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DEEP DIVE: Three plans for a new Convention Center in Downtown Jacksonville

DEEP DIVE: Three plans for a new Convention Center in Downtown Jacksonville

DEEP DIVE: Three plans for a new Convention Center in Downtown Jacksonville
Photo Credit: Stephanie Brown

DEEP DIVE: Three plans for a new Convention Center in Downtown Jacksonville

A new Convention Center and Hotel is being considered for Downtown Jacksonville, and we’re now getting a better idea what that could look like. 

WOKV previously told you Jacksonville’s Downtown Investment Authority had solicited plans for the project at the site of the old County Courthouse and City Hall Annex site on the Northbank of Downtown. Three proposals were received, and we have now obtained copies of the bids. 

These proposals are being ranked by a DIA Evaluation Committee, and those rankings will go in front of the DIA Board later this month. Along with those rankings, two completing plans that were not solicited will be presented as well. 

Jacobs Project Management Company 

Jacobs says they’ve already supported many projects in Jacksonville, and they believe their understanding of the City, its infrastructure, and its landscape can help in this process. They’re teaming up with Conventional Wisdom, KBJ Architects, Fentress Architects, Construction and Engineering Services, McDonald Financial Corporation, The Weitz Company, Signature Land, and Westmont. 

Their vision honors Jacksonville as the City of bridges, and they want this project to serve as a different type of bridge- one that moves the City in to the future. 

“Our project will connect the history of the City to the needs of the future with a thriving, revenue generating venture: an iconic riverfront masterpiece to set the cornerstone for the revitalization of the City center and captivate the city population with a renewed civic energy,” the proposal says. 

The design of the hotel tower is supposed to emulate a tall ship and would include covered valet and VIP parking, river views, an amenities deck, and “crows nest” on the upper level which could be used for a signature dining venue. 

The Convention Center is reminiscent of the water, according to the proposal. The Exhibit Hall would be elevated, to maximize the views. There would be a separate site entrance for vehicle loading access, apart from visitor traffic. 

There would be 1,530 parking spaces in a garage, and 181 spaces within the Convention Center footprint. 

GALLERY: Jacobs Project Management Company’s proposal

Market Street would be upgraded and designated for pedestrians, as the western edge of a public plaza. That plaza would include a water feature, seating, and a standalone restaurant. It would be “framed” by the hotel, shops, and other structures to create a more intimate feel. Additionally, low-scale LED site lighting would be used, to allow themes for special events through colored accent lighting. 

This proposal aims to engage both Bay Street and the riverfront. Bay Street would feature ground-level retail. Along the Riverwalk and Riverfront, there would be programming and activation, through festivals and other events. There is also a space for a destination waterside dining experience, along the southwest corner of the site. Connecting with the St. Johns River, the proposal aims to activate the water to the west of the Main Street Bridge with both amenities and activities. They want to have access points for various water sports and a marina, to overall expand the public use of the River. To do this, the proposal says some of the bulkhead would need to be replaced, although they would maintain at least some of the inlet the City is building, following the collapse at Liberty Street and Coastline Drive.

via Jacobs Project Management Company Convention Center bid

Jacobs Project Management Company Convention Center proposal

Photo Credit: via Jacobs Project Management Company Convention Center bid

To connect with the Sports Complex and other surrounding areas, the proposal highlights future plans for a transportation corridor to move through the area, as well as the water taxi. 

This proposal further mentions the proximity the new hotel would have to the Hyatt and Omni, but it sees that as creating a “centered mass” of hotel space that would then support expanded retail, employment, and related areas. In fact, the proposal says the owners of the Hyatt would look to build a connection between that hotel and the Convention Center, and would market segments of their own hotel for Convention Center attendees. 

The project would be substantially complete by mid-2023. The bid talks about the need to move quickly, saying the construction industry is busy, so labor and material costs are rising, with material costs also being affected by new tariffs on steel, aluminum, and other materials. 

It’s estimated this project would cost around $705 million. Jacobs says they have already been working to line up funding, and don’t expect any problems. 

The developers propose working with the City to develop the optimum approach financially, considering factors like cashflow, tax treatment, market positioning, and more. There would also be a point in the project where all of the design and planning is done, and the City would have to agree to move forward to actual construction. At that point, if the City moves forward, the proposal says Jacobs would return any compensation they received in that first phase. The concession service payments in the second phase would be deferred until the facility is ready to use, up to three years. Those payments are currently estimated at $4 million to $4.5 million monthly. Beyond that, there is now a specific dollar figure attached to the expected City contribution.

Operating profits would be shared with the City, per the proposal. 

This bid would have Conventional Wisdom oversee the facility as an “Asset Manager”, with a professional manager- potentially SMG, which the City already uses- managing day-to-day operations. Operation and maintenance costs would be covered in the contract with Jacobs, and the City would be responsible for the costs relating to convention, meeting, and trade show business, including marketing and capital repairs. The City would also be responsible for operating profit and loss. 

The end goal is for the City to take over ownership, but Jacobs is proposing a long-term lease that covers the time needed for the full project cost to be either amortized or conveyed. This allows the City to maintain control of the land, while getting on the financial footing needed for ownership, according to the proposal. The lease would be at low- or no-cost to Jacobs. 

Looking ahead, this proposal also highlights future development potential, saying it is “quite feasible” to consider a multi-family residential tower above the parking garage. It also says the Convention Center rooftop would be “solar-ready” and could also serve for rainwater harvesting. 

Preston Hallow Capital, LLC 

This proposal is from the “Jacksonville Convention Center Partners”, consisting of Preston Hallow Capital, Matthews Southwest Hospitality, Interstate Hotel and Resorts, Nunzio Marc DeSantis Architects, and Provident Resources Group. 

