On March 11 the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus a global pandemic. Since then cases have begun to exponentially grow across the globe.
On March 12 Florida Governor Rick DeSantis declared a state of emergency which followed with the Florida State College System Board of Governors ordering all University classes to migrate online.
Keep up with Eagle Media for ongoing coverage.
[iframe src=”https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6″ width=”800″ height=”500″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no” marginheight=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ title=”2019-nCoV”]
Courtesy of: Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center
8 P.M. SUNDAY MARCH, 29
During a White House press briefing this evening, President Donald Trump announced an extension on his administration’s social distancing guidelines. The president says they will extend the recommendations through April 30, at which point his team will reevaluate the situation regarding the outbreak.
7 P.M. FRIDAY MARCH, 27
The Collier County Board of Commissioners met today in an emergency meeting to determine whether a “stay-at-home” order was necessary for the county.
After several hours of listening to speakers, commissioners decided not to vote on the order. The commissioners determined that the situation needed to be better evaluated and that they would reconvene if any one member decided it to be beneficial.
Gov. DeSantis announced two new execute orders this afternoon during a briefing.
First, the governor announced an extension of his previous order which mandated all those traveling, or those who have traveled in the past three weeks, from the New York area would be compelled to self-isolate for 14 days.
In today’s addendum, the governor added Louisiana to areas of concern and revealed plans to introduce Florida Highway Patrol checkpoints along all major Interstate travel-ways to and from the area.
Next, the governor announced the mandatory suspension of all short-term rentals in the state of Florida effective immediately.
DeSantis also mentioned the possibility of a new testing site in Palm Beach County, an area he noted with rising cases but little testing.
President Donald Trump announced during a White House press briefing this evening that his administration invoked the Defense Production Act in accordance to General Motors after the company could not reach a deal on ventilator production.
The act is issued in order to compel companies to produce supplies necessary during a national emergency.
The President announced that the government would ensure the production of 100,000 ventilators in 100 days, or three times that which are produced on average in one year. The sources of production are not clear.
“No effort will be spared in winning this war,” Trump said. “We’re going to win the war, hopefully we’re going to win soon and with as few a lives as possible lost.”
President Trump gave praise to how Florida Gov. DeSantis was handling the outbreak in his state amidst growing numbers of confirmed cases, and concerns of personal protective equipment and testing shortages.
“Ron’s a very tough guy, he’s a great governor,” Trump said.
During the briefing, Trump also gave praise to the House of Representatives and the Senate for passing a $2.2 trillion stimulus package, which he signed late into the afternoon. The bill includes relief for Americans and businesses that are suffering economically as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“This Is a great thing, great victory,” The President said.
7 P.M. WEDNESDAY MARCH, 25
The Lee County Board of Commissioners called an emergency meeting where they determined that a lockdown would not be imposed today, however future considerations may be made. The board pleaded with residents to continue to stay home whenever it is possible.
During the meeting, commissioners also announced that they would be designating more funds for advertising, advising tourists not to come to the area until after the epidemic subsides.
“Our beaches will still be there,” Said Commissioner Brian Hamman.
A more than $2 Trillion stimulus package is moving through the senate to provide aid to American citizens and businesses, as well as funds for supplies to fight the COVID-19 epidemic.
The bill provides $1,200 for tax paying Americans which could be available as soon as April.
“We’re going to take care of the American worker,” President Donald Trump said.
The president continued to rally behind the idea of reopening the country by Easter, despite trepidation from doctors on his task force.
“We want to get back and people want to get back,” Trump said.
4 P.M. MONDAY MARCH, 24
Gov. DeSantis held a press briefing this afternoon to announce a new executive order mandating all people in the state of Florida who have traveled from New York in the last three weeks to quarantine for 14 days, and report all contacts they made during that time.
This is an extension of yesterday’s order, which required all incoming passengers by plane from New York to quarantine upon arrival. The mandate provided no details regarding those who travel by other means into the state, and only applies to the specifically mentioned geographic areas, despite a majority of Northeastern air traffic connecting through Atlanta.
Additionally, DeSantis announced a new health advisory that asks anyone over the age of 65 and those with preexisting health conditions to remain at home for the next 14 days.
The State of Florida is also expanding its guidelines to match the Centers for Disease Control’s and directing there to be no gathering larger than 10 people, as well as recommending at least 50% of all companies’ workforces to be remote.
