ORLANDO, Fla. – The morning Florida began rolling back some restrictions on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ stay-at-home order, health officials reported 20 new deaths and more than 800 new cases of the novel coronavirus behind the global pandemic.
Beginning Monday restaurants can reopen in a limited capacity although some may not be ready to do so and meet the Centers for Disease Control guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, persons who have delayed elective surgeries may also now reschedule those. Those are two key elements of the governor’s multi-stage plan to reopen the state for businesses. To find out what else changes beginning Monday, click here.
Florida will continue to see new cases of the coronavirus even as it reopens but health officials hope the percentage of new cases will continue to plateau or drop if social distancing and other precautions are working.
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Testing continues around the state where nearly 446,000 people have been tested for the respiratory illness. As of Monday morning when the Florida Department of Health updated its dashboard, the state has reported 36,897 positive cases in a little over two months. The state reported 20 new deaths overnight into Monday bringing the death toll to 1,399. More than 6,110 people with severe cases of the illness have been hospitalized at some point since March 1. The state does not report current hospitalization numbers.
The state reports ages, race and gender of all cases, however, some race data is unknown. Of the more nearly 37,000 cases in the state the gender is split about 50/50 between male and female. According to cases by race and ethnicity just over half identify as white. The median age for patients with coronavirus is 52.5, according to the data.
Over the weekend, the Florida DOH released information about coronavirus-related deaths at long-term care facilities in the state. The data includes the names of the facilities where the deaths were reported. About a third of the deaths in the state were connected to assisted living or long-term care facilities, according to the DOH.
In Central Florida, restless residents took to the waters over the weekend, heading to the beach or out on the boat as most coastal counties have lifted restrictions on sunbathing and sitting on the beach. Cocoa Beach will begin reopening some beach parking Monday, the county rolled away barriers on Friday to county-run parks.
Below is a break down of coronavirus cases in the Central Florida region by county:
As the state began lifting some restrictions, meaning some can return to work, there are still hundreds of thousands of Floridians who are waiting on unemployment checks from the state or through federal pandemic benefits under the CARES Act. DeSantis said Sunday during a news conference he plans to provide an update on the state’s troubled unemployment system on Monday.
“The system just totally broke. It’s not a good system. We’re going to deal with that,” DeSantis said Sunday during an appearance at Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach.
Since March 15, the state has received more than 1 million “unique,” unemployment claims. Some people filed more than one claim because of issues with the website, CONNECT.
Many of those who have filed for unemployment are employees or owners at hair salons and barber shops. Those businesses were not given the green light to reopen under phase one of the governor’s executive order but they may be added soon.
On Saturday, DeSantis visited an Orlando hair salon and said more consideration of employee and customer safety is needed before those shops can reopen.
“Throughout this whole time, I’ve said I’d rather get it right than get it fast,” DeSantis said at Ohsooojazzy Hair Salon. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to sit on our hands. But we just want to be very thorough about how we’re doing it.”
During a round table, barbers and hair stylists told the governor they are prepared to put more sanitation in place to protect clients and workers.
“Our biggest thing is we don’t want to just keep ourselves safe,” Nadine Armstrong-Tarpley, an owner of Ohsooojazzy, told DeSantis. “We love our clients … so we want to keep them safe.”