2020 coronavirus pandemic in Florida

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2020 coronavirus pandemic in Florida
COVID-19 Cases in Florida by counties.svg
Florida counties with confirmed COVID-19 cases through 6:00 pm update on April 2 (dark red denotes counties where deaths attributed to COVID-19 have occurred)[1]
Florida National Guard soldiers collaborate with hospital staff to don personal protective equipment
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
Index caseHillsborough County, Manatee County[2]
Arrival dateMarch 1, 2020[2]
Confirmed cases10,268[3][1]
Official website

On March 1, 2020, Florida became the third state in the United States with a documented COVID-19 case, during the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic. Within two weeks, widespread closures of public schools, resorts, and theme parks had been announced throughout the state.


COVID-19 cases in Florida, United States  ()
     Deaths        Active cases and recoveries
# of cases
2(n.a.) 0
2(+0%) 0
3(+50%) 0
8(+167%) 0
17(+113%) 2
18(+6%) 2
19(+6%) 2
28(+47%) 2
31(+11%) 2
49(+58%) 2
77(+57%) 3
115(+49%) 4
149(+30%) 4
160(+7%) 5
216(+35%) 7
328(+52%) 8
432(+32%) 9
563(+30%) 11
763(+36%) 12
1,007(+32%) 13
1,227(+22%) 18
1,467(+20%) 20
1,977(+35%) 23
2,484(+26%) 29
3,198(+29%) 46
4,038(+26%) 56
4,950(+23%) 60
5,704(+15%) 71
6,741(+18%) 85
7,773(+15%) 101
9,008(+16%) 144
10,268(+14%) 170
Cases: The number of cases confirmed in Florida.
Sources: Florida Department of Health.

Florida became the third state on March 1 to confirm its first COVID-19 cases: one in Manatee County and one in Hillsborough County.[4] On March 3, a third presumptive positive case in Hillsborough County was reported.[5][6]

On March 5, a new case was announce involving an "elderly [man] with severe underlying [health] conditions" in Santa Rosa County who had recently traveled outside the United States.[7] The Department of Health announced three new cases late on March 6, two in Broward County and one in Lee County. Officials also announced two deaths.[8]

On March 9, nine new cases were announced, bringing the total cases from 14 to 23.[9][10] Princess Cruises terminated a planned stop of the cruise ship Caribbean Princess in Grand Cayman after it was discovered that two of its crew members had recently transferred from Grand Princess in California. The cruise ship was ordered to anchor off the coast of Fort Lauderdale while its passengers and crew could be tested for coronavirus. Furthermore, a fourth Princess Cruises cruise ship, Regal Princess, was placed on a "no sail order" off the Florida coast after it was discovered that two of its crew members had recently transferred from Grand Princess in California.[11][12]

On March 10, the first case in Alachua County was confirmed.[13] On March 11, UF Health Shands Hospital confirmed they were treating their first patient with a case of coronavirus, but declined to say whether it was the same person who tested positive for the virus earlier in the week.[13] On March 13, it was confirmed that Mayor of Miami Francis X. Suarez had contracted the virus.[14][15] That night, the Department of Health confirmed that an Orange County resident died in California after contracting COVID-19 while traveling.[16]

On March 14, Orlando International Airport confirmed that one of its TSA agents has tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total of TSA agents across the United States to have the virus to five after four other TSA agents at Mineta San Jose International Airport in California were tested positive.[17] On March 15, 39 new cases were announced in Florida. Four of those new cases were in Miami-Dade County, and 17 were in Broward County.[18]

On March 17, a male resident of an assisted living facility in Fort Lauderdale died. On March 18, it was disclosed that possibly 19 senior living facilities could be infected by the coronavirus. By that time, Florida had completed 1,132 diagnostic tests for COVID-19 and of 1,539 tests, 314 were confirmed as being positive. There were 1,000 test results that were still pending and seven victims had died in the state, including one in Broward County. The state had bought 2,500 testing kits.[19]

On March 18, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart from Miami tested positive for the coronavirus. After his diagnosis, he self-quarantined in his Washington, D.C. apartment.[20]

By March 20, the number of positive test case had climbed to 520.[1] A Pasco and a Broward County resident died.[21][22] A man who returned to California after visiting Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando approximately two weeks prior died from the virus.[23][24]

