Hillsborough rescinds its curfew; won’t require face coverings

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On Thursday afternoon the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group unanimously rescinded its order for a nightly curfew passed earlier this week.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller

Les Miller. By Seán Kinane / WMNF News (2018).

On Monday, County Commissioner Les Miller made the motion to implement a curfew, but Thursday he said he could count the votes against it.

Before he voted to rescind the curfew, Miller choked up and said he got racist emails.

“We are going to rescind this curfew today. But to law enforcement, be it the Sheriff’s office, and I know Sheriff Chronister is doing what he’s doing. But City of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City police officers, one of the things that the Governor put in his last executive order was, under section 3 c , “a social gathering in a public space is not an essential activity. Local jurisdictions shall ensure that groups of people greater than 10 are not permitted to congregate.”

“So if we do away with this curfew today, law enforcement if you see that happening you’re going to educate first. You’re going to go up to them and tell them what they’re doing is wrong. That you can’t congregate more than 10 and then ask them to leave.

“And if they don’t utilize the authority that was given to you under this executive order and arrest them.

“Because if you don’t, those numbers that we’re talking about are going to rise and we are going to hit that peak. We’re going to hit that peak. And where we want that curve to go down, it’s going to start doing this.

“That’s all I was doing, was trying to save lives. I don’t care what color you are. I don’t care how much money you have or what sexual orientation you may have.

“I’ve been called some dirty names since I did that. The most difficult one was being called the N-word and a Nazi. [Miller chokes up].

“We have a motion by Commissioner Snively.

Listen:

Sheriff Chad Chronister also voted for the curfew on Monday but reversed his vote Thursday afternoon.

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The Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group also rejected requiring residents to wear face coverings if they come into close contact with others. Instead, they reiterated their earlier recommendation to “strongly urge” people to use face coverings in public.

The group also unanimously extended the county’s emergency declaration for another week.

 

There have been more than 27,000 coronavirus deaths in the U.S. that’s an increase of 3,000 since Wednesday.

The CDC updated the numbers Thursday afternoon. There are now more than 632,000 positive COVID-19 cases in the country, 27,000 more than Wednesday.

According to the Florida Department of Health website, updated Thursday morning, there are now nearly 22,900 positive coronavirus cases in the state. 633 people have died in Florida, that’s up about 40 from Wednesday afternoon. More than 3,300 people are hospitalized, which is a number that continues to grow.

Here’s the county-by-county breakdown of the number of people who have tested positive for coronavirus in the Tampa Bay area:

In Hillsborough, there are 873 (with 18 deaths), in Pinellas 520 (with 14 deaths). The most deaths in the Tampa Bay area are in Manatee County with 19 deaths and 288 positive cases. 255 people have tested positive in Sarasota (with 17 deaths), 124 in Charlotte, (with 6 deaths), 190 in Pasco (with 3 deaths), 74 in Hernando (with 2 deaths), 75 in Citrus (with 8 deaths) and 293 in Polk (with 10 deaths).

In Manatee County, Fifty-eight people have tested positive in zip code 34208, which includes parts of Bradenton, Ellenton and south Bradenton. The three zip codes with the next most positive cases are Hillsborough County’s 33647, which includes parts of Tampa, Lutz and University with 41, 33614, which includes parts of Tampa, Carrollwood and Town ‘n’ County with 37 positive cases, and Polk County’s 33881, which includes parts of Winter Haven, Auburndale and Lake Alfred also with 37.

 

The Tampa Bay Partnership released a report Wednesday on COVID-19 in the region.

Florida is now expected to reach its peak of cases on May 6th. Based on recent modeling, and at its current capacity levels, it appears that Tampa Bay would likely have sufficient regional resources to manage peak COVID-19 case levels. But some areas of the region may be at greater risk. More than 35,000 COVID-19 tests have been administered in Tampa Bay, but most have been in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. That suggests a greater risk of underdiagnosis in counties such as Manatee, Polk and Sarasota. Manatee and Sarasota counties, with a combined population roughly half that of Hillsborough, have seen a near equal count of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Tampa Bay’s hospital capacity has largely remained above 40% since April 3rd, with about 5,000 available beds. That suggests that COVID-19 related inpatient medical care has not yet spiked in Tampa Bay. The region’s ICU capacity has held steady at about 35%, with an estimated 500 available beds, but capacity is trending down in recent days.

 

Listen to the 5:30 p.m. WMNF News headlines for 16 April 2020:

Listen to the 4:30 p.m. WMNF News headlines for 16 April 2020:

Listen to the 3:30 p.m. WMNF News headlines for 16 April 2020:

 

The Florida Department of Health in Pasco County (DOH-Pasco) sent an email saying it “wants residents who are experiencing dental pain or infection to consider checking out DentalCupid.com if their dentist’s office is closed due to COVID-19. This will help reduce the number of emergency department patients by providing immediate referrals to local dental offices for urgent dental care.”

 

Below is information from the Hillsborough County Emergency Operations Center:

Finding Food Funds Low? Here’s Where to Find Help
COVID-19 Coronavirus Update No. 70

Hillsborough County, Fla. (April 16, 2020) – The economic fallout from the
COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is hitting many people hard, including when it comes to putting food on the table. Hillsborough County residents have several sources that can offer help with this basic need. Here are some examples:

Food Assistance for Seniors – Hillsborough County residents age 60 and older can apply for food assistance through Hillsborough County Aging Services.
There is no income requirement to participate in the federally-funded program.
For more information on receiving meals and to apply, call (813) 272-5250.

