The Point, April 7, 2020: ‘Spiritually Together But Socially Distant’: DeSantis Backpedals On Coronavirus Mandates For Religious Services


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• From our Fresh Take Florida team: On Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis backpedaled the language of his stay-at-home order that exempted religious services from the umbrella of prohibited “non-essential” activities amid coronavirus. He did not revise the language of the order but urged Floridians to celebrate Holy Week from home instead. Now, Gainesville congregations are wrestling with the idea of in-person celebrations, as coronavirus cases in Florida continue to climb. (WUFT News)

• The Alligator: UF Health develops research, testing for COVID-19.“From developing respirator mask and ventilator alternatives, to evaluating patients, vaccines in development and dispensing test kits, here’s what UF Health personnel are doing to protect the public.”

• WUFT News: From The Front Lines Podcast. “University of Florida spokesman Steve Orlando gives an update on the status of the university during the COVID-19 pandemic and assistance for students who couldn’t return home.”

• Citrus County Chronicle: Paper forms now available to file for unemployment.“The coronavirus crisis has created an unprecedented hit to Florida’s unemployment compensation website and created long delays.”

• Mayo Free Press: Florida DOH launches COVID-19 community action survey“This cutting-edge tool gives residents the power to unite in the fight to help slow the spread of coronavirus in Florida.”

• Ocala Star-Banner: Ocala laundromat serves medical community for free. “In a show of support, the owners of a chain of Central Florida laundromats have offered to do the laundry for area health care professionals and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

• Tampa Bay Times: Classes at UF, USF to stay online through summer. “The news was delivered in an email from UF provost John Glover. It said the Summer B semester will be pushed one week later, starting on July 6, and be fully online like the Summer A and Summer C terms.”

• Gainesville Sun: Locked in leases, students cry foul. “UF officials announced last week the university would issue partial refunds for campus housing and meal plans after students were urged to return home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and classes transitioned online. But some off-campus dwellers haven’t had the same luck.”

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Around the state today

• WMFE: Florida’s Coronavirus Peak Expected April 21.“The state is projected to be short 769 intensive care beds, and will need a total of more than 2,000 ventilators.”

• Florida Politics: ‘Instant’ coronavirus tests now available in Florida hospitals.“Some major Florida hospitals now have access to five-minute COVID-19 tests, a possible relief for a health care system inundated with coronavirus patients.”

• Florida Times-Union: Bacardi switches production from rum to hand sanitizer at Jacksonville facility.“The company has shifted all production at its Jacksonville facility, which normally produces and bottles Bacardi rum, to produce hand sanitizer.”

• WFSU: DeSantis Orders Additional Servers, Employees In Rush To Fortify Beleaguered Unemployment System.“That means added servers to support more online users, and state agencies lending employees to help the effort, according to Governor Ron DeSantis.”

• Politico: Outbreak hurts Trump’s electability in Florida, poll says.“The coronavirus outbreak is hitting Floridians’ finances and, by extension, President Donald Trump’s ability to win the nation’s biggest swing state.”

• WJCT: Petitions Ask St. Johns County, State Officials To Reopen Florida Beaches On Limited Basis.“More than 10,000 surfers and supporters are asking St. Johns County officials to reopen public beaches on a limited basis, while another petition is asking Gov. Ron DeSantis to declare surfing an “essential activity” statewide.”

• Miami Herald: ICE to deport Haitians despite coronavirus concerns.“Immigration lawyers and advocates say at least 14 Haitian nationals are scheduled to board a deportation flight from Alexandria, Louisiana, to Port-au-Prince Tuesday.”

• Sun Sentinel ($): ‘Scared to death’: Jail inmates worry they’re sitting ducks for coronavirus.“And if someone doesn’t advocate for them, they are sitting ducks once the virus gets introduced in the jail population, lawyers say.”

• Palm Beach Post: Coronavirus in Florida: Ensure disabled get fair access to supplies, treatment, advocates say. “Specifically, they worry that individuals with disabilities may get shortchanged in distribution of potentially life-saving treatment, equipment and supplies.”

• Fort Myers News-Press: Why don’t we know how many people have recovered from COVID-19 in Florida? An explanation.“That’s because the state is not measuring that statistic.”

• Palm Beach Post: Skies should be clear to check out a truly super moon. “April’s full moon, dubbed the pink moon, grass moon or egg moon, closely coincides with its perigee — the nearest it gets to Earth in its monthly orbit — and will come within about 221,851 miles of the planet.”

From NPR News

• National: Boeing And Airbus Halt Production; Future Of Airplane Manufacturing Uncertain

• World: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Suffering From COVID-19, Moved To ICU

• World: Quarantined In Vietnam: Scenes From Inside A Center For Returning Citizens

• Politics: Economic Relief Provision For Churches Raises Debate Over Church-State Separation

• Business: What It’s Like To Apply For Small Business Assistance Right Now

• Health: With Coronavirus Deaths ‘Essentially Flat’ Last Two Days, NY Gov. Sees ‘Good Signs’ 

• Science: A Tiger Has Coronavirus. Should You Worry About Your Pets?

• Race: In Chicago, COVID-19 Is Hitting The Black Community Hard

About Gabriella Paul

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

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