ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida entered the second workweek under phase one of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ reopening plan, which now includes nail salons, barbershops and hair salons -- much to the relief of the businesses owners and those in need of personal care amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As of Monday, Florida coronavirus cases had reached 40,982, the overall total since March 1. That numbers includes 1,735 deaths and 7,224 severe cases of the respiratory illness requiring hospitalization, according to the Florida Department of Health coronavirus dashboard.
While the DOH reported 14 new deaths Monday morning, it should be noted the death toll is likely higher. Death data is often significantly delayed, according to the DOH.
The new total came after a more than 2,200 increase in positive COVID-19 cases since Friday, the beginning of the first weekend since the governor’s new order began.
As some businesses reopen, hundreds of thousands of Floridians are still waiting on unemployment checks from the Department of Economic Opportunity either through state or federal CARES Act benefits. Beginning Monday, people must log into the CONNECT system to claim their weeks. This means claimants will not receive payments unless they have request them every two weeks. Prior to this week, DeSantis had waived those requirements. This is a step-by-step guide showing how to claim weeks in the DEO system. The change is likely to cause more problem for those already struggling to access the website.
On Mother’s Day, the city of Winter Park closed popular streets to allow businesses to space tables and allow families more room for social distancing.
Over the weekend, beachgoers flocked to the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico after weeks of most of Florida’s coasts being closed to the public. All beaches reopened last week except in South Florida. In southwest Florida, the city of Naples reversed course after crowding at the beaches and will close beaches again until the city council can determine how to enforce social distancing and prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, on Sunday in Jacksonville, the UFC held its first event since the pandemic, a competition that could serve as a blueprint for other sports leagues around the country and the world as they start to resume during a global pandemic.
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The NFL, NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and NASCAR have had to have an eye on how the UFC approached and handled the first major human-centric sporting event in the U.S. since the new coronavirus shuttered much of the country nearly two months ago. The UFC created a 25-page document to address health and safety protocols, which included disinfecting the octagon between bouts and mandating tests and masks for nearly everyone in attendance.
Meanwhile, barbershops, hair salons and nail salons prepared to reopen in much of the state Monday with workers being required to wear masks. DeSantis announced Friday that they could reopen in every county except hard-hit Miami-Dade and Broward, which remain under tight restrictions.
The shops will have to operate by appointment only and will have to spend 15 minutes after each customer disinfecting the station. They are being discouraged from allowing customers to wait inside.
Orange County is offering masks and hand sanitizer to small businesses to help meet the demand and allow them to reopen safely. All businesses with less than 40 employees must register to qualify for supplies.
To the north in Sanford, the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens announced plans to reopen this week, limiting to a 50% outdoor capacity. All indoor sections of the zoo will remain closed, as well as a splash ground and playground.
Throughout the Central Florida region, most of the 10 counties saw an increase over the weekend by less than 10 new cases, except Polk County, which reported 19 new cases. Polk has a third of the cases of the more densely populated Orange County but nearly the same number of deaths, according to the DOH.
Here’s the breakdown of coronavirus cases in the Central Florida region by county:
The Associated Press contributed to this story.