Coronavirus

WJCT

After months of isolation and lockdown, Florida residents can now visit their loved ones in extended-care and senior facilities.

Tampa Bay Buccaneer fans hoping to see quarterback Tom Brady at Raymond James Stadium will have to wait until at least Oct. 18.

The team announced Wednesday that they will play their first two home games - Sept. 20 versus the Carolina Panthers and Oct. 4 against the Los Angeles Chargers - without fans in the stands.

That means the first game Bucs fans will be allowed to attend - COVID-19 conditions permitting - would be when the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers come to town in the sixth week of the season.

Thirty-four people at Florida A&M and 129 people at Florida State University have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of August. Both schools are trying to keep the numbers down through restrictions on large gatherings. FAMU has even instituted a curfew on students who live on-campus, though President Larry Robinson says he’s not yet had to suspend or expel any students for violating it.

Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press

The state of Florida is severing ties with Quest Diagnostics after the lab company failed to report nearly 75,000 COVID-19 test results in a timely manner, with some of them dating back to April.

A woman in a wheelchair holding a sign that says I love you. With her other hand, she is holding someone's hand.
Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press

Some long-term care facilities in Florida will be able to open their doors for visitors as soon as Wednesday, September 2, in Florida. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a news conference at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, in Tampa.
Chris O'Meara / Associated Press

Gov. Ron DeSantis has once again extended his moratorium on evictions and foreclosures connected to COVID-19 hardships for one month.

The "River Runner" bronze statues in front of The Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront hotel are pictured with face masks in this May 9 photo.
BILL BORTZFIELD / WJCT NEWS

Back in June, Downtown Jacksonville’s biggest hotel announced it was shedding 200 workers – more than 100 of them described as permanent layoffs - because, the hotel said, a huge drop in travel appeared to be the “new normal.”

Academic institutions across the country are grappling with how to keep campuses open while keeping students and faculty safe during the pandemic.

At Florida Gulf Coast University, reports of off-campus parties have already put the future of the fall semester in jeopardy.

At FGCU, faculty members like Lutgert College of Business professor Michael Zahaby are taking the responsibility of trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19 seriously.

Companies Announce Plans To Hire Hundreds In Jacksonville Area

Aug 31, 2020
woman holds a pizza in front of a Domino's pizza store
Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Unemployment and lost wages during the pandemic have taken their toll on families, but at least three businesses have announced substantial hiring campaigns for the Jacksonville area.

Vials with samples taken for the new coronavirus are seen before they are prepared for RNA testing.
Gerald Herbert / Associated Press

Florida added fewer than 2,000 new cases of the coronavirus Monday for the first time since mid-June.

Like so many arts organizations, The Sarasota Orchestra has had to navigate the challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. It canceled the remainder of its 2019-2020 season in early April and put the search for a new music director on hold.

CEO Joe McKenna said this isn't like hurricane season, which has a degree of predictability.

Florida State University classes are in full swing. Students walk across campus and lounge on Landis Green. Some wear masks—others don't. University policy requires faculty, staff, and students to mask up—whether they're outside, in classrooms or residence halls. But that's not always happening, says Jennifer, who lives in one of the dorms on FSU's campus.

Sales Taxes Remain Down As Florida Tourism Suffered In July

Aug 28, 2020

State general revenues came in just above a forecast amount in July, but the coronavirus pandemic continued to hammer sales-tax collections.

Numbers released Wednesday by the Legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research showed general revenues topping an earlier projection by $2.5 million, driven in part by the end of state-approved delays of payments of corporate income taxes and corporate filing fees.

Governor Ron DeSantis joined executives from Florida theme parks Wednesday for a press conference to discuss the parks’ reopenings.

DeSantis kept his messaging message centered on how important the theme parks are to employment in the Orlando and Central Florida area. He pointed to a 67 percent decrease in tourists to Central Florida from last year as a sign of the ailing economy locally.

Plot of farmland next to the street in Hastings, Florida. Lightpole in the middle of the land
Via News4Jax

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is asking St. Johns County to use some of its federal CARES Act money to fund a COVID-19 testing location in the rural town of Hastings, home to many of the county’s farmers. 

Over 700 COVID Cases Tied To Florida School Reopenings; 24 In Duval

Aug 25, 2020
Bob Self / The Florida Times-Union

Twenty-four Duval County public and private school community members have contracted COVID-19 since school started, WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union reported.

A worker carries supplies for a new house in this 2019 file photo.
ROGELIO V. SOLIS / ASSOCIATED PRESS

The typical home value in the Jacksonville metropolitian area is $239,049. That’s a 4.4% increase over July of 2019, according to Zillow.

Fla. Universities Report Dozens Of COVID-19 Cases As Students Return To Campus

Aug 21, 2020
Virginia Mayo / Associated Press June 2020 file photo

Returning to campus is the next frontier in Florida’s reopening process, and several state universities are about to put their plans to the test.

Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office exterior
Ray Hollister / WJCT News

The Duval County Supervisor of Elections’ call center was shut down this week after several employees who worked during the primary tested positive for COVID-19.

The state finished presenting its case in the legal challenge to Florida’s school reopen order Thursday.

The high-profile lawsuit was brought by statewide teachers union, the Florida Education Association. It alleges state education commissioner Richard Corcoran’s order calling for brick-and-mortar campuses to operate in the fall violates the state constitution, which requires public schools be “safe.”

Pointing to “extreme financial hardships,” dozens of attorneys Thursday asked the Florida Supreme Court to waive a requirement that law school graduates pass the Florida Bar exam to practice law, after a state board this week postponed the test for a second time.

Michelle Corum/WJCT News

As children return to classrooms throughout Florida, local school officials, teachers and doctors are picking apart a state mandate requiring schools to resume in-person instruction this month amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Less than 48 hours after reopening to students, COVID-19 cases were reported at three Manatee County schools.

Tailgaters will return to Florida State home football games this fall, but they’ll have to take pandemic precautions.

The Florida State Athletics Department and Seminole Boosters say tailgating can be an important part of the game day experience. So they teamed up to create a set of guidelines, allowing booster donors to tailgate while promoting a safe environment.

St. Augustine Amphitheatre

St. Augustine’s annual Sing Out Loud Festival is adjusting to the realities of the pandemic with what’s being called Sing Out Loud Festival Virtual Sessions.

The annual move-in day at the University of West Florida looked a lot different this year.

Pictured: COVID-19 testing lab
Charles Krupa / Associated Press

COVID-19 cases among the student body have been confirmed at two of Jacksonville’s private college preparatory schools following a social gathering among some of their students.

A new survey shows that when it comes to COVID-19, a majority of Floridians believe the worst is not behind us.

Still No Timeline On Reopening Of Florida Bars, Breweries

Aug 18, 2020

A spokeswoman for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation said Monday it’s still uncertain when bars and breweries can again serve alcohol for onsite consumption.

The Florida bar exam was scheduled to be taken remotely this week by prospective lawyers around the state, but it’s been postponed last-minute. Now, many of the thousands who were set to take the exam are sounding off.

The Florida Board of Bar Examiners says it will reschedule the exam, using the same content, for a date to-be-determined in October.

But many who were set to take the exam are left frustrated, given little notice – and their futures put on hold. Robert Walters, a recent graduate of Florida State University, is among them.

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