Northeastern University

The COVID-19 pandemic may lead to big changes in the education and training of health care professionals, says said Dr. Timothy Hoff, a professor of Management, Health Care Systems and Health Policy in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business and School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University, in Boston.

“If you’re from the medical community, it’s not just having clinical knowledge and it’s not just being the smartest doctor in the room that counts in a situation like this. You need a whole additional set of skills,” said Hoff.

Jennie McKeon/WUWF

Florida’s unemployment rate shot up to 4.3% in March, as coronavirus-induced closures of theme parks, hotels and large numbers of businesses caused the highest levels of joblessness in almost three years.

The last time Florida’s unemployment rate was that high was in May 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Obviously, this is a health issue; but if you look outside of that we’re now in an economic crisis as well because of the results of this national shutdown,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis, speaking Friday in Fort Lauderdale.

Alan Levine/Flickr

Local businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic can get some help, through a new program that’s getting underway this month.

It’s the Escambia County Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Grant Program, and the list of participants reads like a “who’s who” of local economic development; the county, city of Pensacola, University of West Florida’s Small Business Development Center, the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce, and Florida West – where Scott Luth is CEO.

Sgt. Leia Tascarini/U.S. Army

Florida has spent about $500 million on emergency supplies and support for the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz.

“Social distancing [and other] mitigation measures are working; we are flattening that curve,” said Moskowitz. “Florida has a good story to tell on what’s been working.”

Moskowitz spoke after Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that the White House had earmarked one million N95 face masks for Florida.

Creative Commons

According to the CDC, limiting face-to-face contact — otherwise known as social distancing — is the best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

Federal, state and local governments have implemented guidelines and closures to limit non-essential travel. But ultimately, it’s up to individuals to practice social distancing. So how do we know they’re actually doing it?

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state will more aggressively inspect nursing homes to detect patients and staff who are infected with the coronavirus.

For now, the new efforts will be focused on Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties in South Florida, where about 60 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the state exist.

The new game plan to protect seniors in long-term care facilities from COVID-19, says the governor, is three-fold; first, a continuation of assessments.

City of Pensacola

Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson’s second virtual news conference Monday crossed the spectrum on the coronavirus, what the city’s doing to curb its spread, and a bit of a preview of after it passes.

“We encourage everyone to continue to follow the CDC guidelines and take preventative actions, even if you feel perfectly healthy,” said Robinson.

Speaking from his home where he’s under quarantine, the mayor said he spoke with officials from area hospitals, and all facilities seem to be “on green” for now when it comes the number of beds.

Alexys Hillman

A Pensacola physician is heading up north to help care for coronavirus patients.

“I saw an ad from Johns Hopkins asking for people. I applied (and) they contacted me within 24 hours,” said Dr. Alexys Hillman from Pensacola Osteopaths, who has traveled to Baltimore to help COVID-19 patients. She said she was inspired to help after watching New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily coronavirus updates on TV.

“Every day he’s doing his conferences and his daily briefings and he was getting to the point (where he was) begging for health care people to come up and help.”

Covenant Care

As the fight continues against the coronavirus, methods are being worked out to keep families in contact with patients in facilities such as hospices.

Nursing homes, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities shut their doors to visitors last month, on orders from Gov. Ron DeSantis, who said there was evidence of wider contamination of the coronavirus in Florida.

Gabriel Castro/Education International

Students and teachers in Northwest Florida are not alone. COVID-19 is disrupting schools around the country and teachers are stepping up. 

“If you go to the National Education Association’s building, three blocks up from the White House, the lights are off,” said Lily Eskelsen-Garcia, the president of the National Education Association, the largest labor union in the country representing three million educators. She says like the schools, the union is operating the best it can under the circumstances.

Courtesy Photo

While Florida schools are closed until at least May 1, the pandemic has also delayed the opening of Destin High School. 

The charter school was supposed to open for its first school year this August, but the governing board made the decision last week to defer the opening until August 2021. 

Pensacola Mask Sewers

When the Pensacola Mask Sewers Facebook group was created three weeks ago, it was to help protect health-care workers with an alternative to the N95 mask used to treat COVID-19 patients. 

More than 2,600 members joined the group and thousands of masks have been delivered to more than 58 agencies in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. When an N95 mask was unavailable, the thought was cloth masks could be used as a “best, worst-case scenario,” said Jess Patton, who started the group. 

J.B. Artley/U.S. Air Force

For Christians and Jews, this week marks Easter and Passover. In the first of a three-part look at Holy Week and the impact of coronavirus, WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody looks at how worship is being changed by the pandemic -- from the pews to local and state governments.

Escambia County

Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson has tested negative for the coronavirus, after exposure within his family.

In a letter to his constituents and to city government, Robinson said he was tested at Ascension-Sacred Heart Hospital, and received the results on Friday evening.

“After knowing there were so many people I had contacted with, I was ecstatic to know that I didn’t cause exposure -- certainly at City Hall or to other individuals,” said Robinson.

Perfect Plain Brewing Co.

If you’re having a hard time finding hand sanitizer, you might want to see what’s on tap at a local bar. 

After Gov. Ron DeSantis issued the executive order March 20 to close bars and restaurants, some of those businesses decided to put the excess alcohol to good use. 

Camden Ford, master distiller at Timber Creek Distillery in Crestview, said he and his business partner, Aaron Barnes, started making hand sanitizer about a month ago as the demand started to kick up.