospitals and COVID-19 virus testing.
“We have a deal and I think we’ll pass it today,” Schumer said Tuesday morning on CNN. He cautioned that staff are still “dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s.”
Most of the funding, more than $300 billion, would go to boost a small-business payroll loan program that ran out of money last week. Additional help would be given to hospitals, and billions more would be spent to boost testing for the virus, a key step in building the confidence required to reopen state economies.
[TIMELINE: The spread of coronavirus in Florida]
Protests have broken out across the nation, urging President Donald Trump and state governors to reopen both the national and local economies. The president has requested that governors follow a phased approach, although it will be up to state leaders to determine the timeline.
Outlined in the president’s approach to reopening, regions need to see a steady two-week decline in COVID-19 patients before they can begin easing up on current restrictions.
In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Re-Open Florida Task Force continued to meet virtually to discuss how best to reopen the state for business. Data presented during that meeting painted a bleak picture of the virus’ economic impact.
Orange County has also established a similar task force that will meet for the first time Wednesday.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has been inundated with incoming claims for reemployment benefits, and has struggled to meet demand. In an attempt to be more transparent with the claims process, the DEO released a new dashboard Monday showing daily updates on the agency’s progress.
As early afternoon Tuesday, DEO said it has received more than 1.6 million claims for unemployment assistance since March 15. However, the agency cautions that many of those claims may be duplicates, since some people have filed multiple paper and online applications.
The dashboard is embedded below:
DEO had verified more than 664,000 claims as of Tuesday evening, the website showed.
The state agency has issued payments to nearly 95,000 claimants, which is about 14% of the verified claims.
“We understand the challenges to the CONNECT system have only added to the stress on Florida families, and my number one goal is to ensure Floridians in need of reemployment assistance get paid, quickly," Department of Management Services Secretary Jonathan Satter said in a news release announcing the new website dashboard. “This will start with complete transparency, efficiently streamlining the reemployment assistance process, waiving all red tape and ensuring hurting Florida families have the aid they need to get through COVID-19.”
Some Central Florida counties are inching toward reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic, and leaders are trying to estimate what precautions will need to be in place to keep residents safe and healthy.
Flagler County officials announced beaches would reopen with limited hours and for exercise and fishing-related activities only beginning Wednesday. In Brevard County, Satellite Beach and Cocoa Beach city officials said city beaches are now open to groups of 5 or less, including sun-bathers.
The Space Coast Office of Tourism in Brevard County has begun planning for a comeback in the local tourism market, which has been flattened by the coronavirus pandemic, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.
The key message local tourism officials want to convey is: Once it is safe to travel again, the Space Coast is the place for Florida families to spend their summer vacations.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings is also looking toward reopening, saying Monday the severe storms that rolled through the area were a prime example of why businesses need to begin normal operations again.
“Without the hotels we cannot adequately shelter people in case of a storm,” Demings said. “I know that time is of the essence.”
Demings said he was looking forward to his first meeting with his Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer tweeted that as the curve of new coronavirus cases flattens, the city moves closer to overcoming the pandemic.
Our success in flattening the curve is a direct result of our collective commitment to protecting ourselves and every person in our city. If we keep fighting this virus as a community, we will continue to move Orlando closer to the next step in this battle.— Mayor Buddy Dyer (@orlandomayor) April 21, 2020