TreasureCoast Covid-19 Update March 27, 2020
From the Health Department
To keep Florida residents and visitors safe, informed and aware about the status of the virus, The Florida Department of Health has launched a COVID-19 dashboard that will be updated twice daily. Today, as of 6 p.m., there are 2,484 total** Florida cases.
One person has died who tested positive for COVID-19 in Highlands County.
New Florida cases include:
- 129 additional positive COVID-19 cases (124 Florida residents and 5 non-Florida residents) reported to the Florida Department of Health.
- There are currently 2,352 positive cases in Florida residents and 125 positive cases in non-Florida residents.
Florida recently partnered with private laboratories around the state to expand COVID-19 laboratory testing capacity. This partnership will increase the number of tests conducted each day and ensure Floridians receive the critical health information they need in a timely manner.
Expansion to private laboratories changes the COVID-19 testing landscape in Florida. Private laboratories are running tests as they receive swab samples from practitioners. Testing and reporting times vary among commercial and DOH laboratories. Demographic information may be updated during investigations. These twice daily reports reflect the state’s efforts to accurately and transparently share information.
Distance activities begin through Boys & Girls Clubs of ST Lucie
Beginning Monday, March 30 Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Lucie County (BGCSLC) will unveil ‘The Virtual Club’ with a full day’s schedule of interactive videos, lessons, book readings and more for parents to watch and engage with their children while watching and participating with them.
Staff members, club directors and administrators will participate in creating a series of videos centered around S.T.E.A.M. projects, trivia, social emotional learning, crafts, physical fitness and story time.
“In these uncertain times we owe it to our club members to provide the consistency that they need that BGCSLC is here for them. This virtual schedule provides structured engagement opportunities that are fun, enriching and even connect with a kid’s social and emotional needs” said Melanie Wiles, COO of Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Lucie County
The videos created will be broadcast on BGCSLC’s Facebook page at https://bgcslc.rocks/facebook, YouTube channel at https://bgcslc.rocks/YouTube and archived on the organization’s web page at www.bgcofslc.org under the tab ‘The Virtual Club’
“The activities are for everybody and not only for members of BGCSLC. We encourage parents to engage with comments and photos of them participating in the activities,” said Will Armstead, CEO of BGCSLC.
To learn more on how you can join in and support the Club, call 772-460-9918.
A South Florida doctor is one of the latest victims of COVID-19. Dr. Alex Hsu practiced at Northwest Medical Center as an internist. The medical examiner confirmed that Dr. Hsu died from complications of the coronavirus. It’s not clear if the doctor had any underlying health conditions.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Florida has climbed to two-thousand-484. 29 people have died. Miami-Dade and Broward counties continue to lead the way with more than 11-hundred cases between the two. Central Florida is dealing with a pediatric case of the coronavirus.
Orange County Health Director Raul Pino wouldn’t give any details about the child or how he may have contracted the illness. Pino says new cases of coronavirus appear to be from community transmission and are not related to foreign travel.
Some folks behind bars are doing their part to help those trying to stop the pandemic. Lake County jail inmates are working with churches to make masks for healthcare workers.
A record number 74-thousand Floridians applied for unemployment this past week…but that’s just a fraction of how many residents have been laid off because of the coronavirus.
Millions of Americans are suddenly out of work or working greatly reduced hours due to lockdowns prompted by the coronavirus pandemic and wondering how they will pay next month’s bills.
Congress passed a $2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill that will include a $1,200 check for most adults in the United States.
But who qualifies? And when will they arrive?
Although the House of Representatives still needs to pass the bill, here is what it includes according to an analysis by CNBC Business News.
Q: Who qualifies for a stimulus check?
Under the current plan, 90% of adults should qualify for an initial $1,200 stimulus payment, with a second payment possible later this spring.
Individuals will receive a check for $1,200.
Married couples will receive a check for $2,400.
Each dependent child will receive $500 (payable to their parents).
Q: Who does not qualify for a check?
High-income individuals will not receive a check. Benefits will phase out for those earning more than $75,000 in income.
Single people earning more than $99,000 in 2019 will not receive any check. Married couples earning more than $198,000 in 2019 will not receive any check.
Q: What if you owe back child support or owe the IRS back taxes?
