Coronavirus

Close-up of Oxycodone bottle.
Cindy Shebley / Flickr.com

A free at-home medication disposal program is looking to address opioid overdoses, which have spiked in Jacksonville and across the country since the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

An economic impact payment check
Eric Gay / Associated Press

More than 567,000 Floridians are among the estimated 9 million Americans who don’t regularly file taxes and still have not received their pandemic stimulus checks from the federal government.

Lynne Sladky / Associated Press May 2020 file photo

Drinks can flow at establishments where alcohol licenses were pulled this summer when the state cracked down on violations of coronavirus rules.

Thunder Beach Motorcycle Rally Back On Despite Pandemic

Oct 7, 2020

A five-day motorcycle rally in Panama City Beach is back on schedule, despite concerns about large gatherings leading to a cascade of new coronavirus infections.

“The last thing we want is a super-spreader situation,” said City Manager Tony O’Rourke, who approved on Tuesday a permit for the fall Thunder Beach Motorcycle Rally, which is scheduled to take place Oct. 21 - 25.

O’Rourke says the permit includes one key caveat: “All vendors, staff and patrons of the event must be wearing facial coverings or masks.”

TALLAHASSEE --- After months of leading efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus on campus, Florida State University President John Thrasher and his wife, Jean, have tested positive for COVID-19, the university announced Tuesday.

John Thrasher received his positive result at 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, and his wife received her diagnosis Monday night after a recent stay at a hospital and a rehabilitation center for an unrelated condition.

A flu shot being given
Indiana Public Media

If you want to get a flu shot, Florida Blue is offering a drive-thru vaccination clinic at the St. Johns Town Center on Wednesday.

Associated Press

Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden is leading President Donald Trump in a new poll released Tuesday of likely Florida voters conducted by the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab.

Employees of Florida’s jobs agency who have been working at home will soon have to be back in the office, but there is no word on when other departments will follow suit or when state buildings will fully reopen to the public.

A week after Gov. Ron DeSantis lifted COVID-19 business restrictions, Department of Economic Opportunity employees who have been able to work remotely during the pandemic have been told they will need to transition back into the office, starting Monday.

USF Changes Spring Break Dates

Oct 5, 2020

After making adjustments to fall semester and Thanksgiving break, the University of South Florida is now changing its academic calendar for the spring 2021 semester in an effort to reduce the possible spread of COVID-19.

USF’s spring break, which was originally scheduled for March 15-21, is being moved to April 12-18.

Former Florida State University and hall of fame football coach Bobby Bowden says he’s tested positive for the coronavirus. The 91-year-old has told other media outlets he believes he contracted the virus during a recent hospital stay over a leg infection.

Bowden tested positive for the virus last week and is planning to be tested again. He told the Tallahassee Democrat that he doesn’t have much energy but is otherwise feeling okay.

Bowden retired from FSU in 2009. He won two national championships and a dozen division titles.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday that closing school campuses in the spring as the coronavirus pandemic took hold might have been one of the nation’s biggest “public health mistakes.” And, while appearing on the Drew Steele radio show, DeSantis equated people fighting the return of students to classrooms as the “flat earthers of our day.”

A sign reading "Still Open" hangs outside of a restaurant.
Lynne Sladky / Associated Press

An infectious disease specialist is warning that as Florida pulls back on business and capacity restrictions, more people are likely to die of the coronavirus.

Glynn County

A popular party spot during the annual Georgia-Florida Weekend will be off limits for drinking this year.

USF Announces $36.7 Million In Budget Cuts

Oct 2, 2020

The University of South Florida has announced a series of cost-cutting measures after saying the state is reducing its funding by about $36.7 million.

The cuts reflect an 8.5% reduction in state funds for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2021.

The Florida Board of Governors had earlier requested the state's 12 public universities make plans reflecting such cuts due to declining state tax and lottery revenues because of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as a 10% adjustment for fiscal 2021-2022.

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

Oct 1, 2020

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.

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