The number of positive novel coronavirus cases jumped by nearly 100 Wednesday, bringing the total infected to 314.
The previous total was 216.
So far, 289 Florida residents have tested positive for Covid-19. The death toll remains at 7, but state health officials are investigating two deaths at an assisted living facility in Fort Lauderdale. One death at the assisted living facility has already been linked to COVID-19. The deceased was a 77-year-old Broward County man.
Cases in Broward County have increased to 55, up from 38 just several days ago. Miami-Dade has now had 43 cases and Palm Beach County has 13. Northeast Florida cases have risen to 22. Hillsborough and Pinellas counties are also seeing additional cases.
The state has been issuing sweeping changes in an attempt to contain the virus and slow its spread.
Florida bars and nightclubs have been closed for 30 days to limit exposure. Restaurants must cap seating capacity in dining areas at 50%, with tables spaced at least six feet apart, and they must encourage takeout and delivery. Restaurants must also screen all of their employees for signs of the disease.
Gov. Ron DeSantis says local governments have the flexibility to adjust the parameters based on the circumstances in their communities. He’s also offering interest-free loans for small businesses.
“This is the floor for Florida for the foreseeable future,” DeSantis said, adding he expected municipalities such as Miami to pass stricter regulations. “We support the efforts that the locals are doing. This is a virus that is affecting the whole state, but I think it affects different communities differently. The response may not always be the same on every little thing. We have a number of counties that have not had a single case. And so I feel this makes the most sense. It gives the locals the freedom to go further if they want to, but also recognizes that we do have some areas where we haven’t seen this yet.”
DeSantis has also limited beach gatherings to no more than 10 people, which is the guidance on social distancing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the next couple of weeks.
The state is also jettisoning testing for children in its preschool programs and K-12 schools because of the increased anxiety over the spread of the novel coronavirus and to accommodate new school closures.
DeSantis extended the number of weeks kids will remain off-campus, with student not returning until at least April 15.
Most school districts will start virtual learning through online school or paper assignments delivered to students’ homes. Most students are currently on an extended spring break, which officials announced last week. Four school districts — Duval, Collier, Union and Sumter — had already started their spring breaks and will start distance learning on March 23.