“Our entire team has all the relevant hospitality experience, a proven track record both nationally and locally, and a deep commitment to Jacksonville to deliver a project that we can all be very proud of for many years to come,” says the JCCP proposal. 

Their proposal is a 400-key hotel, a convention center with around 200,000 square feet of exhibit hall, and approximately 1,800 parking spaces combined. 

GALLERY: Preston Hallow Capital’s proposal

The hotel tower’s design is inspired by boating, according to JCCP. It would rise nine levels, and include three restaurants and two rooftop experiences, a fitness center, a full-service spa, a business and shipping center, and meeting places supported by state-of-the-art technology, according to the proposal. There would be a rooftop pool, which would be programmed year-round as well. There would also be a 200,000 square foot exhibit hall with ten loading docks, with the space able to be sectioned in to smaller rooms. The next floor up would feature smaller meeting and conference areas, as well as a 40,000 square foot Grand Ballroom and 22,000 square foot Junior Ballroom. 

One of the food concepts is the “Yacht Club”, offering seafood and similar options along a boardwalk. There would also be retail shops, coffee houses, and more. The parking garage would be six stories, across the street from the exhibit hall on South Market Street and Bay Street. 

“The Jacksonville Convention Center and Headquarters Hotel will be a beacon of hope and beauty that will help establish Jacksonville as a relevant and powerful city of today and a city with a vision to become a competitor with all the other great cities across the southeast and USA in the future,” the proposal says. 

The opening is envisioned for February 2022. 

via Preston Hallow Capital Convention Center bid

Preston Hallow Capital Convention Center proposal

Photo Credit: via Preston Hallow Capital Convention Center bid

To fit in to the overall goals of Downtown development, JCCP says their proposal aims to attract people to the core, while allowing easy access to other areas of entertainment, like the Sports Complex and proposed development of the Jacksonville Shipyards. This would be achieved in part by expanding the pedestrian trail with lots of trees for shading, from the Landing through the Convention Center and to the Shipyards and Sports Complex. 

The side of the development facing the St. Johns River would include dining options and landscaping. There would also be public river access, connectivity through future transportation development plans underway, and access to the water taxi. 

JCCP believes this venture will cost about $445 million, and they have 100% of financing in place internally. They are requesting $229 million in public incentives, either through cash or tax breaks. They would require the site be delivered development-ready, meaning any environmental issues have been addressed. 

They say title of the project and all of the accumulated cash surplus reserves can revert to the Downtown Investment Authority’s ownership after outstanding bonds are fully repaid, which is expected to be about 40 years from the project opening. While the eventual goal is the City re-establishing ownership, the proposal would have the City lease the land to the group in the interim, for between 60 and 90 years, with no rent for the ground. 

Rimrock Devlin-DeBartolo Jacksonville, LLC 

RDD was formed specifically to act as master developer in this project, consisting of Rimrock Devlin and DeBartolo Development. They are joined by Helman Hurley Charvat Peacock/Architects, Inc., HKS, England-Thims & Miller, Inc., and GAI Consultants. Their proposal makes it clear they believe the Prime Osborn Convention Center is not going to help the City reach the next level. 

“Our proposal for a new convention center and hotel will allow Jacksonville to remedy the lack of a relevant convention center. A new convention center and hotel that is more centrally located, state of the art, and aesthetically designed is key to continuing Jacksonville’s growth as ‘The Bold New City of the South’,” the proposal says. 

The Convention Center would be 500,000 square feet, including a 200,000 square foot multi-purpose exhibit hall with views and access to the River, a 40,000 square foot ballroom with a view of the River, dozens of meeting rooms, more indoor and outdoor programmable space, a kitchen, and more. It will also have direct connections to Bay Street, the Riverwalk, and the marina, as well as both the existing and proposed hotel. 

The proposed hotel would be “world-class”, according to the proposal, with 350 guest rooms, a 17,500 square foot grand ballroom, a 6,500 square foot junior ballroom, additional meeting rooms, and a rooftop pool. The parking garage would have 1,300 spaces for the Convention Center and 400 for the hotel. 

GALLERY: Rimrock Devlin-DeBartolo’s proposal

They are proposing new streetscaping and pedestrian improvements along Bay Street, to define the area as a gateway to the Sports and Entertainment Complex and increase connectivity to that area. Bay Street would also have ground floor retail.

A public Riverwalk would provide pedestrian access to the River. That Riverwalk would have what the proposal calls several “experiential nodes” highlighting pubic art, recreation, and education. 

“The convention center business is highly competitive, and attracting conventions, trade shows and other gatherings will require Jacksonville provide something new and fresh to the convention market. Using the St. Johns River as a backdrop, this project will create an experience few convention cities can provide,” the proposal says. 

via Rimrock Devlin DeBartolo Convention Center bid

Rimrock Devlin DeBartolo Convention Center proposal

Photo Credit: via Rimrock Devlin DeBartolo Convention Center bid

Connectivity will also come through transportation, as this bid also mentions a planned transportation corridor, as well as bike sharing and a likely water taxi stop. They also envision this as an asset that can help support many of the other attractions around the area, including dining and the Florida Theatre. There would also be a new extension of Independent Drive to provide access to the site and service areas from the Main Street Bridge. 

The project timeline estimates completion in late 2021. 

The overall cost for this project is expected to exceed $430 million. RDD says the project is “financially challenging”, because of construction over water, stormwater management, minimal construction staging area, and more. As such, a public subsidy would be expected, as tax rebates and credits, mitigated land costs, or other options. The exact public funding request is not clear, but the proposal says they are targeting public assistance for the hotel, Riverwalk, Bay Street improvements, public infrastructure, environmental cleanup, basin filling, and construction staging land. 

