Approaching the full phase one of reopening, Florida coronavirus deaths reached 1,917 by Friday, according to the latest data from the Florida Department of Health.
Since the virus was first reported in Florida on March 1, 44,138 have tested positive for COVID-19. Throughout that time, nearly 8,000 people with severe cases of the respiratory illness have required hospitalization.
The new numbers include a jump in cases by 928 and 42 new fatalities, according to the DOH report.
More than 629,000 people have been tested for the novel coronavirus but some of those may include repeat tests on the same person. The percent of positive new cases is 7%.
The state normally updates a dashboard with the latest coronavirus numbers but, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management, the dashboard had not been updated Friday due to technical issues.
Testing continued Friday at most sites across Florida but some locations will be closed due to windy weather caused by a low-pressure system off Florida’s coast, including sites in Palm Bay and Orange City.
One of the rapid coronavirus tests purchased by Florida and touted by Gov. Ron DeSantis is under investigation by the Food and Drug Administration after data suggested the 15-minute tests by Abbott Laboratories could miss COVID-19 cases, falsely clearing people with the virus.
FDA Commissioner Steve Hahn said Friday his agency has provided new guidance to the White House after data suggested that a rapid COVID-19 test used by President Donald Trump and others every day may provide inaccuracies and false negatives.
Hahn said that if a person is suspected of having the virus, “it might be worth, if the test is negative, getting a second confirmatory test. That’s what our guidance is about.”
DeSantis announced Friday that gyms can begin reopening Monday under what he calls the “full phase one” reopening stage.
Gym and fitness centers have remained closed since mid-March but nail and hair salons weren’t originally included in phase one, and DeSantis later allowed those to reopen.
Under the full phase one, restaurants and retail businesses can also increase their capacity to 50%.
DeSantis gave Miami-Dade and Broward counties the green light Thursday to join the rest of the state in phase one.
The governor lifted further restrictions a day after the latest jobs numbers revealed a staggering 36 million people have now sought unemployment aid in the U.S.
In Washington, D.C., the Democratic-controlled House is pressing ahead with votes on another massive rescue bill.
The pandemic relief bill would pump almost $1 trillion to state and local governments, renew $1,200 cash payments for individuals, and extend a $600 weekly supplemental federal unemployment benefit. The first four coronavirus response bills were bipartisan measures that passed by sweeping votes, but Friday’s measure — with a $3 trillion-plus price tag that exceeds the prior bills combined — promises to pass largely along party lines.
Meanwhile, Florida’s unemployment system troubles continue as many who have sought unemployment insurance have yet to receive payments.
Another 221,000 Floridians filed for unemployment benefits last week, even as restaurants and retail shops started re-opening with limitations. The U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that 221,905 new jobless claims were filed in Florida last week, up a quarter from the 174,860 claims filed the previous week.
In Central Florida, Rollins College announced it would be laying off staff, reducing pay and cutting programs due to an expected $16 million budget decrease as a result of the coronavirus changing the education landscape.
Below are the latest numbers in the Central Florida region by county:
The Associated Press contributed to this report.