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Latest on COVID-19 in Florida: Death toll climbs to 17, with 1,227 cases reported

Health leaders reported 17 people have died from COVID-19 in Florida.

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As the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic grips the globe, it can be difficult to find reliably factual information about what's going on here in Florida. 

This blog is a resource to address that crucial need. 10News reporters and producers will use it to share the latest headlines, while actively focusing on facts not fear.

Stories that require more in-depth coverage will be posted on WTSP.com/coronavirus.

RELATED: This interactive map shows coronavirus cases in Florida

RELATED: Where can I go? What does a ‘stay-at-home’ order mean?


10:46 p.m. (March 23)

The Florida Department of Health said there are 17 people who have died from COVID-19 coronavirus, providing a correction.

Earlier in the evening, it said 18 people died.

The number of total coronavirus cases at this time remains at 1,227 cases.

10:07 p.m. (March 23)

Tampa International Airport tweeted a reminder to passengers in response to Gov. Ron DeSantis' executive order: "...effective March 24 all passengers from NY, NJ or CT flying into Florida must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival due to coronavirus.

"The Executive Order does not apply to those employed by the airlines, or those providing military, health or emergency response."

9:15 p.m. (March 23)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis released his letter to President Donald Trump, requesting that he declare a major disaster for the state in response to coronavirus.

The request includes help for disaster unemployment assistance, crisis counseling, community disaster loans and more.

The full letter can be read here.

8:26 p.m. (March 23)

Governor Ron DeSantis' office has released his latest executive order, announced in a Monday news conference. The order reads:

Today, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-80, directing all persons whose point of departure originates from outside the State of Florida in an area with substantial community spread, to include the New York Tri-State Area (Connecticut, New Jersey and New York), and entering the State of Florida through airports to isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into the State of Florida or the duration of the person’s presence in the State of Florida, whichever is shorter.  

8:08 p.m. (March 23)

A public health emergency has been declared at MacDill Air Force Base after officials announced three positive COVID-19 coronavirus cases.

The declaration does not implement any additional restrictions, however, the base on Facebook said some could be coming in the future.

"Team MacDill continues to closely monitor the situation and work with community leaders and partners to keep service members, families, and the local community healthy and well-informed," the post reads. "... As we have seen, this is a very complex and ever-changing situation. 

"We will continue to provide timely updates as more information emerges."

RELATED: MacDill Air Force Base declares emergency with 3 coronavirus cases

6:36 p.m. (March 23)

Vice President Mike Pence says President Donald Trump, so far, has approved major disaster declarations for California and New York. Other requests, he said, are being reviewed -- including one requested by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

6 p.m. (March 23)

Florida Health reports a total of 18 people have died from COVID-19 coronavirus, up from four since the morning update.

In total, the state says there are 1,227 positive coronavirus cases. 

5:12 p.m. (March 23)

Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott sent a letter to President Donald Trump, urging him to approve Gov. Ron DeSantis' request that a major disaster declaration is issued for Florida.

It reads:

We write to express support for the request made by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis that a major disaster declaration be issued for Florida as a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2019 (COVID-19). According to the Florida Department of Health, there are 1,171 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and new diagnoses are rising daily. Federal government resources as well as coordination between federal and state and local officials are critical to Florida’s efforts to effectively and expediently combat the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We urge you to promptly approve Governor DeSantis’s request for a major disaster declaration, so that the State of Florida can use a fuller range of resources to manage the unprecedented difficulties posed by COVID-19. 

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

4:45 p.m. (March 23)

Despite growing calls for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to issue a statewide stay-at-home order, he said that would "not be advisable."

"I think given our circumstances, [a statewide stay-at-home order] would not be advisable," DeSantis said. "It would be a very blunt instrument. When you're ordering people to shelter in place, you are consigning a number -- probably hundreds of thousands of Floridians to lose their jobs, you're throwing their lives into potential disarray.

"And if that were something that were necessary statewide because the health comes first, that would be one thing, but if you look at Florida's situation right now, this is not a virus that's impacting every corner of the state. We have 20 counties that have zero cases at all, and we have about 25 counties that really only have a few cases.

"...It's not clear to me that doing a massive shutdown of the entire state would even work."

