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UPDATES: Gov. Ron DeSantis says Florida has flattened the curve

For the latest updates on the virus on the First Coast, follow this live blog and join our Facebook group, Facts Not Fear: Your Coronavirus Questions Answered.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — *** This live blog will no longer be updated, for the latest information click this link below to follow developments.

NEW: LIVE BLOG: Governor praises Jacksonville for response to COVID-19

Tuesday, April 21

4:30 p.m.: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says Florida has flattened the curve in the fight against COVID-19. He also announced 4 million more N95 masks are coming to Florida health care workers in long-term health care facilities.

RELATED: 'We have flattened the curve': Gov. Ron DeSantis says Florida's efforts against COVID-19 have been successful

9:15 a.m.: Starting Tuesday, all Florida SNAP customers can use their EBT cards to purchase online groceries through Walmart and Amazon.

8:40 a.m.: One insulin maker is offering diabetic patients free insulin for 90 days if they no longer have health insurance coverage because they lost their jobs during the COVID-19 economic crisis.

RELATED: Insulin maker offering free 90-day supply to patients financially impacted by pandemic

8:34 a.m.: According to a newly released report, total crop losses across Florida through mid-April 2020 may exceed $522.5 million as large-scale buyers including restaurants, school districts, food processing facilities, and others order less product.

6:30 a.m.: There were more than confirmed 787,000 cases of COVID-19 in the United States by 4 a.m. ET Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Monday, April 20

4:53 p.m.: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designers, nail care artists, estheticians and more can reopen Friday, April 24.

RELATED: Kemp announces plans to incrementally reopen Georgia | Here's what that includes

2 p.m.: Gov. Ron DeSantis, on a conference call with his new state coronavirus task force, said he expects Florida to be a model for how to jump-start the economy once Florida reopens.

RELATED: Gov. DeSantis looks into reopening state, jump-starting economy

12:10 p.m.:  A new COVID-19 testing site is in the works for Jacksonville, Mayor Lenny Curry announced during a news conference on Monday. Curry said this new testing site will be located on the Northside within the next week and that more details will follow.

RELATED: Curry talks reopening of Duval beaches, new COVID-19 testing site

11:07 a.m.: The COVID-19 testing site at Lot J will be closed Monday due to high wind speeds.

9:32 a.m.: A bill introduced by Rep. Ilhan Omar looks to cancel rent and home mortgage payments nationwide for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. 

RELATED: Rep. Ilhan Omar proposes canceling rent, mortgage payments during coronavirus pandemic

6:15 a.m.: There were more than 759,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States around 6:15 a.m. on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University.  

Sunday, April 19

2:30 p.m.: Kroger's Atlanta Division, which includes Georgia, eastern Alabama and South Carolina, is adding new safety measures, including facial mask requirements for associates.

The grocery chain said they have a supply of surgical masks in stock for associates to use.

Additionally, the chain will pilot test mandatory temperature checks at the start of each shift at certain stores. These tests will commence once the infrared thermometers arrive in the stores. 

Saturday, April 18

6 p.m.: The names of Florida nursing homes with COVID-19 cases are released. Baker, Bradford, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns County nursing homes are mentioned in the list. The names of Georgia nursing homes with COVID-19 cases were also released. Brantley, Camden, Charlton, Pierce and Ware are among the counties listed.

RELATED: List: First Coast nursing homes with positive COVID-19 cases

4:30 p.m.: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Florida K-12 schools will continue long-distance learning for the rest of the school year.

RELATED: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announces Florida K-12 schools will continue long-distance learning for the rest of the school year

Friday, April 17

5 p.m.: Duval County's beaches and parks reopened after being closed for a month because of COVID-19.

RELATED: Jacksonville beaches, parks reopen Friday

12:05 p.m.: St. Johns County beaches will open from 6 a.m. to noon starting Saturday morning. County leaders say this is for exercise only and not for lounging or sunbathing.

RELATED: St. Johns County beaches partially reopen

10 a.m.: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference in Fort Lauderdale less than 24-hours after President Trump released a three-phase outline for recovering from the economic pain of the coronavirus pandemic.

When asked about how Florida will respond to Trump's three-phase plan, DeSantis said that the state will use it as a baseline but that doesn't mean Florida will follow it exactly or do everything. The governor says they need to look at several different things and more information is needed.

RELATED: President Trump unveils 'Guidelines for opening up America again'

6:15 a.m.: New York residents will be required to wear face coverings anytime they come into close contact with other people outside their homes starting Friday..

5:45 a.m.: There have been 671,331 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 12:30 a.m. Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

Thursday, April 16

5 p.m.: President Trump announced a three-phase plan to reopen the country that will be based on data and left up to each state to roll out.

Phase 1 would reopen restaurant dining areas, movie theaters, sports venues, gyms, and places of worship with strict social distancing guidelines. Schools that are already closed should remain closed, and workers than can work from home should still do so.

