50 new COVID-19 deaths reported less than 12 hours after governor announces plan for reopening Florida

497 new cases of coronavirus reported since Thursday

Gov. Ron DeSantis says most of Florida can begin first phase of reopening May 4

Less than 12 hours after Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his phase one plan for reopening the state, the Florida Department of Health reported 497 new cases of coronavirus and 50 new fatalities as a result of the respiratory illness Thursday morning.

Those new numbers bring the total cases of COVID-19 in the state to 33,690 and the total number of deaths to 1,268 since the first case was reported in Florida on March 1.

Since the coronavirus was first detected in Florida, 5,589 patients with serious cases of COVID-19 have required hospitalization as of Thursday.

The state does not release current hospitalization numbers but the governor said earlier in the week the current patients are about half the overall total shown on the state dashboard.

Here’s how those cases break down locally by county in Central Florida:


Take a look at how cases of COVID-19 break down throughout the state. If you are having trouble viewing on mobile, click here.

Despite a continuing increase of new coroanvirus cases reported each day by the FDOH, DeSantis said Wednesday that the majority of Florida, excluding Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, would be able to enter “phase one” of reopening Monday.

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The governor said Florida would reopen in three phases that would mirror guidelines released by the White House under President Donald Trump’s reopening America plan.

Here’s what changes and doesn’t change for Florida on May 4:

  • Schools continue distance learning
  • Visits to senior living facilities are prohibited
  • Elective surgeries can resume
  • Sports arenas and movie theaters will remain closed
  • Restaurants may offer outdoor seating with six feet of space between tables and indoor seating at 25% capacity
  • Retail stores can operate at 25% of indoor capacity
  • No changes for bars, gyms and personal services such as hair dressers and barbers
  • Vulnerable individuals should avoid close contact with people outside the home

[MORE DETIALS: Gov. Ron DeSantis says most of Florida can begin first phase of reopening May 4]

Phase one maintains current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including vulnerable individuals continuing social distancing while in public, avoiding groups of 10 or more and using face masks in public when you can’t maintain six feet away from others.

The governor said when phase two and phase three begin will depend on how well the first stage goes.

New statistics on the number of Americans that are currently unemployed amid the COVID-19 were released Thursday morning, and numbers show that the nation is facing the largest string of layoffs on record.

[RELATED: 30 million have sought US unemployment aid since virus hit]

The U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that as of April 25, nearly 3.84 million Americans had filed unemployment claims, and during that week-long period, the state of Florida filed nearly five times more claims than the next closest state.

Theme park furloughs accounted for a major portion of Florida’s unemployment claims and boosted the state’s ranking for the most claims filed.

As theme parks in Central Florida remain shuttered, Comcast CEO and Chairman Brian Roberts announced in a conference call Thursday morning that as the coronavirus pandemic continues, Universal Orlando Resort would pause construction on its Epic Universe project.

[READ MORE: Universal pauses construction on new Epic Universe theme park amid coronavirus pandemic]

In October, Comcast officials said the new park could open as soon as 2023 and was slated to create more than 14,000 permanent new jobs, which would include a base pay rate of $15 an hour.

It is now unclear when construction on the new theme park may resume and how that will affect its opening date.

On Wednesday, SeaWorld officials said active annual passholders and annual members would have their active passes and memberships extended amid the spread of the coronavirus.

The passes and memberships will extend for the length of time the parks are closed, according to SeaWorld.

This extension will also apply to Busch Gardens.

To keep up with the latest news on the pandemic, subscribe to News 6′s coronavirus newsletter or go to ClickOrlando.com/coronavirus.

About the Author:

Erin began her career at News 6 as an assignment editor, then became a show producer. She is now a digital storyteller as part of the Click Orlando team.