We’re keeping track of the latest news regarding the coronavirus in South Florida and around the state. Check back for updates throughout the day.
Almost 3,200 cases in Florida; South Florida has more than 1,700
7:45 p.m.: The Florida Department of Health’s 7 p.m. update shows there are 3,198 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, with 503 people hospitalized and 46 deaths.
South Florida accounts for more than half of that total, with Miami-Dade (869), Broward (631), Palm Beach (241) and Monroe (19) counties having 1,760 confirmed cases. There 17 confirmed deaths connected to the coronavirus in the area, 10 of which are in Broward, five in Palm Beach and two in Miami-Dade.
More curfews in Miami-Dade
Miami Gardens, the county’s third-largest city, will have a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew starting Friday. Coral Gables’ curfew starts at 11 p.m. Friday, as does a new curfew in Sweetwater. They join Miami-Dade’s largest city, Miami, which imposed a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew that begins Friday night.
A 5 p.m. roundup of coronavirus headlines
5 p.m.: Miss some of our stories from today? Here are a few to catch you up.
▪ Trump signs coronavirus stimulus bill with money for Americans. What happens now?
▪ Doral councilwoman ends self-isolation after testing negative for coronavirus
▪ Here’s where hospitality workers can get some relief during the coronavirus crisis
▪ DeSantis orders restrictions on travelers from Louisiana, extends tax deadlines
▪ Coronavirus has Florida’s K-12 schools online only next week. Is this the new normal?
Ron DeSantis orders investigation into $150 COVID-19 tests at Hialeah hospital
4:15 p.m.: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday called on state attorney general Ashley Moody to investigate a South Florida hospital charging $150 per test for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus spreading rapidly across the state.
While DeSantis did not name the hospital, Larkin Community Hospital opened a drive-thru testing site in Hialeah on March 20 and charges $150 per test.
“That’s not acceptable here in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “The president has made clear… the tests are free.”
Jack Michel, a physician and CEO of Larkin, said he was “shocked” to hear about the governor’s statement. Larkin’s drive-thru site opened on March 20 and has tested more than 1,000 people.
“I’m not sure what that’s about,” Michel said, adding that Larkin’s lab has been running the drive-thru site and deserves to get paid similar to commercial labs, such as LabCorp and Quest, that have contracted with the Florida Department of Health to process COVID-19 tests.
Miami-Dade sends residents an emergency alert to stay in their homes
4:05 p.m.: Around 2 p.m., residents all over Miami-Dade County, from Aventura to Homestead, received an alert that read “All residents are urged to remain in their homes except for essential activities.”
Erika Benitez, spokeswoman for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, said the Emergency Operations Center sent out the text as part of the county’s alert system. “These texts are for protective measures,” she said.
4 Broward Sheriff’s Office employees have COVID-19, 100-plus are self-isolated
2:30 p.m.: Four employees at the Broward Sheriff’s Office have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the quickly-spreading coronavirus. BSO also said Friday that 103 other workers at the agency are in self-isolation as they either await a test result or because they may have come in contact with virus.
The announcement by the agency, which has close to 2,800 sworn officers and 5,400 employees overall, adds to the growing list of first responders in South Florida who have been affected by the disease. BSO did not say if the workers infected were sworn or civilian personnel.
“There are 107 cases in various degrees, still” said BSO spokeswoman Miranda Grossman.
Stricter enforcing coming to Broward’s shelter-in-place order
1:40 p.m.: In Broward County, where County Administrator Bertha Henry issued an emergency shelter-in-place order on Thursday, city managers from across the county said Friday they have agreed to enact stricter versions for their own cities.
Henry’s order urges all residents countywide to stay indoors except to conduct “essential” business. The city orders will order, not urge, residents to stay inside, according to Joseph Napoli, the city manager for Cooper City.
Napoli said “almost every city” in Broward is planning to adopt the language of a new template that was shared among the managers Friday.
“There is a collective decision to have something a little stronger,” Napoli said. “This will go a long way in assisting us in keeping people from congregating and doing non-essential business outside of their homes.”