Phase 2 would allow schools and youth summer camps to operate, reopen parks and shopping malls, and allow bars to reopen with capacity restrictions.

Phase 3 would allow employers to resume unrestricted staffing of workplaces. Large public venues can operate under limited social distancing rules. Visits to senior care facilities and hospitals can resume. 

4 p.m.: Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced Thursday that Duval County's beaches and park will reopen Friday at 5 p.m. after being closed for a month because of COVID-19.

9 a.m.: The Lot J COVID-19 testing site, now run by the Florida National Guard, is set to re-open at 9 a.m. after being closed for weather concerns. The number of tests that can be administered has increased from 250 to 400 per day. 

8 a.m.: President Donald Trump said he's prepared to announce new guidelines Thursday allowing some states to quickly ease up on social distancing.

RELATED: New Trump guidelines Thursday aim to ease some social distancing restrictions

Wednesday, April 15

4:50 p.m.: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he was disappointed in the initial response by the state's unemployment website, but said they just added over 100 new servers to receive applications online. He said more than 1,000 people in total are currently taking calls for unemployment claims. He expects to increase that number to 2,000 soon. 

He announced that he has now stripped Florida Department of Economic Opportunity's Executive Director Ken Lawson of all COVID-19 responsibilities after Lawson had been overseeing the unemployment website.

DeSantis expressed frustration over not being able to obtain basic information from Lawson, such as the number of claims that had been processed on a daily basis and called the situation "unacceptable."

He appointed Secretary of the Department of Management Services Jonathan Satter to take over the role of leading the unemployment claims efforts. 

RELATED: Gov. Ron DeSantis says handling of unemployment website was 'unacceptable,' appoints new leadership

8:40 a.m.: The United States has more than 600,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to statistics from Johns Hopkins University.

8 a.m.: House Democrats Tim Ryan and Ro Khanna have introduced legislation to give millions of Americans $2,000 per month during the coronavirus pandemic. The congressmen say the one-time, $1,200 stimulus going out to many Americans isn't good enough given skyrocketing unemployment.

RELATED: You could get a $2,000 per month stimulus check under proposed bill

Tuesday, April 14

4:15 p.m. Florida Gov. DeSantis announced 1 million masks are coming to health care workers across the state along with the following equipment:

  • 1.2 million procedure masks 
  • 100,000 face shields
  • 500,000 gloves
  • 60,000 containers of hand sanitizer 
  • 35,000 gowns

RELATED: Florida to receive 1 million N95 masks for health care workers

Noon: Mayor Lenny Curry announced a plan to let retired first responders return to work as a stopgap measure during the COVID-19 crisis. The re-hires will allow former Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officers and correctional officers as well as retired Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department employees to work for the city without jeopardizing their retirement or pension plans. 

RELATED: Curry to hire retired first responders to bolster local emergency crews

11 a.m.: Due to inclement weather, the Prime Osborn COVID-19 drive-thru testing site will not be opening at 11 a.m. 

All patients with approved orders for testing will automatically be seen Wednesday, April 15, at the same appointment time. For patient questions, please call the Telescope Health care coordination team at (904) 373-5304. 

9 a.m.: The worldwide number of coronavirus cases is likely to reach 2 million Tuesday. The U.S. total may reach 600,000 with a death toll of more than 25,000 Tuesday. 

8:16 a.m.: Tokyo organizers say they have no “B Plan” if the Olympics need to be postponed again.

They say they are proceeding under the assumption the Olympics will open on July 23, 2021. That date was set last month by the IOC and Japanese officials after the spreading coronavirus pandemic made it clear the Olympics could not be held as scheduled.

Monday, April 13

4:40 p.m. Due to severe weather, UF Health Jacksonville is moving its testing facility to Twin Towers, 617 W. 44th St. on April 16 and April 17 from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

3:27 p.m.: Lot J testing closed due to weather.

2:30 p.m. Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference to provide updates on the state's ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic.

DeSantis said Florida has worked to protect seniors, with three main areas of coverage: Long-term care assessment, emergency support for a facility if someone tests positive and increased testing.

During the conference, health officials said elderly people currently account for 30% of COVID-19 hospitalizations but 60% of deaths. Regarding overall hospitalizations, Florida is currently at a plateau with slight increases over the past few weeks, officials said. Hospitalizations in the state have been stable with about 2,000 hospitalizations a day. Duval is among a few Florida counties that have seen flat or declining hospitalizations. 

Despite the reported stability in numbers, Florida health officials still urge the public to continue social distancing and wearing masks in public spaces.

Noon: Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is extending the city's state of emergency for another 30 days.

Curry added that the site has also upped the number of tests given per day from 250 to 400 and that these results should be coming back faster than before.