DeSantis said he has no plans of a state lockdown, likening those actions to an authoritarian government, and mentioned support for the president’s plan to reopen the country by Easter.
The governor mentioned that people being employed is better for the overall public health than stricter measures, and used the seasonal flu as an example as to why opening the country up is realistic.
“You’re probably going to transmit the virus less in the office than you are with a bunch of drunk idiots in a block party,” DeSantis said in reference to the recently seen defiance of the lockdown in California.
Unemployment continues to skyrocket, raising more concerns for Florida’s economy for the governor. Prior to the outbreak, unemployment was low at around 2.8%. The state saw upwards of 250 – 1,000 cases per day. Yesterday alone there were more than 21,000 claims.
This morning during a Fox News Town Hall, President Donald Trump touted less concern for the outbreak. Trump wants the country to be “back to normal” as early as Easter, despite vocal oppositions from medical experts across the globe.
“This country wasn’t made to be shut down,” Trump said.
In Lee county, a patient being treated at Health Park Medical Center has died from COVID-19. No information regarding their age or gender has been made available.
National shortages of personal protective equipment and tests continue to hinder the progress on controlling the virus, despite presidential support across the country.
7 P.M. MONDAY MARCH, 23
President Donald Trump announced plans to open the country up in the coming weeks during Monday’s White House press briefing, despite the increasing number of deaths and infection.
“You look at automobile accidents which are far greater than any numbers were talking about,” Trump said. “That doesn’t mean we are going to tell everybody ‘no more driving of cars’.”
The president said that if the country is not reopened, it will cause far more death in the country than COVID-19. He noted that this experience has allowed the country to learn a lot.
Trump said his administration will continue to watch areas of widespread infection, including New York, Washington and California. However, he believes that areas of the country, such as Nebraska, Idaho and Iowa, remain relatively unaffected.
When asked whether the doctors monitoring the outbreak, such as National Health Institute’s Dr. Anthony Fauci, agree with this plan, Trump said that they “don’t not agree with him.”
“If it were up to the doctors they may say ‘Let’s keep it shut down’,” Trump said.
Republican senator Lindsey Graham, a long time Trump supporter, cautioned against this earlier today.
“My advice would be to follow medical advice to contain the virus,” Graham said. “If we can take some pressure off the economy, fine, but my primary focus is to make sure the virus is contained and defeated. And we’re just going to have to suffer through the economic consequences.”
During the briefing, Dr. Deborah Birx discussed that they are still actively looking at the data and addressed the risk of spread of the virus from asymptomatic carriers. She recommends treating everyone as if they were to test positive for the virus.
In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order this evening that mandates anyone traveling from an area of widespread COVID-19 outbreak, such as New York, to self-quarantine for 14 days. The order states that this will be monitored by law enforcement from across the state, but does not apply to those arriving by car.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 surge to more than 40,000 in the United States according to the John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. More than 1,100 cases have been confirmed in Florida, the sixth most of all states.
Gov. Ron DeSantis held a press conference this morning at The Villages, a retirement community in central Florida, to announce the opening of a new drive through testing center in an effort to expand testing in the area.
The site aims to process upwards of 400 tests per day, or 2,000 test a week between the hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. The procedure will be reassessed by the end of the week.
This drive-through testing center is one of several that have recently opened across the state, including locations in Jacksonville, Miami and Orlando.
The site is open by appointment to the public and will be operating in partnership with the University of Florida research department, which aims to track asymptomatic transmissions through data collected from testing.
DeSantis reaffirmed the states mitigation to combat the coronavirus. When asked whether or not the governor was considering a total lockdown, as states such as Illinois and New York have enforced, DeSantis said he is watching the states closely, but has no immediate plans.
The Governor noted a great deal of influx in incoming air travel and said that lockdowns in places like New York City is causing people to flee elsewhere in the country and would like to avoid the same situation.
“For every action there is a reaction,” DeSantis said, “So we’re going to consider what makes sense for Florida.”
The Governor, however, did leave the door open to future escalations.
“I do think we will end up doing some more stuff very soon,” He said.
12 P.M. SUNDAY, MARCH 22
At 11 a.m. the Florida Department of Health announced new positive COVID-19 cases in the state bringing the total to 830. This includes one new case in Lee county, bringing the local total to 18.
