Treasure Coast Covid-19 Update April 10 2020
TreasureCoast, Fl (TreasureCoast.com)- There are now 16,826 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Florida.
Public and private golf courses in Martin County will remain open, but only to county residents and existing members, commissioners said on Thursday.
At a special meeting, golf course representatives urged county leaders to allow the courses to continue operating in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
The representatives said their courses have made a lot of changes like shutting down food and beverage operations, getting rid of rakes, only allowing one person per golf cart, and limiting guests.
Ultimately, commissioners said public and private courses can remain open, but only to Martin County residents and existing members.
The goal is to prevent residents from other counties where golf courses are closed, like Palm Beach County, from driving north and saturating Martin County courses.
County leaders said they’ll work with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office to make sure golf courses are following social distancing guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The courses themselves will have to implement their own ways of checking that golfers are Martin County residents.
Currently, all county-owned beaches are closed until further notice. Parks are open, but public playgrounds, athletic fields, and basketball, tennis, and pickleball courts are closed.
Earlier this week, Martin County commissioners voted to reopen boat ramps to the public on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The ramps are closed on weekends.
Drive-through testing locations are still at Cleveland Clinic Martin North Hospital in Stuart and Cleveland Clinic Tradition Hospital in Port St. Lucie. The tests are by appointment only.
To make an appointment, call 772-419-3360. A health care worker will screen you over the phone and ask about your symptoms, whether you’ve traveled recently, and if you’ve come in contact with anyone who’s tested positive for COVID-19.
If you meet the criteria, you’ll be given an appointment time.
Health officials said Thursday that tests are much more efficient now, and almost 90 percent of test results have come back.
More people in Florida are being told to cover up. Miami-Dade County is making masks mandatory in public places like grocery stores and pharmacies. This comes a day after Miami’s mayor did the same thing.
Daytona International Speedway is part of a plan to find more coronavirus patients. AdventHealth is opening Volusia County’s first drive-thru test site at the race track today. About 500 tests will be available for those who have pre-registered showing symptoms like shortness of breath and a fever.
As the covid-19 virus continues to plague the country the search is on for equipment to stop its spread.
From N-95 masks to approved covid-19 testing kit, the market to battle the pandemic is hot. So is the opportunity to get duped.
The FBI warns governments are especially vulnerable to large scale schemes.
The FBI has also provided a link for more information on COVID—19, fbi.gov/coronavirus [fbi.gov)
Sheriff Snyder says his deputies have seen an increase in driving under the influence or DUI arrests since the coronavirus pandemic broke last month.
Data from the State Attorney’s Office shows from March 6th to April 6th, year over year, DUI arrests have gone up 21 percent across the 19th Judicial Circuit. That area includes Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, and Okeechobee counties.
In upcoming weeks, the IRS will be sending letters as Americans will be cashing their stimulus checks. According to the IRS, a letter about the economic impact payment to will be sent to taxpayers’ last known address within 15 days after the payment is paid. The IRS said that the letter will provide information on how the payment was made and how to report any failure to receive the payment.
The IRS added that taxpayers should be mindful of scammers, and should visit IRS.gov if they suspect they are being targeted by scammers.
When the first payments will be sent is still up in the air, but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said his agency is confident that direct deposit checks can begin being processed next week.
The first Americans expected to receive stimulus checks are those whose banking information is in the IRS database. Those who have not given the IRS their bank account information will have a website to update their banking information. That website is expected to be active in the coming days.
Those who are not using direct deposit for a check will have to wait for one in the mail.
Here is who is eligible for stimulus checks:
$2,400 – Couples earning less than $150,000 a year (couples earning $150,000 – $198,000 will receive a prorated check).
$1,200 – Individuals earning less than $75,000 a year (individuals earning $75,000 – $99,000 will receive a prorated check).
$500 Each dependent child age 16 or under as of Dec. 31, 2019 (for qualifying individuals and couples).
The IRS announced on Thursday that nearly 300 filing, payment and administrative deadlines are being pushed back amid the spread of COVID-19. This is in conjunction with a previously announced guidance that called for the general tax deadline for Americans to be pushed back from April 15 by three months.
Among the guidelines released Thursday, tax returns and payments for tax-exempt organizations, fiscal year businesses and estate taxes will be pushed back to July 15.