Death toll at one Broward assisted living facility reaches six
1:35 p.m.: In a Thursday letter to families of the 180 or so residents of Atria Willow Wood assisted living facility, Atria’s regional vice president, Yunia Gonzalez, confirmed that three additional residents have succumbed to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That places the toll since the outbreak struck at six at the Fort Lauderdale elder care center.
Gonzalez offered a grim accounting in her letter to families, who cannot visit the ALF because of a statewide ban on visitation during the current pandemic. Sixteen residents of the home at 2855 W. Commercial Blvd. have tested positive. Of those, six have died. Another 11 residents were reported as negative for the disease after testing was done. “There have been no new positive test results” in recent days, Gonzalez said.
Four passengers died on Zaandam cruise ship
1:30 p.m.: Four passengers have died aboard the Zaandam as it awaits permission to transit the Panama Canal.
Almost 150 people are sick with flu-like symptoms, according to a release from Seattle-based Holland America cruise line. It is owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp.
The captain announced the deaths to passengers and crew Friday afternoon. He also stated the company planned to evacuate hundreds of healthy passengers to a sister ship anchored nearby
Inter Miami players in video tournament for coronavirus fundraiser
1:15 p.m.: It will be a while before Inter Miami plays its next game, but fans can watch four players compete Saturday in Twitch’s Stream Aid 2020, a special sports, gaming and music event to benefit the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
Rodolfo Pizarro, Julian Carranza, Lewis Morgan, Lee Nguyen will compete against each other in a video soccer tournament from the safety of their homes, where they are quarantining during the coronavirus outbreak. Carranza and Pizarro teamed up to play for “Team RosaNegra” and Morgan and Nguyen will play for “Team Heron White”.
Inter Miami players’ matches begin at 1 p.m. and fans can watch for free on the team’s Twitch channel: www.twitch.tv/intermiami_cf
Heat, Arison Family Foundation donating to Feeding South Florida
1:10 p.m.: On Friday, the Miami Heat announced it has partnered with Lineage Logistics, the world’s largest provider of temperature-controlled logistics, and Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization.
The Heat and the Micky & Madeleine Arison Family Foundation pledged a $200,000 donation to Feeding South Florida, the local member of the Feeding America network that services Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties. Lineage Logistics will match that $200,000 donation allowing Feeding South Florida to immediately help those affected by COVID-19.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an enormous and stressful toll on lives of people across the globe,” Eric Woolworth, the Heat’s president of business operations, said in a statement. “Many of our friends and neighbors in South Florida are rightfully worried about putting food on the table. By joining forces with Lineage Logistics and Feeding South Florida, we hope to ease that burden.”
Miami-Dade’s first COVID-19 death and almost 300 more cases in Florida
1 p.m.: There are now 2,765 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Florida residents, according the Florida Department of Health’s noon update. The department also confirmed six new deaths, including the first in Miami-Dade County, since Thursday night. That brings the state’s total to 35 deaths.
As far as South Florida is concerned, Miami-Dade has 763 confirmed cases, up from 654 on Thursday night. Broward has 614 cases, up from 505. Broward also had two more recorded deaths related to the coronavirus, bringing the county’s total to five.
The FDOH’s next update is scheduled to come out at 7 p.m.
As cases continue to rise, Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez announced that businesses allowed to remain open during the coronavirus emergency must make “reasonable efforts” to make sure customers and workers maintain social distance as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“All pick-up and take-out areas, along with employee break rooms and common-use areas should have markings on their floor or some other visible means of alerting people that they must stay six feet apart,” Gimenez said in a video address Friday morning.
Florida Panthers employees will still be paid
Noon: Florida Panthers owner Vincent Viola is committed to paying Panthers full-time employees throughout the National Hockey League’s shutdown, a team spokesperson confirmed Friday. The owner told employees about his plan Friday, Bloomberg reported. The Panthers employ about 230 people.
The Panthers haven’t played since March 9, a few days before the league suspended play indefinitely March 12. On March 13, Sergei Bobrovsky pledged $100,000 to pay part-time workers at the BB&T Center throughout the stoppage, and his teammates pooled together another $100,000 to match the superstar goaltender. Ownership also pledged an undisclosed amount to cover remaining pay.
