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• On Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Re-Open Florida Task Force met for a second time. Members of the task force discussed hospitality and tourism, education and utilities. DeSantis said in a press conference there are two new contracts in place to administer 18,000 tests per day to begin the re-opening process and to get results in 24 to 48 hours after administered.
• WUFT News: Domestic Violence Victim Advocates Worry About Uptick In Cases Because Of COVID-19. “With four billion people now sheltering at home because of COVID-19, the United Nations and agencies across Florida are concerned the stress could mean more violence against women. Peaceful Paths – a domestic violence center serving Alachua, Bradford and Union Counties – has received 25% more domestic violence calls and requests for legal assistance during the outbreak, said its executive director, Theresa Beachy.”
• WUFT News: Non-Profits Pivot To Help In Pandemic. “In 2019, Bread of the Mighty Food Bank distributed more than 8.4 million pounds of food to five counties, 6.7 million of which went to people in Alachua County, said Karen Woolfstead, communications development director. From March to April 16, Bread of the Mighty has processed more than 1.9 million pounds of food, about 50% more than what its 25 staff members usually handle.”
• WUFT News: Newberry Retains All City Employees As It Adapts Services To Pandemic. “The city of Newberry is operating online and sending essential employees into the field, but under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines. City Manager Mike New said not one city employee has been laid off because of COVID-19, with some creative adaptations.”
• WUFT News: From The Front Lines Podcast. “Cornelia Holbrook, owner of Sweetwater Branch Inn in Gainesville, discusses her partnership with the Climb For Cancer Foundation to help provide a place for families to stay while traveling for cancer treatments during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
• Ocala Star-Banner: Ocala City Council approves reducing Ocala Electric Utility charges. “On Tuesday, the Ocala City Council unanimously approved a plan to give customers of the city-owned electric utility a break on their power bill during May and June in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
• Citrus County Chronicle: Road closure, lane changes set for U.S. 19 through Homosassa. “The speed limit has been reduced to 20 mph on U.S. 19 leading up to Homosassa Trail while widening continues. For the next phase of construction, traffic is in a two-way traffic pattern on U.S. 19 from Jump Court to Homosassa Trail. All traffic is sharing the northbound lanes — one lane in each direction.”
• WUFT News: Hobbyists And Professionals Agree: No Need To Fear Bats. “According to the Centers for Disease Control’s situation summary of COVID-19, early reports in China were linked to a “large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread.” Geiselman further assured that the bats that spread COVID-19 in China were “Old World bats,” or bats that live in the eastern hemisphere. These bats never encounter “New World bats” like those found in the United States.”
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Around the state today
• Florida Keys News: Is rare fish sighting in Biscayne Bay a sign nature rebounding? It’s an Earth Day question. “Ziegler took out his phone to film them but didn’t think much of it — he often saw manatees, turtles and other marine animals from his perch. What he didn’t know then was that he was witnessing something extraordinary: a pair of endangered smalltooth sawfish. Nobody really knows how many are left in the wild and sightings in busy Biscayne Bay are extremely rare.”
• Miami Herald: Florida turns to beaches first in an effort to end coronavirus lockdown. “Though beaches remain closed throughout much of South Florida, the slow return to the shore is, for many communities, among the first signs of a return to normalcy as local and state governments look for a way to safely reopen society amid a novel coronavirus pandemic.”
• Florida Phoenix: FL looks at reopening state parks — under certain conditions. “Considerations would be low-activity or high-activity exercises (such as canoeing, strolling or jogging), how confined or open the parks are, and how guests are encouraged to interact.”
• WJCT: More Than 1.6M Unemployment Claims Filed In Fla.; Health Care Jobs Trend In Jax. “The frequently updated website shows that more than 1.6 million unemployment claims had been submitted by Floridians between March 15 and Monday, April 20. In Florida, unemployment claims are known as reemployment assistance claims. The state goes on to explain that because people may have applied for reemployment assistance online and by paper, there are many duplicate applications. DEO has verified more than 664,000 unique claims.”
• Miami Herald: ICE has tested a tiny fraction of its detainees for COVID-19. Most of them were positive. “The numbers from ICE reveal that only 1.32% of its detainees have been tested. Out of those 425 tests, the agency says on its website that 253 people tested positive as of Wednesday, meaning that 59.5% of people who were tested have the virus.”
• Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Florida crops losses due to coronavirus pandemic top $522 million, new report finds. “At the end of March, tomato growers were left with approximately 29 million pounds of unsold product, which was left either to rot in the fields or packed and unsold. April and March are typically the biggest harvesting months for tomatoes, as farmers across the state begin harvesting about 300 million pounds. Demand has decreased by 84% — meaning only 46 million pounds could be sold this season.”
• Florida Politics: Publix to stock food banks with Florida-grown produce. “Publix will start buying milk and produce from Florida farms and sending it to Feeding America food banks, the company announced Wednesday.”
• WTSP: The Florida Aquarium makes another historic breakthrough that could save coral reefs. “‘Our resolve to save Florida’s endangered coral reefs continues, and this historic breakthrough by our coral experts, our second in eight months, provides additional hope for the future of all coral reefs in our backyard and around the globe,” said Roger Germann, President and CEO of The Florida Aquarium.'”