According the FDOH, 9,783 COVID-19 tests have been processed as of this morning, up from the 8,800 processed tests announced yesterday during a press conference with Governor Ron DeSantis. This test rate accounts for less than .05% of the state’s population of over 21 million.
Yesterday the governor said they are primarily focusing testing efforts on those who are 65 and older, despite roughly 60% of all confirmed cases being in those who are younger than 60.
Across the nation hospitals are already seeing a shortage of personal protective equipment, and with the new proposed federal support, localities are requesting supplies in abundance to prepare for the worst.
Peter Gaynor, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says that they cannot fulfill all of these requests at the moment, and are working to help those areas worst hit first
“If you don’t need it right away, you’re going to be a little bit farther down the list,” Gaynor said. “We’ll get to you.”
This comes after President Donald Trump claimed during a press conference that he signed a Defense Production Act on Friday, which gives the federal government the authority to mandate American companies to produce materials as directed for the crisis. However, this may not be the case.
On CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning, Gaynor refuted this. When asked about the tight mitigation of supplies, it was disclosed that the act hasn’t been invoked.
However, he said it hasn’t been needed yet as American companies such as General Motors, Tesla and Ford, among many others, have stepped up to help.
“If it comes to a point, we have to pull the lever, we will. But, right now, it’s really a great sign about the greatness of this country,” Gaynor said.
Total Cases in the United States surpassed 27,000 Sunday and global cases continue to rise with more than 300,000. Global cases increased by more than 100,000 in the past several days.
5:45 P.M SATURDAY, MARCH 21
UPDATE: There are 763 confirmed cases in florida and more than 300,000 cases worldwide as of 6 P.M.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference this afternoon to provide an update on the state’s COVID-19 outbreak. At the time of the conference there were 720 confirmed cases and 12 deaths according to DeSantis.
Florida has processed just over 8,800 COVID-19 tests as of today, according to Surgeon General Scott Rivkees.
During the conference, DeSantis said that 60% of all confirmed cases are in people 60 years of age or younger, but later revealed that they are primarily only testing individuals 65 years of age and older.
The governor also stated that only 18,000 out of 55,000 hospital beds were available along with 1,700 out of the 5,600 adult Intensive Care Unit beds. 34 hospitals were at 50% capacity throughout the state.
DeSantis stressed the importance of social distancing and taking the proper precautions to protect those in the communities who are most vulnerable, but also urged Floridians to stay calm.
“I would just tell everyone just keep cool and calm. There’s no need to panic,” DeSantis said. “You just need to take proper precautions and take the proper steps to protect yourself.”
DeSantis later said, “It’s a contagious viral infection, but it’s not something like the measles.”
Unemployment has continued to rise, something the governor said wasn’t an issue just two months ago. DeSantis mentioned that he and his staff are very attuned to the problem.
The governor said they are working tirelessly to bring in more personal protection equipment for hospital staff ahead of a predicted peak in case numbers.
When asked about the recent rise in fevers reported out of Florida hospitals from data collected from smart thermometers, Rivkees disclosed that the most important data they are evaluating is the test results.
Rivkees then mentioned that they observed an increase of fevers in Broward County, but the numbers have since gone down over the last several days.
Confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus continue to increase overnight to 603 in Florida according to the Florida Department of Health. As more businesses close, Florida sees a vast surge in unemployment assistance requests and announced Saturday morning that the online benefit application will be temporarily shut down for “system improvements.”
During a White House Press Conference, President Trump spoke about the measures to increase supplies of personal protective equipment and access to testing. The conference also announced an order of “hundreds of millions” of N95 masks to be given to healthcare workers across the country amidst a shortage.
Trump also said that the proposed stimulus bill is being negotiated through the weekend on Capitol Hill. The $1 trillion bill could be put to a vote by Monday at the earliest.
This bill would aim to send money directly to Americans as well as companies of select industries that are being affected by the economic repercussion that the outbreak has caused.
Vice President Pence spoke about the “15 Days to Slow the Spread” plan, which he urged all Americans to implement. Pence also said that more than 195,000 COVID-19 tests have been processed as of today. This means that tests have been administered to less than .06 percent of America’s population of 330 million since testing began at the end of February. The number of tests processed in Florida is not known at this time.
Dr. Anthony Fauci supported the administration’s plan and reassured that, despite the outcome, it is going to make a difference.
