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Daniel Figueroa IV

  • A Leon County judge, Wednesday, vacated an automatic stay on Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order barring school districts from imposing student mask mandates. This provides a temporary reprieve allowing school districts with mask mandates to keep them in place. Judge John Cooper said the state didn’t prove how it would be harmed if the ruling was allowed to go into effect.Lee County School District officials sent a letter to the Department of Education responding to threats of withholding state funds and imposing other sanctions over the district’s mandatory mask rule. In the response, officials say the Lee School District’s mask rule is in compliance with state law.Lee Health has surpassed 1,000 deaths of hospitalized COVID-19 patients since the beginning of the pandemic. Overall COVID patient populations in Southwest Florida hospitals are in decline even as in-hospital deaths have been on the rise in recent days.
  • U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona says his agency is ready to investigation Florida’s ban on masks in schools. The Governor’s executive order banning mask mandates in schools is being challenged in a lawsuit brought by parents. A judge begins hearing evidence in that case today (08/23).Sarasota School board members, Friday, adopted a school mask mandate for preK-8th grader students for 90 days.COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to inundate SWFL hospitals. Lee Health reported Friday that 819 COVID-19 patients have died throughout the system’s hospitals since the beginning of the pandemic.A state-run monoclonal antibody treatment clinic is open in Bonita Springs.Data shows that Florida’s decision to prematurely end federal unemployment benefits in June in order to get Floridians “back to work” didn’t work as intended, as unemployment has actually increased.Prominent Naples physician and LGBTQ advocate Dr. Clinton Potter died of COVID-19 last week at the age of 61.
  • Florida added 20,133 cases Thursday, an increase over the last three days, continuing an upward surge from COVID-19.Statewide, another 400 patients were hospitalized in the last day, continuing a record-breaking surge of patients. Currently, more than 12,888 people are hospitalized statewide – and nearly 2,600 are in the intensive care unit.The State Board of Education is set to review a proposed policy, Aug. 6, that would allow for Hope Scholarship vouchers to be made available to students in public school districts with mask mandates, whose parents don't want their kids wearing masks in the classroom.Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is now asking the federal government for additional school funding that could offset lost state dollars to districts that defy Gov. DeSantis’ executive order barring them from mandating masks.Lee Health and Sarasota Memorial Hospital officials say elective surgeries are being postponed in order to redirect staff and other resources amid the ongoing surge in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings heads to court Aug. 6. The Miami-based company is requesting that a federal judge overturn Florida’s ban on vaccine passports.President Joe Biden said he’s buying struggling renters time with a new eviction moratorium that might not pass Constitutional muster. The new, more focused order only extends to areas of high COVID transmission. That includes all of Florida.
  • At the signing of a bill banning COVID-19 passports, Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis announced a surprise executive order suspending all local emergency orders related to the pandemic.In opposition to CDC guidance, last week Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees issued an advisory saying that Floridians who have been fully inoculated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear masks in public.State health officials report 3,075 new COVID-19 cases and 39 Deaths on Monday. More than 8.9 million people in Florida have been vaccinated including more than 2.5 million who have received a first dose, and more than 6.3 million people who have been fully vaccinated.Sarasota County’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program aimed at helping those facing financial hardship from the pandemic and struggling to pay rent will begin taking applications May 5.
  • State health officials reported 4,237 new COVID-19 cases and 32 deaths on Monday. The latest single-day positivity rate reported by the state Division of Emergency Management increased to 10.84%, which is the highest reported since Jan. 28.More than eight million people in Florida have been vaccinated including more than 2.9 million who have received a first dose and more than 5.1 million people who have completed the series.Lee Health is now offering COVID-19 vaccine dose appointments to any Floridian 18 or older. The Health system is encouraging more people to get the vaccine and to continue following CDC guidelines as hospitalizations have increased in recent weeks.FEMA-run vaccine sites in Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and Tampa are now offering Pfizer vaccine doses with no appointment necessary.The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported Friday that Florida’s unemployment rate was unchanged in March, remaining at 4.7%. The jobs report indicates a slight uptick in the number of people deemed out of work, as the hospitality industry continues to lag in job growth amid the COVID-19 pandemic.Eight workers with a Sarasota-based tax preparation business have been arrested on coronavirus relief fraud charges. The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office says they filed 114 fraudulent applications in an effort to receive more than $319,000 in federal CARES Act funding. Another Florida man alleged to have received more than $7.2 million in pandemic relief funds was arrested on an international warrant in Croatia.
  • State Health officials reported 6,118 new COVID-19 cases and 120 deaths, Thursday. As of Wednesday, more than 3.1 million people in Florida have been vaccinated, including more than 1.4 million who have received a first dose and more than 1.7 million people who have completed the series.Retail pharmacy sites offering the vaccine like CVS and Publix are now offering doses to K-12 school employees, daycare workers and those extremely vulnerable to the virus due to a medical condition, regardless of age.Florida Democratic leaders like Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried remain critical of the governor’s vaccine rollout, citing another example of an affluent community in the Florida Keys including nearly two dozen financial supports of DeSantis, that was given vaccine priority.A draft Inspector General’s report, this week, details problems with Florida’s unemployment benefit system.A U.S. Census Bureau survey this week reveals that most U.S. businesses are not requiring COVID-19 testing for workers or vaccines when employees become eligible to receive them.Democrats in the Florida House, Thursday, introduced a broad COVID-19 relief bill.
  • The Florida Department of Health reported 11,423 COVID-19 cases, Thursday and 202 coronavirus-related deaths. In an address to a state legislative committee, Thursday, Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz said the burden is on the federal government to provide more vaccine to Florida, but says President Biden “inherited a mess.” Democratic members of Congress from South Florida held a media conference Thursday to critique Governor Ron DeSantis’ vaccine rollout efforts and messaging. The Sarasota County School District is facilitating COVID-19 vaccine doses for eligible staff 65 and older this coming Sunday. The more contagious strain of COVID-19 first discovered in the UK continues to spread throughout Florida, which is now tied with California with the most number of cases of the variant identified. Despite Black Floridians getting COVID-19 at a higher rate than white Floridians, whites people in Florida are getting vaccinated at nearly three times the rate of Blacks.
  • State health officials reported 7,925 COVID-19 cases, Wednesday, for a total of 905,248 cases. The Florida Department of Health also reported 87 new coronavirus-related deaths, Nov. 18, increasing the statewide death toll to 17,949 fatalities.Over the past seven days, the single-day average number of new infections reported has increased to nearly 6,735 cases. The average number of daily deaths reported over the past week now stands at nearly 56 fatalities a day.
  • State health officials reported 3,309 new COVID-19 cases, Thursday, increasing Florida's total to 726,013 infections. The Florida Department of Health also reported 164 new coronavirus-related deaths, Oct. 8, bringing the statewide death toll to 15,254 fatalities.Of the 5,496,985 COVID-19 tests that have been reported in Florida so far, the overall positivity rate stands at 13.21% and the latest single-day positivity rate increased slightly to 4.56%