There would also be “public/private ownership” for the Convention Center and Parking Structure. The proposal says the City would enter a lease to occupy and maintain the Convention Center. It does not specifically plan for the City taking over full ownership of the Convention Center, as the other proposals do. 

Overall, they believe this is an opportunity to create an “iconic landmark” for Downtown and the River- and one that is active 24/7. 

“Based on our experience with similar projects, we are confident that working together in partnership with the City, this development will not only be financially feasible for both the public and private sector but will also create value for Jacksonville both financially and emotionally,” the proposal says. 

RDD says they would work with the City to develop a plan to manage the facility and choose a firm to carry out that plan. The City would have complete operational and management control of the Convention Center, with concessions and advertising providing possible additional revenue lines. 

Other proposals 

RDD is actually behind two other unsolicited plans that have been put forward, which are intended to be in cooperation with each other- one for an alternate use for the old Courthouse/Annex site, and one for building the Convention Center and hotel at the Jacksonville Shipyards. 

The plan to put up the Convention Center at the Shipyards was presented with Iguana Investments Florida, LLC- which is backed by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, who is the master developer of the Shipyards site. 

GALLERY: Shad Khan’s plan for the Jacksonville Shipyards

The plan is being pitched as the first phase of that redevelopment effort, although the negotiations on the site overall have been ongoing for years, and have been allotted close to two more years to get the deal done

GALLERY:Shipyards Convention Center proposal

At the old Courthouse/Annex site, RDD has proposed “Riverwalk Place”, which would be a mixed-use lifestyle community, featuring a multi-restaurant venue, hotel rooms, apartments, parking, and more. 

GALLERY: Renderings of “Riverwalk Place”

According to a joint statement from RDD and Iguana, RDD believes these proposals are better options than the Convention Center at the Old Courthouse/Annex site. 

The DIA CEO Aundra Wallace tells WOKV he will present the rankings on the three solicited bids to the Board. At that time, they can determine if and how they will asses the unsolicited bids. 

What has still not been specifically addressed is the future of Jacksonville’s existing convention Center, the Prime Osborn. While that remains unclear, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is proposing to spend millions of dollars in capital improvements needed at the facility, saying that as long as it is the City’s convention center, they will ensure it is in good working order. That proposal is pending approval by the Jacksonville City Council as part of their overall vote on the City’s proposed $1.2 billion budget and Capital Improvement Program, later this month.

An in depth look at the three proposals for a Convention Center and Hotel at the old Courthouse/City Hall Annex site in Downtown Jacksonville, as well as the competing plans and what comes next:

