The Point, March 28, 2020: Florida Universities Are Citing A State Law To Keep Their Pandemic Plans Secret

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Today’s top Florida stories

• From our Fresh Take Florida team: Unintended Consequences: Lawmaker Says He Never Meant To Allow Florida Colleges, Universities To Hide Details Of Pandemic Response Plans. “The 2017 law allows the university to withhold details of its emergency plans – or even whether it has any. It is among hundreds of formal exemptions that allow the government to withhold information from citizens under Florida’s otherwise powerful public records law. The University of Florida declined this week to release its pandemic plan to Fresh Take Florida, a news service operated by UF’s College of Journalism and Communications, as part of investigative reporting to determine whether school leaders were following their plan. It cited the exemption: ‘This reply completes your public records request,’ the school said. A school spokesman, Steve Orlando, later confirmed with the general counsel’s office that it will not publicly release the pandemic plan.”

• WUFT News: Commissioners Argue Over What Level Of Coronavirus Restriction Is Best For Alachua County. “The board’s next step is adopting the new rules they discussed and setting a timeframe to put them in place. (Commission Chair Robert) Hutchinson said at the moment, the county has some time and can avoid a more draconian lockdown. ‘Things are going pretty well,’ he said. ‘We don’t have rampant infections and our hospitals aren’t stressed… if things do get a lot worse, we are going to have to start doing a lot more.'”

• Gainesville Sun: COVID-19 drive-thru testing —but only with a referral. “A by-appointment-only drive-thru COVID-19 testing site created by the Alachua County Health Department began operating Friday and will continue until supplies run out.”

• Miami Herald: ‘I’m heartbroken for them’: Pall cast over Broward ALF as coronavirus death toll climbs to 6. “The home fell so far short of ‘the standard of care,’ (Gov. Ron) DeSantis told reporters, that his administration believes criminal prosecution might be appropriate.”

• Sun Sentinel: In Fort Lauderdale, stay home, be safe or face arrest. “As coronavirus cases ramp up across the nation, Fort Lauderdale has become the latest city to order residents to stay home — and you could be punished if you don’t… Violators could be arrested and jailed for 60 days or fined $500.”

• Florida Keys News: Checkpoint opens in Florida Keys to keep tourists out. The aim: reduce COVID-19 risks. “Monroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers said the decision to prohibit tourists from coming into the Keys, which was made earlier this week, was difficult, but ultimately officials determined it was necessary.”

• Tampa Bay Times: Who’s to blame for Florida’s coronavirus problems? DeSantis points to other states. “In recent days, he’s singled out travelers from the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Louisiana, saying they risk spreading the virus as Florida works to contain the pandemic within its borders. Florida’s cases are still rapidly rising, with the count at nearly 3,000 as of Friday afternoon.”

• WMFE: SeaWorld Furloughs 90 Percent of its Workers. “The company said it looks forward to welcoming back employees and guests when it is safe to reopen.”

• Miami Herald: When Waffle House closes, you know it’s serious. Coronavirus shuts Key Largo location. “Translation: If you weren’t taking social distancing seriously in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, you better start now.”

• Florida Times-Union: St. Johns County priest offers prayer from above. “The Rev. Richard Pagano of St. John Paul II Catholic Church on Stonemason Way flew in a helicopter over Nocatee, Ponte Vedra Beach and St. Augustine for a prayer service high above.”

• Pensacola News Journal: Santa Rosa County Animal Shelter is empty for the first time ever, thanks to surge of adopters and fosters. “Staff reached out to hundreds of volunteers, both those who have been volunteers for a long time and brand new ones, to help get the dogs and cats into homes. Most of them answered the call.”


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From NPR News

• Business: Trump, Invoking Cold War Authority, Enjoins GM To Build Ventilators

• Business: Orange Juice Is A Hot Commodity During The Coronavirus

• Business: Guess What’s Flying Off Shelves Now: Hair Dye

• Health: What’s In The $2 Trillion Bill For Health Care?

• Health: 4 Dead Aboard Cruise Ship With COVID-19 Cases

• Science: Coronavirus FAQs: Does It Live On Clothes? Can My Dog Infect Me? Any Advice On Wipes?

• Race: New Site Collects Reports Of Racism Against Asian Americans Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

• Books: A Reading List For The Social Distancing Era, From Author Jade Chang

• World: In Beijing, There Are Small Signs That Brighter Days Are Ahead

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.

About WUFT News

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

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