Coronavirus

This year's Atlantic Hurricane season is already extremely busy, and emergency officials and researchers both are watching how evacuations are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jennifer Collins, a professor in the University of South Florida School of Geosciences, has received a National Science Foundation Rapid Response grant to study people's evacuation behaviors during the pandemic.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order lifting coronavirus restrictions on businesses provides them with more freedom to operate at full capacity. But mask orders are still in place and some businesses will continue to balance fully opening with the need to protect employees and customers.

Those who serve people with health conditions that make COVID-19 more deadly know that to keep their businesses, they will have to gain trust.

At a SuperCuts in Oldsmar, store manager Marissa Segallos says a monthly visit to the salon is the only outing for some of her clients.

FSU Cancels Spring Break

2 hours ago

Florida State University has canceled Spring Break for its students. In a letter, FSU says the change is an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

University students won’t have time to hit the beach this Spring after FSU changed its Spring 2021 calendar. FSU is going remote for the first three days of the semester.

The school's letter mentions that cutting out spring break will reduce the potential for people to return to Tallahassee with the virus after traveling. As a result of the changes, the semester will end on April 23.

A OneBlood Big Red Bus sitting at FSCJ's Downtown Campus.
Blake Allen / WJCT News

Federal and local law enforcement officials who have recovered from COVID-19 are partnering with OneBlood to raise awareness about plasma donations.

Business Wire / Via Associated Press

Doctors say getting a flu shot is more important now than ever before as coronavirus and the flu threaten a simultaneous “twindemic.”

The Buccaneers will allow season pass members with continuous membership since 1998 or earlier, as well as some family and staff members into Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Chargers. Team officials estimate that under 10,000 people will be in attendance.

They'll increase seating to about 25% capacity — around 16,000 people — for the Green Bay Packers game on Oct. 18.

Leon County's Mask Mandate Will Stay In Place

Sep 30, 2020

Leon County's mask mandate will stay in place for the time being. The county won't have much recourse if people ignore the rule. An executive order signed by Governor Ron DeSantis last week blocks local governments from collecting fines associated with mask ordinances. But county officials say that might not be as significant a change as some would think.

Even before the governor's order, Leon County Administrator Vince Long says people weren't paying fines for failing to wear a mask because the police weren't handing the fines out.

Rapid Test Kits Headed To Fla.

Sep 29, 2020
Someone getting tested for COVID-19 at the drive-thru testing site, someone reaching into a car where a patient is, while dressed in a mask and gown and gloves.
John Raoux / Associated Press


Florida will receive 400,000 rapid-test kits a week that can be used to detect COVID-19 infections at schools, senior centers and long-term care facilities, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday at a news conference in Clearwater. 

The statues on the eastern side of the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine were adorned with facemasks in April.
BILL BORTZFIELD / WJCT NEWS

Following the state's lead, St. Augustine is easing up on its COVID-19 restrictions.

COVID Complicates Cancer Fight For North Florida Man

Sep 28, 2020

Fighting a single life-threatening illness is bad enough. But Guy Nichols recently battled two at once.

Nichols, a Kentucky native, moved to North Florida years ago, and now calls Panama City home. He said life was pretty good until several months ago.

"I was going to the VA clinic. My PA was really, really high on my blood count. They said, 'Let's send you to a specialist,' so they sent me to Dr. Baldwin, a urologist. And he said, 'We're going to run some tests, but you got cancer. We just have to figure out where it's at.'"

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry (right) has extended his mandatory mask emergency executive proclamation.
SKY LEBRON / WJCT NEWS

Although Gov. Ron DeSantis has eased COVID-19 statewide restrictions, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has extended his order that face coverings be worn when social distancing isn’t possible in public indoor settings.

COVID-Related Suspensions at FGCU

Sep 28, 2020

Two fraternities at Florida Gulf Coast University have been suspended for the rest of the semester, the university has reported. Phi Delta Theta and Sigma Chi were found responsible for holding an off-campus event that was not compliant with the university’s COVID-19 guidelines.

Sorority Delta Delta Delta has been placed on an interim suspension and is going through the school’s conduct process, also for allegations of holding an non-compliant event.

The Florida Department of Education (DOE) is distributing $2 million in CARES Act funding to increase K-12 students' access to virtual counseling and online psychiatry.

DEO Chancellor Eric Hall says leaders want to make sure there’s no gap in mental health services with more students enrolled in distance learning during the pandemic.

“It helps to give them access to that same level of support and engagement with these professionals using these online platforms, so that there’s no breakdown in service.”

A patient care room.
Associated Press file photo / Damian Dovarganes

Ascension St. Vincent’s announced Friday that it was again relaxing some of its patient visitor restrictions because of a decline in the number of COVID-19 patients in the community.

