Coronavirus update: Testing sites expand requirements, Publix announces new initiative

Today is Thursday, April 23 and Centers for Disease Control  director Robert Redfield warns the virus outbreak could be even more devastating next winter, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf will be reopening the state in three phases starting May 8. President Trump also announced that plans for a July 4 celebration will take place.

Florida is now at 28, 576 confirmed cases, deaths in the state are approaching to hit 100 and Miami-Dade County continues to be the hotspot with 35.5 percent of the state’s COVID-19 victims.

Miami-Dade County officials released a statement on Wednesday announcing that the Community Action and Human Services department will be extending the closure of all Head Start locations till June 5. Employees will continue to deliver services remotely and provide grab and go meals as scheduled.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez shared the most up-to-date hospital statistics for the county on Wednesday. According to the report, there are 573 intensive care units, 863 ventilators ready for deployment with 162 on standby. Additionally, there are 45 new COVID-19 patients. Seventy-six have been discharged.

City of Miami officials announced on Tuesday that it will be expanding its drive-through testing at Charles Hadley Park to seniors 65 and older who are not experiencing symptoms. The site will also continue to screen individuals 18 and older with symptoms of COVID-19. Those who would like to get tested will need to make an appointment.

City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez also extended the state of emergency order on Tuesday. This is the sixth extension Suarez has issued for the city.

Memorial Healthcare System officials shared on Wednesday that the C.B. Smith Park testing site had expanded requirements to include individuals 18 and older who have not shown symptoms as well as people who would like to get re-tested. The site is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.

The Broward County Cultural Division released a statement on Wednesday announcing the launch of the Broward Arts Relief Fund. The program will provide financial assistance to Broward-based non-profit cultural organizations that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie announced on Wednesday that seniors will be having virtual graduation ceremonies for each high school between Monday, June 15 to Sunday, June 28. Runcie also committed to leaving the door open for physical ceremonies once restrictions are lifted. More details will be shared on May 1.

City of Plantation officials announced on Wednesday afternoon that along with Feeding South Florida, they will be hosting a food distribution on Friday, April 24 at Central Park, from 9 a.m to 11 a.m. and will continue every Friday until further notice.

City of Fort Lauderdale officials also announced on Wednesday that they have partnered up with the City of Oakland Park and Wilton Manors to host a food distribution along with Feeding South Florida at Mills Pond Park. The event will run from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and Recipients must remain in their vehicles.

Publix officials announced on Wednesday a new initiative in which they will be purchasing from local farmers in order to help them amid the pandemic. These products will be donated to Feeding America and will continue on for several weeks.

“In addition to providing much needed produce and milk to food banks, this initiative provides financial support to farmers during this challenging time,” Publix CEO Tom Jones said. “We’re honored to be able to work with these groups and do good together for our communities.”

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nicole Freid shared a statement on Wednesday saying she had sent letters to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and Florida’s congressional delegation urging further action to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on Florida’s agriculture industry. Freid added that the projected losses for Florida agriculture are upwards of $522 million.

“There are serious concerns over payment caps that cover just a small fraction of losses our producers have already experienced.” Freid said.” I urge Secretary Perdue and our Congressional leaders to step up, do more, and make sure our farmers aren’t left behind in this unprecedented time.”

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Mickaella is a senior at FIU, currently majoring in Journalism and looking forward to a Spring 2020 graduation. She was born in New Jersey but moved to Miami at the age of 7. Missing the fall foliage, winter snow and 24/7 deli’s, she plans to move back up north to New York after graduation and further enhance her career.

Andrea Igliozzi is a journalist originally from Caracas, Venezuela. From politics to arts, she has a passion for telling well-founded stories through video and multimedia platforms. She is qualified in front and behind the cameras.