The Point, March 31, 2020: Tampa Pastor Arrested For Holding In-Person Sunday Service


Subscribe to The Point to invite us into your inbox with the most important Florida news from Monday through Friday at 8 a.m.

Today’s top Florida stories

• WUFT News: ‘Law Enforcement Is Last Resort’: Alachua County Sheriff On Stay-At-Home Orders. “Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell turned to Facebook last week to address concerns on how the office would approach countywide social distancing restrictions as some counties in Florida have responded to COVID-19 by taking action against citizens who violate their stay-at-home orders… None of us want to be in this circumstance, but it is going to get worse, likely, before it gets better,’ she said.”

• Miami Herald ($): Patchwork of coronavirus laws challenge Florida cops. Cite church gatherings or not? “The only thing consistent so far is that nothing is consistent.”

• WUSF: Tampa Pastor Arrested After Church Hosts In-Person Worship. Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne of The River Church violated Hillsborough County’s safer-at-home order, which went into effect March 27, said Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister. ‘His reckless disregard for human life put hundreds of people in his congregation at risk, and thousands of residents who may interact with them this week in danger,’ Chronister said.”

• WUFT News: From The Front Lines Podcast. “In the last couple of weeks, Fish Hawk Spirits in Ocala has been diverting 100% of its production to provide support for the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. We spoke with the distillery’s owner, who says they are using alcohol and other resources to make something a lot of people around the country are scouring stores for hand sanitizer.​” (Subscribe here for free.)

• Gainesville Sun ($): Schools to stay closed through May 1.“Alachua County students and their peers throughout the state won’t be heading back to class until May 4 — at the earliest.”

• Citrus County Chronicle: Meals on wheels: school district delivers food to students amid classroom closures.“Monday was the first day the district used its buses to deliver over 1,500 meals from its three high schools to 35 stops across the county, reaching as many areas as possible to eventually feed 1,470 children.”

• Suwannee Democrat: Locals making masks to help prevent virus spread.“A retired deputy, Rita Gross knows the importance of public servants being properly equipped.”

• Ocala Star-Banner ($): Ocala City Council seeks mail-in runoff election.“The Ocala City Council will ask the state to allow mail-in only votes for the May 19 District 2 runoff election.”

• News Service of Florida: DeSantis Pushes ‘Safer at Home’ in South Florida “DeSantis…suggested Monday that physical distancing rules and guidelines for Southeast Florida could apply through the “middle of May.”

• Politico: Time to count the paper clips? Damage to Florida budget is still uncalculated. “The outbreak has been likened to a silent hurricane, but the damage to the state’s current $91 billion-budget from this noiseless storm remains undocumented and, as of yet, barely acknowledged in Tallahassee.”

• Florida Politics: Jimmy Patronis orders workers’ comp for coronavirus-infected state employees“Florida will start processing workers’ compensation claims from public servants who contract the novel coronavirus on the job.”

• WFSU: UF Study Testing Residents Of The Villages Yields ‘Encouraging’ Results In Battle Against COVID-19. “The University of Florida is reporting early findings from its testing of nearly 2,300 people in The Villages for COVID-19. “

• NWF Daily News ($): Coronavirus Florida: Deaths projected to hit 6,766 by August.“Florida had 71 COVID-19 deaths as of Monday, but a disturbing new analysis predicts the death toll will rise to 6,766 by Aug. 4.”

• Bay News 9: USF Health Creates 3D-printed Nasal Swabs for COVID-19 Testing.“USF Health is stepping up to fill that need for health care workers on the front lines in the fight against COVID 19 and they’re doing so with remarkable alacrity.”

• Tallahassee Democrat ($): Gov. Ron DeSantis, First Lady Casey announce birth of third child “Gov. Ron and First Lady Casey DeSantis announced on Twitter Monday morning the birth of their third child, Mamie, to the world.”

Today’s sponsored message

Crime Prevention Security Systems has more than 40 years of experience in providing peace of mind for businesses and families in North Central Florida. With its free app, local monitoring and state of the art security equipment, Crime Prevention is the local leader in security systems and home technology. Upgrade your existing system now for remote access to your security, lights, locks and thermostats – from your smartphone or tablet. Call 352-376-1499 or visit

From NPR News

• National: Hospital Ship USNS Comfort Arrives In New York To Ease Coronavirus Pressure

• World: Checking In With A Wuhan Resident, Months After The Epidemic Began

• World: Coronavirus World Map: Tracking The Spread Of The Outbreak

• Politics: House Looks At 4th Coronavirus Aid Package; Pelosi Says She Won’t Get Test

• Business: Ford To Build 50,000 Ventilators At Michigan Auto Parts Plant

• Business: FDA OK’s Addition To Stockpile Of Malaria Drugs For COVID-19

• Business: Amazon, Instacart Grocery Delivery Workers Demand Coronavirus Protection And Pay

• Science: World Health Organization Antimicrobial Expert Explains Transmission Of Coronavirus

• Books: A Reading List For The Social Distancing Era, From Cartoonist Raina Telgemeier

About Gabriella Paul

Gabriella Paul is a reporter for WUFT. She can be reached at

Check Also

The Point, Dec. 1, 2022: Gators backup quarterback arrested on child porn charges

Subscribe to The Point, arriving in your inbox Monday through Friday at 8 a.m. The stories …