Coronavirus cases in Florida top 40,000 after first week of phase 1

FDOH announces new coronavirus cases in the State

As communities in the Sunshine State wrap up their first week under phase one of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ reopening plan, cases of coronavirus across the state continue to rise.

As of Saturday morning, the Florida Department of Health reported a total of 40,001 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the respiratory illness was first detected in the state on March 1. The FDOH also reports 1,715 total deaths as a result of complications with coronavirus.

[READ MORE: When did coronavirus first appear in Florida?]

Since Friday, there were 802 new cases of COVID-19 reported by the FDOH, and 46 new deaths.

Over 7,000 people have been hospitalized due to the respiratory illness. The state does not report current hospitalization numbers.

[TIMELINE: The spread of coronavirus in Florida]

Here is how cases of COVID-19 break down locally by county in Central Florida:


Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday that hair salons, nail salons and barbershops, which were originally not allowed to open their doors under the governor’s phase one plan of reopening the state, will now be able to start accepting customers once again come Monday.

The news was shared in a tweet featuring a video of J Henry’s Barber Shop owner J. Henry.

“We are ready to get back to work and make some money,” Henry said from his shop on Church Street in downtown Orlando. “But getting back to work, we want to be safe and continue wearing our gloves, wearing masks, book by appointments and continue to keep the community safe.”

[READ MORE: Florida hair salons, barbershops can open starting Monday]

During a news conference Friday, The mayor of Ocala said that he will not be following Gov. Ron DeSantis’ phase one orders during the coronavirus pandemic.

The mayor said that authorities will not be arresting anyone for gathering.

“If there are more than 10 people in a group, we’re not going to stop them,” Guinn said. “Let Marion County be an example of how we can bring the economy back in Florida.”

According to the mayor, phase one violates the community’s rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of religion, as well as those granted by the 14th amendment’s equal protection clause.

“We are not going to go around the city and county occupancy or capacity,” Guinn said. “We’re not going to shut down any churches, we’re not going to do that.”

While Ocala police won’t enforce the rules, state authorities with agencies like the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, OSHA and other state-run entities can enforce the rules.

[READ MORE: Ocala mayor says authorities won’t enforce Florida’s reopening rules]

Sweet Tomatoes

Sweet Tomatoes, also known at Soup Plantation in other parts of the U.S., is closing all of its restaurants permanently, according to the San Diego Tribune.

The self-service eatery will close all 97 restaurants it announced Thursday.

San Diego based Garden Fresh Restaurants, which owns Sweet Tomatoes, has been trying to salvage its operations but the coronavirus pandemic took its toll on the buffet-style eatery as the FDA put out recommendations to discontinue this style of serving.

“The FDA had previously put out recommendations that included discontinuing self-serve stations, like self-serve beverages in fast food, but they specifically talked about salad bars and buffets,” said John Haywood, CEO of Garden Fresh, said to the San Diego Tribune. “The regulations are understandable, but unfortunately, it makes it very difficult to reopen. And I’m not sure the health departments are ever going to allow it.

[READ MORE: Sweet Tomatoes closing for good amid coronavirus pandemic, report says]

Antibody testing for first responders and healthcare workers began Saturday morning at the Orange County Convention Center.

Lauren Luna with Orange County Fire Rescue said 80 antibody tests will be administered each day on a first-come, first-served basis.

“You will stay in your car the whole time, and you’ll stick your arm outside of the car window, and they will draw your blood,” she said. “It’s a very small amount that they need for that test.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Wednesday the antibody testing would be coming to the Orange County Convention Center’s drive-thru COVID-19 testing site.

DeSantis said the antibody testing lane would be added to the site’s current testing capacity. On Friday, the governor said rapid-results antibody testing would be up and running for residents to drive through at the Convention Center, in Jacksonville and in Palm Beach County beginning this weekend.

[READ MORE: Drive-thru rapid COVID-19 antibody testing to begin at Orange County Convention Center]

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