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Broward residents count dead: 464 lives lost to coronavirus pandemic

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Feliz Beruvides, a Broward County, resident said he is tired of hearing about the coronavirus and he misses having a sense of normalcy. He said he has the “When is this going to end?” feeling.

It has been seven months since the first reported hospitalization in China. The first U.S. travel-related case was confirmed Jan. 21 in Washington state. New York started to take a hit in February and the first two cases in Florida were reported March 1.

By March 14, there were 20 positive cases of COVID-19 in Broward. Beruvides said the current political leadership’s tendency to minimize the crisis hasn’t been very helpful.

“The problem is what’s at hand. People are dying,” Beruvides said. “A lot more people are going to become ill.”

There weren’t any new Broward deaths reported on Wednesday, but that wasn’t a reason to celebrate since the Florida Department of Health reports the disease has claimed 464 lives in Broward.

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In an effort to save lives, researchers are looking for clues in labs with infected monkeys, in the bodies of the people who lost their battle with COVID-19 and in the genes of survivors and asymptomatic patients. The treatment has improved, but without a vaccine the disease continues to spread.

Rachel Ford, a Broward County resident, said she fears the disease is easily transmitted through droplets in the air and there are people who are too ignorant about doing their part to reduce the spread.

“They complain about putting the mask on,” Ford said. “They don’t understand this virus is real out here. The whole going back to school thing; I still think they should do it online ... It’s a very scary thing.”

Nearly 12% of the people who were tested in Broward County learned that they had been infected with the coronavirus, according to Wednesday’s Florida Department of Health data.

The virus grounded flights at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and the local hospitality industry took a hit. Restaurants in Broward County are still allowed to offer in-door dining — except from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. The unemployment rate in Broward County spiked to 16% in May.

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While some small business owners support reopening, epidemiologists believe there is a need for more testing and contact tracing to isolate those who are carriers.

Even if there is a vaccine available for distribution there will be some Broward residents who will reject it out of fear. Beruvides and Ford feel the uncertainty in Broward County.

“This is going to be around a long time,” Beruvides said.

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