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As results are coming back from testing at long-term care facilities Florida is seeing numbers for coronavirus go up. Tuesday evening the number of total cases in Putnam went up by 16; 14 of those from long-term care facilities and all from people asymptomatic when tested. Of the latest group ages range from 23 to 89. The total number of people in Putnam who have been diagnosed is 103. Health officials say they expect to see more increases. Flagler County numbers stayed at 131. St. Johns County numbers went up three cases to 207 total.
Putnam County commissioners are allowing parks to reopen beginning Saturday. Whether they stay open depends on if people social distance. “Personal responsibility applies,” said Commission Larry Harvey. Not opening is the P.L.A.Y. park off State Road 19. The park is being refurbished and work was expected to be completed this week. Parks in Palatka remain closed. Area governments are in a holding pattern on many re-openings waiting to hear state plans from Gov. Ron DeSantis for what to do when the emergency stay-at-home order runs out on Thursday.
One person died in an apartment fire at St. Augustine Shores this morning in St. Augustine. St. Johns County Fire Rescue says cause of the fire is under investigation by the State Fire Marshal. Units were called to the residential structure fire in the 1800 block of Prestwick Place around 7 a.m. One victim was located and removed from the structure by firefighters, but died at the scene.
As business-related coronavirus closings continue, more people are feeling the pinch. In Putnam County nearly a dozen food giveaways are scheduled over the next two weeks. In Flagler County Palm Coast city government and Parkview Church will hold a food drop Saturday that’s expected to provide a week’s worth of groceries to 5,000 families. The drop will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at City Hall on Lake Avenue and simultaneously at Parkview Church, 5435 Belle Terre Parkway. In addition to food 5,000 face masks – the N95 type used by medical workers – will be in the boxes. AdventHealth Palm Coast Foundation and residents Brian and Jacki Unger are making the donation possible.
Face masks are in the future St. Augustine, if City Manager John Regan prevails. He’s asking the city commission to purchase 250,000 level 1 non-sterile masks. Residents and businesses would be able to purchase them. Initial cost to the city would be an estimated $82,500. The purchase would have to be advertised and bid. One dealer from Collective Supplies says his firm would be able to supply the masks. They’re working with a Chinese-based factory to provide masks, according to George Gardner’s The St. Augustine Report.
The coronavirus is being blamed in the death of nationally known performer and educator Harry L. Burney III, a Crescent City native. Burney died April 18 in Philadelphia from complications from the virus. The Burney in Middleton-Burney Elementary in Crescent City honors his parents who were educators. Burney, who graduated from Bethune-Cookman College and served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, became a director of student recruitment at the college. But it was his voice that brought him national recognition with TV work including the Nickelodeon series Allegra’s Window and Superboy and Broadway stage roles including “Big River,” a take on Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. He appeared in operas and had toured with Harry Belafonte and Patti LaBelle. Burney frequently returned to Crescent City taking the time to encourage students to make their dreams happen. A local celebration is planned later this year.
Rotary Clubs are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year. Although members can’t meet right now, they’re practicing their motto – Service Above Self. Rotary Club of Crescent City just presented $1,000 to South Putnam Christian Service Center in Crescent City to help provide food to residents in need. Rotary Club of St. Augustine had to cancel its 100th anniversary year gala event. Instead they’re providing more than $20,000 in Publix gift cards for unemployed and furloughed workers in St. Johns County.
This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.