Posted by Stephanie Brown, News 104.5 WOKV on Thursday, September 6, 2018

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'I just got off the phone with the President,” Shelby wrote Sunday on social media. “He told me that his administration will not be sending any victims of the Coronavirus from the Diamond Princess cruise ship to Anniston, Alabama.” Ivey also confirmed the change. 'President Trump called to assure me that this plan will not move forward,” Ivey said on social media. “I thanked him for his support of (Alabama)! We always want to help our fellow Americans, but this wasn’t fully vetted.” Italy locks down more than 50,000 people Update 2:05 p.m. EST Feb. 23: Italy locked down more than 50,000 people in 10 towns in the country’s northern region of Lombardy, according to The New York Times. Government officials said there are now 152 confirmed cases, several events across Italy were canceled Sunday, including the last two days Venice’s Carnival, The Washington Post reported. Officials said Sunday, that 88 of the cases reported in Italy are from the Lombardy region, the Times reported. Three people have died, including a 77-year-old woman and a 78-year-old man, and at least 26 are in intensive care, according to officials. In other news, the Chinese government reported 648 new cases across the country Sunday and 97 deaths, the Post reported. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 76,936; there have been 2,442 deaths. China’s Xi calls virus ‘a crisis’ and ’big test’ Update 10:05 a.m. EST Feb. 23: China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, told Communist Party officials at a meeting Sunday that the coronavirus epidemic was “a crisis and a big test” for the country. Xi admitted “obvious shortcomings in the response to the epidemic,” but did not give details, according to The New York Times. Xi also said officials should “learn lessons” and improve China’s ability to respond to public health emergencies, the newspaper reported. He said the outbreak in China presented “the fastest spread, the widest scope of infections and the greatest degree of difficulty in controlling infections” of any public health emergency since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the Times reported, citing the official Xinhua News Agency. 132 coronavirus cases confirmed in Italy Update 7:36 a.m. EST Feb. 23: At least 132 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Italy, officials announced Sunday. According to CNN, two people there have died, while another 26 are being treated in intensive care.  South Korea reports 46 more coronavirus cases; total there hits 602 Update 3:51 a.m. EST Feb. 23: South Korean health officials said they have confirmed a total 602 coronavirus cases in the country, CNN is reporting. News of the new total came Sunday after the country’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 46 more cases of the virus, according to CNN. Five patients in South Korea have died from the illness, the outlet reported. 6th person dead from coronavirus in Iran  Update 5:36 p.m. EST Feb 22: A sixth person in Iran has died from the deadly coronavirus that originated in China.  The person also had a heart condition, The Associated Press reported. A fifth fatality in Iran was reported earlier Saturday.  There have been 28 reported cases of coronavirus in Iran. People are being treated in Tehran, Qom, Arak and Rasht. Officials will use center in Alabama as quarantine facility Update 2:06 p.m. EST Feb 22: Concern is growing in Israel, where health officials said a woman who was a passenger aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan tested positive for the virus after returning home, The New York Times reported. Meanwhile, after nine South Koreans who visited Israel tested positive for the coronavirus after returning home, the Israeli government began closing the country to South Korean travelers, the newspaper reported. Passengers flying on a Korean Air flight scheduled to land at Ben Gurion Airport at 7:30 p.m. Saturday were expected to be barred entry into the country, the Times reported, citing Ynet, an Israeli news organization. Government officials were expected to decide Sunday whether other inbound flights from South Korea would be allowed, the newspaper reported. Japan waited 72 hours before imposing quarantine on cruise ship Update 10:56 a.m. EST Feb 22: More than 72 hours elapsed before Japanese officials imposed a quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, The New York Times reported. Early on the morning of Feb. 2, before the ship had docked in Yokohama, Hong Kong officials informed the Japanese health ministry about an infected passenger, the newspaper reported. A spokeswoman for Princess Cruises said the company received “formal verification” of the infection from Hong Kong on Feb. 3, the Times reported. The announcement was made to passengers that night, and they were advised around 11 p.m. to remain in their rooms, the Times reported. On Feb. 5, the captain of the Diamond Princess confirmed there were 10 cases of the coronavirus on the ship, and passengers were told they needed to return to their rooms, where they were quarantined for 14 days, according to the newspaper. University of Memphis graduate Luke Hefner, a singer who was aboard the Princess Diamond, was one of the 10 people on board confirmed with the virus, WHBQ reported. After Hefner tested positive for the virus, crews rushed him off the ship and into a Japanese hospital Feb. 18, the television station reported. WHO experts heading to China; African nations warned Update 9:25 a.m. EST Feb 22: A team of experts from the World Health Organization was heading to the Chinese city of Wuhan, the center of the coronavirus epidemic, the agency’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told The New York Times. Tedros confirmed the trip during an address Saturday morning to African officials from Geneva, the newspaper reported. “We have to take advantage of the window of opportunity we have, to attack the virus outbreak with a sense of urgency,” Tedros told the leaders during an emergency meeting on the response to the coronavirus in the continent. There has been only one confirmed case of coronavirus in Africa, but officials are concerned because several countries have strained health systems, the Times reported. The WHO has identified 13 priority countries in Africa because of their direct links to China, the newspaper reported. Italy confirms 2nd coronavirus death  Update 6:45 a.m. EST Feb 22: A second novel coronavirus patient in Italy has died. A spokesperson for the country’s department of civil protection, or Protezione Civile, confirmed the death to CNN on Saturday. According to a health ministry spokesman, the woman who previously tested positive for the virus died in the northern region of Lombardy. South Korea reports 229 new cases in 24 hours  Update 6:17 a.m. EST Feb 22: An additional 87 novel coronavirus cases reported Saturday brings South Korea’s 24-hour total to 229 and the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 433. According to a statement issued by the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 62 of the 87 new cases are linked with the Shincheonji religious group, and three cases are linked with Cheongdo Daenam hospital, in North Gyeongsang province. Iran confirms 10 new cases, 5th death  Update 6:15 a.m. EST Feb 22: The numbers might sound low, but the surge in diagnosed novel coronavirus cases in Iran is boosting concerns among global health officials the outbreak could soon reach pandemic levels. Iran’s