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3rd death confirmed in Florida as coronavirus spreads

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida officials say a third person has died in the state from an outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus. Health officials announced the latest fatality as the state banned most visitors from Florida nursing homes as the coronavirus has likely spread into the general population. Gov. Ron DeSantis banned on Saturday nursing homes from accepting visitors for 30 days except when a patient is near death. The latest victim's infection had no known link to travel. The state's number of infections passed 60 on Saturday. The state also announced that low-income students will still get free and reduced-cost meals while schools are closed.


Coronovirus siphons money from Florida teachers, tax breaks

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Legislative negotiators have reached a deal on a state budget heavily influenced by an outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus. With uncertainty over how the outbreak could affect the state's economy, lawmakers agreed to add an additional $300 million to the state's reserves -- in case government revenues fall dramatically because of a downturn in the economy. To free up the money, lawmakers have had to scale back proposals that would boost teacher pay and downsize tax breaks. The budget is the final item of business for Florida lawmakers before adjourning in several days.


Americans brace for new life of no school and growing dread

Millions of Americans braced for the week ahead with no school for their children for weeks to come, no clue how to effectively work without child care, and a growing sense of dread about how to stay safe and sane amid the relentless spread of the coronavirus. The wave of school and business closures across the country has injected huge amounts of chaos into the lives of millions of Americans. There are more questions than answers: Are play dates for kids OK? How do you plan for the future with no idea what it holds? Health officials say one thing is certain: It is going to get worse before it gets better.


Trump says he's likely to be tested after repeat exposure

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he will “most likely” be tested for the novel coronavirus, as questions swirl about why he, his top aides and his family aren't doing more to protect themselves and others after repeated exposure to COVID-19. Trump has now had multiple direct and indirect contacts with people who have tested positive for the pandemic virus, including at least three people at his Mar-a-Lago club. Trump on Friday declared a state of emergency as schools and workplaces across the country shuttered, flights were canceled and Americans braced for war against the threat.


Legislature goes to OT on budget as it wraps up other bills

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Legislature is going to overtime to complete the state budget while wrapping up other business on the last day of its 60-day session. Lawmakers passed bills Friday paving the way for teacher raises and expanding a school voucher program, among other items. But the budget remains unsettled and is becoming more complicated because of the coronavirus. Lawmakers are trying to figure out the impact the virus might have on revenue in a state that relies heavily on tourism at a time when people are canceling travel plans.


Florida to activate National Guard to help with virus tests

MIAMI (AP) — The Miami mayor has joined the list of more than 50 people in Florida infected with the new coronavirus. Meanwhile, the governor said Friday he will activate the National Guard to help with a planned ramp-up in testing for the illness. In efforts to limit contacts between potentially infected people, St. Petersburg cancelled that city’s Grand Prix, an IndyCar race car event held along the picturesque waterfront in what has become one of the city's signature weekends. The Miami-Dade and Broward school districts in South Florida, two of the country's largest, announced closures.


Election officials: Tuesday primaries on despite virus fears

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Elections officials in the four states holding presidential primaries next week say they have no plans to postpone voting amid widespread disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak. They say they are confident voters will be able to safely cast their ballots on Tuesday. They have been scrambling to recruit replacements for poll workers who are dropping out over fears of contracting the virus, providing cotton swabs for voters to use on touchscreen machines and extending absentee voting deadlines. Only one state, Louisiana, announced plans to postpone its primary, which was scheduled for early April.


Police: Gov. candidate in room where crystal meth was found

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Former Florida Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Gillum is named in a police report Friday saying he was “inebriated" and initially unresponsive in a hotel room where authorities found baggies of suspected crystal methamphetamine. Gillum is the former Tallahassee mayor and ran for governor in 2018. He's not charged with any crime. The Miami Beach police report says Gillum was allowed to leave the hotel for home after he was checked out medically. Gillum said in a statement that he was in Miami Beach for a wedding and did not use illegal drugs but had too much to drink.


Trump says top cruise ship companies stopping trips from US

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is tweeting that four major cruise ship companies have agreed to suspend trip from the U.S. for 30 days, effective at midnight. Trump tweeted Friday that Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and MSC Cruises all agreed to the suspensions. He said the cruise line industry is a “great and important industry — it will be kept that way!" The U.S. State Department advised Sunday against any travel on cruise ships, particularly for those with underlying health conditions. The advisory said the CDC has noted an “increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment."


Florida could be knockout punch for Sanders’ 2020 campaign

MIAMI (AP) — Florida and its 219 delegates could be the knockout punch for presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders after a dismal showing in the Michigan primary. The Florida primary election next Tuesday will be closely watched by people across the nation. The Vermont senator said he would stay in the race and debate former Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday. Biden's advisers are banking on a Florida victory that is so overwhelming that it sends a clear message that he is much better positioned than Sanders in a state considered a must-win for President Donald Trump.