What to Know
- Florida surpassed 22,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 614 reported deaths related to the virus
- Miami-Dade County continued to account for about 36 percent of the state's cases
- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he intends to appoint a task force on reopening the state
Florida surpassed 22,500 confirmed coronavirus cases Wednesday, as the state's death toll related to the virus jumped past 600.
About 900 new cases were reported in the state Wednesday, bringing the total to 22,519, according to figures released by the Florida Department of Health.
Another 43 deaths were reported Wednesday, bringing the coronavirus-related death toll in the state to 614. More than half of the deaths were in South Florida, as Miami-Dade led the state with 155 deaths related to the virus.
Palm Beach County had 107 reported deaths, followed by Broward with 94. Monroe County had 3 reported deaths.
Miami-Dade County continued to account for about 36 percent of the state's cases, with 8,063. Broward had 3,363 reported cases and Palm Beach had 1,816.
Florida's hot spot in the City of Miami had 4,857 cases. Hialeah's case total continued to climb, reaching 1,014, while Hollywood had 981 cases.
More than 3,200 people have been hospitalized in Florida to date, and more than 214,000 have been tested.
At a news conference Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he's forming a task force to work on the reopening of Florida. The task force will focus on a number of issues including tourism, small businesses, restaurants, education and public events.
"It obviously is prudent to start thinking about and planning for people getting back to work and getting society functioning in a more healthy way," DeSantis said.
DeSantis said the task force will include elected officials, business leaders and people from the education field. He expects to release the names of the task force members by the end of the week.
On Tuesday, Florida's teachers union called on DeSantis to keep campuses closed through the end of the school year, saying the coronavirus outbreak “presents a threat we cannot control.”
DeSantis said at a Tuesday news conference that he is not going to reopen the schools until it can be done safely and any decision will be done in consultation with superintendents and parents. He said schools will be discussed by the task force.
Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said a physical return to campuses at the end of the school year would be "imprudent."
"This year's last day of school for students is June 3rd. High school graduations begin on May 26th. Bottomline, there are between 26 and 33 days of schooling left this school year. A physical return to schools this year is not only unlikely but imprudent," Carvalho tweeted Wednesday.
Also Tuesday, DeSantis announced that the federal government has approved 52,000 small business loans totaling $12.5 billion for Florida. He said some Floridians who have lost their jobs have started receiving the $600 weekly federal unemployment supplement.
“Everything is teed up and ready to go,” DeSantis said about the loans. “That is going to be a really important lifeline for Florida's small businesses, which have really been hit hard.”