Gov. Ron DeSantis urged congregations to host virtual or at-home services in spite of his executive order last week that specifically exempted religious leaders from “non-essential” gatherings. At a press conference Monday, DeSantis was wary of coronavirus spreading during in-person Easter or Passover celebrations.
“We want people during this time to be spiritually together but to remain socially distant,” DeSantis said. “Please keep God close but please keep COVID-19 away.”
In Gainesville, congregations wrestle with the possible consequences of holding in-person services, as they are still deemed “essential business” by the state order.
Today, DeSantis signed an executive order to waive tax collection on small business loans that are issued through the federal CARES Act. He also announced that work requirements would be waived for unemployment claims among other aid programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
This comes after a wave of recent orders was issued to protect small business owners, residents facing imminent foreclosure or eviction and newly unemployed Floridians. DeSantis announced the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEO) upped its website’s capability over the weekend and estimates the ability to process 80,000 unemployment claims this week. He also directed the Florida Department of Children and Families to submit a federal waiver to secure funding to temporarily increase SNAP benefits to the maximum amount for families in need.
Over the weekend the number of total cases in Florida climbed, with a 974-person jump in diagnoses and a 15-person uptick in related deaths since Sunday night. Here are the latest COVID-19 updates by the Florida Department of Health, as of Monday evening:
- 13,629 total cases in Florida
- 254 deaths in Florida
In Alachua County:
- 133 total cases
- 16 hospitalizations
- 0 deaths
Alachua County has a higher count of coronavirus cases compared to surrounding counties. Here is what you need to know about the areas near you:
Clay County has reported 6 deaths of its 81 total cases. Marion, Citrus and St. Johns counties have all reported 2 virus-related deaths and Putnam County has reported 1 death.
Find the full FDOH coronavirus dashboard here.