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Coronavirus in Florida: Busch Gardens, SeaWorld offer annual pass extension due to COVID-19

This extension comes after the parks announced alternatives for ticket holders on March 27.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — If you arrived on this page by clicking a push alert on your phone, please scroll down for links to live streams.

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As the COVID-19 pandemic grips the globe, it can be difficult to find reliably factual information about what's going on here in Florida. 

This blog is a resource to address that crucial need. 10News reporters and producers will use it to share the latest headlines, while actively focusing on facts, not fear.

Key Facts

  • 1,218 people in Florida have died from COVID-19. There are 33,193 positive cases.
  • If you live in Hillsborough County, you can get a free COVID-19 test. You no longer need to be pre-screened or show symptoms, but you do need to call ahead.
  • Pinellas County beaches are set to reopen to the public next week.


9:02 p.m. (April 29)

Hillsborough County's "Rapid Response Recovery Program" has officially reached its capacity, according to the county. 

In a Twitter post, the county said it can no longer accept online applications or over-the-phone appointments due to the current funding limit. 

Anyone who has already submitted an application is still being processed by an "eligibility specialist" who will be in touch soon, according to the county. 

Those with questions or looking to see what coronavirus related resources are still available can click here.

7:56 p.m. (April 29)

In an email to SeaWorld and Busch Gardens annual pass holders, Interim Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. Marc Swanson announced the extension of passes. 

According to the email, all active annual pass holders and membership products for both parks will be extended for the length of the time the park is closed. 

All 13 of its theme parks have been closed since March 16. 

This extension comes after the parks announced alternatives for ticket holders on March 27.

7:46 p.m. (April 29)

Wednesday, the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) announced neither have set a timeline for a possible return to play, despite multiple rumors. 

But, the groups did share that Phase 2 of their plan to return is being looked into after "recent developments in some NHL Clubs’ local communities," but its actual enactment is undetermined.

The NHL is currently in Phase 1-- the self quarantining phase.  

6 p.m. (April 29)

Gov. Ron DeSantis says reopening the state can begin May 4, restaurants can open with restrictions.

As part of "phase one," indoor seating at restaurants must be limited at 25-percent capacity. There is no change at this time for bars, gyms and personal services.

RELATED: Gov. DeSantis says reopening can begin May 4, restaurants can open with restrictions

5:28 p.m. (April 29)

While public beaches and beach parking across Manatee County will reopen May 4 amid concerns about coronavirus the Holmes Beach Police Department is warning against parking within its city limits.

In a release, the police department said no parking is permitted on any city streets or at beach access parking lots. Any violators will be towed. 

"I live here is not permission to park illegally," the police department wrote in a release.

3:38 p.m. (April 29)

Directions for Living, a local non-profit, has teamed up with the Homeless Leadership Alliance, Daystar Life Center, and Wellness Ministries to enhance homeless outreach during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Two-person teams will be heading out to 51 different locations to provide masks, water, meal kits, hygiene items and coronavirus information to the homeless population. 

2:50 p.m. (April 29)

Pasco-Hernando State College (PHSC) announced it plans to continue remote operations and learning until June 1. 

"Our first priority is the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff," said PHSC President Timothy L. Beard, Ph.D. "We continue to rely on the recommendations of state health and education officials and closely monitor COVID-19 cases in our district. Our pro-active decision to continue remote operations is a health measure that will support plans to re-open when it is safe to do so."

A virtual graduation is set for May 26 on the college's website

1:30 p.m. (April 29)

Community-based coronavirus testing is expanding, according to the Sarasota Department of Health. 

Partnering with CenterPlace Health, NAACP Sarasota Chapter and Light of the World International Church the department has added an appointment only drive-thru testing site at: 3809 Chapel Dr, Sarasota, FL 34234.

The site will begin operation from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. May 1.

10:50 a.m. (April 29)

The Florida Department of Health released new coronavirus numbers Wednesday morning.

There have been 1,218 COVID-19-related deaths in the state and 33,193 positive cases.

9:05 a.m. (April 29)

An additional drive-up COVID-19 testing site has been added to AdventHealth's running list in an effort to increase testing availability for Floridians.

For the next 30 days, anyone looking to be tested can now head to 3173 Cypress Ridge Blvd, Wesley Chapel, FL.

The site will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting April 29.

A doctor's order is not required for testing, but it is encouraged to pre-register by calling 866-694-5503.

The test consists of coughing and spitting in a cup. There is no out-of-pocket cost to be tested, according to AdventHealth.

9:00 a.m. (April 29)

Tampa International Airport on Wednesday announced new measures and practices to help keep employees and travelers safe from the coronavirus.

The airport launched the "TPA Ready" plan as it anticipates a gradual return of passengers as states begin to slowly reopen amid the pandemic. 

Some key changes being implemented in the coming weeks:

  • Plastic shields installed in high-traffic areas, including ticket counters, TSA checkpoints, boarding gates and concession counters
  • All employees will be required to wear face masks
  • Setting up social distancing markers and signs to remind people to stay six feet apart 
  • Seating will be reduced, blocked off or spaced apart in places like gate areas, dining areas, work stations and main terminal greeting sections
  • The airport is employing an additional cleaning crew staff to consistently clean and sanitizing high touch-points and common areas

The airport also gave this guidance: 

  • Passengers and guests should wear face masks while at the airport
  • Passengers should arrive for flights at least two hours early
  • Travelers should use carry-on luggage and mobile boarding passes when possible to limit touch-points
  • Those picking up or dropping off travelers should not go into the main terminal. Instead, they're asked to use the cell phone lot or stay in their cars in the short term parking garage

9:29 p.m. (April 28)

Hundreds of thousands of people who spent time -- hours that stretched into days -- working through Florida's troubled unemployment system have found themselves "ineligible for reemployment assistance."

That means a payout of zero dollars, but there's another option: try again.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity on Tuesday announced people who were marked as "ineligible" for state benefits might instead be eligible for special federal benefits.

As of Tuesday evening, about 40 percent of all claims processed -- about 267,912 claims -- have been found to be ineligible, according to the state's dashboard.

RELATED: 'Ineligible' for unemployment assistance? Florida wants you to apply again

6:52 p.m. (April 28)

High school seniors, these days are for you: District leaders in Hillsborough and Polk counties on Tuesday approved alternate graduation plans.

Original graduation celebrations could not be held because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the risk of infection the virus posed to people gathering in large groups.

Hillsborough County says if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not adjust its current guidelines for the summer and does not allow public gatherings, options will be explored for virtual graduation ceremonies.

RELATED: Hillsborough, Polk school leaders approve revised graduation plans 

5:16 p.m. (April 28)

Hillsborough County leaders announced they will extend existing government closures through Friday, May 15.

"This extension allows the County sufficient time to ensure its operations and services align to any Executive Orders issued by the Governor," a news release states.

RELATED: Pinellas County beaches to reopen Monday

5 p.m. (April 28)

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and County Administrator Barry Burton are discussing the reopening of county beaches and public pools, which is set to happen Monday.

Both were in favor of the reopening.

There are still restrictions in place, and people are still told to practice social distancing guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

RELATED: President Trump says US closer to testing international air travelers for virus

RELATED: Oxford COVID-19 vaccine reportedly shows success protecting monkeys from virus

RELATED: Trump orders meat processing plants to remain open

RELATED: What Florida beaches are open? A county-by-county list