health ministry confirmed 10 new cases of the virus – bringing the country’s total to 28 – and a fifth fatality. The ripple effect among travelers, however, is sounding alarm bells among infectious disease experts. According to the New York Times, cases confirmed in both Canada and Lebanon have been traced to travel to and from Iran. “The cases that we see in the rest of the world, although the numbers are small, but not linked to Wuhan or China, it’s very worrisome,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said Friday at a news conference at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva. “These dots are actually very concerning.” Kianoush Jahanpour, Iran’s health ministry spokesman, said that of the 10 latest reported cases, two were diagnosed in Tehran and eight are in Qom. According to The Associated Press, two elderly patients died in Qom Wednesday and the two Tehran patients either visited or had links to Qom. Novel coronavirus cases diagnosed outside mainland China surpass 1,500  Update 3:24 a.m. EST Feb 22: With health officials monitoring the novel coronavirus’ spread beyond its epicenter in Wuhan, China, the number of confirmed cases diagnosed outside mainland China hit a new milestone early Saturday morning. The latest figures indicate more than 1,500 cases and 15 deaths attributed to the virus have been recorded in more than 30 countries and territories outside mainland China since December, CNN reported. The geographic breakdown of confirmed cases and deaths is as follows: • Australia: at least 21 cases • Belgium: at least 1 case • Cambodia: at least 1 case • Canada: at least 9 cases • Egypt: at least 1 case • Finland: at least 1 case • France: at least 12 cases, 1 death • Germany: at least 16 cases • Hong Kong: at least 68 cases, 2 deaths • India: at least 3 cases • Iran: at least 18 cases, 4 deaths • Israel: at least 1 case • Italy: at least 17 cases, 1 death • Japan: at least 738 cases, including 639 linked to the Diamond Princess cruise ship; 3 deaths • Lebanon: at least 1 case • Macao: at least 10 cases • Malaysia: at least 22 cases • Nepal: at least 1 case • Philippines: at least 3 cases, 1 death • Russia: at least 2 cases • Singapore: at least 86 cases • South Korea: at least 347 cases, 1 death • Spain: at least 2 cases • Sri Lanka: at least 1 case • Sweden: at least 1 case • Taiwan: at least 26 cases, 1 death • Thailand: at least 35 cases • United Arab Emirates: at least 9 cases • United Kingdom: at least 9 cases • United States: at least 35 cases • Vietnam: at least 16 cases Mainland China death toll reaches 2,345  Update 3:22 a.m. EST Feb 22: China’s National Health Commission confirmed early Saturday the death toll from the novel coronavirus has increased by another 109 fatalities to 2,345. According to CNN, all but three of the latest mainland deaths occurred in the outbreak’s Hubei province epicenter. The latest figures bring the global death toll to 2,360. Meanwhile, confirmed cases in increased by 397 on Friday, bringing mainland China’s total number of recorded cases to 76,288. Health authorities contend a total of 20,659 patients have recovered from the virus and been discharged from medical facilities. Australia confirms 6 new cases  Update 3:20 a.m. EST Feb 22: Six people repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, boosting Australia’s total infection count to 21. According to the Australian government’s Department of Health, 10 patients have recovered from the illness. Diamond Princess cruise ship awaits scrub down  Update 3:18 a.m. EST Feb 22: The Diamond Princess cruise ship will soon undergo a thorough deep cleaning to prepare the vessel to resume sailing on April 29. Negin Kamali, Princess Cruises’ public relations director, told CNN Travel the company is working in tandem with the Japanese health ministry to hammer out sanitation specifics for the 116,000-ton ship. The vessel will be “fully sanitized by a cleaning company with an expertise in this area following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization,” Kamali told CNN. Only 31 passengers remained onboard the ship Saturday morning after 253 who tested negative for the novel coronavirus were allowed to disembark on Friday. The ship’s 924-member crew also remains aboard. The ship has been moored in Yokohama Bay off the coast of Japan since early February. To date, the virus-stricken ship, which housed 3,600 crew and passengers upon arrival, is linked to at least 639 coronavirus infections, CNN reported. Japan reports 12 new cases  Update 3:16 a.m. EST Feb 22: Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare confirmed early Saturday the diagnoses of 12 new novel coronavirus cases, including three teenagers. The latest report brings Japan’s total number of infections to 738, including 99 on land and 639 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.  Italy confirms first novel coronavirus death Update 3:14 a.m. EST Feb 22: Italian officials confirmed Saturday their first citizen has succumbed to the novel coronavirus. The 78-year-old man died in a Padua hospital in northern Italy. To date, the country has recorded a total of 17 infections. Taiwan confirms 2 new cases Update 3:12 a.m. EST Feb 22: Taiwan’s novel coronavirus infection count now stands at 26 after two additional cases were confirmed on the island Saturday. The most recent patients are the daughter and granddaughter of a previously diagnosed patient, and neither had traveled recently. 142 new cases of the virus reported in South Korea  Update 9 p.m. EST Feb 21: South Korea reported a six-fold jump in viral infections in four days to 346, most of them linked to a church and a hospital in and around the fourth-largest city where schools were closed and worshipers and others told to avoid mass gatherings.  Of the 142 new cases in South Korea, 131 are from Daegu and nearby regions, which have emerged as the latest front in the widening global fight against COVID-19.  China the daily count of new virus cases there fell significantly to 397, with another 109 people dying of the disease, most in the epicenter of Hubei province.  The new figures bring the total number of cases in mainland China to 76,288 with 2,345 deaths, as strict quarantine measures and travel bans continue to contain the disease that emerged in China in December and has since spread world-wide. The daily figure is down from 889. WHO’s latest situation report The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization says that coronavirus has been found in 30 countries around the world. Read the latest situation report from the WHO below. Italy’s virus cases quadruples Update 1:20 p.m. EST Feb 21: Officials in Italy are reporting that the number of people infected by coronavirus has quadrupled. As of Friday, the country has seen 17 cases, with 14 of them new. They are being considered secondary contagion cases and are clustered in small towns around Lodi, in the Lombardy region, The Associated Press reported. It was previously reported that a 38-year-old man, who is in critical condition due to coronavirus, passed the illness to his wife and a close friend after he picked it up from a person who had been in China, but not showing any symptoms. The person who was in China is in isolation and may have antibodies to battle the illness. Three patients at the hospital where the patient who is in critical condition visited when he was being treated for flu-like symptoms have tested positive. As do five nurses and doctors at the same facility. Three people who went to the same cafe as the 38-year-old man who is sick also have tested positive. Because of the cluster, the mayor of Codogno has closed schools, public buildings,s restaurants and coffee shops. And has ordered the 14-day quarantine of anyone who came in contact with the man and the two people first diagnosed, the AP reported. 