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The Point, April 3, 2020: DeSantis' Stay-At-Home Rules Supersede Local Measures, Alachua County Responds

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The top stories near you

• WUFT News: DeSantis Amends Stay-at-Home Order To Supersede Local Rules. "Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an  amendment Thursday to his executive order from the day before directing Floridians statewide to stay at home, which now states the executive order 'shall supersede any conflicting official action or order issued by local officials in response to COVID-19.' Alachua County commissioners were already meeting to adopt some of the county’s preexisting coronavirus measures into general law."

• From our Fresh Take Florida team: Florida Supreme Court Won't Hear Cellphone Passcode Case. "A 2018 Alachua County drug deal turned armed robbery case centers around the nationwide debate over whether law enforcement can force someone to reveal a phone’s passcode."

• Gainesville Sun: Coronavirus Florida: Funeral homes must limit mourners. "Williams Thomas Funeral Home has been laying people to rest in Alachua County for 130 years but is facing a completely new challenge — limiting the number of mourners because of COVID-19."

• Ocala Star-Banner: Stranded Ocala couple poised to leave cruise ship. "Roy and Diane Smith are among more than 2,000 people aboard two cruise ships that are seeking to dock in Fort Lauderdale. At least nine people aboard the MS Zaandam are suffering from COVID-19."

• WUFT News: From The Front Lines Podcast. "Dr. Bruce Spiess, a University of Florida professor of anesthesiology, has created an alternative to the N95 masks that are in short demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. He just needs a little help from the community.​" (Subscribe here for more episodes.)

• Spotlight on Levy County: County Approves Measures Aimed at Halting Spread of Coronavirus. "Levy County Commissioners Tuesday approved an emergency order closing two county parks, Blue Springs and Henry Beck Park, but left all the county boat ramps and other county parks open as they balanced the need for recreation with their efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus."

• Mayo Free Press: Seventh confirmed COVID-19 case announced in Suwannee County. "The patient is a 60-year-old female that is hospitalized with the virus and comes after being in close contact with an existing confirmed case."

• Suwannee Democrat: Scaff faces discipline for misconduct. "The Hamilton County judge is facing a public reprimand after years of misconduct... According to the investigation, Scaff held first appearance bond hearings over the phone rather than in person and also met with and discussed cases with family members."

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Around the state today

• Florida Storms: Early Signs Point to an Active Hurricane Season Ahead. "The Colorado State University (CSU) Tropical Meteorology Project team, led by Dr. Phil Klotzbach, is predicting 16 named storms, eight hurricanes, and four to reach major hurricane strength with winds 111 mph or greater. A normal season usually consists of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes."

• From our Fresh Take Florida team: Virus Concerns Effectively Shut Down Overwhelmed US Immigration Courts. "The nation’s immigration courts – already overwhelmed with a backlog of more than 1 million cases – have effectively shut down over concerns about exposure to the virus. Citing the pandemic, the U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement agency promised last month to delay arresting immigrants who aren’t already subject to criminal charges."

• NPR News: Tampa Mayor Calls Florida Governor's Stay-At-Home Order 'Better Late Than Never'. "Under Mayor Castor, Tampa has been using social media aggressively to spread information about the coronavirus and encourage the city's more than 390,000 residents to stay home. As of Wednesday, Hillsborough County, where Tampa is located, had 245 of the state's 7,495 confirmed coronavirus cases."

• Tampa Bay Times: Ron DeSantis suspends evictions, foreclosures for 45 days in Florida. "The governor’s order appears to clarify confusion about the Florida Supreme Court’s earlier attempt to halt evictions and foreclosures."

• WFSU: DEO Secretary Speaks On Unemployment System Complaints. "Many Floridians haven’t been able to apply due to long hold times and website malfunctions. Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Ken Lawson tried to address the problems Thursday."

• Florida Politics: Megachurches are exempt from safe-at-home order following Ron DeSantis’ clarification. "That specifically pertains to a religious exemption that allows churches to continue holding services even if those congregations exceed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guideline on social distancing that limits gatherings to 10 or fewer individuals."

• WUFT News: How Florida Agriculture Has Been Affected By COVID-19. "(State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki) Fried said the state is currently working on connecting producers to additional markets within Florida and other states. They have also maintained contact with large retailers like Walmart, Whole Foods, and Publix to encourage them to purchase more Florida produce."

• WJCT: New York Times: Jacksonville 1 Of Top Spots Where People Won't Stay Still. "Duval County ranked No. 3 in the country for travel, despite people being encouraged to stay at home, according to an analysis by The New York Times."

• Florida Politics: Cruise ship with virus-infected passengers arrives at Port Everglades after deal. "A cruise ship carrying several passengers infected with the novel coronavirus has docked at Port Everglades in Broward County after the cruise ship company reached an agreement with officials overseeing the port. Thursday, multiple Broward County commissioners confirmed a plan had been finalized, subject to Commission approval."

• WLRN: Two Broward Inmates Test Positive For Coronavirus, As Calls For Release Grow. "Two inmates in Broward County have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office. The two cases mark the first time inmates in county jails in South Florida have tested positive for the novel coronavirus."

• Politico: ‘It's a sh-- sandwich': Republicans rage as Florida becomes a nightmare for Trump. "Rep. Charlie Crist, a Democrat who as a Republican governor led Florida through the last downturn, said the state’s current economic catastrophe could doom Trump in the state the president needs if he wants to win reelection. 'If unemployment continues to go up, and if so many people stay unemployed, it’s a nightmare for the president in this state,' Crist said. 'I should know. When I was governor and I was running for the Senate in the Great Recession — and there was nothing great about it — it was a nightmare.'"

From NPR News

• National: Want To See What Your City's Pandemic Plan Says? Good Luck.

• World: 1 Million Coronavirus Cases Have Now Been Reported Worldwide

• Health: Seattle-Area Nursing Home Linked to Dozens Of Coronavirus Deaths Faces $600,000 Fine

• Business: Video Meeting Platform Zoom Addresses Criticisms As It Sees Explosive Growth In Users

• Politics: Stimulus Cash Payments May Take Up To 20 Weeks To Reach Some Americans

• Politics: Wisconsin Primary To Go On But Absentee Voting Extended, Federal Judge Rules

• National: Experts Say A National Quarantine Is Probably Not Legal

• Health: Mush! Dog Team Delivers Supplies To Elderly Residents Shut In By Virus

Kristen is a web editor and reporter for WUFT News. She can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing kaltus@ufl.edu. Follow her on social media @kristenaltus.