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AP-US-VIRUS-OUTBREAK-CRUISE-SHIPS

Another cruise ship with virus victims docks in Florida

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Another cruise ship with coronavirus victims on board, including two fatalities, has docked in Florida. Princess Cruises spokeswoman Negin Kamali said in an email Saturday the Coral Princess ship docked in Miami. The ship with 1,020 passengers and 878 crew members had been in limbo for days. As of Thursday, Kamali said seven passengers and five crew members had tested positive for the coronavirus. The cruise line says anyone in need of hospitalization will disembark first. Those fit to fly will begin leaving Sunday, while others who have symptoms of respiratory illness will remain on board until cleared by ship doctors.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-FLORIDA

2 Florida officers die from coronavirus, cases top 11,000

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Officials say two Florida law enforcement officers have died from coronavirus as the number of positive cases in the state topped 11,500. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office issued a press release saying 38-year-old Sgt. Jose Diaz Ayala died Saturday. He had underlying health conditions. Ayala had been with the department 14 years. Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said 39-year-old Deputy Shannon Bennett died Friday night from the disease. Tony said at a news conference Saturday that Bennett was a 12-year veteran of the agency. There have been at least 195 virus-related deaths in Florida.

DRUG BUST-ALLIGATOR

Baby alligator found with drugs, guns in Florida arrest

Florida authorities tracking a stolen car also discovered heroin, cocaine, guns and a baby alligator when they went to make an arrest. Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma announced details of the bust at a news conference Friday. He said a deputy ran the plates on a car, learned it was stolen and followed it to a Lake Mary house. That's where deputies found the drugs and a baby alligator that was being kept as a pet.

AP-US-VIRUS-OUTBREAK-CUSTODY-BATTLE

Florida mom seeks custody of son, says father is virus risk

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A Florida mother is asking a judge to allow her to keep custody of her 2-year-old son during the pandemic. She claims the boy’s father and his fiance are at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus since they’re first-responders. Tabatha Sams has asked a judge to let her keep custody of Dawson Thilmony until the pandemic-induced state of emergency in Florida is over. The boy’s father, Stephen Thilmony, is a firefighter and emergency medicine technician, and his fiance is an emergency room nurse. The father and mother were splitting custody of their son. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for next week.

DOG BAKED

Deputies: Florida man brutalized, baked dog

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. (AP) — Florida law enforcement say a man brutalized a dog and then baked it in an oven. The Lee County Sheriff's Office charged 24-year-old Vicasso Lara late Friday and charged him with animal torture. Deputies were called to Lara's home after neighbors said he was making threats. They found pools of blood outside the home and bloody footprints leading inside. After entering the home, they found the dog in Lara's oven, which was set to the highest temperature. Lara was being held without bond Saturday. Jail records didn't indicate whether he had a lawyer.

AP-VIRUS-OUTBREAK-CLOSING-CHURCHES

New coronavirus limits bring new religious freedom tension

NEW YORK (AP) — Despite state and local limits on public gatherings, some faith leaders have persisted in holding in-person services -- a matter of religious freedom, they say, as the nation approached its fourth Sunday battling the coronavirus pandemic. Law enforcement officials in Florida, Louisiana and Maryland took separate action this week against pastors who continue to hold in-person services in the face of stay-home orders in most states. But more than a half-dozen of those state orders provide a degree of exemption for religious activity, underscoring the political sensitivity of the decisions being made by states and localities.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-FLORIDA

Florida jobless claims rise as does anger among unemployed

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is ordering state agencies to lend staff to the unemployment office so it can answer phones and process applications. The Department of Economic Opportunity saw more than 200,000 people apply for unemployment assistance last week and more are foiled by the agency's overworked computer and phone systems. Its head apologized Thursday for the problems. Meanwhile, DeSantis defended his decision to exempt houses of worship from the ban on large gatherings, saying he didn't think the government could constitutionally regulate them. The state's tally of confirmed cases now exceeds 9,000 and 143 have died.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-THEME PARKS

With parks closed, Disney starts furloughs in 2 weeks

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Walt Disney Co. officials announced they'll start furloughing some workers in two weeks at its theme parks resorts in Florida and California. The company said late Thursday the first wave of furloughs will start April 19 and involve workers whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time. Anyone who's furloughed will remain a Disney employee. The statement didn’t say how many of Walt Disney World’s 75,000 employees or Disneyland’s 31,000 workers would be furloughed. The company has been paying workers and providing health care benefits at its theme park resorts since the parks closed in mid-March due to coronavirus concerns.

EARLY VOTING-FLORIDA

Settlement reached in Florida dispute over college voting

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Voter rights advocates are declaring victory after Florida officials agreed to allow early voting sites back on college campuses. A settlement announced Friday prompted the voting rights group to withdraw legal challenges filed in federal court last year that accused the Secretary of State’s Office of attempting to stifle turnout among young voters. Under the settlement, local elections officials can consider student unions on college campuses as polling sites. State officials had previously suggested that parking restrictions on college campuses made them unsuitable. The parking requirements are being loosened under the agreement.

ONLINE CLASS HACKED-FLORIDA

Man exposes himself after hacking into online Florida class

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — School officials in Florida say a man exposed himself to students after hacking into an online class being held by a public school. Orange County Public Schools in Orlando on Thursday said in a letter to teachers that the man gained unauthorized access to the Zoom video conferencing instructional lesson and exposed himself to the class. The letter encouraged teachers to use the “waiting room" function in Zoom, which allows the host to control when a participant joins a meeting. The letter said the case was being handled by law enforcement. The coronavirus has forced schools to shift to online classes.