Friday shaped up to be a big day for all of Florida, but especially in Orange County where Universal Orlando reopened to guests on the same day most counties in the state entered Gov. Ron DeSantis’ phase two of reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic.
DeSantis announced his phase two initiative while in Orlando Wednesday as Universal’s Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster could be seen zooming around behind him.
The state has been in phase one of reopening since May 4 but the governor lifted restrictions that weren’t originally part of the first phase, including opening salons and barbershops.
All Florida counties, except Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, enter phase two on Friday. Click here to see what changes.
While the state can now operate under more relaxed guidelines, crowds continue to be a cause for concern as Florida has seen an uptick in cases of COVID-19 in the past week - the disease that shut the state down in the first place.
On Thursday, Florida broke its record for a single-day high of newly reported cases of COVID-19, with 1,419 new cases reported by the Florida Department of Health since the day prior.
States around the nation are reporting similar upticks in confirmed cases, some entering new phases of reopening paralleling Florida’s phased plan.
According to the John Hopkins University and Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center, 20 states have seen increases in newly reported COVID-19 cases in the past five days. Florida is among those states seeing pronounced increases, as well as Arizona, Arkansas, Louisianna, Massachusetts and Utah.
On Friday, the FDOH reported 1,305 new cases of COVID-19 since approximately the same time the day before, as well as 53 new deaths.
This brings the state’s total of all confirmed coronavirus cases since the disease was first detected in the state on March 1 to 61,488, as well as a total of 2,660 deaths.
The newly reported cases also depend on the number of tests administered per day but the state doesn’t release private lab testing in its overall total so that percentage is difficult to determine.
The state does not report on the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19.
Since the beginning of March 10,794 people have been hospitalized due to severe cases of the respiratory illness.
Here’s a breakdown of coronavirus numbers by county in the Central Florida region:
|County||Total cases||Total deaths||Total hospitalizations|
According to the Associated Press, the government said that U.S. employers added 2.5 million workers to their payrolls last month, spelling a slight gain in the workforce, instead of a projected cut of another 8 million across the nation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While many experts cautioned against too much optimism, reiterating that it’s just one month of data and could be giving false hope, the report gives some hope for the American economy to recover faster than first anticipated.
The small light at the end of the tunnel isn’t spurring much optimism in the state of Florida, however.
While more Floridians will be able to get back to work under phase two, prospects are still grim for many who continue to struggle financially as the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity continues to frustrate many in its process of reimbursing unemployment claims.
Here are some things to know about Florida’s unemployment benefits:
- The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, which handles the state’s unemployment system, is now distributing benefit payments every two weeks instead of weekly.
- People must log into CONNECT to claim their weeks, as long as they are unemployed, in order to receive payments.
- This week Florida began administering aid to those who were unemployed prior to coronavirus-related layoffs, known as Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or PEUC.
- As of June 3, the last time the DEO dashboard was updated, more than 1.8 million unique claims have been filed in Florida for benefits. According to the state it has made more than 1.2 million individual payments totaling $4.2 billion.