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COVID-19 Morning Report

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Florida Department of Health

State health officials reported 8,720 new COVID-19 cases, Monday, for a total of 1,658,169 infections.

The Florida Department of Health reported 153 coronavirus-related deaths, Jan. 25, increasing the statewide death toll to 25,849 fatalities.

The latest single-day positivity rate reported by the Florida Division of Emergency Management stood at 12.72% on Sunday. Over the past two weeks the single-day positivity rate has ranged between 8.37% and 15.82%.

The Agency for Health Care Administration reports that as of this morning 6,897 patients are admitted to hospitals throughout the state with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19 including 514 patients in hospitals in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hendry, Lee, Manatee and Sarasota counties combined.

Lee Health reported Monday afternoon that 169 patients were being treated for COVID-19 throughout the health system's hospitals.

Currently 77% of Lee Health's ventilator capacity and 7% of ICU rooms are available. The health system reports having 13 COVID-19 patients on ventilators and 28 COVID-19 positive patients in intensive care.

As of Monday, 1,407,411 people in Florida have received a COVID-19 vaccine including 1,249,439 people who have received a first dose, and 157,972 people who have completed the series with two doses.

DeSantis Calls On Feds To Provide More Vaccine Doses To Florida

Governor Ron DeSantis said the supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses coming to Florida has been stagnant and that the state needs more doses to meet demand. The AP reports, DeSantis said, Monday, that federal officials had indicated the supply of vaccine coming to Florida would increase around this time, but that that hasn't happened.

Last week, DeSantis said Florida does not need FEMA sites to help distribute vaccine doses because the state already has the infrastructure in place through hospitals, pharmacies and large-scale drive-thru vaccination operations.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pushed back against the governor's comments noting that Florida has only administered about half the vaccine doses that have been allocated to the state.

Senate Pandemic Committee Chair Says No More Lockdowns

Businesses will remain open for the economic well-being of the state even as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Florida, according to the Chairman of the Florida Senate Select Committee on Pandemic Preparedness and Response, Sen. Danny Burgess (R-Zephyrhills.)

Last week, Burgess said if similar pandemics occur in the future then the state intends to have guidelines that would keep businesses from again facing closures.

His approach echoes the position of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has said for months he does not think lockdowns and fines for violating mask restrictions are effective.

“We absolutely, in no circumstance, should go back to where we were before when we shut down our economy,” said Sen. Burgess.

“Our economy was strong, our economy is strong, and our economy is bouncing back, but there are so many people who lost jobs, and so many businesses who shuttered.”

Burgess’ comments come as President Joe Biden released a national strategy focused on speeding up the manufacturing, testing and distribution of vaccines and other medical supplies.

Senate COVID-19 Business Liability Bill Passes First Stop

Legislation shielding Florida businesses from COVID-19 related claims is moving in the state Senate. Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) is carrying the proposal in the chamber:

“If we had not had businesses stay open especially our essential businesses individuals would not have had access to pharmaceuticals. They would not have access to gas in their cars or food at their table," said Brandes. "Senate Bill 72 creates a civil liability protection for individuals, businesses, or other organizations against COVDI-19 related claims.”

Opponents worry the measure would make businesses immune to lawsuits. Brandes says it would prevent what he calls frivolous lawsuits. A similar plan is already moving in the House. Senate President Wilton Simpson says the bill’s advancement is a message that “Florida is open for business.”

Manatee County To Give 4,500 COVID-19 Vaccine Doses This Week

Manatee County officials are preparing to administer the 4,500 COVID-19 vaccine doses it's received this week.

The Herald Tribune reports, eligible seniors who've already registered through the county's vaccine lottery system are being contacted for vaccine appointments this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at Bennett Park at 400 Cypress Creek Blvd, in Bradenton

About 600 doses are being reserved for healthcare workers. The county is also contacting people about receiving their second dose of the vaccine to complete the series.

To register with Manatee County’s vaccine lottery system, visit vax.mymanatee.org. Residents can also register by calling 941-748-4501 or by calling 311.

Collier and Lee Schools Begin Vaccinating Staff

The Collier and Lee County school districts have begun getting employees vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Naples Daily News reports that last week, the Collier school district provided initial vaccine doses to more than 240 eligible employees 65 and older.

The Lee County school district also gave out 240 vaccine doses to eligible senior workers at a clinic Monday afternoon.

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Tom Urban is the Assignment Manager for .
Blaise Gainey is a Multimedia Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.