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VIRUS OUTBREAK-FLORIDA

Florida: 2 dead in the state who tested positive for virus

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Health officials say two people who tested positive for the new coronavirus in Florida have died. The deaths are the first on the East Coast attributed to the outbreak in the U.S. The Florida Department of Health said Saturday that nine people have now tested positive for the virus. It says the two who died were people in their 70s who had traveled overseas, one a man with underlying health issues in Florida's Panhandle and the other an elderly Fort Myers area individual. The announcement raises the U.S. death toll from the virus to 16, including 13 in Washington state and one in California.

FLORIDA BUDGET

Florida lawmakers head into budget talks to bridge $1.4B gap

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida lawmakers are spending the weekend at the state Capitol in Tallahassee to bridge a $1.4 billion gap between two competing budget proposals. House and Senate negotiators began conferring in committees on Saturday and were expected to work through the weekend to reconcile their differences. In addition to including money for 3% raises for state workers, both chambers have agreed to authorize hundreds of millions of dollars to raise the minimum pay for new teachers, as well as give other teacher raises. Negotiators say they are allocating $25 million to help the state respond to the new form of Coronavirus, which has already killed two in Florida.

LEGISLATURE PREVIEW

Florida lawmakers face budget hurdles in final sprint

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida lawmakers are facing significant hurdles in their sprint to adjourn on time. In fact, it remains unclear whether the Legislature can adjourn as scheduled because of policy and budget differences. Entering what is supposed to be the final week of its 2020 session, the Legislature still has a substantial list of bills stacked on its agenda, including the task of accommodating Gov. Ron DeSantis in his quest to adopt an employment eligibility system known as E-Verify. But the Legislature's only true mandate is to deliver a balanced budget. A $1.4 billion gap between proposals produced by the House and Senate threatens to prolong this year's session.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-US

Frustration mounts over virus-stalled ship in California

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Cruise officials and passengers confined to their rooms on a ship off the San Francisco Bay voiced mounting frustration as the weekend wore on with zero direction from authorities on where to go. It comes after 21 people aboard tested positive for the new coronavirus. The Grand Princess is forbidden to dock in San Francisco as evidence mounts that the vessel was the breeding ground for a cluster of coronavirus cases on a previous voyage. Princess Cruises group president Jan Swartz said the cruise line wants passengers and crew off so they can receive proper care and evaluation. Nineteen people have died in the U.S. from the virus. The number of infections in the U.S. has swelled above 400.

AP-US-SCI-SPACE-STATION

SpaceX launches station supplies, nails 50th rocket landing

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX has launched another load of station supplies for NASA and nailed its 50th rocket landing. The Falcon rocket blasted off late Friday with 4,300 pounds of equipment and experiments for the International Space Station. Just minutes later, the spent first-stage booster made a dramatic midnight landing back at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Both the booster and the Dragon capsule en route to a Monday rendezvous with the space station are recycled from previous flights. It's the 20th station delivery for SpaceX. And it's the 50th successful touchdown of a SpaceX booster following liftoff, either on land or at sea.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-PRISONS

US prisons, jails on alert for spread of coronavirus

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The new coronavirus has the nation’s jails and prisons on high alert. The fear that COVID-19 will spread through vast inmate populations has prompted the mass sanitizing of jail cells and intensified prisoner screenings. So far, there haven't been any reported cases of the virus in any jails or prisons in the U.S. But more people are incarcerated per capita here than in any other country in the world. Prisons have become a hot spot in other nations touched by the outbreak.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MUSIC FESTIVAL

Miami cancels large Hispanic music festival over coronavirus

MIAMI (AP) — Officials are canceling a large Hispanic music festival in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood citing fears that crowded events could spread coronavirus more widely. The decision was announced Friday, a day after Miami officials said concerns about the virus led them to cancel another popular music festival that attracts tourists to South Florida. Calle Ocho Music Festival was scheduled for Sunday to feature live music from Latino artists throughout several stages along 20 blocks. Ultra is the other music festival that was canceled. It draws tens of thousands to Miami's downtown Bayfront Park.

TAX CUTS-FLORIDA

Florida House passes $193M tax cut package

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A $193 million tax cut package was passed by the Florida House. The bill passed on a 97-16 vote Friday. It would provide tax breaks on cell phone bills, a commercial rent sales tax and aviation fuel, among other items. It would also create a seven-day sales tax holiday for hurricane supplies and a three-day sales tax holiday for clothing and school supplies. Some Democrats opposed the package, saying it would provide millions in cuts for corporations and only save Florida families a few dollars.

AP-FL-XGR-PANIC-BUTTONS

After Parkland tragedy, Florida Senate OK's panic buttons

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Two years after the Parkland school shootings, Florida lawmakers are close to sending Gov. Ron DeSantis legislation requiring panic buttons at schools. The system would help schools more quickly summon help during life-threatening emergencies. On Friday, the Senate unanimously approved a bill dubbed "Alyssa's Law" for one of the slain students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The House was also poised to approve the bill but did not take up the measure Friday. If signed into law, the bill would establish an electronic link between schools, law enforcement and other first responders. New Jersey put in place a similar system last year.

TRUMP-MEDAL OF FREEDOM

Trump to honor retired pro golfers with Medal of Freedom

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is honoring a pair of retired pro golfers with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It's the highest honor the president can give to a civilian. The White House says Annika Sörenstam and Gary Player will receive the honors during a White House ceremony on March 23. Both are members of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Both also joined Trump for a round of golf on his private club in northern Virginia last fall. Trump awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Tiger Woods last year after Woods claimed his fifth Masters title.