By March 21, cases in Florida reached 763 presumptive positive cases.[25] By March 22, the total had exceeded 1,000 cases.[26]

As of March 27, 2,900 cases has been identified and at least 34 deaths has occurred due to COVID-19.[27] The number of deaths were expected to double every three days.[28]

On April 1, Governor Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order following growing pressure to do so.[29][30]


State government

On March 1, Governor DeSantis declared a public health emergency after two cases were confirmed in Manatee County and Hillsborough County.[31] On March 17, he ordered all bars and nightclubs to be closed for 30 days, extended school closures to April 15, and cancelled state-mandated school testing.[32]

By the third week of the pandemic's presence in Florida, DeSantis began attracting criticism for the state's slow response to the pandemic, particularly for deferring beach closings to local governments during spring break while vacationers continued to congregate. The Miami Herald's editorial board wrote an editorial condemning DeSantis inaction in requesting help from the federal government, while noting his vocal support of U.S. President Donald Trump.[33][34] Speculation mounted that DeSantis's decision not to lock down the state was influenced by business interests, instead of health experts. Business lobbyists including the Florida Chamber of Commerce urged the Governor not to "take drastic measures that might shut down the state’s economy".[35] On March 27, more than 900 health care workers signed a letter asking DeSantis to order citizens to shelter-in-place, and take other measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. A similar letter written by Doctors for America was signed by 500 health care professionals a few days earlier.[36]

On March 27, DeSantis expanded a previous order requiring airline travelers from New York City to self-quarantine for fourteen days to include people who enter from Louisiana via Interstate 10.[37]

On March 30, DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order for the South Florida counties of Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Monroe, where over 58% of the state's coronavirus cases were concentrated. He stated that the order would remain in effect at least until the middle of May.[38]

On April 1, DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order for the entire state, effective for 30 days, after a call with the president. This followed criticism from experts that more strict measures were necessary to contain the virus.[39][40]


A COVID-19 testing site in Florida

Early in March, the pandemic began having an impact throughout Florida as state and local government, businesses, and public institutions took measures to slow the spread of the virus.[citation needed]

Commercial entities

On March 12, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts announced that the Walt Disney World Resort would close from March 15 to 31, later announcing that the parks and resorts would stay closed indefinitely. Universal Parks & Resorts also announced that Universal Orlando would close from March 15 until at least the end of the month, also later announcing that the parks and resorts would stay closed until April 19th.[41][42] Other theme parks in Florida such as SeaWorld Orlando, Legoland Florida, and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay have also decided to close from March 13 to April 1.[43][44]

Public universities

On March 10, Joseph Glover, the provost of the University of Florida, sent out a recommendation to UF professors to transition their classes online.[45][46] The following day, UF announced all its classes for the spring semester will be transitioned online by the following Monday, and encouraged students to return to their hometowns.[13]

On March 11, Florida State University announced that classes will be moved online from March 23 to April 5, with in-person classes expected to resume on April 6.[47] The Board of Governors of the State University System of Florida directed all state universities to make plans to transition into remote learning effective immediately. Essential functions, such as dining and library services are still operational.[48] Florida International University in Miami announced that it will transition to remote learning starting from March 12 until at least April 4.[49]The University of South Florida in Tampa announced that all classes will consist of remote instruction for the rest of Spring 2020 semester.[50]


Most of the state's sports teams were affected by the pandemic. Several leagues postponed or suspended their seasons starting March 12. Major League Baseball (MLB) canceled the remainder of spring training,[51] and announced that the season would be postponed indefinitely.[52] The National Basketball Association announced the season would be suspended for 30 days, affecting the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic.[53] The National Hockey League season was suspended for an indefinite amount of time, affecting the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.[54]

The National Collegiate Athletic Association canceled all winter and spring tournaments, including the Division I men's and women's basketball tournaments, affecting colleges and universities statewide.[55] On March 16, the National Junior College Athletic Association also canceled the remainder of the winter seasons as well as the spring seasons.[56]


