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Jessica Bakeman

  • On Friday, Florida reported more than 75,000 COVID-19 cases over the past week, which marks a continuing decline from the summer surge driven by the delta variant. Over the past week, Florida reported an average of more than 10,800 new infections a day.Hospitals in Southwest Florida also continue to report gradual declines in admitted COVID-19 patients.A Florida Highway Patrol trooper in Fort Myers died of complications due to COVID-19 over the weekend. The coronavirus is the leading cause of death this year for law enforcement officers nationwide.Florida’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.0% in August as state leaders continue to push people back into the workforce.A University of Miami study (still pending peer review) finds that vaccinating teachers and cutting class sizes in half would be effective tools for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in schools.
  • Hospitals in Southwest Florida continue to report declines in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Lee Health officials say they plan to comply with a new Biden Administration rule requiring some employers to require workers to be vaccinated or to be tested for COVID-19 weekly.Child advocates and Democrats are criticizing Gov. Ron DeSantis after his administration passed on $820 million in federal funds to help feed children from low-income families who are out of school due to a COVID-19 infection or exposure.The Lee County School District has changed its policy to allow parents to opt their children out of mask-wearing in school without a doctor’s note.Thousands of Sarasota parents turned out for an event last weekend, where physicians were providing medical exemption forms to the school district’s mask mandate.Florida Deputy Secretary for Health Shamarial Roberson, who has been critical in the state’s COVID tracking and response, announced her resignation.Collier County officials have announced plans for spending $74 million in federal American Rescue Plan fundingA consortium of Sarasota arts organizations announced plans to adopt uniform COVID safety policies that require vaccines or proof of a negative COVID test.
  • Two lawsuits over mask wearing in Florida schools will get hearings today. A state judge is considering whether local school district mandates will be able to stay in place until an appeals court weighs in on a ruling last month that struck down Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order barring school districts from imposing student mask mandates. A separate federal suit arguing that kids with disabilities and severe medical conditions are so vulnerable that they won’t be able to go to school unless everyone is wearing a mask.Statewide COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are on the decline. Health officials are cautiously optimistic as hospital resources remain strained.More COVID-19 cases have been reported in Lee County schools in the first four weeks of this school year than were reported in the entire last school year. The number of COVID infections reported in Collier County Schools is on pace to surpass the last school year’s total by the end of this month.Gas prices in Florida over the Labor Day holiday weekend were at their highest level in seven years due to the pandemic and impacts from Hurricane Ida.
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis says school districts that choose mask mandates could see their school board and superintendent’s salaries cut. a group of parents have filed suit over DeSantis’ executive order in Leon County Court, and a second mask lawsuit has been filed in South Florida. Democratic Senators have pledged to create a GoFundMe campaign to help repay any school leaders who lose their salaries by trying to put a student mask requirement in place.The ongoing surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations has resulted in an exponential increase in pediatric patients requiring treatment and hospitalization in Lee Health’s Golisano Children’s Hospital in Fort Myers. The start of a new school year, with mask wearing optional, is alarming local healthcare professionals, who shared their experiences treating children sick with COVID during a news conference, Tuesday.Sarasota Memorial Hospital and Lee Health both reported record-high number of COVID -19 patients admitted to their hospitals with 201 and 455 patients, respectively.Florida health officials and the administration of Governor Ron DeSantis said late Monday that the number of new COVID-19 infections reported publicly by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was wrong. Finger pointing over the data comes as the numbers of hospitalizations for patients with COVID-19 increases.The Celebrity Cruise Line plans to sail and comply with a state order barring businesses from requiring proof of vaccination status by placing several restrictions on passengers who refuse to provide proof of vaccination when asked.