“We know we are clearly having an effect,” Fauci said, “But we can’t quantitate it for you accurately now because looking forward you’ll know what the impact of the rate of these steep inclines will be.”
During the press conference it was also announced that the Department of Education will not enforce standardized testing this school year.
The United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson announced that the President has authorized immediate cessation of foreclosures and evictions for the next 60 days with hopeful cooperation from the many housing organizations across the country. Additionally, Carson said he spoke to many mortgage lenders and urged them to practice forbearance on home mortgages.
President Trump urged states to take the actions they believe are best for their people and did not foresee any further national restrictions at this time.
“Every American has a role to play in defending our nation from this invisible, horrible enemy,” Trump said. “So, we say stay home and save lives.”
3 P.M. FRIDAY, MARCH 20
“Don’t be afraid, be vigilant” Vice President Mike Pence said this morning during a White House press conference.
The Trump administration announced that it is garnering support from many industrial businesses to ease the burden Personal Protective Equipment and Ventilator shortages by transitioning manufacturing aims to these essential supplies. President Donald Trump, along with the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, introduced new cooperations to close the Mexican bored to all non-essential commerce and travel.
“We’re in a live exercise to get this right,” Pompeo said.
It was also announced that Tax Day would be moved from April 15 to July 15 with no penalty for filing up to the July Date and effective immediately over the course of the next 60 days all student loans will be suspended without the incurrence of interest.
During the press conference, Dr. Deborah Birx reaffirmed that the chances of serious illness in young adults is higher than previously thought but added this morning that the recovery rate is still high. Brix also noted that from current information it seems that the mortality rate of COVID-19 is nearly two times higher in males. Pence later said that the mortality rate remains low while also reassuring the government is doing all it can to increase testing.
In Florida, Gov. Rick DeSantis announce that all Florida restaurants will move to take out only and noted that alcohol will be allowed for pickup as well. This comes as Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Florida surpass 520, affecting more than half of all counties.
9 P.M. THURSDAY, MARCH 19
In a morning press conference, President Donald Trump announces that the FDA is working towards utilizing several drugs that have been used around the world in those affected by the COVID-19 virus that could potentially help treat the virus. This comes as most states are still struggling to keep up with testing demands, including here in Florida where 114 new cases have been announced today. It was announced Wednesday by Vice President Mike Pence that only around 59,000 tests had been processed as of that time.
12 P.M. TUESDAY, MARCH 17
According to a report released by the Florida Board of Governors on Tuesday, March 17, online instruction will continue through the end of the Spring semester for all state university students. This is an extension of the state’s Wednesday decision to close all universities for two weeks, through Sunday, March 29.
Spring Commencement ceremonies have also been cancelled.
The decision is in response to the growing COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic spreading throughout the United States. Currently, there are 192 cases and 6 deaths within Florida. There have been no known reports of Coronavirus at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Check back with Eagle News throughout the day for updates and more information.
5 P.M. WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11
According to a report released by the State University System of Florida on Wed. March 11 regarding the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, all state universities with students currently on campus are encouraged to begin implementing “a process to transition to remote instruction immediately and encourage students to return home for at least two weeks”.
Shortly after the report was released, President Mike Martin sent an email to the FGCU student body stating that the university will transition to online classes for a two-week period, beginning Sun. March 15. All students are encouraged to return home, with on-campus housing remaining open for anyone with “unique circumstances”.
The university will remain open during this period.
Earlier today, the World Health Organization declared Coronavirus a pandemic, or a “worldwide spread of a new disease”. At least 32 people have died in the United States from the virus, including one man in Lee County.
The SUSF also instructed universities, including FGCU, to continue providing “essential services” to students, including dining, health services, and counseling.
5 P.M. WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4
Twenty-eight members of FGCU’s chamber choir were sent home early from an Italy trip amidst concerns over the Coronavirus.
Upon their arrival back into the US, the students will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.
According to an email sent to the FGCU student body, there are precautions in place for returning spring breakers.
The email stated that, “In keeping with our concern for all and consistent with guidance from the Florida Surgeon General and the State University System, everyone returning from a “Level 3” or higher rated country is directed to self-quarantine upon arrival to the United States and not return to campus for 14 days.”
For updates additional information regarding FGCU, visit fgcu.edu/coronaupdate.