ORLANDO, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health announced new positive coronavirus cases across the state Sunday as families prepare to celebrate Memorial Day.
The Florida Department of Health reported 740 new people have tested positive for the respiratory illness.
As of Saturday, 50,867 people have tested positive for the virus since March 1, of those 9,310 have required hospitalizations. 71 more than what was reported Saturday. The state does not report recovery numbers or the current number of hospitalized coronavirus patients, only the overall total.
The total number of deaths in Florida rose to 2,233.
Death data is delayed, according to the DOH dashboard, and could take up to two weeks to report.
Below is a breakdown of coronavirus cases in Central Florida by county:
Gatorland reopened to park guests on Saturday after getting approval from the Governor and Orange County mayor earlier this week.
The theme park reopened for the first time Saturday morning since closing on March 18 due to COVID-19.
Mark McHugh, the park’s president and CEO said people lined up outside the park an hour and a half before it was set to open.
The park got approval from Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and Governor Ron DeSantis to reopen. McHugh said they submitted a 32-page policy manual outlines safety procedures for guests and employees.
McHugh is hoping this is a sign of good things to come.
Universal Orlando got the go-ahead Friday to open all three of its Central Florida parks starting June 5.
John Sprouls, executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Universal Parks & Resorts, presented Universal’s reopening plan to Orange County’s economic recovery task force Thursday.
It includes requiring all guests to wear masks, have their temperature checked and practice social distancing.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings approved the plan after the presentation and sent it to the state for the final word.
Florida Department of Health in Orange County director Dr. Raul Pino said it’s possible that as restrictions are loosened and guests start visiting theme parks once again, the area could see an increase in COVID-19 patients.
Pino said right now, the county is seeing about 20 to 30 cases a day. To prevent that number from swelling, his team plans to do what he called “secret shopping” at the attractions once they open to see how well guests are abiding by social distancing rules and other guidelines.
“What is critically important as we increase economic activity is to have those measures in place to protect employees and protect consumers that are going to use the parks and all the attractions, not just the parks,” Pino said.
The National Basketball Association announced Saturday that it is exploring opens to restart the 2019-2020 season in Central Florida.
According to a tweet, officials with the NBA are speaking to members with The Walt Disney Company about restarting the season in late July.
The complex will serve as a single site for the NBA campus. It will be used for games, practices and housing, the tweet said.
“Our priority continues to be health and safety of all involved,” NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass said. “We are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place.”
The NBA suspended its season on March 11 after concerns were raised about large crowds spreading the coronavirus.
Staggering new numbers show the impact of coronavirus across Central Florida as every local county experienced an unemployment rate in the double digits during the month of April.
Businesses across the state had been closed since mid-March to stop the spread of COVID-19. Now, two months later, shops and restaurants are beginning to open their doors and even the major theme parks have target dates in mind for when they can begin operating once again.
Across the state, the April unemployment rate sat at 12.9%, which is up 8.5 percentage points from March, when the pandemic first began affecting the Sunshine State’s economy, and up 9.6 percentage points from April 2019, according to the DEO.
For some Central Florida counties, that April unemployment number was even higher. For more information and to see a breakdown from Central Florida counties click below.
Orange County school officials are revealing what school could look like if in-person teaching resumes.
Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said during a school board work meeting that the district is awaiting direction from the Governor on how to move forward. She said the district is planning for several situations in order to be best prepared for whatever the governor decides.
The district presented renderings that show how classroom capacity would be limited in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
OCPS said the district is currently under a hiring freeze for all non-instructional and non-essential positions while it anticipates a shortfall with tax revenue, citing a decline in tourism.
OCPS said it estimates it will receive $55 million dollars of the $770 million dollars Florida received for education from the federal CARES Act.
To see how the school plans tackle social distancing inside the classroom, click below.
The First Academy in Orlando said that it found a creative way to honor their graduating class, which included walking across an actual stage.
The school said the entire ceremony took 13 hours to complete.
Brooks DenBeste, 18, said that his entire academic career has been at The First Academy and was worried about not having a graduation ceremony.
“I always was looking forward to the graduation experience. It was something I always was really excited about. Not being sure if I was going to have it, was sort of one of those things I was sad about," said DenBesten.
Head of School, Steve Whitaker said it was important to set up an actual stage and let the students hear their name read aloud.
To see how the school pulled off a graduation ceremony during a pandemic, click below.