1 new coronavirus case confirmed in Singapore Update 11 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Officials with Singapore’s Ministry of Health have verified another case of coronavirus in the country, bringing the total number of people infected in Singapore to 86. Authorities said the newest case involves a 24-year-old Singaporean man who was under isolation Friday at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital. His illness was linked to one reported earlier this week involving a 57-year-old woman who had no history of recent travel to China. Officials said 47 people who have been diagnosed with coronavirus in Singapore have since recovered and been released from hospitals. Lebanon, Israel confirm 1st coronavirus cases Update 10 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Health officials in Lebanon and Israel announced Friday the first confirmed coronavirus cases in the countries. Lebanon’s health minister, Hamad Hassan, said Friday that a 45-year-old woman tested positive for coronavirus after entering the country from Iran, Reuters reported. She was being quarantined Friday at a hospital in Beirut, according to Reuters. The Jerusalem Post reported an Israeli who returned to the country Thursday after being evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship has tested positive for the virus. The coronavirus case marked the first in Israel, though health officials noted the passenger had contracted virus while in Japan. Earlier this month, thousands of people were quarantined on the Diamond Princess, docked off the coast of Japan, due to coronavirus fears. Hundreds of people on the ship ended up testing positive for the viral infection. South Korea reports 2nd coronavirus death  Update 9 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Officials in South Korea reported the country’s second death due to coronavirus Friday, The Washington Post reported. Citing the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Post reported a woman in her 50s died after testing positive for the virus Friday at Daenam Hospital. She was transferred to a bigger hospital in Busan, where she died around 6 p.m., according to the newspaper. The death marked the second related to COVID-19 in South Korea. On Wednesday, a 63-year-old patient died after suffering symptoms of pneumonia in what was suspected to be the country’s first coronavirus death, according to The New York Times. Iran confirms 18 cases, 4 deaths Update 7:50 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Iranian officials confirmed on Friday that 13 new cases of the novel coronavirus have been diagnosed and two additional patients have died. Friday’s figures bring Iran’s total number of infections to 18 and the death toll from the virus to four, CNN reported. “According to the latest laboratory reports 13 more contractions of coronavirus have been confirmed, including 7 in Qom, 4 in Tehran, and two in Gilan. Unfortunately, out of these cases two have lost their lives,' health ministry spokesman Kianoosh Jahanpour tweeted Friday. 3 novel coronavirus cases confirmed in Italy Update 7:32 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Italy confirmed its first novel coronavirus cases Friday, noting three people in a city near Milan have tested positive for the illness. According to The Washington Post, the first patient to contract the virus was a 38-year-old man in the northern region of Lombardy, who fell ill after dining with a friend who had recently returned from China. The man then passed the illness on to his wife and a close friend. All three patients have been hospitalized, the Post reported. Confirmed novel coronavirus cases, fatalities continue to increase globally Update 6:46 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Globally, more than 76,900 novel coronavirus cases have been reported, according to the latest figures released Friday morning by health officials in China. Although the majority of cases – around 75,600 – remain clustered in mainland China, more than 1,300 cases have been confirmed in 29 countries, CNN reported. Meanwhile, 118 additional deaths were confirmed in mainland China Friday, with the global death toll reaching 2,247, the network reported. Vaccine nearing clinical trials in China Update 6:44 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Xu Nanping, China’s vice minister of Science and Technology, told reporters Friday that Chinese researchers expect to submit the first COVID-19 vaccine for clinical trials around late April. The status update comes roughly one month after Chinese officials established a coronavirus scientific research group, consisting of 14 experts led by renowned pulmonologist Zhong Nanshan, The Washington Post reported. “One month is a very short time for scientific research, but a very long time for patients struggling with the disease. The scientific and technological community nationwide will put the safety of people’s lives and health first and spare no effort to continue to produce tangible and effective scientific research results,” Xu told reporters during the briefing. Protesters attack Wuhan evacuee bus in Ukraine; 9 police officers, 1 civilian injured Update 6:42 a.m. EST Feb. 21: The Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs said nine police officers and one civilian were injured Thursday when protesters attacked a bus carrying evacuees from Wuhan, China. According to CNN, protesters had blocked roads in Noviy Sanzhari, the town where the evacuees are to be monitored for two weeks at a medical facility belonging to the Ukrainian National Guard. “Those people who today threw stones at the evacuees of Ukrainians and law enforcement officers ... We will make a decision on their punishment,” said Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, confirming one officer was seriously injured in the incident instigated by “aggressive citizens,” the network reported. South Korean coronavirus infections continue to increase Update 3:46 a.m. EST Feb. 21: The number of confirmed novel coronavirus infections in South Korea increased to 204 on Friday, nearly doubling in 24 hours and almost quadrupling in three days, the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed in a statement issued early Friday. Health officials believe the majority of the new cases are connected to a church in Daegu, a city of about two and half million people in the southeastern region of the country. Specifically, 42 of the newest cases reported Friday have been traced to the church called Shincheonji. The country also reported on Thursday what officials believe could be South Korea’s first fatality from the virus. The 63-year-old woman exhibiting symptoms of pneumonia died Wednesday at the Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo, The New York Times reported. Prison outbreaks boost novel coronavirus cases in mainland China Update 3:43 a.m. EST Feb. 21: More than 500 novel coronavirus cases have been confirmed in prisons across China, including 271 cases – 51 of which had been counted in previous tallies – in Hubei province, CNN reported. Meanwhile, officials announced in a joint news conference on Friday that of the 2,077 prisoners and staff at Rencheng prison in China’s eastern Shandong province tested for the virus, 200 prisoners and seven staff members tested positive. Zhejiang province announced 34 prison cases on Friday, bringing the correctional total to 512, CNN reported. Canada records its 9th confirmed novel coronavirus case, 6th in British Columbia Update 3:41 a.m. EST Feb. 21: British Columbia’s Ministry of Health confirmed Friday a woman in her 30s has become the province’s sixth diagnosed case of novel coronavirus and the ninth for Canada. According to the statement, the woman had recently returned from Iran and is being isolated at home while public health officials identify and contact those people with whom she had contact upon returning Meanwhile, 47 of the 256 Canadian passengers aboard the beleaguered Diamond Princess cruise ship – moored off the coast of Japan – have tested positive for the virus. All 256 will be subject to a 14-day quarantine in Ontario once their evacuations are complete, CNN reported. 