Coronavirus Evening Update: 51 Test Positive At Suwannee County Nursing Home

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Florida is taking over and ramping up testing at three COVID-19 testing sites with continued support from FEMA.

Starting Monday, sites in Jacksonville, Orlando, and Miami-Dade County will expand their testing criteria to include:

  • Anyone with symptoms, regardless of age
  • All first responders and health care workers, which includes any staff members at long-term care facilities
  • Anyone who has had close sustained contact with someone who recently tested positive for the virus

The sites no longer have to abide by the prior federal limit of 250 tests per day.

During a noon press conference in Jacksonville, Gov. Ron DeSantis said the Department of Health has sent a “strike team” to a nursing home in Suwannee County, where 51 people have tested positive for COVID-19, including 30 staff members, and more are awaiting test results.

The state is scrambling to keep up with unemployment compensation claims — a total of 225,755 new initial claims have been filed so far this week, according to DeSantis, 12,000 of which were paper applications sent in by FedEx. Over 2,000 state employees have been redirected to assist with processing the claims.

The director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, Jared Moskowitz, said yesterday marked the largest mission ever run in one day in Florida history. The division delivered large quantities of personal protective equipment for health care workers across the state, including 2 million masks.

In addition to the 450-bed field hospital being built in Miami Beach, Moskowitz said there are five 250-bed field hospitals being prepared around the state in case hospital beds — which currently have 43% capacity statewide according to the Agency for Healthcare Administration’s dashboard — become full.

Moskowitz closed with a warning for Floridians, “who are very used to hurricanes and watching different spaghetti models taking different tracks,” to not let their guard down. “While things are looking better, they’re looking better because we’re doing all the measures that the governor has instituted. And so let’s continue to do that.”

Moskowitz urged people not to attend religious gatherings for Good Friday, Passover, or Easter, despite their exemption in the statewide stay-at-home order.

The University of Florida confirmed one new case today: an employee at the College of Law. This brings the total of positive cases at UF up to 34.

Here are the latest COVID-19 updates by the Florida Department of Health, as of Friday evening:

  • 17,968 total cases in Florida
  • 2,496 hospitalizations in Florida
  • 419 deaths in Florida

Alachua County:

  • 167 total cases
  • 23 hospitalizations
  • Zero deaths

While Alachua County has a higher number of cases, coronavirus-related deaths are higher in the surrounding counties. Clay County has now had eight deaths.

Find the full FDOH coronavirus dashboard here.

About Katie Hyson

Katie Hyson is a Report for America Corps Member at WUFT News covering racial and rural inequities in East Gainesville and north central Florida. She can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org. Click here to learn how you can support her reporting.

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