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UPDATED: Schools to Continue Distance Learning; 36 PBC Assisted Living Facilities on COVID-19 Case List

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Saturday that all Florida K-12 students will continue their education via distance learning through the end of this school year.

The governor called it an easy decision, since the likelihood of reopening for only a few weeks in May would have offered little academic benefit.

“There were some differing opinions,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Tallahassee. He added there was “pretty good momentum for distance learning” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

DeSantis explained that he understands the social impacts of children not being able to see their friends. He plans to ease some restrictions in the next phase so that “kids will have a little bit more to be able to do,” but he did not provide specifics.

“You had kind of a division among folks whether this was a good idea or not,” he said. “And I think the last thing you want to do is, like, force everyone in school and have half the kids not show up because their parents didn’t want — their teachers didn’t want — to do it.”

Balancing serious questions about the economy and public health are at the forefront of conversation across the country.

The governor said the percentage of those who are testing positive during the past few days is the lowest our state has seen in the last two to three weeks. He called those “good trends” and “good signs.”

Palm Beach County leaders also said over the weekend that plans to reopen non-essential businesses will come in phases, but that will not happen until the county reaches its peak of cases.

Non-essential businesses, parks, public and private beaches, boat ramps, and public and private golf courses in Palm Beach County will remain closed for the “foreseeable future,” in order to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus, officials announced Friday.

Mayor Dave Kerner said the county is closely monitoring the economic ramifications of the closures.

“We can’t look at it as a national day that the economy reopens,” Kerner added. “We’re going to do so based on science and medical data what we’re able to accommodate.”

He went on to say Palm Beach County’s elderly population is most vulnerable, and stated nursing home communities could be a “potential area of devastation” if stringent measures are not followed.

Dr. Alina Alonso, Palm Beach County’s health director, said the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is predicting surge in cases for the state in the first week of May.

“That’s a little bit similar to hurricane models. You just gotta stay in the cone,” Alonso said. “It’s a good cone. It gives us some credible information based on that data.”

Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Health released a list of all nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the state that have had at least one person test positive for COVID-19.

In Palm Beach County, 36 facilities have at least one case. Broward has 39, while Miami-Dade has the most in the state, with 54. The list includes a total of 303 nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the state with one or more cases of the virus.

The Department of Health says there are 25,996 total cases of COVID-19 in Florida as of Sunday morning.

At least 764 Florida residents have died from COVID-19.

Current Positive Cases in Florida

Palm Beach County: 2,156 cases

-121 deaths

-Men: 1,040, Women: 1,051

-359 hospitalizations

Broward County: 3,960 cases

-115 deaths

-Men: 1,984, Women: 1,843

-681 hospitalizations

Miami-Dade County: 9,166 cases

-202 deaths

-Men: 4,669, Women: 4,347

-869 hospitalizations