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COVID-19 Morning Report

Florida Department of Health

State health officials reported 2,251 new COVID-19 cases, Tuesday, bringing Florida's total to 720,125 infections. The Florida Department of Health also reported 55 new coronavirus-related deaths, Oct. 6, increasing the statewide death toll to 14,945 fatalities.

Of the more than 5.4 million COVID-19 tests that have been reported in Florida so far, the overall positivity rate stands at 13.24% and the latest single-day positivity rate increased to 5.21%.

The Florida Senate is enlisting help to keep its members and staff safe from coronavirus.

Before the Senate returns to Tallahassee for an organizational session in November, it aims to have a plan in place. Incoming senate president, Republican Wilton Simpson, sent a memo out Tuesday saying the legislative body will contract with Tampa General Hospital to draw up that plan.

Simpson’s memo says Tampa General “will help us develop educational information for Senators and staff on practical, actionable infection prevention steps.”

As of Tuesday evening, a spokesperson for the Senate president’s office had not responded to WFSU’s inquiry as to whether a price tag has been determined. Simpson’s letter says he’s asked outgoing Senate President Bill Galvano to authorize the contract.

The team at Tampa General has worked with professional hockey team the Tampa Bay lightning and Florida Aquarium among other groups.

Simpson describes the TGH program as “a strike-team-like program that connects members of their in-house infection prevention team with infectious disease experts at USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and with private practice physicians in the TGH network who specialize in infectious disease.”

Senate leadership says it is collaborating with its House counterparts on coordinating safety efforts.

The Florida legislature’s organizational session will begin November 17.

Hundreds of thousands of fast-turnaround COVID-19 tests will soon be on their way to Florida’s assisted living facilities and senior communities.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday that the state expects to receive 400,000 batches of Abbott BinaxNOW tests each week.

Unlike other kinds of COVID tests, that can take as long as a week to get results, the BinaxNOW tests can get them in just 15 minutes.

Some 280,000 testing kits will be distributed weekly to long-term care facilities and senior communities, so occupants, staff and visitors can get tested.

The remainder will go to state-run testing sites and school districts.

The U.S. Enforcement Administration warned Tuesday that the eventual lifting of coronavirus restrictions could bring a flood of methamphetamine and other narcotics from Mexico into the United States.

Acting DEA Administrator Timothy Shea met in Tallahassee with federal, state and local law-enforcement officials from North Florida and state Attorney General Ashley Moody. In part, they held a closed-door meeting about future efforts to confront Mexican transnational criminal organizations that established networks in areas such as Panama City and the Florida Panhandle.

Franklin County Sheriff A. J. Smith said people pushing drugs must go to prison, but noted help is also needed to support those who are “the byproduct” of traffickers.

“A lot of people just don’t realize, and they are thinking that a lot of this stuff is being made in back yards and it’s not. It’s an organized conspiracy to bring this stuff into our country and to kill a lot of our young people,” said Sheriff Smith.

Shea said he feels there will be more drugs coming into the country with the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus and the eventual lifting of restrictions.

“The border is effectively closed in many instances right now. We have seen a disruption in the trafficking patterns of the cartels as a result of that, with a stockpile of drugs on the Mexican side and money on the American side,” said Shea.

Shea was in Mexico last week meeting with government officials to discuss jointly taking on drug cartels, adding that virtually all of the methamphetamine and much of the fentanyl in this country comes from Mexico.

Florida State University President John Thrasher is among the latest high-profile figures linked to the school to test positive for COVID-19.

The AP reports, Thrasher is isolating at home with his wife, who also tested positive. Thrasher received his positive test result Tuesday after his wife was tested following an unrelated medical treatment.

Thrasher's positive test result came one day after 90-year-old former FSU football coach Bobby Bowden tested positive for the coronavirus. The current coast, Mike Norvell, tested positive last month.

The lawyer for the family of a 16-year old in Seminole County who was arrested after refusing to wear a mask at school characterizes the incident as "government abuse," of a minor suffering from panic attacks.

The AP reports, Seminole County Sheriff's deputies arrested the high school sophomore Sept. 17 after he refused to wear a mask or abide by other school rules. The teen was on probation and a law enforcement report says he was required by the court to maintain good behavior in school.

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Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.
Tom Urban is the Assignment Manager for .