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Health officials confirm 708 new coronavirus cases in Florida, days before certain businesses reopen

Florida saw over a thousand new cases on Friday, officials reported

ORLANDO, Fla. – Days before Florida begins the daunting process of reopening the State under Gov. DeSantis’s phase one plane, The Florida Department of Health announced 708 new cases of coronavirus.

The new cases bring the total number of positive COVID-19 cases in the state to 35,463.

1,364 people have died as a result of the virus in Florida, 50 additional deaths since Friday mornings’ report, officials said.

In all, there have been 5,945 hospitalizations in Florida, health officials said.

Phase one will begin on Monday with some businesses opening for the first time since their doors were shut in April. DeSantis said he couldn’t provide a timeline for entering phase two but said he’s “thinking about weeks, not thinking about months” for each of the three phases.

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[Zoom out to see the reported cases across the state. If you are having trouble viewing on mobile, click here.]

Here’s how those cases break down locally by county in Central Florida:
CountyCasesHospitalizationsDeaths
Brevard297488
Flagler138133
Lake2345813
Marion182275
Orange1,42224835
Osceola5041308
Polk51415926
Seminole389848
Sumter2204114
Volusia5098425

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings sent a letter to Florida’s governor on Friday, urging him to allow barber shops, hair and nail salons to reopen immediately.

Orange County leaders said the letter was sent to the governor at around 3:50 p.m. on Friday, two days before phase one of the state’s reopening plans is set to take effect.

“Today, the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force recommended reopening barbershops and cosmetology salons with strict guidelines in order to protect the safety of clients and employees,” the letter reads.

Demings said he believes the cosmetology industry is already heavily regulated when it comes to sanitization.

[MORE: Orange County asks governor to reopen barber shops, hair salons]

Hours after the mayor wrote the letter asking that salons and barbershops be allowed to open next week, the governor announced that he would be visiting an Orlando area hair salon Saturday afternoon.

A news release from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office did not say what the meeting at OhSoooJazzy Hair Salon on Old Winter Garden Road will be about but an Orange County spokeswoman said the meeting is about Mayor Jerry Demings’ letter.

On Wednesday, DeSantis announced that certain businesses could start operating again come Monday as long as they had certain hygiene and social distancing protocols in place.

Restaurants and retailers will open their doors as part of phase one of DeSantis’ reopening Florida plan but hair salons, nail salons, barbershops, gyms, bars and certain other establishments will need to remain closed.

[MORE: Florida governor to meet at Orange County hair salon Saturday afternoon ]

Gov. Ron DeSantis with Mayor Lenny Curry at Little Talbot State Park. (WJXT)

On Monday, people will get their first taste of normal as Florida parks begin allowing people inside their gates for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic as a part of phase one to reopen Florida.

“Today, I am announcing that as part of phase one, as of Monday, Florida’s world-renowned state parks system will be opening,” DeSantis said. “Opening the parks back up is consistent with my safe, smart, step-by-step plan to reopen Florida.”

The governor said he based his decision to open state parks on a study conducted by the Department of Homeland Security.

“The Department of Homeland Security’s biodefense lab recently conducted a study about the effect of sunlight, heat and humidity on the virus, in terms of surface transmission and in terms of respiratory droplets and aerosols,” DeSanits said.

DeSantis initially announced phase one of his plan to reopen Florida on Wednesday, and gave the following guidelines for what will and will not change under the first phase beginning 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: Florida state parks to open Monday as part of phase 1 plan ]

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