  1. ^ a b c d "Florida's COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard".
  2. ^ a b "Department of Health Announces Two Presumptive Positive COVID-19 Cases in Florida". Florida Department of Health. March 1, 2020. Retrieved March 20, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "2019 Novel Coronavirus Response (COVID-19)". Florida Department of Health. March 20, 2020. Retrieved March 20, 2020.
  4. ^ "Governor: Florida has first cases of coronaviruses". MESH. March 2, 2020. Archived from the original on March 2, 2020. Retrieved March 2, 2020.
  5. ^ "Florida coronavirus update for Tuesday, March 3: Another 'presumptive positive' case in state reported". Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  6. ^ "3rd Case of Coronavirus Infection Reported in Florida". Spectrum Bay News 9. March 3, 2020. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  7. ^ Robinson, Kevin (March 5, 2020). "DeSantis: New presumptive positive case of coronavirus found in Santa Rosa County". Pensacola News Journal. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
  8. ^ Health, Florida Dept (March 6, 2020). ".@HealthyFla has announced 3 new presumptive positive Florida #COVID19 cases: 2 in Broward County that are isolated and 1 in Lee County that is deceased. A previously-announced case in Santa Rosa County is also deceased".
  9. ^ Llerena, Reinaldo. "Florida Department of Health announces 8 positive cases of COVID-19". 7 News Miami. WSVN-TVSunbeam Television Corp. Retrieved March 11, 2020.
  10. ^ "Florida Department of Health Announces New Positive COVID-19 Case in Florida". Florida Department of Health. Retrieved March 11, 2020.
  11. ^ "Another Princess cruise ship kept at sea pending virus tests". AP. March 9, 2020. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  12. ^ Dolven, Taylor (March 9, 2020). "Second Florida cruise ship with no-sail order to test crew members for coronavirus". Miami Herald. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  13. ^ a b c "UF coronavirus: classes required to move online; Shands hospital has first coronavirus case". The Alligator. March 11, 2020. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  14. ^ Flechas, Joey (March 13, 2020). "Miami mayor tests positive for coronavirus after event with Brazil President Bolsonaro". Miami Herald. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  15. ^ Cardona, Alexi C. (March 13, 2020). "Miami Mayor Francis Suarez Tests Positive for Coronavirus". Miami New Times. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  16. ^ @HealthyFla (March 14, 2020). "DOH has confirmed 25 new individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 in Florida. All are being cared for and isolated. One Orange County, FL resident tested positive for COVID-19 while traveling and has died in California. Visit for more information" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  17. ^ Simmons, Roger. "TSA worker at Orlando International Airport tests positive for COVID-19". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved March 14, 2020.
  18. ^ Ellen Klas, Mary. "The latest: 39 new Florida coronavirus cases revealed overnight as state tally hits 100". Miami Herald.
  19. ^ Mario Ariza, Brooke Baitinger, Rafael Olmeda and Cindy Krischer Goodman, Florida coronavirus updates: As many as 19 senior living facilities feared infected, Sun Sentinel, March 18, 2020. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  20. ^ Rice, Katie (March 18, 2020). "Florida Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart tests positive for coronavirus". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  21. ^ "Florida Department of Health Updates New COVID-19 Cases, Announces One New Death Related to COVID-19, 11 a.m. Update" (Press release). Tallahassee: Florida Department of Health. March 20, 2020. Archived from the original on March 21, 2020. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  22. ^ "Florida Department of Health Updates New COVID-19 Cases, Announces One New Death Related to COVID-19, 6 p.m. Update" (Press release). Tallahassee: Florida Department of Health. March 20, 2020. Archived from the original on March 21, 2020. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  23. ^ Jankowski, Jon (March 20, 2020). "Man who died in California from coronavirus visited Disney World 2 weeks prior, report says". ClickOrlando. Retrieved March 20, 2020.
  24. ^ Plotkin, Dave (March 19, 2020). "Man dies of coronavirus after visiting Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando". Orlando Weekly. Retrieved March 20, 2020.
  25. ^ Mower, Lawrence (March 21, 2020). "DeSantis considers new strategy in Florida coronavirus fight: isolation shelters". Miami Herald.