RELATED: Jacksonville mayor extends local state of emergency for another 30 days

10:40 a.m.: The #COVID19 testing site at Lot J is temporarily closed due to severe weather.

RELATED: First Coast Forecast: Tornado Watch in effect for parts of First Coast until 11 a.m.

9:35 a.m.: Fresh Market stores announced it would require customers to wear masks starting April 14. 

8:48 a.m.: An extra $1,200 in the bank was a welcome surprise for many Americans over the weekend who weren't expecting stimulus checks until this week.

The first payments were deposited several days ahead of schedule on Friday night. By Wednesday, April 15, tens of millions of Americans will have received their checks.

6:53 a.m.: The United States has 557,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of midnight Monday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been 22,079 deaths. There have been more than 2.8 million tests for COVID-19 in the U.S. 

6 a.m.: A model by the The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington projected that Sunday would be the peak day for deaths from COVID-19 in the United States.

 The model predicts that the number of daily fatalities will begin to drop, but won't reach zero until June 22. The model is based on social distancing measures continuing. It also indicates that there are uncertainties that could lead to much higher daily death tolls.

Sunday, April 12

6 p.m. Churches and worshippers find ways to celebrate Easter Sunday while remaining safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among those churches was St. Cyprian's Episcopal Church in St. Augustine where its Easter Sunday service was held online. The service was streamed from inside the church with photos of the congregation members taped to pews.

Credit: Church member
St. Cyprian's Episcopal Church in St. Augustine held a virtual Easter service completed with photos of the congregation members taped to the pews.

3:30 p.m. Georgia. Gov. Kemp announces a 200-hospital bed alternate care facility at the Georgia World Congress Center. 

“Across Georgia, we have partnered with existing healthcare infrastructure to greatly expand our surge capacity, and now we have a dedicated team building out a temporary facility at the Georgia World Congress Center for potential COVID-19 patient surge,” Kemp said in a news release. “We are working around the clock to prepare for future needs and ensure the health and well-being of our state. I am truly honored to have Georgia’s best, brightest, and most dedicated public servants working on this critically important project.” 

RELATED: 200-bed hospital for COVID-19 patients being constructed at World Congress Center

Saturday, April 11

10 a.m.: Gov. DeSantis announces the acceleration of the I-4 Ultimate Project due to decreased travel because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

DeSantis also said that 17,638 travelers have been screened by air and car from "high-risk" areas before entering Florida.

RELATED: Gov. DeSantis: Construction on I-4 will be accelerated due to decreased travel amid COVID-19 pandemic

Friday, April 10

1:13 p.m.: Glynn County officials announced that the piers will be reopened beginning at 5 p.m. Friday. Those piers include: 

  • St. Simons Island Pier
  • Blythe Island Regional Park Piers
  • Gascoigne Fishing Piers

Any individuals utilizing these piers should maintain a six-foot distance between one another in order to comply with COVID-19 safety precautions. The piers will be monitored by Glynn County Police Officers and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR). DNR does allow fishing from the piers during this event.

Noon: Gov. DeSantis and Mayor Lenny Curry will host a press conference from Lot J at noon. 

10:45 a.m.: Andrew Boselli, FSU football player and son of Jaguars' Tony Boselli, gives details about his family's fight with COVID-19. Says it was one of the worst experiences of his life. 

RELATED: Andrew Boselli, FSU football player and son of Jaguars' Tony Boselli, gives details about fight with COVID-19

7:45 a.m.: Jacksonville University confirmed that an Aramark employee working at Riverview Cafe on campus has tested positive for COVID-19. The university says the individual last worked in the cafe on April 4th. The cafe will be closed Friday to allow time for cleaning and sanitization.

6:34 a.m.: The number of U.S. cases is more than 465,000. New York state alone has more cases than Spain, the next country on the worldwide list.

Thursday, April 9

1 p.m.: Clay County officials gave an update on the county's coronavirus response which included reminders about the importance of social distancing during the Easter weekend. Watch here.

12:47 a.m.: An employee of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department tested positive for COVID-19, sidelining 47 first responders and effectively closing one of the city's busiest fire stations.

9 a.m.: Wounded Warrior Project announced Thursday that it's donating $10 million to help meet the immediate needs of warriors in the financial crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

RELATED: Wounded Warrior Project giving grants to those in need, commits $10-million to help during COVID-19

7:30 a.m.: A new round of weekly jobless claims is due out Thursday morning and it's expected to be in the millions for the thid consecutive week due to the coronavirus pandemic

Wednesday, April 8

4 p.m.: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp extended the statewide stay-at-home order until April 30 during a briefing on Wednesday at the State Capitol. 

It was originally set to expire on April 13. 

He also suspended all short-term vacation rentals in Georgia. State parks and beaches remain open, despite citizens and commissioners urging him to shut them down.