Such payments are not directly linked to the IRS, so it does not appear the government will take anything out of stimulus checks for unpaid taxes or support, but the final version of the bill could change.
Q: What if you don’t file taxes?
Seniors on Social Security and younger people on disability will qualify for a check.
However, those people must have filed taxes last year or this spring. Those stimulus checks will be based on 2018 or 2019 tax returns. That means if those who are low-income and typically do not file must file a 1040 form this spring, or the government has no way of knowing if those people qualify.
Q: What if some of your income is unreported cash?
That should not affect the checks, as they are based on your last tax return.
Q: When will I receive my money?
Checks should be mailed to the address the IRS has on file, or possibly be deposited directly into the account used for a person’s last tax refund. Details have not yet been finalized. Congressional leaders hope to have the first checks in the mail or into bank accounts by the second week of April. That’s why President Donald Trump and Congress are rushing to pass a $2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill that will include a $1,200 check for most adults in the United States.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in the United States has now surpassed the total number of cases in China, the country that previously had the most people sick due to the coronavirus. A tally by Johns Hopkins University showed Thursday evening that more than 82,400 cases have been reported in the U.S. and nearly 81,800 cases have been confirmed in China. The number of cases worldwide has exceeded 500,000.
The U.S. has also surpassed the Italians in total number of cases, but Italy still leads the world in the amount of deaths in connection with the virus, with at least 8,215. Johns Hopkins shows 3,291 people have died in China and 1,178 in the U.S.
When asked about the U.S. now leading the world in the number of COVID-19 cases, President Donald Trump pointed to the testing being done in America, and he suggested there were more cases in China than the country is reporting. In America, the Senate passed a $2 trillion economic rescue package to help small businesses, workers and the country’s healthcare industry, which some worry will become overwhelmed by the influx of COVID-19 patients, in addition to those with other ailments. On Friday, the legislation will go to the House, where it is expected to pass. The bill will then be sent to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law.
Mesa Biotech has received FDA approval for its rapid COVID-19 tests that can produce results in about half-an-hour. “Our first kits are going out today to some of the health systems, county health departments, to validate the performance against the existing testing,” said Laura Dullanty, a marketing manager at the San Diego-based company. Dullanty said it will still take a few weeks before they will be able to deploy them widely to the health care providers who have requested the tests. One of the issues has been purely logistical.
Right now, most tests are performed on-site and then sent to a lab for processing. It can take several days or longer before a patient knows the results.
The Mesa Biotech rapid test is based on the same PCR technology, but can be performed and processed at the point of contact, such as a hospital, urgent care clinic or a cruise ship infirmary.
The first batch should be shipped to providers in the next few weeks but it’s up to the health care systems to decide how and when to use them.
The St. Lucie County Education Foundation announced Thursday a fundraising initiative to purchase new laptops for St. Lucie Public Schools students and teachers in response to the COVID-19 health crisis. “Our goal is to help the school district acquire 5,000 laptops as soon as possible,” stated Thom Jones, president. The cost of each laptop is $300 and donations can be made in any amount.
The cash donations are being accepted through Facebook, Venmo to @EFSLC, on line at www.efslc.org or by mail. According to a news release, St. Lucie Public Schools will resume virtual instruction on March 30.
The school district has already distributed 8,500 laptops so far. St. Lucie Public Schools has over 40 thousand students with many economically disadvantaged. All funds raised will go directly to the school district beginning March 30.
One upside to the outbreak and stay-at-home orders, a drop in crime.
Seminole county Sheriff Dennis Lemma says they are concerned about the potential increase for domestic violence, child abuse, or other crimes that may increase with family in close quarters.
Florida Blue said Thursday they are helping customers who are unable to pay their premiums that would otherwise have been subject to termination of coverage. The health care provider said it is implementing an extended grace period through May 31 for clients facing financial problems due to the economic downturn from the coronavirus. Florida Blue said the grace period applies to the following members:
Affordable Care Act & Medicare Supplement
Other individual health plan members, as well as most of its employer group health plans.
In addition, Florida Blue said they are working with its self-funded ERISA employers to assist them in meeting the needs of their employees. The decision also includes extending the grace period for non-payment of premiums for its individual and group dental, vision and life insurance plans through May 31. Florida Blue also will continue its policy of delaying disenrollment from its Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plans for premium delinquency until annual renewals.
