Florida’s outbreak of the coronavirus has now infected nearly 16,000 people, touching every county in the state.
As of Friday evening, Florida had about 18,000 total cases, with the number of deaths exceeding 400, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard. There were about 2,500 people currently hospitalized with the disease. With a single case reported Friday in Liberty County, the virus has now officially touched each of the state’s 67 counties.
The infections remain concentrated in South Florida, with the epicenter focused on Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
The outbreak has forced bars, restaurants, and schools to close and has kept much of the state’s population at home as health officials attempted to slow the spread of the virus and asked Floridians to keep their distance from one another.
Social distancing guidelines have forced schools to shutter — and they will remain closed until the end of the month amid uncertainty over when the 2.9 million children who attend public schools can return to their classrooms.
Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has recommended that schools remain closed until May 1. As a result, schools are conducting lessons virtually.
The governor said his state was aggressively trying to acquire tests that allow for quicker results, as well as a new test to see if a person possesses antibodies that could make them immune to further infection.
“It’ll give us a sense of how much this virus has actually penetrated into the community,” he said.
Meanwhile, travails continued for the state’s jobless as Florida’s unemployment system remained overwhelmed by a deluge of claims for benefits.
The U.S. Department of Labor reported on Thursday that the number of initial claims in Florida for the week ending April 4 fell by 58,599 to 169,885, even as state officials continue to work on adding servers and beefing up phone banks to help with unemployment claims.
Despite those efforts, many of the state’s newly jobless continued to report problems with filing applications or getting help from hotlines.
The Department for Economic Opportunity unveiled a mobile app to help with applications, but it, too, was adding to frustrations among some benefit seekers who could not log in.
Florida COVID-19 cases rise, infecting all but 1 county