  26. ^ Florida reports more than 1,000 cases of coronavirus, March 22, 2020. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  27. ^ "2,900 cases of COVID-19 in Florida; at least 34 deaths in the state". WPBF. March 27, 2020. Retrieved March 27, 2020.
  28. ^ Swisher, Skyler; Chokey, Aric (March 27, 2020). "'This is not going to be over in weeks.' Coronavirus deaths expected to double every four days in Florida". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved March 27, 2020.
  29. ^ Klas, Mary Ellen (April 1, 2020). "Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issues statewide stay-at-home order". Tampa Bay Times. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  30. ^ "Florida coronavirus update for Wednesday: DeSantis announces 30-day stay-home order for Florida". Orlando Sentinel. April 1, 2020. Retrieved April 1, 2020.
  31. ^ Lapin, Tamar (March 2, 2020). "Florida declares public health emergency after two coronavirus cases". The New York Post. Archived from the original on March 2, 2020. Retrieved March 2, 2020.
  32. ^ Rohrer, Gray; Skoneki, Mark (March 18, 2020). "DeSantis shuts down bars, extends schools closures across Florida to fight coronavirus". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  33. ^ Siemaszko, Corky (March 24, 2020). "Florida governor takes heat for state's slow response to coronavirus crisis". NBC News. Retrieved March 27, 2020.
  34. ^ "Coronavirus is killing us in Florida, Gov. DeSantis. Act like you give a damn". The Miami Herald. Miami Herald Editorial Board. March 22, 2020. Retrieved March 27, 2020.
  35. ^ Mower, Lawrence (March 26, 2020). "Gov. Ron DeSantis won't shut down Florida. Here's who he's talking to about that". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved March 27, 2020.
  36. ^ Evans, Jack (March 27, 2020). "900 Florida healthcare workers urge Gov. Ron DeSantis: 'Act now'". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved March 27, 2020.
  37. ^ Florida coronavirus cases pass 4000: state border checkpoints begin, vacation rentals halted by James Call, USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida Capital Bureau, 29 Mar 2020
  38. ^ Manchester, Julia (March 30, 2020). "Governor issues stay-at-home order for South Florida". The Hill. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  39. ^ Governor DeSantis issues 'stay-at-home' order for Florida Fox 13 Tampa, 1 April 2020
  40. ^ Mazzei, Patricia; Haberman, Maggie (April 1, 2020). "Florida Governor, at Long Last, Orders Residents to Stay Home to Avoid Coronavirus". The New York Times. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
  41. ^ Alexander, Bryan. "Coronavirus closes Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Universal Orlando Resort". USA TODAY. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  42. ^ Watson, R. T. (March 13, 2020). "Disney to Close U.S. and Paris Resorts Temporarily as Coronavirus Spurs Cancellations". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  43. ^ WESH2: SeaWorld to close all theme parks due to coronavirus
  44. ^ [Miami Herald: SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Legoland in Florida close due to ‘evolving COVID-19 situation]
  45. ^ Rogers, Nicole (March 10, 2020). "UF recommends professors move classes online; this left many unanswered questions". WCJB-TV. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  46. ^ "March 9 Update - COVID-19 and Online Classes". University of Florida. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  47. ^ "FSU shifts from in person classes to remote classes starting march 23 for two weeks". March 11, 2020. Retrieved March 11, 2020.
  48. ^ "State University System Statement on COVID-19". State University System of Florida. March 11, 2020. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  49. ^ Writer, Contributing. "Coronavirus update: FIU moves to remote instruction starting Thursday, March 12". FIU News. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  50. ^ "USF Coronavirus Updates". March 13, 2020. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  51. ^ R.J. Anderson, Coronavirus: MLB Opening Day delayed at least two weeks; spring training games in Florida, Arizona canceled, CBS Sports (March 13, 2020).
  52. ^ Feinsand, Mark (March 16, 2020). "Opening of regular season to be pushed back". Retrieved March 16, 2020.
  53. ^ "Silver: NBA hiatus likely to last 'at least' 30 days". March 12, 2020. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  54. ^ NHL statement on coronavirus NHL, March 12, 2020
  55. ^ NCAA cancels remaining winter and spring championships NCAA, March 12, 2020
  56. ^ NJCAA cancels spring sports, basketball nationals amid coronavirus outbreak, March 16, 2020

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