Florida Blue serves more than 5 million health care members across the state.
Florida Blue members with questions about the coronavirus, who have symptoms and need help finding a doctor to do a COVID-19 test or any other concern, should call Florida Blue at the phone number on the back of their member ID card or 1-800-352-2583. Medicare members can call 1-800-926-6565.
A local pizza shop is working to spread a little joy during uncertain times. Big Apple Pizza in Fort Pierce is at it again, pulling together an effort to serve the St. Lucie County community. Owner Scott Van Duzer says he wanted to make sure elderly people in the community do not feel alone as they protect themselves from COVID-19. Health officials say they are the most at risk to have serious health issues associated with the virus.
That means many seniors are staying inside and limiting visitors. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have stopped visitation. Van Duzer came up with an idea he calls ‘Slices for Seniors’. With donations from the community, he is delivering pizza, a t-shirt, and handmade cards to elderly members of the community.
He’s enlisted the help of children who are out of school to make the cards. Thursday, Van Duzer delivered nearly 60 cards, pizzas, and t-shirts for residents at Lake Forest Park, a senior living facility in Fort Pierce. Employees say their residents have been able to wave to the family through their windows, or Skype with family members. Thursday’s delivery was a special surprise, helping boost residents’ spirits. Van Duzer said he would like to serve at least 1,000 seniors.
Central Florida residents Laura Gabaroni and her husband, Juan Huergo, left Orlando earlier this month on what was supposed to be a 14-day cruise through the southern tip of South America. But since Sunday, the 48-year-old couple has been confined to their cabin and not sure when their rollercoaster adventure will end. “We have been quarantined since the 22nd without being able to go outside,” said Gabaroni. The couple, along with more than 1,800 passengers and crew members, are stuck on board the Zaandam Holland America cruise ship somewhere in northern South America, she said Thursday morning.
The cruise liner left Buenos Aires on March 8 for a 14-day excursion through the southern tip of South America. But several days into the trip, South American countries started closing their borders and ports due to COVID-19. The couple may soon find out. According the latest updates posted on the cruise ship’s website, the liner will be connected with a sister ship to restock supplies and food. Coronavirus tests kits will also be dropped off. What makes matters more alarming, the cruise line is scheduled to dock in Fort Lauderdale on Monday, but it’s not known if local, state and port authorities will allow the ship to dock.
The 2020 NFL Draft will go on as scheduled from April 23 to April 25 despite concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, according to a memo sent to teams Thursday night. In the memo, obtained by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, commissioner Roger Goodell said the draft will, however, need to be conducted in a different way due to public health concerns. Goodell wrote that the league has canceled all of the draft’s public events, they will not be bringing prospects and families to the draft in Paradise, Nevada, and the draft itself will be televised in a way that reflects current conditions. Goodell urged clubs to plan to conduct draft operations in a location outside of their facilities, with a limited number of people present, and with sufficient technology resources to allow communication internally, with other clubs and with draft headquarters. Goodell’s announcement comes after he instructed the NFL’s 32 teams to close their facilities to all but a select few employees by 6 p.m. Wednesday. The few exceptions include trainers and doctors treating players, security and technology personnel. He said the restrictions were meant to protect against the virus and they’ll be in force until at least April 8. Then the league will re-evaluate..
Disney fans who are spending much of their at home currently can mix a little theme park magic into their lives. Disney is helping fulfill theme park cravings with “Imagineering in a Box,” a free online program that gives users all the tools to create their own park and reveals “how artists, designers and engineers work together to create theme parks.” The program, made in partnership with Khan Academy, allows users to experience interactive lessons about designing a theme park and attractions, and bringing animatronics and characters to life. It’s the next best thing to virtually riding Disney attractions from your computer screen amid the coronavirus pandemic.
An extraordinary act of kindness has a Florida restaurant feeling the love from its community. An anonymous diner left behind a $10,000 tip at Skillets in North Naples.
“He said I want each person in this restaurant to get $500. The manager distributed it to all the employees,” said Ross Edlund, the restaurant’s owner.
The tip was left behind by a regular of the business.
Little did they know that the next day, the governor would force dining rooms statewide to close. The restaurant’s owner looks on the bright side – acts of kindness are spreading in the community.
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