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The Point, March 16, 2020: 'A Rapidly Evolving Situation': Florida Schools Closed Through March 27

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Today's top Florida stories

• WLRN: Florida Public Schools Prepare For Two-Week Closure To Combat Coronavirus Spread. "Millions of Florida children won’t go to public schools for the next two weeks, after the state Department of Education recommended sweeping closures in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus."

• WKMG Orlando: Governor Ron DeSantis says more coronavirus testing kits coming to Florida. "The governor said another 500 coronavirus testing kits have been sent to hospitals and private labs around the state, although the exact breakdown of which hospitals received which quantities of kits remains unclear. He said county health departments would be receiving kits as well."

• Florida Keys News ($): In Key West, a lack of cruise ships due to coronavirus causes worry about paychecks. "Now, Key West is bracing for an economic blow after major cruise lines have suspended operations for the next 30 days. The Southernmost Key is a popular stop on many cruise itineraries."

• Pensacola News Journal ($): Pensacola's first drive-thru coronavirus testing unit to open Monday. "Ascension Sacred Heart will open a drive -thru facility Monday so people who are suspected to have COVID-19 can get a nasal swab test, said Mike Burke, spokesperson for the hospital. Patients will first have to be pre-screened over the phone before being directed to the drive-through site."

• Florida Politics: And on Day 61 … the House and Senate agree to $500 million for teacher pay raises. "Senate budget chief Rob Bradley says of the $500 million for teacher pay raises, $400 million is expected to go to lifting starting teacher pay to as close to $47,500 as school districts can manage. Not every school district will be able to meet that minimum base pay and some will be able to get closer than others. The other $100 million is to go to veteran teachers."

• Fresh Take Florida: Efforts To Change Prison Sentences Failed In Florida’s Capitol. "Over the final days (of the 2020 session), senators were pushing bills — sponsored by lawmakers from both parties – that would re-examine the way courts handle drug trafficking offenses, reduce the length of mandatory minimum sentences and improve programs to help prisoners make a smoother transition once they were released. But some of the companion bills were never heard in the House, stranded in subcommittees that didn’t meet during the final weeks of the legislative session."

• Fresh Take Florida: Florida Moves To Ban Imports Of Shark Fins; Bill Awaits Governor’s Signature. "The amended proposal allows shark fishermen who already have federal permits to continue to sell the fins of sharks they catch. However, no new or transferred permits will be accepted by the state, meaning the fin sales will die with the fishermen."

• WMFE: Will Space Command Come To Florida? State Leaders Ready To Make The Case Once Again. "Florida lobbied hard — but was ultimately left off a short list of potential locations last year. The decision took the wind out of Florida sails — until last week."

• Tallahassee Democrat ($): 'A wake-up call': Andrew Gillum to enter rehab after being linked to meth overdose incident. "Former Tallahassee Mayor and Democratic Party star Andrew Gillum on Sunday said he will retreat from public life and seek professional help for alcohol abuse after Miami Beach police discovered him "inebriated" at a hotel with two men and baggies of suspected meth."

• New York Times ($): Does Florida Really Want Ex-Felons to Vote? "A battleground appeared set over the fate of Florida’s votes, ahead of a presidential election, in a state that has often determined the outcome. It remains unresolved before the primary on Tuesday, where Florida has the greatest number of delegates up for grabs."

• The Alligator: Gainesville man arrested in connection with fatal downtown shooting. "Gareth Fay, 22, was arrested by authorities Thursday night in connection with the shooting that took place at approximately 3:15 a.m. outside an office building located near City Hall at 222 NE 1st St., according to a Friday GPD press release."

Today's sponsored message

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From NPR News

• Health: CDC Recommends Against Gatherings Of 50 Or More, As States Close Bars And Restaurants

• Health: Son Talks About 89-Year-Old Dad's Recovery From COVID-19

• National: Grocery Stores Start To Cut Hours As Coronavirus Prompts Surge In Panic-Buying

• World: Postcard From Italy's Coronavirus Lockdown: 'Feels Like Another World'

• World: European Nations See A Rise In COVID-19 Cases

• Politics: Voting Amid Coronavirus: What You Need To Know

• Politics: Louisiana Delays April Presidential Primary Over Viral Outbreak

• Books: A History Book That Isn't: Finding A Way To Teach Racism To A New Generation

About today's curator

I'm Ethan Magoc, a news editor at WUFT. Originally from Pennsylvania, I've found a home telling Florida stories. I’m part of a team searching each morning for local and state stories that are important to you; please send feedback about today's edition or ideas for stories we may have missed to emagoc@wuft.org.

Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news @wuft.org