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COVID-19 Morning Report

Jonathan Pagliarulo
Marta Lavandier/AP
FILE- Jonathan Pagliarulo, 11, gets tested for COVID-19, after vaccinated family members tested positive for the virus, Monday, Aug. 9, 2021, in North Miami, Fla. Several Florida pediatric hospitals are reporting an increase in COVID-19 cases as schools reopen and the delta variant surges. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)

Attorney for Parents of Disabled Kids Says School Districts Should Keep Fighting for Mask Mandates

An attorney for a group of parents suing the state over mask mandates, says school boards that want to keep their requirements should keep fighting.

Several mask lawsuits are pending against Gov. Ron DeSantis’ effort to ban school mask mandates. One legal challenge filed by school districts with mask policies was dismissed this week after the Florida Department of Health changed its rules on the mask issue.

Attorney Matthew Dietz is representing parents of kids with disabilities. He said districts should stop focusing on rule fights, and look at the bigger issues.

“What they really have to do is say, ‘We don’t care what happens with regards to whether or not the governor had that power or not,’” said Dietz.

“We need to look at the rights of the children that we are entrusted to care for.”

Dietz made his comments during a Facebook live session with U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Tampa, who is running for governor. Meanwhile, the Alachua County School district has become the first in the nation to receive federal funding from a Biden administration program aimed at supporting school districts facing financial sanctions from their state in retaliation for imposing student mask mandates.

The AP reports, Alachua Schools superintendent Carlee Simon announced, Thursday, that the district has been awarded $148,000 through a U.S. Department of Education program.

Gov. DeSantis and Florida education officials have been cutting funding to school districts in the amount of school board members' salaries in districts imposing mask-wearing policies for students in schools.

Florida’s Supply of Monoclonal Antibody Treatment Doses to be Cut by More Than Half

State-run monoclonal antibody treatment centers across Florida will have fewer doses available starting next week. The treatments are intended for people experiencing mild symptoms from a COVID-19 infection and studies show they can reduce serious illness and the need for hospitalization by 70%.

The federal government purchased the entire supply of antibody treatments produced by Regeneron. The Naples Daily News reports, Gov. Ron DeSantis, Thursday, announced at a news conference in Tampa that the federal government will reduce Florida’s supply of the treatments from about 40,000 doses a few weeks ago to 17,800 doses for both hospitals and the state-run monoclonal antibody treatment centers.

DeSantis criticized the move, but Florida is among seven mostly southern states that combined have been using 70% of the 1.4 million Regeneron treatment doses purchased by the federal government. The other states include Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. That’s according to reports from Politic, CNN and other news outlets that all cite an unnamed federal source.

DeSantis has faced criticism for not promoting vaccines as rigorously as he’s promoted the antibody treatments. DeSantis said Thursday, that Florida has also secured 3,000 doses of a monoclonal antibody treatment called sotrovimab from GlaxoSmithKline.

The state-run monoclonal antibody treatment center in Immokalee has treated about 1,200 people with COVID infections, most of whom are not vaccinated. When the center first opened Aug. 26, it was averaging about 60 people a day, but demand has since waned. Now the center reports treating about 20 people a day.

COVID-19 Cases in Collier Schools Surpass Total from Last School Year

The Collier County School District has documented more COVID-19 cases in the first six weeks of this school year than in the entire previous school year.

The Naples Daily News reports, since classes began Aug. 10, the district's online COVID dashboard has reported 2,065 infections. That compares more than 1,900 cases reported during all of the last school year.

The district doesn't release quarantine data stemming from COVID cases in schools.

The district sent an email to families, this week, about the state health department's new protocols for student quarantines, that give ultimate authority to parents concerning when and how students will return to school after being exposed to the virus as long as the student remains asymptomatic.

The Collier school district is not among those in Florida that are defying state rules with student mask mandates, but the Collier district has imposed more safety measures like not having students work at learning tables and offering some events online. The Collier School district has also put events like field trips and dances on indefinite hold.

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