Coronavirus Evening Update: First Alachua County Death, Re-Open Florida Task Force Holds Second Meeting

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Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Re-Open Florida Task Force met for a second time Wednesday morning. Members of the task force discussed the work being done in subcommittees in a press conference call Wednesday afternoon. The task force plans to have a hesitant guide to re-opening Florida by Friday.

Sen. Dana Young discussed her subcommittee of hospitality and tourism including outdoor recreation, retail, amusement parks and sporting events.

With outdoor recreation, Mayor Lenny Curry of Jacksonville discussed the re-opening of Jacksonville Beach and the restrictions in place with that, according to Young. She said the subcommittee is looking into re-opening state parks by analyzing previous foot traffic to the park and if they have confined spaces.

Young said the CEO of Universal Studios, Thomas L. Williams, discussed at the meeting the theme park’s plans to adapt to social distancing including screening workers daily, virtual lines and capping attendance each day.

Young said Matthew Caldwell, CEO and president of the Florida Panthers Hockey Club, said the NHL may resume late this summer with no spectators and slowly introduce them back in with virtual lines, cashless payments and spreading out the attendees at events. Executive Vice President of the PGA Len Brown told the subcommittee the tour is hesitantly back on for June 8 with no spectators and safety measures put in place for film crews.

The other subcommittee of the task force had a focus on education, utilities and information technology. Commissioner Richard Corcoran of the Florida Department of Education said it is unclear whether summer camps and programs for children will occur at this point, but the subcommittee is trying to re-open them as swiftly and safely as possible.

Corcoran said hybrid learning will most likely take place into fall — maybe not for everyone but probable for at-risk students. He said children will not be held back unless the teachers and legal guardians thought best.

Corcoran said the subcommittee is working toward extending more late fees for utilities.

In a press conference Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke about increased coronavirus testing. There are two new contracts in place with labs. The plan is to have 18,000 tests per day to begin the re-opening process and to then have the results in 24 to 48 hours after administered. The tests will first be given in long term care facilities like nursing homes.

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

  • 28,576 total cases in Florida
  • 4,455 hospitalizations in Florida
  • 927 deaths in Florida

Alachua County:

  • 227 total cases
  • 33 hospitalizations
  • One death

Find the full FDOH coronavirus dashboard here.

About Blake Trauschke

Blake is a student reporter for WUFT and can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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