The Panthers last played in Sunrise on March 7. So far, three home games have been postponed.
Spring breaker who made light of coronavirus apologizes
11:50 a.m.: Brady Sluder — probably better known as the “If I get corona, I get corona” guy — has learned the error of his ways.
Earlier this week on Instagram, the Ohio college student released a statement, apologizing, and seemed sincere, at least “on paper,” so to speak.
“I can’t apologize enough to the people I’ve offended and the lives I’ve insulted. I’m not asking for your forgiveness, or pity. I want to use this as motivation to become a better person, a better son, a better friend, and a better citizen.”
Living in virtual reality
11:40 a.m.: The novel coronavirus, which thrives on human contact, is forcing people into a more intensive digital existence. Linda Robertson takes a look at how the social distancing and self-isolation needed to contain the virus also means that the only way to satisfy cravings for connectedness is, paradoxically, through our soulless high-tech devices.
Testing coming to Tamiami Park
10:50 a.m.: Miami-Dade is planning a drive-through testing site for COVID-19 at Tamiami Park.
Juan Diasgranados, a county spokesman, said the new drive-thru site could open as early as Sunday, but that it would definitely be operational by early next week. Crews are already building a 250-bed field hospital on the Youth Fair site at the park in case extra beds are needed during the coronavirus crisis.
Tamiami Park would join Marlins Park and Hard Rock Stadium as drive-through sites in Miami-Dade. Diasgranados said Marlins Park completed 230 tests on people Thursday who arrived in 141 vehicles. That site requires appointments be made the day before, and is limited to people 65 and over experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (fever, dry cough, shortness of breath) or think they were exposed to the virus.
The hotline for Saturday appointments opens at 9 a.m. Friday, and people can call 305-499-8767 to reserve a slot.
Appointments are not used at Hard Rock, which serves the same age group as Marlins Park but requires a fever above 99.6 degrees and COVID-19 symptoms. Kim Prenter, a spokeswoman for the Hard Rock operation, said 531 people were tested there Thursday but 360 were turned away for not meeting the requirements.
Miami Dolphins and NFL business in age of coronavirus
10:45 a.m.: The Miami Dolphins on Thursday used the Zoom remote conferencing platform to connect their newest players — spread out all over the country — to reporters eager to chat for the first time.
Welcome to sports coverage in the world of coronavirus, where video conferencing has given teams a way for fans to both see and hear from their high-profile employees.
“There’s definitely a first for everything, but it’s cool,” new Dolphins defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah said with a chuckle. “It’s a good way to interact with you guys if we can’t be there in person. It’s cool to meet you guys through, I guess Zoom, because this is my first time using Zoom ever.”
Coronavirus shuts Key Largo Waffle House location
10:20 a.m.: More than 400 of Waffle Houses across the country, including the Key Largo location, have temporarily closed because of COVID-19 and have activated the Waffle House Index for something other than a hurricane for the first time.
The Waffle House Index is an unofficial metric typically used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to determine the effect of a storm and the amount of assistance needed for disaster recovery.
Nineteen total locations in Flordia have been temporarily closed.
Checkpoints into the Florida Keys
9:10 a.m.: Law enforcement on Friday morning started manning a pair of checkpoints into the Florida Keys as part of Monroe County’s effort to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The checkpoints were erected at mile marker 112.5 on the 18 Mile Stretch of U.S. 1 and on County Road 905.
Catch up to start the day
9 a.m.: Here are the coronavirus headlines to catch you up on what’s happening around South Florida and the state as Friday begins.
▪ Miami’s coronavirus testing data suggest we still don’t know how many are infected.
▪ Miami-Dade, Broward issue new orders urging residents to stay home amid COVID-19
▪ British Prime Minister Johnson tests positive for the coronavirus
▪ The cruise industry won’t get a bailout in the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill
▪ Millions of immigrant families won’t get coronavirus stimulus checks, experts say
▪ Coronavirus, stay-at-home orders spike Miami’s thirst for another commodity: tap water
▪ Puerto Rico resident, 48, becomes the island’s third coronoavirus fatality and its youngest
▪ Marlins and Phillies couldn’t play on Opening Day, so they took their matchup virtual