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• Misinformation can spark fear and hysteria. We’re here to help. We’ll update you with emerging information from reliable sources to answer all of your questions about coronavirus at wuft.org/coronavirus with all the latest to keep you informed. The latest updates: The University of Florida requiring classes go online no later than Monday, the World Health Organization declaring coronavirus a global pandemic, 23 diagnosed cases in this state and more preventative measures by the American College of Emergency Physicians.
• WUFT News: Alachua County Officials Monitor Need To Activate Full Emergency Response After First Coronavirus Case. “Alachua County Emergency Manager Hal Grieb said the county is currently in a Level 3 “monitoring” status and is in constant contact with its local, state and federal partners… According to the Florida Division of Emergency Management, Level 3 is monitoring for activation.”
• WUFT News: UF Classes To Be Online Only Through End Of March. “Joining an increasing number of schools nationwide reacting to the coronavirus outbreak, the University of Florida on Wednesday urged its student body to return home to their families for two weeks, and said all of its classes would remain online until at least March 30.”
• WUFT News: North Central Florida Public Schools Take Sanitary Precautions Against COVID-19, But School Is Still On. “Alachua County Public Schools officials are in touch with the state departments of health and education eight to nine times per day, said Jackie Johnson, the district’s spokeswoman. The county’s first confirmed coronavirus case is unique and of low risk to students, teachers and parents, so there is no reason to close schools now, Johnson said.”
• The Alligator: Early voting sites taking extra measures in midst of coronavirus. “Early voting hasn’t decreased, said TJ Pyche, the spokesperson of Alachua County’s Supervisor of Elections office. About 4,700 people have voted early this year, which is 600 more than those who voted early in 2016… Pyche also said voting stations are being wiped down and cleaned under guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
• Spotlight on Levy County: Levy School Board Monitoring Legislative Budget Discussion, -19. “Superintendent Jeff Edison said the school district is staying in touch with state and federal officials about COVID-19. He said the district isn’t testing for the virus. He said if testing is carried out it would be handled by the Levy County Health Department.”
• WUFT News: Gainesville Police Investigate Two Downtown Homicides, Make Arrest In One. “Two fatal shootings that took place four days and two blocks apart this week in downtown Gainesville are under investigation. An arrest has been made in the first. The Gainesville Police Department doesn’t believe the two are connected.”
• The Alligator: Merger plan dies in Florida House of Representatives. “In less than a month, proposed bill HB 7087, which would merge Florida Polytechnic University and New College of Florida with UF, died in the Florida House of Representatives Friday.”
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Around the state today
• Florida Today ($): Where is the coronavirus? Track the outbreak in Florida and beyond with interactive maps. “This interactive map from FLORIDA TODAY tracks confirmed COVID-19 cases, recoveries and deaths from around the state, nation and world. The map is updated automatically and shows a closeup of each Florida county. Or, zoom out to see the nation and the world.”
• Sun Sentinel ($): Caribbean Princess docks at Port Everglades after crew members found free of coronavirus. “With a no-sail order lifted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Caribbean Princess docked at Port Everglades before dawn Wednesday and unloaded thousands of relieved passengers. Passengers began disembarking around 7:30 a.m. Most said they still had a good trip despite the no-sail order and only being permitted to stop in three of five planned ports.”
• Florida Politics: Ron DeSantis issues restrictions on visitors to nursing homes amid coronavirus threat. “The people not allowed to visit these facilities for the time being include people infected with COVID-19 and those showing signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection. Someone who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for disease is prohibited from visiting a facility for at least two weeks. Also barred for at two weeks are those who have traveled internationally, taken a cruise, anyone who has been in a community with confirmed community spread of coronavirus and anyone who lives in a community where there’s confirmed community spread.”
• Florida Politics: Joe Biden cancels Tampa appearance. “There was no word on whether there would be a make-up date. Biden has yet to make a public appearance in Florida in support of his presidential campaign heading into next Tuesday’s Florida Democratic primary with Bernie Sanders. Sanders also has not made a public appearance in Florida.”
• Miami Herald ($): ‘Alyssa’s Law’ honors Parkland victim, requires schools to have emergency alert system. “The Florida Legislature passed a bill Tuesday that requires all district and charter schools to have panic alarms in an effort to cut down the response time in case of a school shooting or other emergency.”
• WFSU: Florida Man Wrongfully Incarcerated For Almost 43 Years To Get Relief Under Bill Heading To Governor. “Clifford Williams was charged with murder and attempted murder back in the 70s. He was on death row for about four years before being resentenced to life in prison. After an investigation, the state found Williams innocent.”
• Florida Politics: Expanded ‘scope of practice’ for pharmacists, nurses headed to Governor’s desk. “The pharmacist measure (HB 389) expanded from the Senate bill, which allowed pharmacists to ‘test and treat’ for the flu. The bill includes strep tests, lice, skin conditions like ringworm, and minor, non-chronic conditions on the list of possible pharmacist treatments.”
•Orlando Weekly: Chick-fil-A plans to sell bottled sauces, but only in Florida. “Starting in April, you’ll be able to find 16-ounce bottles of Chick-fil-A’s Polynesian and Chick-fil-A sauces at Florida Publix, Target, Walmart and Winn-Dixie stores… Alternatively, 8-ounce bottles of Chick-fil-A, Polynesian, barbecue, honey mustard and garden herb ranch sauces will be available for purchase at participating stores beginning mid-March.”
From NPR News
• National: Harvey Weinstein Sentenced To 23 Years In Prison