Feeding Tampa Bay: Mobile Food Pantry and More – Feeding Tampa Bay is offering drive-thru distribution of free, pre-packaged groceries to Hillsborough County residents in need. Distribution is on Saturdays from 9 to 11 a.m. at Hillsborough Community College’s Dale Mabry campus, 4001 W. Tampa Bay Blvd. in Tampa. Check the Feeding Tampa Bay website (https://nam11.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Ffeedingtampabay.org%2F&data=02%7C01%7CSean%40wmnf.org%7Cc9ee706fb3b54e1c416c08d7e2239e62%7Ceff8000820724c42b3fe736c3260d23f%7C0%7C0%7C637226514923925281&sdata=syHqXo9zGAa37mBZqmykWH7fsOHJZgsr0nmPeKwwlzI%3D&reserved=0)
before the events, in case of change, and to find similar events elsewhere.
Feeding Tampa Bay also offers several other food assistance programs and information, including Breakspot Meal Sites for children, Senior Groceries, Trinity Caf, and more. For details, go to feedingtampabay.org, or call (813) 254-1190.

Tampa YMCA Veggie Van – The unique and colorful “Veggie Van” is distributing free pre-packaged bags of produce in several neighborhoods in Hillsborough County. No ID, paperwork or pre-screening is required to receive the food.
Learn more on the Veggie Van’s Facebook page @tampaveggievan.

School Lunches – Hillsborough County Public Schools continues to distribute Grab and Go food bags to students at 147 sites every Wednesday. Families will be able to pick up a week’s worth of nutritious meals at a time. Buses also are transporting foods into specific neighborhoods for pickup every Wednesday.
Go to sdhc.k12.fl.us or call (813) 272-4000 for details.

Florida Food Assistance Program – The Florida Department of Children and Families provides food benefits, access to a healthy diet, and education on food preparation and nutrition to low-income households through the U.S.
Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Program requirements have been adjusted to assist additional residents who have recently lost their jobs or experienced a significant reduction in the number of hours they are able to work due to COVID-19. Apply online at myflorida.com/accessflorida/ or call (866) 762-2237.

Stretch your SNAP benefits – Fresh Access Bucks (FAB) is a U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded program that encourages recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to shop at local farmers markets, produce stands, community-supported agriculture, and mobile markets. FAB provides double benefits for every SNAP dollar spent at an approved farmers market. There are two participating FAB locations in Hillsborough County:
Temple Terrace Farmer’s Market at 11780 Tom Folsom Road, Thonotosassa, FL 33592, and Sweetwater Organic Community Farm and Market, 6942 West Comanche Ave., Tampa, FL 33634. For more information, visit feedingflorida.org/food-access/fresh-access-bucks.

SNAP and EBT Cards – Beginning Tuesday, April 21, SNAP recipients across the state will be able to use EBT cards to make eligible food purchases from Walmart and Amazon online. This partnership with federal, state, and local partners will ensure Floridians can access nutritious food while also practicing social distancing and self-quarantining to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The Florida Department of Children and Families will continue to work to expand the network of retailers participating in the pilot program.
For more information, go to myflfamilies.com/covid19/access.shtml.

For links to additional resources that can help you navigate these difficult times, click on the “Getting Help” tab at HCFLGov.net/Stay Safe. Check the page often for updates.

Get Connected. Stay Alert.
For more information on COVID-19, and any other potential emergency in the county, visit HCFLGov.net/StaySafe and sign up for the HCFL Alert system.
Additionally, you can follow Hillsborough County on social media at Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor for updates. For general County information, call (813) 272-5900, the County’s main information line.

 

Below is information from Feeding Tampa Bay:

Tallahassee, Fla. – April 16, 2020 – Feeding Tampa Bay and Uber Eats today announced a partnership to provide meals and groceries to some of Tampa Bay’s most vulnerable populations during COVID-19. Seniors, many of which are isolated to their homes and unable to access groceries and meals they need to keep them strong and healthy, can now receive Feeding Tampa Bay services through Uber Eats delivery.

 

Feeding Tampa Bay has seen an increase in requests for their services by over 400% since the pandemic began and has doubled its output of direct distribution since the beginning of March. While normally the organization serves 600,000 food insecure individuals in a 10-county region, they are stepping in to meet the increased and evolving need during this time.

 

“We are in the midst of a time when we have to re-imagine solutions around food relief,” says Thomas Mantz, President & CEO of Feeding Tampa Bay. “Our community needs us now than more ever. Shifting our model would not be possible without innovation and partnerships, and we are proud to work alongside Uber Eats to deliver crucial meals to seniors in our region.”

 

“Due to social isolation and heightened safety measures, Feeding Tampa Bay is shifting all of its distribution model to delivery, drive-thru and to-go meals,” reported Stephanie Smith, Senior Manager of Florida Public Policy at Uber. “Our Uber Eats partnership with Feeding Tampa Bay fills a crucial need for this increased demand of meal deliveries and we are proud to be part of the solution in supporting Florida’s seniors.”

 

“Thank you to Uber Eats and Feeding Tampa Bay for this partnership. Tampa and the Tampa Bay area has time and again witnessed the incredible collaboration between public and private entities in providing critical solutions during these challenging times,” said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor. “The partnership between Uber Eats and Feeding Tampa Bay, whose goal is to be the driving force behind all food relief in the region, is a welcomed alliance in keeping our seniors safe at home during this crisis.”

 

“Being safer at home means spending less time in grocery stores and restaurants. Uber Eats and Feeding Tampa Bay have made that easier and are helping to make St. Pete a healthier community as this virus threatens our well-being,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. “I am proud of the creative partnership between Uber Eats and Feeding Tampa Bay and their desire to help those most in need. I am especially appreciative of those who are on the front line for these organizations ensuring such needs are met.”