Florida coronavirus: Death toll nears 2,000

After five consecutive weeks of at least 300 reported deaths, fatalities from Sunday to Sunday dropped to 252, according to the Florida Department of Health.

While the overall state death toll sits just shy of 2,000, the drop in weekly deaths mirrors what had already been several weeks of lower statewide positive COVID-19 test results.

From Sunday to Sunday, Florida’s virus death toll rose from 1,721 to 1,973. The 252 new reported deaths was 90 less than the previous week’s 342.

The number of cases grew from 40,596 to 45,588, an increase of 4,992, slightly higher than the previous week but the third week in a row of under 5,000 new cases.

Monday’s update posted 24 new deaths, for a total of 1,997 and 854 new cases for a total of 46,442.

Search for Florida coronavirus patients by ZIP code using this interactive map. Also see hourly updates on confirmed cases, the number of tests conducted and details of each patient. Data including cases in Broward County, Miami-Dade County, Palm Beach County, Orange County, Collier County, Lee County, Manatee County, Pinellas County, Volusia County, Hillsborough County and others.

The new fatalities include one each in Polk and Brevard counties, bringing the eight-county Central Florida toll to 181.

Central Florida cases were up by 58 Monday to 4,965, including 24 new cases in Orange for a total of 1,679; 10 added to Polk for 746; five to Osceola for 627; 11 to Volusia for 605; three to Seminole for 435; two to Brevard for 367; two to Lake for 254; and one in Sumter for 252. (See details on all Central Florida cases here).

As coronavirus restrictions change, here are answers to frequently asked questions about what people should and should not do while trying to help slow the spread of the pandemic.


Roy Parry


“I quarantined them in March. And everyone in New York media was blowing a gasket [asking] ‘How could you do this?’” DeSantis said at a news conference.

“That was the right decision,” DeSantis said. “Had we not done the quarantine, you would have had way more cases, hospitalizations, the whole nine yards. I have no doubt that that quarantine saved lives. I think it dissuaded some from coming down. But I think the ones that did, we were able to process and screen. And I think it was effective.”

Monday ushered in a new wave of reopenings across Florida, including gyms and fitness centers, which must require social distancing and sanitize machines and surfaces after use. Restaurants statewide may also now fill dining rooms to 50% capacity.

Broward and Miami-Dade counties, the two hardest hit areas of the state with more than 800 deaths and 22,000 cases between them, may also expand retail and restaurant capacity. They join Palm Beach County, which partially reopened last week.

South Florida remains the center of the pandemic in the state, accounting for 58% of the state’s cases with 26,844 total, after 419 additional cases were reported Sunday among Miami-Dade (15,864), Broward (6,322) and Palm Beach (4,658) counties.

You can find a running summary of the latest updates on the coronavirus in the Orlando area and Florida below. Also, sign up for new daily Florida coronavirus update by subscribing to The Health Report newsletter and as-they-happen Breaking News emails at OrlandoSentinel.com/newsletters.

DeSantis again blames applicant errors for unresolved unemployment claims

The governor, who has called for an investigation into the creation of the $77.9 million CONNECT system, which went live in 2013, noted at prior appearances across the state that the Department of Economic Opportunity would put an emphasis on checking the status of applications when forwarded by reporters.

Marlins will let baseball players work out at facility in Jupiter

The Miami Marlins will allow players on their 40-man roster access to their spring training complex to pitch off a mound or hit in batting cages beginning Tuesday, a person familiar with the decision told the Associated Press.

Disney, Universal may require masks — but will tourists comply?

Face masks could be mandatory for tourists whenever Disney World and Universal theme parks reopen. The potential policy has fueled a debate that previews some of the enforcement challenges ahead as the parks devise safety plans for the highly contagious coronavirus.

OneBlood to test donated blood for antibodies

People who donate blood through OneBlood, the nonprofit known for its traveling Big Red Bus blood centers, can now also find out if they have antibodies for the new coronavirus. OneBlood will test all donations for the antibody, which could indicate that a person had been previously infected by COVID-19 even if they never had symptoms. The antibody typically shows up on a test one to two weeks after the person had the virus.

I-Drive: Madame Tussauds, Sea Life reopen with restrictions

Madame Tussauds and Sea Life Aquarium, two attractions on Orlando’s International Drive, have reopened. Part of their plan includes free tickets for medical professionals. Capacity will be limited to 25 percent inside the attractions, located in the Icon Park entertainment complex. Directional markings have been installed to help visitors maintain social-distancing suggestions.

For farmworkers, clean hands aren’t an option during a pandemic

Clean hands have become a worldwide obsession. The irony is that dirty hands are getting us through the pandemic. They belong to truck drivers and garbage collectors and stock clerks. People who do jobs that keep the rest of us from having to get our hands dirty. People like Roblero Lopez.

If you enjoyed some blueberries with your breakfast this morning, think how they got there. A produce clerk put them out at the grocery store after a truck driver delivered them after a dock worker loaded them after another driver hauled them in from the fields. At the start were the hands that picked them. In many ways, they are at the bottom of the food chain.

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine trial shows promising early results, it says

The first coronavirus vaccine to be tested in people appears to be safe and able to stimulate an immune response against the virus, its manufacturer, Moderna, announced Monday. The findings are based on results from the first eight people who each received two doses of the vaccine, starting in March.

Those people, healthy volunteers, made antibodies that were then tested in human cells in the lab and were able to stop the virus from replicating — the key requirement for an effective vaccine. The levels of those so-called neutralizing antibodies matched the levels found in patients who had recovered after contracting the virus in the community.

