STATEWIDE — As coronavirus cases in Florida surged past 10,000 on Friday, the Trump administration recommended that all Americans wear masks in public to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
- CORONAVIRUS LIVE UPDATES: In the Central Florida area | In the Tampa Bay area
- COVID-19 IMPACTS ON: Airports, Transportation Systems | Sports Events and Teams | Attractions | School Districts and Universities | Retailers, Restaurants Adjust Hours
- FREE CHARTER WIFI: Charter Communications to Offer Free Broadband, WiFi Access to Families with Elementary, College Students
- COMPLETE COVERAGE: Spectrum News | CDC | Florida Department of Health
"The CDC is now advising the use of a non-medical cloth face covering as an additional voluntary public health measure. So it's voluntary; you don't have to do it," President Donald Trump said during a daily coronavirus task force meeting from the White House.
The new recommendation is a reversal of previous federal guidance that only health care workers would benefit from wearing a face mask.
Trump said because it's voluntary, he won't wear one, though "maybe" he will change his mind.
Charter Communications has temporarily opened its live stream free to the public. You can watch Spectrum News via our live stream on your desktop or laptop without a subscription by visiting our website and clicking “Watch Live” in the upper right. Charter also is temporarily offering free broadband and wifi access for 60 days to teachers and families with K-12 or college students. To enroll, call 1-844-488-8395. The company also will open more than half a million wifi hotspots across the country.
The new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation comes as experts say there's evidence that the virus is being transmitted by people who may be carrying the virus but are not showing any symptoms.
The health experts say a face covering can cut down on the spread if combined with social-distancing protocols in addition to frequent hand-washing.
Non-medical coverings are recommended because medical-standard masks are still in limited supply, and officials want to save them for health care workers on the front lines of the battle against the pandemic.
The CDC guidance comes as COVID-19 cases in the state of Florida surged past 10,200 Friday. The state said the percentage of those being tested who are confirmed to have COVID-19 was 11% so far.
The state Health Department also reported seven more deaths, including patients in Orange, Polk, and Sumter counties.
New normal in place as stay-at-home order takes effect
A new normal is now in place as the governor's “safer at home” order - effectively a stay-at-home order - took effect overnight Thursday into Friday. For now, the order lasts until April 30. People are only supposed to leave home for essential services.
- Grocery stores
- Doctor visits
- Gas stations
- Caring for a loved one
- Recreational activities
At 11 a.m., the latest numbers saw 9,585 cases in Florida and 163 deaths. The majority of cases remained in southeast Florida, with Miami-Dade County now over 3,000 cases. In the Bay Area, Hillsborough County had 440 cases at the 11 a.m. update. In Central Florida, Orange County had 589.
Meanwhile, system issues have been plaguing many Floridians from filing for unemployment.
Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Ken Lawson apologized to the thousands of people trying to sign up for unemployment benefits.
Lawson apologized during a teleconference shared on Facebook. He says his agency has received more than a million phone calls with a third of them about issues with PIN resets.
A new contractor has been hired to handle the PIN reset issues. Also, a paper application is being created for people to fill out and mail in.
The director is blaming the system lags on the coronavirus because so many people are now unemployed and trying to sign up.
Gov. Ron DeSantis is sending extra help to get the job done. He signed an executive order on Thursday hoping to speed things up.
The governor is sending more manpower as he is directing all agency heads to assign employees to help out the Department of Economic Opportunity.
He says there are some 25,000 state employees who are telecommuting or considered non-essential, so some of their roles may be changing.
Meanwhile, some relief could be coming to those who were not impacted by the halt of evictions of federally backed mortgages. DeSantis says he will sign an executive order suspending foreclosures and evictions for 45 days statewide.
The submission deadline is 12 p.m. on Saturday, April 4, for those individuals who have partially completed their application. Submitted applications will be reviewed for eligibility and then processed based on funding availability.
Applicants who do not receive funding under the initial disbursement will remain on a waiting list until additional funds become available.