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The top stories near you
• Tampa Bay Times: In the Villages, America’s biggest retirement oasis, the dangers of coronavirus stack up. “If the coronavirus rips through the community, experts say the Villages’ huge population of highly social seniors could crush the local health care system. Older adults are much more likely to be hospitalized or to die from the virus.”
• WUFT News: As Drought Adds To COVID-19 Woes, A Reminder To Conserve Water During Florida’s Dry Season. “Alachua County had only 0.99 inches of rain in March, according to Fay Baird, the senior hydrologist of the Suwannee River Water Management District. This is less than 25% of what was expected for March, making it one of the driest Marches on record since 1932.”
• Ocala Star-Banner: Some businesses hold steady amid COVID-19 pandemic. “At Ocala-based Cone Distributing, business is brisk as people stock up on beverages for the stay-at-home effort. The company is delivering product seven days a week to try and keep supplies stocked at stores, said Doug Cone, founder and CEO of the company.”
• Tallahassee Democrat: ‘All we have is our faith’: Tallahassee family is in Gainesville under siege by coronavirus. “Tallahassee couple Irish and Trent Porter both have the symptoms — cough, fever, sweats. While in Gainesville for a February surgery to correct Trent’s heart condition, both tested positive for coronavirus. They haven’t been back home since.”
• Suwannee Democrat: Lake City officer tests positive for COVID-19. “The release states that the officer hasn’t had any prolonged contact with members of the public the past two weeks or transported any prisoners in that span.”
• Alachua County Today: Newberry Moves April Election to August. “After careful deliberation and discussion on possible alternative dates in June or August, as well as consideration of proceeding with the April 14 election date, commissioners voted to move the election to the second Tuesday in August.”
• High Country News: Land-grab universities: Expropriated Indigenous land is the foundation of the land-grant university system. “In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act, which distributed public domain lands to raise funds for fledgling colleges across the nation. Now thriving, the institutions seldom ask who paid for their good fortune… From the University of Florida to Washington State University, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to the University of Arizona, the grants of land raised endowment principal for 52 institutions across the United States.”
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Around the state today
• Sun Sentinel: Coronavirus is ravaging New York, and Florida could be next. Are we ready? “We appear to have the hospital space and treatment options we need as the disease escalates. Florida’s fate might be determined more by whether the state can overcome its delays in testing, properly equip its medical professionals and persuade its residents to stay home until it’s safe.”
• TCPalm: COVID-19 cases the state reports today likely were tested weeks ago. “Florida Department of Health testing totals and positive case statistics on its publicly accessible database continues to lag behind, or do not reflect, the numbers released by the region’s private medical facilities.”
• Florida Phoenix: A rapid rise in COVID-19 infections — now at 11,545 — and 195 deaths in about half of FL’s counties. “If those kinds of increases continue — meaning around 1,200 new cases every 24 hours — Florida could be at 20,000 infections in about a week.”
• WKMG Orlando: Interactive map shows coronavirus cases by ZIP code in Florida. “The Florida Department of Health has posted an interactive map showing the coronavirus cases in each ZIP code in Florida.”
• Tampa Bay Times: Florida saw a pandemic coming and prepared. Then state leaders started to cut. “They slashed research funding, cut thousands of jobs and ignored gaps in the state’s defense against fast-spreading diseases. Florida now has fewer epidemiologists per resident than most of the country and has cut back on statewide pandemic drills. As coronavirus cases spike across Florida, there are signs that the weakened health department is unprepared.”
• Miami Herald: BSO deputy dies of COVID-19. ‘And we’re probably going to lose another.’ “Deputy Shannon Bennett, who served for 12 years, died Friday night of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, said Sheriff Gregory Tony. Bennett was 39 and a member of the LGBTQ community and had announced he was to marry in December. He contracted the virus while ‘in the line of duty,’ Tony said, and had been in the care of a local hospital since March 27.”
• Gannett: Jobless Floridians want state to do more. “The most apparent hole in what passes for a state safety net is DEO’s CONNECT system, beset by problems since it was launched in 2013 under former Gov. Rick Scott, now a U.S. senator. The DEO’s executive director, Ken Lawson, on Thursday apologized for the cascade of technical issues faced by thousands of Floridians…”
• Florida Politics: Masks will soon be mandatory for employees, customers in Miami Beach. “The provision states ‘all employees and customers of grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants shall be required to wear a form of covering over their nose and mouth at all times while inside the grocery store, pharmacy or restaurant facility. All individuals providing delivery services shall wear a form of covering over their nose and mouth while making deliveries.'”
• Palm Beach Post: How grocery stores take steps to avoid becoming cauldrons of contagion. “Jerne Shapiro, an epidemiologist who lectures at the University of Florida, said stores, clerks and customers all have a role to play to limit transmission of coronavirus. And it all doesn’t rest on personal protective equipment like masks, she said, even as federal officials urge all Americans to wear masks when stepping outside the home.”
• Florida Politics: ‘Nikki Fried should be ashamed’: Florida GOP savages Democratic Ag Commissioner. “On Friday, Republican Party of Florida Chair Joe Gruters fired back with a white-hot salvo, asserting that Fried ‘should be ashamed’ of her ‘unseemly self-promotion.'”
• Bloomberg: The Burning Problem of America’s Sugar Cane Growers. “There’s a hidden cost to the way Florida’s farmers bring in the sugar crop. Just visit the hospitals and measure the climate impact.”