State kills 1,000 and reopens ongoing talks in Tampa Bay

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Florida reached another milestone Thursday when the number of known coronavirus deaths exceeded 1,000. The number of known cases in the state is approaching 30,000, including 80 new in the greater Tampa Bay area.

Two more dead at Freedom Square

Two other people from the Freedom Square of Seminole retiree community died from coronavirus, bringing the death toll in COVID-19 in that community to seven.

Daniel Lewis, 66, was one of those seven. He thought his stay at Seminole Pavilion Rehabilitation, the nursing home inside the community, would be temporary, his family said. Learn more about his life and death here.

Hillsborough officials speak of reopening

Elected Hillsborough leaders begin to discuss at least a partial reopening of the county’s economy. The Emergency Policy Group met on Thursday and heard from public health officials who said the spread of the coronavirus has slowed down.

Slow approach to the reopening of beaches and businesses in Pinellas

Municipal leaders along the shore of Pinellas County support opening non-essential businesses, but are divided on how the beaches, restaurants and bars should open if the emergency order to stay at Governor Ron DeSantis’ house expires next week. Authorities in many cities in Pinellas have submitted dozens of ways to lift the restrictions so residents can return to work and potentially enjoy the beaches.

Hospitals can’t wait to start elective surgeries again

Speaking of reopening, Florida hospitals want to start performing elective surgeries when Governor Ron DeSantis’ order prohibiting them expires in two weeks, leaders told a task force on Thursday. At the same meeting, members of the task force said that Florida’s kindergartens and colleges will play a vital role as the state tries to resume operations as usual.

Local nurses share stories in New York

A small group of recent graduates of the Master of University of South Florida College of Nursing volunteered this month to quit their job in Florida in New York – the epicenter of COVID-19 infection in the United States. Here are some of their stories.

Government confiscates masks for firefighters

A shipment of a million masks to firefighters in South Florida was confiscated last week by the federal government, according to a local official. The director of emergency management for Miami-Dade County said the masks were intended for firefighters who were planning to start new home coronavirus tests for Miami-Dade residents confined to their homes.

Latin American aid stopped

The pandemic is causing the Tampa Bay area charities to help those in need in Latin America lose their donations and access. Projects to help Colombian families, terminally ill children in Venezuela and Mexican communities that lack potable water are currently on hold.

Quinceañera dreams postponed

The quinceañera is a big deal for Latin families – a huge 15th anniversary celebration and a family reunion that can cost thousands of dollars and take years to plan. Now, as the social distancing measures cancel the rallies, families and vendors in Tampa Bay and across the country are seeing these plans fall apart within days.

Howard Frankland works earlier than expected

Here is a silver lining for the pandemic. Lower daily traffic has allowed construction crews to speed up work on adding frustrating bottlenecks at the Howard Frankland Bridge and Westshore Interchange. State officials have said the new routes could open this summer.

Coronavirus podcast in Florida: has the state of the sun flattened the curve?

Governor Ron DeSantis says the Florida coronavirus curve has flattened. Is it true? In the latest episode of our Coronavirus podcast in Florida, host Allison Graves poses this question to Dr. Sally Alrabaa, an infectious disease specialist at the University of South Florida.

“The offspring of a train wreck and a dumpster fire”

It’s like that Times business columnist Graham Brink describes Florida’s unemployment benefit program. State officials have undermined the system for years, and the failure we are seeing now is the result of negligence combined with arrogance, writes Brink in this column.

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