This comes as the IRS said that “IRS employees, taxpayers, and other persons may be unable to access documents, systems, or other resources necessary to perform certain time-sensitive actions due to office closures or state and local government executive orders restricting activities. The lack of access to those documents, systems, or resources will materially interfere with the IRS’s ability to 9 timely administer the Code. As a result, IRS employees will require additional time to perform time-sensitive actions.”
The IRS said that this relief is automatic and that affected taxpayers do not have to call the IRS or file any extension forms, or send letters or other documents to receive this relief. Those who need additional time to file may choose to file the appropriate extension form by July 15, 2020, to obtain an extension to file their return, but the extension date may not go beyond the original statutory or regulatory extension date, according to the IRS.
The Department of Education recently announced that most federal student loans are automatically in forbearance, meaning all automatic payments have been suspended and consumers will not be charged interest or late fees. The guidance is in response to the economic fallout amid the spread of COVID-19. The guidance does not apply to private student loans.
The forbearance will last from March 13, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2020. If you made a payment after March 13, you are eligible for a refund, the Department of Education announced.
President Donald Trump said on Thursday that the six month pause could be extended past October, depending on the state of the economy.
Many student loan customers have not received a notification, so you’ll want to be sure to check the status of your loan.
The guidance does not apply to some Federal Family Education Loan or Perkins Loans programs.
For student loan customers who want to continue making payments, 100% of payments made through the end of September on most federal student loans will be directly to the principal. But these payments are not being conducted automatically, which means you will need to either opt back into automatic payments, or make payments manually.
The Department of Education has created a frequently asked questions page on its website for student loan customers, which is available on its website, www.fldoe.org
Unemployment numbers continue to surge in Florida despite online struggles to file claims.
Last week, the state logged another 170,000 applications. The total is now near half a million people since COVID-19 regulations started in mid-March.
The Department of Revenue has dedicated 600 employees, starting this week, to increase speed by helping verify identities. Shorter wait times would come next week.
“The department understands that people are frustrated,” Vause said. “We are working around the clock, seven days a week to make sure that we are processing these claims as quickly as we possibly can.”
The department has a pile of claims to clear before getting to the new ones. Director Ken Lawson said totals exceeded a half million at the start of the week.
Governor Ron DeSantis said during the news conference that the state’s office of emergency management is sending out “one of the biggest shipments of supplies in the department’s history” to first responders and front line health care workers.
This included, “two million surgical masks, 300,000 face shields, more than 50,000 containers of hand sanitizer, 500,000 shoe covers, more than 100,000 gowns and 350,000 gloves,” said DeSantis.
State education officials also gave an update on the status of online learning, which began across many school districts last week.
Gov. DeSantis thanked teachers and parents across the state for making the quick transition to online learning after schools were suddenly closed.
“Florida virtual school has also made 100 courses available for free for all schools and is allowing school districts to connect for free to the FLVS learning management system,” said DeSantis.
The governor announced last month that all K-12 public and private schools in Florida are closed through April 15 to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
“The department has also purchased 32,000 laptops for 34 mostly small, rural school districts and is currently distributing those laptops now,” said DeSanitis.
The School District of Palm Beach County is going a step further, saying all schools within the district will be closed until further notice.
School districts in Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, and Okeechobee counties said remote learning will be extended until Friday, May 1.
The coronavirus is having an unexpected benefit on one area of Florida agriculture.
American consumers have been stocking their pantries and freezers amid the coronavirus crisis, and it seems one beverage is getting a much-needed boost in sales: orange juice.
According to marketing and research firm Nielsen, U.S. retail sales of orange juice jumped about 38 percent in March compared to the same period last year.
The Florida Department of Citrus reported a spike in demand for 100 percent orange juice in particular.
Orange juice is a go-to beverage for many people who are afraid of getting sick. That could be because people see it as a way to load up on vitamin C and boost their immunity.
Florida’s citrus industry has been hit hard the last few decades by a variety of diseases, competition from overseas, changing dietary habits from the U.S. public and hurricanes.
Previously, orange juice sales had been declining steadily.
According to the USDA, orange juice consumption for Americans has fallen from about six gallons in 1998 to two and a half gallons in 2018.
The Florida Department of Citrus says even though the circumstances surrounding the boost in sales is less than ideal, the demand gives growers the ability to keep their businesses afloat.
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