The Florida Channel file photo

Friday afternoon Gov. Ron DeSantis announced he is lifting all occupancy restrictions on restaurants and other businesses on a statewide level, effective immediately.

"Closed" sign
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Bright Horizons Early Education & Preschool has informed Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and the state that due to “natural disaster,” it is laying off 89 workers.

TALLAHASSEE --- Gov. Ron DeSantis thinks students who attend Florida’s 12 state universities should be able to socialize without worrying about getting thrown out of school.

To that end, DeSantis said Thursday he’s willing to consider a college students’ “bill of rights” that would preclude state universities from taking actions against students who are enjoying themselves.

The governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to questions about when he might issue the “bill of rights” or whether it would be done through an executive order.

Schools across the state are back in session with some students in brick and mortar classrooms and others attending online.

But when it comes to music education, federal and state policy makers don't have much to say.

So these teachers are turning to organizations like the National Association for Music Education for guidance on how to safely move forward with extracurriculars that could contribute to spreading the coronavirus.

This week, Governor Ron DeSantis suggested he’d like to see a special session for the Florida legislature to consider protecting small businesses from lawsuits related to COVID-19.

Bill Herrle is state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses. He welcomes the idea of lawmakers visiting the issue sooner rather than later, saying businesses “urgently need reform.”

Group Offers Proposal To Protect Businesses From COVID-19 Liability

Sep 23, 2020
NIAID-RML via AP

Forty lobbyists and association representatives met over the summer to discuss ways to protect businesses from what some fear will be a flood of lawsuits related to COVID-19.

The Florida Cabinet meets.
News Service of Florida

With Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried calling for a coordinated response by statewide elected officials to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday defended the actions of agencies under his control.

Visitors will have to wait a bit longer to see the museum's works by Monet, Morisot, Rodin, O’Keeffe and many others, as well as ancient Greek and Roman, Asian, African, and Native American art.

The galleries of the museum's permanent collection are in the final stages of renovation and are expected to open in October, but two special exhibitions are on view now.

And, as with all indoor spaces in the region, the cultural institution is asking visitors to adhere to safety guidelines.

Florida A&M University’s Developmental Research School is sending students home for two weeks after several positive cases of COVID-19 on its campus.

The university says one teacher and one non-teaching staffer tested positive for the virus, along with two students. More than half a dozen teachers are being asked to quarantine and volleyball and football games set for this week have been postponed.

The school is also suspending in-person classes for two weeks.

FSU Football Coach Tests Positive For COVID-19

Sep 21, 2020

Florida State University’s head football coach, Mike Norvell, has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Norvell announced his test results in a press release Saturday. He says the results stem from a test he took Friday, after receiving two negative results from tests he had taken earlier in the week.

FSU COVID-19 Rule Breakers Now Subject To Suspensions

Sep 21, 2020

Thrasher sent a statement via email to students today. In it, he thanks those who have been wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing. But he also says students who ignore COVID-19 safety guidelines are putting everyone at risk.

"The choices you make don’t just impact you. They affect your friends, families, professors, FSU staff, and the Tallahassee community at large, as well as our ability to hold in-person classes and future events and provide campus services," Thrasher says.

Person with gloves on holding a vaccine in their hand, about to flick it with their finger.
Kirsty Wigglesworth / Associated Press

With flu season rapidly approaching, medical professionals are warning of potentially high hospitalizations and deaths if precautions aren’t taken, when combined with the continuing COVID-19 pandemic continues in the United States.

Florida State University has investigated some 45 students for violating the school's COVID-19 safety rules. The university has come under scrutiny for the behavior of some students who've flouted safety protocols.

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Dane Eagle
News Service of Florida

Florida continues to see a steady decline in first-time unemployment claims, even as several large hospitality and entertainment companies have extended and imposed large-scale layoffs because of the coronavirus pandemic.

After many establishments were closed for months amid the coronavirus pandemic, Florida’s top business regulator believes bar and craft-brewery owners will do a better job this time of self-enforcing state safety restrictions.

But Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears said Wednesday his agency won’t go easy on bars and breweries that violate rules such as indoor occupancy limits.

Researchers in several University of South Florida departments - including medicine, nursing and business - are recruiting volunteers from Tampa General Hospital's COVID-19 clinic for a new wearable devices study to predict when symptoms will worsen.

Health News Florida's Daylina Miller spoke with the principal investigator, Matthew Mullarkey, about the study, which is working to determine why some people get so sick from COVID-19 while others don't.

Daylina Miller: Can you tell us a little about about this study?

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