The Point, March 26, 2020: Florida Courtrooms Shut Down Until Mid-April


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• From our Fresh Take Florida team: Pandemic Shuts Florida’s Courtrooms Through Mid-April, Possibly Longer. “Some Florida courts are effectively shutting down through the middle of April while others remain partially open in a fight to stop the spread of COVID-19. It’s leaving legal officials frazzled and uncertain about how justice can be served during the pandemic.”

• WUFT News: From The Front Lines Podcast: Pregnancy In The Coronavirus Era. “Pregnancy is already a stressful time for many women. With the spread of COVID-19, many pregnant women are worried about what the virus means for their health and the health of their baby.”

• Gainesville Sun ($): County libraries remain closed, may reopen April 13. All of the county’s libraries will stay closed through Sunday, April 12, with tentative plans to reopen the next day, a library system news release said Wednesday. The libraries have been closed since March 15, and library programs are suspended through April 30.”

• WCJB: GRU suspends late fees for customers amid COVID-19 concerns. “Gainesville Regional Utilities have suspended its late fees for all customers through April 30.”

• Ocala Star-Banner ($): Employees at Jacksonville Amazon facility test positive for COVID-19.  Amazon says employees at the site have been made aware of the confirmed COVID-19 case and the company has implemented a series of preventative health measures.”

• The Alligator: County, university COVID-19 cases increase; UF S/U grading option available. “Around 11 a.m., the department reported eight new Florida resident cases: a 60-year-old female, a 25-year-old female, a 21-year-old female, a 26-year-old male, a 72-year-old female, a 35-year-old male, a 20-year-old male and a 67-year-old male, according to the department’s daily report. At 6 p.m., one more Florida resident case was announced — a 23-year-old female.”

• UF Health: UF Health Physician Sifts Facts From Fears About COVID-19 And Pregnant Women. Pregnancy is already a stressful time for many women. With the spread of COVID-19, many expectant women are worried about what the virus means for their health and the health of their baby. John Smulian, M.D., M.P.H., chair of the UF College of Medicine’s department of obstetrics and gynecology and the B.L. Stalnaker professor provides some important information on what is known about the novel coronavirus and pregnancy.”

• WUFT News: Residents Band Together To Make COVID-19 Gear. “On Friday, (Pegeen) Hanrahan began a Facebook page called Gainesville Face Mask Crafters for COVID-19 Support. On this page, people can sign up to make cotton face masks from a sewing pattern provided by Deaconess Hospital in Indiana, and they can donate sewing machines, fabric, thread or elastic to make the masks.”

• Gainesville Sun ($): Neighbors hosting a virus-friendly block party? Call 311. “The outdoor neighborhood party — described by officials as an event that “flies in the face of all CDC recommendations” — was promoted via social media over the weekend.”

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Around the state today

• Florida Politics: Donald Trump declares major disaster in Florida over coronavirus. “Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott had asked the President to give the order to provide greater assistance to state, tribal and local governments battling COVID-19.”

• Miami Herald: In Miami, hospitals aren’t only medical facilities bracing for COVID-19. So is the morgue. “The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office may not wind up doing many autopsies on the inevitable COVID-19 deaths, but it nevertheless plays a vital role, issuing death certificates for those who succumb to diseases threatening the public’s health.”

• WJCT: Recent Model Shows Florida Has Only A Week To Contain COVID-19. “The model predicts 465,699 people will be need to be hospitalized because of COVID-19, by April 24, but there will only be 36,384 hospital beds available by that date.”

•Miami Herald: Like playing ‘Russian roulette’: DeSantis won’t say which elder care homes have coronavirus. “The DeSantis administration has based its refusal, so far, to name (nursing) homes with positive results on its desire to protect the confidentiality of residents. While he has not named the law, DeSantis appears to be invoking the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, which protects patient medical records and privacy.”

• WJCT: Jacksonville’s FBI Office Warns People To Be On Guard For COVID-19 Cyber Scams. Scam artists are ramping up their efforts to fleece people during the coronavirus scare. Jacksonville-based FBI Special Agent Jon Windness said the fakery includes sham websites, apps and emails designed to steal people’s identity.”

• Tallahassee Democrat ($): Congress set to boost unemployment payments by $600 a week. “The money would be on top of Florida’s maximum $275 weekly jobless benefits, which are among the lowest in the nation.”

• Tampa Bay Times ($): Publix to install plexiglass barriers to protect cashiers from COVID-19. “The Lakeland company says installation will begin this weekend and take about two weeks to complete. The new barriers will go up at registers, customer service desks and pharmacies.”

• Florida Politics: Millions of Americans are benefiting from Florida farms during the coronavirus epidemic. Behind tourism, agriculture is Florida’s largest sector of the state’s economy and provides more than 2 million Floridians with jobs, with an estimated $140 billion economic impact statewide. According to Adam Basford, Director of Legislative Affairs at the Florida Farm Bureau, food grown in Florida plays an important role in our domestic food supply infrastructure.”

• St. Augustine Record: St. Augustine tourism could be almost non-existent in April. “With all festivals and large gatherings also prohibited due to the threat of the novel coronavirus, it’s all but canceled tourism in the city for the next six weeks.”

• Miami Herald: Coronavirus could push Miami’s homeless into temporary shelter or isolation in hotels. “As escalating emergency orders from the county government and the city of Miami urge people to stay home and stay out of public spaces, those without a home face limited options. Government agencies who work with the homeless could convert a former Costco in North Miami into a 135,000-square-foot temporary shelter that would allow more space for people to maintain distance.”

• Northwest Florida Daily News:  Florida ranked first in number of “covidiots.” “Covidiot is a word coined to describe people who seem determined to ignore even the most dire warnings concerning the dangers of COVID-19, a virus that has claimed more than 800 American lives…, a health and fitness website that tracks health-related trends, put together a map charting the nation’s covidiot numbers by state. Florida ranked first, followed by Washington and New York.”

From NPR News

• Politics: Senate Passes $2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Package

• National: Commission Issues Verdict: Women, Like Men, Should Have To Sign Up For Draft

• World: How The Coronavirus Is Affecting Life And Politics In Russia

• World: The Coronavirus Is Mutating. But That May Not Be A Problem For Humans

• Business: How Advertisers Are Navigating The Pandemic

• Business: Historic Games, Documentaries And … Marble Races: ESPN Without Live Sports

• Business: Education Dept. Will Stop Collections On Student Borrowers In Default

• Health: ICU Bed Capacity Varies Widely Nationwide. See How Your Area Stacks Up

• Health: As The Coronavirus Crisis Heats Up, Why Isn’t America Hearing From The CDC?

• Race: The Coronavirus Crisis Is Sparking Harassment Of Asian Americans

About Blake Trauschke

Blake is a student reporter for WUFT and can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing

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