COVID-19 live updates: Here’s what to know in South Florida on October 22

Howard Cohen
·3 min read

We’re keeping track of the latest news regarding the coronavirus in South Florida and around the state. Check back for updates throughout the day.

Gov. Ron DeSantis loosens Florida nursing home visit rules, leaves decisions to facilities

File photo of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a roundtable discussion in Jacksonville on Aug. 4, 2020, when DeSantis returned to a familiar theme: protecting the state’s most vulnerable from the coronavirus.
File photo of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a roundtable discussion in Jacksonville on Aug. 4, 2020, when DeSantis returned to a familiar theme: protecting the state’s most vulnerable from the coronavirus.

5:20 p.m.: Florida will loosen restrictions on visits to long-term care facilities, a change Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that may have major consequences for the state’s most vulnerable residents.

Floridians have been allowed to visit loved ones in nursing homes and assisted living facilities with some restrictions since Sept. 1. But now, DeSantis said, general visitors are allowed to meet with residents outdoors even if a COVID-19 case has been recently reported in the facility. General indoor visits are still banned within 14 days of a staffer or resident testing positive, DeSantis said.

Those the state deems “compassionate caregivers” can visit loved ones indoors whether a facility has a positive case or not. DeSantis also announced Florida will remove social-distancing restrictions for those caregivers. Family members will be allowed to hug loved ones when they visit these facilities.

Read the story here.

FDA approves first COVID-19 drug: the antiviral remdesivir

5:15 p.m.: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug to treat COVID-19: remdesivir, an antiviral medicine given through an IV for patients needing hospitalization, the Associated Press reported.

Read the story here.

Lighting up Miami

12:45 p.m.: AmericanAirlines Arena, Freedom Tower and Miami Tower will all light up in red at sunset on Friday, Oct. 23, to kick off national Red Ribbon Week that runs Friday through Halloween. The initiative is in support of Informed Families as part of a drug prevention program aimed at reaching young people.

So how is this year’s awareness campaign related to the COVID-19 pandemic?

“As experts predicted, we are seeing an increase in alcohol and drug misuse as people of all ages cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Spreading awareness about prevention programs, like the Red Ribbon Campaign, is critically important right now,” said Peggy Sapp, Informed Families president and CEO in a statement.

According to a report in The Washington Post, the pandemic has intensified the nation’s drug crisis with a roughly 42% increase in drug overdoses in May 2020 over last year.

“We are delighted that the AmericanAirlines Arena, Freedom Tower and Miami Tower are going red in honor of Red Ribbon Week. This will be a spectacular visible reminder about the importance of remaining safe, healthy and drug free,” Sapp said.

Florida reports 5,557 new COVID-19 cases, the highest single day since mid-August

12:35 p.m.: Florida’s Department of Health on Thursday confirmed 5,557 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s known total to 768,091. Also, 57 resident deaths were announced, bringing the resident death toll to 16,267.

The total cases’ figure is the highest single-day count since Aug. 15 when 6,352 were reported. Since then, only Sept. 1 and Oct. 11 had higher reported numbers because of a “data dump” in the former and a combination of two days’ worth of numbers due to a technical issue last Sunday.

Read the report here.

CATCH UP TO START THE DAY

12:30 p.m.: Here are the coronavirus headlines to catch you up on what’s happening around South Florida and the state as Thursday begins.

105 COVID-19 deaths in Florida reported; state to change how fatality data is reviewed.

Miami Springs nursing home with 52 COVID deaths fined $67,000, but not stripped of license.