11 of 13 people evacuated to Omaha test positive for COVID-19  Update 11 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Federal experts confirmed that 11 of 13 people evacuated to an Omaha hospital from a cruise ship in Japan have tested positive for COVID-19, Nebraska officials announced Thursday night. The University of Nebraska Medical Center said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had verified test results completed Monday by the Nebraska Public Health Lab. Ten of those people are being cared for at the National Quarantine Unit while three are in the nearby Nebraska Biocontainment Unit. The medical center said only a few of the patients were showing symptoms of the disease. All 13 people were passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship who were evacuated to the U.S. on Feb. 17. China reports fall in new virus cases, 118 deaths  Update 10 p.m. EST Feb. 20: China reported a further fall in new virus cases to 889 as health officials expressed optimism over containment of the outbreak that has caused more than 2,200 deaths and is spreading elsewhere.  New infections in China have been falling for days, although changes in how it counts cases have caused doubts about the true trajectory of the epidemic.  China’s figures for the previous 24 hours brought the total number of cases to 75,465. The 118 newly reported deaths raised the total to 2,236. More than 1,000 cases and 11 deaths have been confirmed outside the mainland. 4 Americans who tested positive for COVID-19 sent to hospital in Spokane, Washington  Update 7:30 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Four Americans who tested positive for the new virus that caused an outbreak China are being sent to a hospital in Spokane, Washington, for treatment, officials said Thursday.  The four were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship and were flown back to the U.S. over the weekend, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services. They were being transferred from Travis Air Force Base in California, hospital officials said.  Two patients arrived at the hospital Thursday in satisfactory condition with two more expected soon, said Christa Arguinchona, who manages a special isolation unit at Sacred Heart Medical Center. The hospital is one of 10 in the nation funded by Congress to treat new or highly infectious diseases.  “The risk to the community from this particular process is zero,” said Bob Lutz of the Spokane Regional Health District at a briefing Thursday at the hospital. WHO: ‘This is no time for complacency’ Update 2:25 p.m. EST Feb. 20: World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday that recent declines in the number of new coronavirus cases being reported in China were encouraging, but he warned, “this is no time for complacency.” As pf 6 a.m. Geneva time Thursday, 74,675 people in China and 1,076 people in order parts of the world had been sickened by coronavirus, according to WHO. Officials said 2,121 people in China and seven people outside of the country have died thus far of the viral infection. 'This is the time to attack the virus while it is manageable,” Tedros said, according to The Washington Post. “You will get sick of me saying that the window of opportunity remains open for us to contain this COVID-19 outbreak.” CDC warns travels to take precautions for travel to Japan, Hong Kong Update 12:20 p.m. EST Feb. 20: The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new coronavirus-related travel advisories Thursday for Americans visiting Japan or Hong Kong. The advisories warned travelers to avoid contact with sick people, avoid touching their eyes, noses or mouths with their unwashed hands and recommended using soap and water often to wash hands for at least 20 seconds. Officials said Thursday that it remained unnecessary to postpone or cancel trips to Japan or Hong Kong due to the virus. However, the CDC advisories noted “multiple instances of community spread' in both locales, meaning people “have been infected with the virus, but how or where they became infected is not known.” Officials with the CDC previously issued an advisory warning travelers to avoid non-essential travel to China. According to Japanese health officials, authorities have seen 73 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the country. One person in Japan has died of the viral infection. Health official in Hong Kong have confirmed 65 cases of coronavirus. Japan reports 12 new coronavirus cases, Singapore confirms 1 more  Update 11 a.m. EST Feb. 20: Officials in Japan have reported a dozen new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, CNN reported, citing the Japanese health ministry. The new cases include two government officials who worked on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, according to CNN. Thousands of people were quarantined on the ship for two weeks as it was docked off the coast of Japan due to coronavirus fears. Hundreds of people on the ship ended up testing positive for the viral infection.  Officials with the Singapore Ministry of Health said Thursday that a new case of coronavirus had been confirmed in the country. The case, involving a 36-year-old Chinese national who was in Singapore on a work pass, is the 85th reported in Singapore.  Global death toll hits 2,126  Update 7:40 a.m. EST Feb. 20: More than 2,120 people have died globally and thousands of others have fallen ill due to the 2019 novel coronavirus, according to multiple reports.  At least 2,126 people globally have died from coronavirus, CNN reported Thursday. A majority of the deaths have been reported in China, where health officials announced 114 more deaths and 394 more confirmed cases of the illness. Overall, 75,730 coronavirus cases have been reported worldwide, including 74,576 in China, according to CNN.
  • A woman in her 20's has died in what police say appears to be an accidental shooting.  JSO responded Tuesday night to a home on Mecca Street, off New Kings in the Grand Park area, where they found the woman had been shot in the head.  She later died at the hospital.  Police said they were interviewing as many as ten witnesses. They say no one has been arrested and no persons of interest were outstanding.
  • Another soaking is expected today after hours of rain messed up the Tuesday rush home from work.  We are tracking a few isolated showers this morning, followed by areas of rain this afternoon as a cold front pushes into the area. We will see wet roads for the afternoon commute in Jacksonville. Highs will make it back up to the lower to mid 70’s briefly before the cold front moves through. Skies will begin to clear this evening and cooler air will move in. Morning lows tomorrow will be in the lower 40’s for Jacksonville and mid to upper 30’s well inland. Highs Thursday will only be in the upper 50’s! The weekend will be dry and cool. 