Anti-shutdown protesters may have spread coronavirus in Florida, other states

People protesting coronavirus shutdowns in Florida may be responsible for spreading infections, an analysis of cellphone location data suggests. Protesters at an April 18 event in Florida, for instance, traveled back to other areas of the state and up to the Georgia border, The Guardian newspaper reported.

The movements of protesters in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Colorado were also included in data gathered by a progressive campaign group.

Sheriff releases video of reaction during arrest at massive block party

A weekend block party that had an estimated 3,000 people in DeLand was broken up by police and sheriff’s deputies resulting in some arrests that drew the ire of some of the attendees. The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office released video of the chase and take down of a suspect during authorities’ efforts to disperse the crowd late Saturday and early Sunday morning.

WHO to investigate response in time

The head of the World Health Organization says he will begin an independent evaluation of the U.N. health agency’s response to the coronavirus pandemic “at the earliest appropriate moment.”

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the pledge Monday after an independent oversight advisory body published its first interim report about the U.N. health agency’s response to COVID-19 from January to April.

The advisory body’s review and recommendations appeared unlikely to appease the United States administration, which has been scathing in its criticism of WHO — in part over President Donald Trump’s allegation that it had criticized a U.S. travel ban that he ordered on people arriving from China, where the outbreak first appeared late last year.

Florida Keys to open to visitors on June 1

Monroe County, home to the Florida Keys, will begin to reopen to visitors on June 1, when hotels will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity. Checkpoints at roads going into the Keys will be removed, and airport screenings and bus restrictions will also be lifted on June 1.

China promised $2 billion over next 2 years

As nations carved out a new normal amid the pandemic, Chinese President Xi Jinping told the World Health Organization’s annual meeting that the funds would be paid out over two years to help respond to COVID-19, which has already killed hundreds of thousands and devastated national economies. He didn’t specify where the Chinese funds would go.

Xi’s address to the World Health Assembly came amid sharp tensions between Beijing and U.S. President Donald Trump, who has suspended U.S. funding to WHO and accused it of failing to stop the virus from spreading when it first surfaced in China. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was representing the U.S. at the meeting, which is being held online this year.

All coronavirus tests are not equal. Which one should you get?

You may have a fever, cough or feel perfectly fine and want to know whether you have the new coronavirus. In Florida, the strict criteria for who may be tested for COVID-19 has lifted and anyone who wants a test can get one. If you haven’t had a coronavirus test yet, but have an interest or a need, figuring out what type you should get and where to go can be a challenge.

Going to the gym to look different

Florida gym-goers can return to their routines this week as the state’s fitness facilities are allowed to reopen, but they’re bound to see a lot of changes. Some owners are requiring instructors to wear masks and are temporarily turning off machines to encourage social distancing. Monday marks the first time fitness facilities have been able to open since March 20, when Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered them to shut down to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

With beaches reopening, are you safe from coronavirus in the water?

With beaches reopening around the state, stir-crazy Floridians will no doubt flock to them to shake off cabin fever. But are they safe from coronavirus while they walk, jog and bask on the sand or swim in the ocean? Scientists aren’t certain how likely you are to get the virus from the beach — not just from people camping out too close to one another, but from the water itself.

List of Central Florida restaurants, businesses open during coronavirus shutdown.

Orlando Sentinel Staff

By Orlando Sentinel Staff

May 12, 2020 4:43 PM

Local coronavirus victims: Their lives remembered

  • Herman Boehm of Mount Dora, who enjoyed a life filled with adventures with his wife, died March 29 after contracting coronavirus. He was 86. Well into his 80s, Boehm enjoyed near-annual trips to Europe with his wife. Earlier in life, they spent a year cruising in the Bahamas on a sailboat. They went scuba diving and skiing. They danced the Argentine Tango.
  • A fiesty woman who witnessed World War II and 9/11 firsthand, Ada Ficarra’s story is one of survival, said her daughter Liz Starr. Born in the small town of Porto Empedocle, Sicily, Ficarra died April 26 at Sonata West, an assisted living facility in Winter Garden, where she had lived since 2018. She was 79.
  • Central Florida owes a debt of gratitude to Dr. Neil G. Powell for many of the region’s brightest smiles. Powell was not only a dentist but an organizer of the community of dentists. The Orlando resident died April 22 at age 93 of COVID-19-related pneumonia. An Air Force veteran who fought in World War II, Powell grew up in Sanford and served as president of the Florida Society of Dentistry for Children, the Orange County Dental Society, the Central District Dental Society and the Florida Dental Association. He served on the national American Dental Association.

Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Gloves should be discarded after each cleaning. If reusable gloves are used, those gloves should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces for COVID-19 and should not be used for other purposes.

Are you feeling stressed or depressed from the COVID19 outbreak? There are resources available for you. You can contact the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or visit https://www.samhsa.gov/disaster-preparedness

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick and avoid contact with people in poor health.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then dispose of the tissue.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Follow these recommendations for using a face mask: The CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social-distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Follow these guidelines for using a cloth mask.

Questions? Here are numbers to call

The Florida Department of Health has set up a call center to answer questions about coronavirus. There’s a number for Orange County, too.

The Health Report: Florida Coronavirus Newsletter


A daily update on the coronavirus crisis in Florida.

The Florida Department of Health’s number is 1-866-779-6121 and is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Residents may also email questions to COVID-19@flhealth.gov.

In Orange County, the number to call is 407-723-5004; it’s available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For accurate, up-to-date information, visit

This article originally appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. The Sun Sentinel and Associated Press contributed to this report.

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