RELATED: Gov. Kemp extends shelter-in-place order until April 30, suspends short-term vacation rentals

1:15 p.m.: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave an update on the state's COVID-19 response. DeSantis said 47 percent of hospital beds are still available for COVID-19 patients. “We have capacity at the hospitals we don’t know what a surge may bring but we have to prepare for that,” he said.

10 a.m.:  As Georgia prepares to see a surge of coronavirus patients in the coming weeks, Gov. Brian Kemp is extending his public health emergency declaration to May 13.

It was announced on March 13 and set to expire on April 13, so this extension adds another month. He's expected to have a press conference at 4 p.m.

8 a.m.: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering changing its guidelines for self-isolation to make it easier for those who have been exposed to someone with the coronavirus to return to work if they are asymptomatic. 

Tuesday, April 7

4 p.m.: Baptist Health Jacksonville announced that the hospital has several positions open for various medical personnel and is currently accepting applications.

RELATED: Baptist Health Jacksonville hiring registered nurses, therapists, pharmacists amid COVID-19 pandemic

1 p.m.: Two employees at Orange Park Kindergarten, 3050 Moody Ave., reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, according to the school's director.

RELATED: 2 employees at Orange Park Kindergarten test positive for COVID-19

12:52 p.m.: St. Johns County Commissioners did not vote on the issue of whether to reopen beaches at their meeting Tuesday, agreeing that making that decision at this point would be too risky for residents.

RELATED: St. Johns County commissioners choose to keep beaches closed following meeting discussing re-opening

11:30 a.m.: Mayor Lenny Curry and emergency management team leaders provided a brief update regarding the city's response to COVID-19 Tuesday.

Curry continued to emphasize the importance of washing hands, maintaining a social distance of 6-feet and wearing facemasks while in public. Curry was asked about the push to reopen the beaches for exercise purposes only.

"Every day I assess, we assess, the orders we put in place and ask if this is still relevant. ... we evaluate this every day," said Curry. "I don't foresee beaches reopening this week."

He also signed an ordinance into law that would allow for small businesses access to loans to help retain employees and soften losses. Read more about that below.

RELATED: Jacksonville mayor signs ordinance to help small businesses, says beaches will remain closed

7:10 a.m.: Kroger says it will begin limiting how many customers can come into its stores starting Tuesday to promote social distancing. The stores will allow no more than half of the building's calculated capacity at any one time.

7 a.m.: The United States has 368,196 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been 10,986 deaths and 19,828 recoveries.

Monday, April 6

1 p.m.: Clay County leaders say residents should be prepared for another six to eight weeks of physical distancing under the governor's safer-at-home order at a unified command press conference. The county's emergency management director said there are now 79 cases with six deaths in the county. 

10:30 a.m. Responding to a chorus of complaints about the state’s unemployment system failures, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday he had issued an “all hands on deck" approach to fixing it.”

Calling the existing system “just totally unacceptable,” he announced the state was mobilizing up to 2,500 state employees to process unemployment claims and training 700 new employees to staff the state’s call center. He also said state workers have brought new computer servers online to bolster system capacity.

RELATED: DeSantis responds to 'unacceptable' unemployment claim process, hires hundreds to help

8 a.m.: Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry drew largely favorable reviews while President Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis drew more mixed responses in a University of North Florida poll gauging reaction to the coronavirus pandemic.

6:10 a.m.: The Florida Department of Health is making it easier for people to track the number of coronavirus cases in our state by breaking down the number of cases down by ZIP code.

RELATED: How to track Florida coronavirus cases by ZIP code

5:45 a.m.: The US now has more than 337,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 9,600 deaths.

Sunday, April 5

6 p.m.: Nassau County has suspended meal delivery for students during the coronavirus pandemic.

RELATED: Nassau County schools suspend meal delivery amid COVID-19 pandemic

12:09 p.m.: JU Graduate student tests positive for COVID-19

RELATED: Jacksonville University graduate student tests positive for COVID-19

Saturday, April 4

5:27 p.m.: Lake City Police Department confirms an officer has tested positive for COVID-19.

RELATED: Lake City police officer tests positive for COVID-19

3:48 p.m.: The Florida Department of Healths says Florida is second in the nation for the number of people tested for COVID-19. As of Saturday, 102,108 people in Florida have been tested. 

1:37 p.m.: Mayor Curry says Jacksonville is trending below other metropolitan areas with the amount of COVID-19 positive cases. 

1:26 p.m.: Georgia Gov. Kemp checks in on the status of beaches after they are reopened for exercise purposes due to executive order.

8:38 a.m.: Detours are in place for those traveling to Lot J for COVID-19 testing due to Harts Bridge Ramp construction.

8:12 a.m.: Broward County Sheriff's Office announces the death of one of its deputies due to COVID-19.

RELATED: Broward County Sheriff's Office deputy dies from coronavirus