DeSantis said he also will issue an executive order for people on domestic flights coming from the New York region -- one of the areas in the country experiencing the most cases of coronavirus -- if the federal government does not: A mandatory self-isolation for 14 days.

"That's the only way we can be sure that (the virus won't) be re-introduced in the state of Florida," DeSantis said.

4:30 p.m. (March 23)

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor provided an update on the city's response to COVID-19 coronavirus. 

She has been pushing for a countywide stay-at-home order, but county leaders today opted not to pursue the order and instead will discuss a curfew at its meeting later this week.

"I was very frustrated and very disappointed that we, as the emergency policy group, did not decide to put a stay-in-place, stay-at-home order through or at least set a date to discuss that," Castor said. "The fact is, the science says and history has shown us with this virus the longer you wait, the longer it's going to take to recover from it and the more lives that are going to be lost.

"We need to act quickly."

Castor said the order could come from Gov. Ron DeSantis, but she believes he has no intention of issuing such a stay-at-home order.

Click or tap here to watch her update.

3:32 p.m. (March 23)

Hillsborough County's policy committee has voted to consider a curfew at its next meeting on Thursday. However, the county has also decided not to make any decision yet regarding a shelter-in-place order. At that county level, that could still be days away, if it happens.

RELATED: Hillsborough County will consider curfew after rejecting stay-at-home order

11:40 a.m. (March 23)

Starting Tuesday, lobby service at the Pasco County Tax Collector’s Office will be suspended temporarily.  Due to the severity and uncertainty of the coronavirus outbreak, no in-person transactions will be conducted in the county’s five offices.

In lieu of lobby service, the five offices will begin to provide certain transactions through drive-through services.  These transactions are limited to automobile, boat and mobile home registration renewals, property tax payments and disabled parking permit applications.

11:18 a.m. (March 23)

Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke Monday morning from a testing site in The Villages, a large retirement community in central Florida. DeSantis said the University of Florida volunteer medical professionals operate the drive-through testing site through a partnership with Shands.

DeSantis and Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz said in the next 48 hours, the department of health and emergency management authorities will send out tens of thousands of masks, shields, gowns and gloves to medical professionals around the state.

11 a.m. (March 23)

There are 1,171 cases of COVID-19 in Florida. Fourteen deaths have been reported.

9:40 a.m. (March 23)

Venice announced all city buildings are closed to the public effective today. The city said these buildings will remain staffed, however.

The building closures include city hall, public works, utilities and the airport administration office.

8:20 a.m. (March 23)

There will be a virtual support group for children beginning at 2 p.m. Click here to log in and participate.

8:15 a.m. (March 23)

The Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group will meet at 1:30 p.m. to discuss continuing actions in response to COVID-19.

6:45 a.m. (March 23)

Lakeland Regional Health announced it would be limiting visitors to the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning Monday, all non-emergency and non-urgent elective procedures and surgeries will be postponed.

5:15 a.m. (March 23)

Florida now has 1,007 cases of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Thirteen deaths have been reported.

10:30 p.m. (March 22)

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection said it will close all state parks Monday, March 23.

9:27 p.m. (March 22)

BayCare Health System is consolidating its drive-thru COVID-19 test collection sites to high volume locations and to provide geographic access Monday.

The changes reduce from seven to four the number of test collection sites BayCare is operating across West Central Florida. The center's hours will also shift to 9 a.m. to 12 noon. 

Testing locations:

  • BayCare Urgent Care (Tampa)
  • 3440 W. Dr. MLK Jr. Blvd., Suite 100, Tampa, FL 33607
  • BayCare Urgent Care (Carillon)
  • 900 Carillon Parkway, Suite106, St. Petersburg, FL 33716
  • BayCare Urgent Care (New Port Richey)
  • 4821 U.S. Highway 19, New Port Richey, FL 34652
  • BayCare Urgent Care (Haines City)
  • 36245 U.S. Highway 27, Haines City, FL 33844

6:04 p.m. (March 22)

The Flordia Department of Health is now reporting 1,007 positive cases of COVID-19 in the state. 

That number breaks down to 937 positive cases in Florida residents and 70 positive cases in non-Florida residents. 

YOUTUBE: 10News coverage of coronavirus in Florida

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