The Point, March 23, 2020: COVID-19’s Impact On The Arts In Florida And Nationwide

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The top stories near you

• WUFT News: Introducing ‘From The Frontlines,’ WUFT’s Daily Podcast About Coronavirus. “This podcast will serve to provide an update on Florida’s response to coronavirus, with a particular focus on north central Florida.”

• WUFT News: Florida, U.S. Theater And Movie Houses Struggling Because Of Coronavirus Outbreak. “Theater and concert venues as well as movie houses across the nation – including Broadway in New York – have shut down in the wake of COVID-19. They had no choice after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged against gatherings of 50 or more people. The theater community in Gainesville theater has also shut down temporarily.”

• Ocala Star-Banner: Ocala Drive-In one of the few shows in town during COVID-19 era. “The 1940s-era theater was once the epitome of entertainment… Ocala Drive-In had a couple of starts and stops in its history and now finds itself coming full circle as an entertainment choice.”

• Gainesville Sun: Coronavirus Alachua County: Number of cases spikes to 35. “The number of coronavirus cases in Alachua County jumped to 35 in the 6 p.m. report Sunday from the state Department of Health, more than doubling the number from Friday.”

• The Alligator: UF has 7 new COVID-19 cases. “These new cases include two graduate students from the College of Business, a law student, an employee from the College of Veterinary Medicine, a student from the College of Health and Human Performance, a student in the College of Journalism and Communications and a student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.”

• Suwannee Democrat: Second COVID-19 case confirmed in Columbia County. “There have been no positive tests in Suwannee, Hamilton or Lafayette counties, according to the health department data. Nine Suwannee County cases have tested negative with four more people awaiting additional testing.”

• Miami Herald: Florida State Parks to close Monday because of fears of the spread of the coronavirus. “At the direction of Governor Ron DeSantis, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection said all state parks wouldn’t welcome any visitors in order to “successfully uphold [Centers for Disease Control] guidance to maximize social distancing and avoid gatherings larger than 10 people.”


How you are doing

Tell us how you’re staying busy and inspired during Florida’s coronavirus outbreak via recorded voice memo to news@wuft.org or call and leave us a voicemail at 352-392-6397. Please include your first name and city.

• Kathleen from Micanopy: “As a healthcare worker at a Gainesville medical center, I just want to say to everyone who is annoyed at us for restricting visitors from our units — please understand that we are going to work every day to protect and care for your loved ones. We ask that you return the kindness and stay home to protect us! There are not enough hours in the day to do all we would like to safeguard our patients as well as our families, but we do the very best we can with the resources we have. Please pray for the safety of all the first responders and know that we will be keeping calm and carrying on!”

• Debbie from Gainesville: “I am one of the immune-compromised, so taking precautions to not go into public spaces as much as possible. The news media and constant barrage of COVID-19 news is very stressful. I get caught up in the mornings and turn it off in the afternoons to garden and spend time outdoors on my acreage. I worry about how to get food in a few weeks, but for now, just take it one day at a time. I find I have plenty to do. I worry about others who have lost their income, my grandchildren and daughter whom I cannot visit because of (COVID-19). As someone who is alone and isolated, it can be hard mentally to stay strong or not succumb to fear of the unknown. To help with my mental health, I find myself seeking out online groups that are promoting positive messaging and talking about their situations, or finding interesting sites that are reaching out to help others. I wish there was more that I could do without exposing myself to this illness. I am very angry that our healthcare workers cannot get enough PPE and the general populace can’t get enough tests. It’s inexcusable, although dwelling on our country’s failures is not productive. We need to find a way to help if possible. I fear for what’s coming based on everything that has come out of Italy, but pray that we can all manage to support each other rather than turn against each other.”

• Tina from Dunnellon: “Playing Scrabble and Word and watches movies on a Roku thing that my niece gave me. I write like crazy trying to keep friends laughing under an alias, Tova Feinbloom, on my Facebook page. Here is one example of my comments on this vicious plague, in song, a parody by me:

Oh my little nasty one, my nasty one
When you gonna give me some slime, Corona
Oh you make the people run, the people run
Got ’em runnin down the line, Corona”


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Around the state today

• Florida Politics: DeSantis administration: No shelter-in-place order on the horizon— yet. “Members of Gov. Ron DeSantis administration say there’s no shelter-in-place order on the horizon for Florida. But the need for one is being re-assessed every day.”

• WLRN: There’s Something Strange About Florida’s Coronavirus Data. “Through the tip and further reporting, we have identified a series of instances where information about reported COVID-19 cases altogether disappeared, was removed and then re-added, or might have been altered in some kind of fundamental way, to the point where it is unclear what’s actually being shown to the public.”

• WTSP: 6 Florida college students test positive for coronavirus. “Six University of Tampa students tested positive for COVID-19 coronavirus following their travels, with a group recently coming back to campus from a spring break trip.”

• Florida Today: State Rep. Fine calls for donations of protective masks during coronavirus crisis. “Amid a national medical supply shortage, especially of masks needed to protect health care workers from being infected by COVID-19 patients, state Rep. Randy Fine called Saturday for donations from local industries, dentists offices and other medical practices for distribution to Brevard hospitals.”

• AP: Virus rekindles oil spill memories along Gulf Coast. “The spring of the coronavirus feels a lot like the summer of oil to residents along the Gulf Coast. Bars and restaurants are empty in Florida because of an invisible threat nearly a decade after the BP oil spill ravaged the region from the ocean floor up, and condominium reservations have taken a nosedive in Alabama.”

• Florida Politics: Rick Scott calls for moratorium on rent, mortgages and utility payments. “…he wants a 60-day moratorium on“mortgages, rent, fees and utilities for both individuals making less than $75,000 a year and small businesses with less than 250 employees.”

• Bradenton Herald: ‘People need to wake up’: Are Florida’s small towns prepared for a coronavirus outbreak? “For now, Florida’s rural and small-town communities seem a relative safe haven from the novel coronavirus outbreak that’s spreading nationwide, although testing in those areas has been limited.”

• Politico: Will spring breakers become super-spreaders? “‘What is happening in Florida with spring break partying-on by students oblivious to the epidemiological implications of their actions is nothing short of tragic,’ wrote Gregg Gonsalves, a professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, in an email.”

• St. Augustine Record: St. Johns County closes public beach parking lots. “St. Johns County’s beaches themselves are not closed, despite closures in recent days by Duval County and Nassau County.”

• Northwest Florida Daily News: Panhandle gun shops can’t keep up with demand. “One thing new gun owners won’t be able to do — for at least the next 30 days — is get a concealed weapon permit. An executive order has closed all Division of Licensing offices in Florida through at least April 19. In the same order, all permits set to expire in that time frame were given a 30-day extension.”


From NPR News

• Politics: 3 GOP Senators In Self-Quarantine Will Be Unable To Vote On Coronavirus Relief

• Politics: Andrew Yang Talks Universal Basic Income During The Coronavirus Crisis

• Health: Why Testing Can Slow The Spread Of The Coronavirus

• Business: Closed All At Once: Restaurant Industry Faces Collapse

• World: German Chancellor Angela Merkel Goes Into Self-Isolation

• National: A Cashier Reports From The Grocery Front Lines

About Ethan Magoc

Ethan is a journalist at WUFT News. He's a Pennsylvania native who found a home reporting Florida's stories. Reach him by emailing emagoc@wuft.org or calling 352-294-1525.

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