  • A Florida woman is facing second-degree murder charges after she zipped her boyfriend inside a suitcase and left him in there for several hours, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. Sarah Boone, 42, is being held without bond in connection to the death of Jorge Torres Jr. Around 1 p.m. Monday, deputies responded to the 4700 block of Frantz Lane in Winter Park after Boone reported that Torres was deceased. Boone told deputies the two thought it would be funny if Torres got inside a suitcase in the living room during a game of hide and seek, the arrest affidavit states. She then zipped him inside it. Boone told deputies the two had been drinking alcohol that night, and she went upstairs and passed out in her bed with Torres still inside the suitcase. She woke up several hours later to her cellphone ringing multiple times and went downstairs. She did not see Torres anywhere in the apartment. She “then realized that he was possibly still inside the suitcase,” the arrest affidavit states. She unzipped it to find Torres inside, unresponsive and not breathing. He was pronounced dead by the responding Orange County Fire Department a short time later. A small laceration was on Torres’ lip as well as some bruising around his eye. Video found on Boone’s phone showed Torres repeating yelling her name. In the video, Boone says, “For everything you’ve done to me, (expletive) you. Stupid.' Boone is laughing in the video, too, according to the affidavit. Torres is heard saying, “I can’t (expletive) breathe.” She replied, “That’s on you. That’s what it feels like when you cheat on me,' and “that’s what you do when you choke me,” and that he “should probably shut the (expletive) up.” The video shows the suitcase facing down and Torres inside, pushing on the suitcase in an attempt to get out, the affidavit states.
  • Seven candidates took the stage Tuesday night in Charleston, South Carolina, for the Democratic presidential primary debate, including former Vice President Joe Biden; billionaire and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont; California billionaire Tom Steyer; and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Here are five memorable moments from the event: 1. Buttigieg, Sanders spar over Sanders’ progressive agenda. Buttigieg and Sanders had a heated exchange over whether Sanders’ agenda is too “radical,” leading to the pair talking over each other for half a minute. The sparring match began when Buttigieg said: “I am not looking forward to a scenario where it comes down to Donald Trump, with his nostalgia for the social order of the 1950s, and Bernie Sanders with a nostalgia for the revolutionary politics of the 1960s.” Sanders later replied: “Let us be clear, do we think health care for all, Pete, is some kind of radical communist idea?” Crosstalk ensued, with Buttigieg arguing that the way Sanders is talking about implementing his plans “is radical,” while Sanders insisted that voters back his agenda. >> Click here to watch 2. Warren takes aim at Bloomberg ... again. Warren and Bloomberg quickly butted heads Tuesday night, with Warren calling the billionaire the “riskiest candidate” and Bloomberg claiming the Massachusetts senator has been bringing up “sideshows.' ”You know, this is personal for me,' Warren said. “When I was 21 years old, I got my first job as a special education teacher. I loved that job. And by the end of the first year, I was visibly pregnant. The principal wished me luck and gave my job to someone else. Pregnancy discrimination, you bet. But I was 21 years old. I didn’t have a union to protect me, and I didn’t have any federal law on my side. So I packed up my stuff, and I went home.” Then, referring to allegations in a 1998 lawsuit filed by former Bloomberg employee Sekiko Sakai Garrison, Warren continued: “At least I didn’t have a boss who said to me, ‘Kill it,’ the way that Mayor Bloomberg is alleged to have said to one of his pregnant employees.” Bloomberg, who has denied Garrison’s claims, fired back: “I never said that. Oh, come on.” Warren later added: “Then let ... the women have an opportunity to speak. The Bloomberg corporations and Mayor Bloomberg himself have been accused of discrimination. They are bound by nondisclosures so that they cannot speak. If he says there is nothing to hide here, then sign a blanket release and let those women speak out so that they can tell their stories the way I can tell my story without having the fear they’re going to be sued by a billionaire.” >> Watch the moment here 3. Bloomberg, Buttigieg discuss ‘stop and frisk.’ When asked why he has apologized for implementing “stop and frisk” as mayor of New York, Bloomberg said his administration “let it get out of control.' ”When I realized that, I cut it back by 95 percent,' Bloomberg said. “And I’ve apologized and asked for forgiveness. I’ve met with black leaders to try to get an understanding of how I can better position myself and what I should have done and what I should do next time.” Moderator Gayle King then asked Buttigieg if he believed that New York’s “stop and frisk” policy was racist. “Yes, in effect, it was,” Buttigieg said. “Because it was about profiling people based on their race. And the mayor even said that they disproportionately stopped white people too often and minorities too little.” >> Click here to watch 4. Candidates discuss the novel coronavirus outbreak. Klobuchar was asked the first question about the novel coronavirus outbreak, saying she would close borders to Americans who have been exposed to the illness. She then pivoted to say helping infected Americans is more important. “I’m not gonna give you my website; I’m going to give the CDC’s site, it’s cdc.gov,” she said. Biden said he would restore funds that had been cut from the CDC and insist on openness from China, while Sanders heavily criticized Trump’s response to the outbreak. ”In the White House today, we have a self-described ‘great genius’ – self-described – and this ‘great genius’ has told us that this coronavirus is going to end in two months,' Sanders said. “April is the magical day that this great scientist we have in the White House has determined. I wish I was kidding; that is what he said.” He went on to add that international cooperation and restoring funding to health agencies are necessary to combat the spread of the virus. >> Watch the video here Trump later tweeted in response. “CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus, including the very early closing of our borders to certain areas of the world,” he wrote. “It was opposed by the Dems, ‘too soon,’ but turned out to be the correct decision.” >> See the tweets here 5. Warren, Buttigieg advocate for ending Senate filibuster. In response to a question about gun reform, Warren argued that eliminating the Senate’s filibuster is a necessary step to getting legislation passed. “What I’ve seen is gun safety legislation introduced, get a majority, and then doesn’t pass because of the filibuster,” she said. “Understand this: The filibuster is giving a veto to the gun industry.” >> See Warren’s response here Buttigieg also argued in favor of ending the filibuster while criticizing Sanders for not supporting the rule change. “This is not some long-ago bad vote that Bernie Sanders took; this is a current bad position that Bernie Sanders holds,” Buttigieg said. >> Watch Buttigieg’s response here here

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