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The top stories near you
• Here’s the latest on what you need to know about COVID-19 locally and statewide today: Alachua County reported four new positive COVID-19 tests, increasing the county’s number of cases to 11. Publix announced that the company will be designating Tuesday and Wednesday mornings as senior shopping hours for customers age 65 or older. Nationally, President Donald Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, providing economic assistance to workers, families and businesses.
• Gainesville Sun: Restaurant owners hang on for dear life. “Paramount Grill has hand sanitizer on tables, food in the kitchen and staff ready to serve. All that’s missing from the Gainesville restaurant at 12 SW First Ave., said manager Naheed Mojadidi, are customers. ‘We have not had anybody come in now for days,’ she said.”
• WUFT News: Alachua County Animal Services Urge People To Foster Amid Coronavirus Outbreak. “While they rescue dogs and cats, their dog population is closest to reaching capacity, so staff and volunteers are focusing their fostering efforts there. They have about 80 dogs that are available to be adopted or fostered.”
• Ocala Star-Banner: Marion County distillers to turn alcohol into hand sanitizer. “Fish Hawk Spirits and James Two Brothers Distillers join other distillers around the country producing hand sanitizer in the face of shortages.”
• Citrus County Chronicle: Citrus Memorial Hospital imposing more strict visiting policy. “Citrus Memorial Hospital is again restricting its visiting hours as the number of people with coronavirus continues to rise.”
• Gainesville Sun: Lake City closes city hall. “Lake City’s City Hall will be closed to the public as of Friday. Employees and staff are instructed to minimize contact with the public.”
• Gainesville Sun: Winn-Dixie sets hour aside for senior shoppers. “Southeastern Grocers, the parent company of Winn-Dixie, is designating the 8 a.m. hour for senior adults and high-risk customers at its stores on weekdays. Winn-Dixie, which has a store at 300 SW 16th Ave. in Gainesville, also announced that it will close at 8 p.m. for the time being.”
• Suwannee Democrat: Klausner shuts down sawmill. “The Klausner Lumber One sawmill has ceased production. County Administrator Randy Harris confirmed that the sawmill shut down at the beginning of this week and it is believed to be a permanent shutdown.”
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Around the state today
• News Service of Florida: Lawmakers Pass $93.2 Billion Budget, Face Uncertainty. “State lawmakers on Thursday approved a record $93.2 billion budget for next year, with attention already focused on a potential need to revisit the spending plan this summer as the novel coronavirus upends the economy. The budget (HB 5001), which takes effect July 1, was approved in a 104-0 vote by the House and a 32-0 vote by the Senate.”
• Florida Politics: Ron DeSantis says new Broward drive-thru coronavirus testing site will be strictly limited to start. “Gov. Ron DeSantis says testing for the COVID-19 virus will be limited at a new Broward County drive-thru site due to a lack of available supplies… DeSantis said two groups of people will qualify for the tests… health care workers and those demographics which are particularly susceptible to the virus.”
• Politico: Florida won’t close its beaches. Here’s exactly what DeSantis said about that. “Even his predecessor — Sen. Rick Scott, a fellow Republican — has weighed in, telling people to just get off the beach. It’s irresponsible, the critics say, to keep beaches open during a pandemic that arrived just in time to greet Florida’s infamous spring breakers.”
• Tampa Bay Times: All Pinellas beaches will shut down after Friday night. “The unanimous vote on Thursday followed a presentation from Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who made a case for keeping the beaches open. He showed them overhead video footage of the beaches taken by his agency’s helicopter just hours before, and said they showed beach crowds were already thinning out compared to this past weekend.”
• Sun-Sentinel: Florida coronavirus updates: Broward and Palm Beach to close all non-essential businesses, governor says. “Broward and Palm Beach counties soon will face shutting down all ‘non-essential’ businesses as part of containing the new coronavirus, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday afternoon. DeSantis planned to help the two counties craft orders to shut down such businesses Friday.”
• Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Coronavirus Florida: Child care centers lose kids, lose money, shut down. “Across the state, enrollment at day care centers is dropping because of coronavirus concerns and because many parents out of a job or are working from home. With drastic dips in attendance, day care providers are losing income, and many are closing.”
• Florida Times-Union: Coronavirus in Jacksonville: Catholic Masses suspended due to pandemic. “Religious services have been suspended at all Catholic churches in the Diocese of St. Augustine’s 52 parishes in 17 Northeast and North Central Florida until further notice. That means no weekday or Sunday Masses in churches or chapels to help the nationwide efforts to slow the advance of the coronavirus pandemic, Bishop Felipe Estévez said.”
• Naples Daily News: COVID-19 precautions: Beach access limits going up on miles of SWFL coast, two fishing piers. “The closures and limits, some of which went into effect Wednesday and some to be effective Thursday, apply to beaches from Marco Island to Sanibel Island and change the landscape for one of the region’s natural treasures and economic engines.”
• TCPalm: Coronavirus prep: Publix, Target, Dollar General offer ‘senior shopping hours’. “Less than a week after the Lakeland-based grocery chain announced it would close its stores two hours early to restock and clean, Publix [and others] released times and days for ‘senior shopping hours.’ Older adults and those with underlying health conditions are more susceptible to COVID-19. “
• WLRN: Keys To Tourists: Go Home. “In a move to prevent the spread of coronavirus, on Thursday evening Monroe County ordered hotels and other tourist lodging — like vacation rentals and RV parks — to close at 6 p.m. on Sunday.”
• Florida Politics: Doctors’ orders: Florida Medical Association seeks telehealth expansion. “With visits to doctors’ offices ever more perilous in the coronavirus era, the Florida Medical Asssociation is seeking an alternative. The ask: an expansion of telehealth services to cover ‘all in-network providers,’ regardless of whether diagnoses relate to COVID-19 or not.”
• WUFT: Abaco’s Dark Clouds. “Five months after Hurricane Dorian devastated Marsh Harbour, Abaco, the sounds of children giggling and running echo through the once eerily silent island air. The children play on an unpaved driveway that runs along the side of the New Haitian Mission Baptist Church. The church stands as one of the few remaining buildings after the monster Category 5 storm tore through the tiny Bahamian island. For the community, it’s a sanctuary and home to those who lost everything.”
From NPR News
• Business: Tesla Is Halting Production In California
• Health: PHOTOS: Life And Work Amid The Outbreak