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Tom Urban

Tom Urban is the Assignment Manager for .

  • 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.
  • Hospitalization rates in Florida due to the coronavirus pandemic broke another record, Tuesday, for the third consecutive day, reaching 11,515 patients. Sarasota Memorial Hospital also reported another record high number of COVID-19 patients, Tuesday, and other hospital systems throughout Southwest Florida also continue to report increases.In defiance of guidance from the CDC and public health experts in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis continues to oppose requiring mask wearing in schools as the start of a new school year is just weeks away.Fully vaccinated students and staff in the Sarasota County School District will not be required to quarantine if they're exposed to COVID-19. The school board confirmed that policy change, Tuesday, for the coming school year. However, anyone showing symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to quarantine.A new investigative report from the Orlando Sentinel finds that the death rate for people with COVID-19 at Florida correctional facilities is more than 1.5 times that of the general public. WLRN’s radio program “Sundial,” recently took a closer look at the report.
  • State health officials reported 1,606 new COVID-19 cases and 24 deaths Monday bringing Florida’s total to more than 2.3 million infections and more than 37,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. As of Monday morning, more than 10 million people in Florida have received a vaccine including more than two million who have received a first dose and more than 7.9 million who have completed a two-dose vaccine series or received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.The state Department of Economic Opportunity announced Monday that unemployed Floridians will no longer receive the additional $300 dollars a week in federal unemployment assistance beginning in late June. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program isn’t slated to sunset until early September, but state officials are cutting off jobless residents early as part of what they’re dubbing a “return to work” initiative.Florida unemployment rate inched up slightly to 4.8% in April as restaurants across the state are reporting labor shortages. The leisure and hospitality sectors are recovering more slowly than other industries in Florida.Norwegian Cruise Line plans to resume voyages from ports on the West Coast, Central America and the Caribbean starting in August. Norwegian is pulling its business from ports in Florida because Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill banning businesses from requiring proof of vaccination, even though the federal government requires that 98% of a cruise ship’s crew and 95% of passengers be vaccinated before setting sail.
  • State health officials reported 1,976 new COVID-19 cases and 58 deaths, Monday for a total of more than 2.2 million infections and more than 36,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. As of Monday morning, more than 9.6 million people in Florida have received a vaccine, including more than two million who have received a first dose and more than 7.5 million people who have completed the two-dose series or received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.Sarasota School Board members are revisiting the district’s mask mandate amid recent new guidance from the CDC. Theme parks in Florida are loosening COVID-19 restrictions following the CDC's new guidance that fully vaccinated people don't need to wear masks in most settings.St. Armands Key Lutheran Church in Sarasota is hosting a vaccine clinic Sunday, May 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. offering the two-dose Moderna vaccine and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to people with registered appointments and walk-ins alike.The Kaiser Family Foundation has been surveying the public's opinion toward COVID-19 vaccines since last December. 42% of rural Americans surveyed say they will wait and see whether to get the vaccine, will only get vaccinated if required, or will definitely not get the vaccine.The foundation's Liz Hamel says that percentage has less to do with geography and more to do with political opinion, noting that about one in five Republicans surveyed say they don't plan to get the vaccine at allGovernor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law, last Thursday, that makes permanent a popular COVID-19 emergency order allowing restaurants to sell alcoholic drinks with take-home meals.
  • State health officials reported 3,184 new COVID-19 cases and 51 deaths, Wednesday. As of Wednesday morning, nearly 9.4 million people in Florida have been vaccinated including more than 7.2 million people who have completed a two-dose series or taken the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.Florida officials plan to reinstate a requirement that those receiving state unemployment benefits must show that they’re looking for work and applying for jobs.The Florida Division of Emergency Management this week announced plans to close state-run COVID-19 testing sites throughout the state.The number of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 is going down in Florida, but new admissions are still higher than in most parts of the country, especially for younger and middle-aged adults.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the CDC have now approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for 12 to 15-year-old children.Collier and Manatee County School District officials are looking to make mask wearing optional for summer school and for the new school year that begins this fall.
  • State health officials reported 5,571 new COVID-19 cases and 83 deaths, Wednesday for a total of more than 2.1 million cases and more than 35,000 deaths statewide since the beginning of the pandemic. More than 8.2 million people in Florida have been vaccinated so far, including more than 2.9 million people who have received a first dose and more than 5.3 million who have completed the series.The University of South Florida is studying whether those with a history of allergies are more at risk for severe reactions from COVID-19 vaccines.The Florida Senate continues to consider a bill that would increase the cap on unemployment benefits from $275 a week to $375 a week, although Gov. Ron DeSantis has voiced opposition to the move.Sarasota Health officials are holding a pop-up vaccine clinic on Saturday for 16 and 17-year-olds.Sarasota is currently experiencing a surge in new COVID-19 infections and reduced vaccine demand.
  • State health officials reported 1,613 new COVID-19 cases and 35 deaths on Monday. So far, more than 7.2 million people in Florida have been vaccinated including more than 2.8 million who have received a first dose and more than 4.4 million people who have completed the series.Governor Ron DeSantis is railing against YouTube and Google and accusing the tech giant of censorship for removing a video of a COVID-19 discussion he had with scientists who oppose government lockdowns, school closures and mask wearing.Florida is suing the Biden administration and the CDC to let cruise ships sail again after being shut down for more than a year during the COVID-19 pandemic.The Florida Education Association is seeking clarity on recently adopted exemptions to testing requirements for this school year.Public school districts in Southwest Florida plan to scale back their distance learning options for students returning to school in the fall.A bill to make pandemic-induced expansions on the use of telemedicine permanent continues advancing in the state legislature.FEMA is now offering financial assistance to help cover the cost of funerals for those who have died of COVID-19.Lee County Commissioners stopped manning toll booths to collect bridge tolls on the outset of the pandemic and now they’re considering making that change permanent. They’re also considering a proposed increase in bridge tolls paid by motorists.A Florida woman was sentenced to 30 days in jail, last week, for deliberately coughing on a cancer patient during a dispute, last year, that was caught on a video that went viral.
  • State Health officials reported 3.406 new COVID-19 cases and 22 deaths Monday. Nearly 6.4 million people in Florida have been vaccinated including nearly 2.7 million who have received a first dose and nearly 3.7 million who have completed the series.As of Monday, all adults 18 and older are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Sixteen and 17-year-olds also became eligible for the vaccine, Monday, but teenagers are restricted to the Pfizer version of the vaccine and must have parental consent.Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order, Friday, banning businesses from using vaccine passports to require people to prove they’ve been vaccinated in order to receive services.The Florida Legislature is taking up budget proposals this week and how to use Florida’s share of federal funds stemming from the American Rescue Plan remains a point of contention in budget negotiations.Lawmakers in the state House and Senate are considering several pieces of legislation to limit local-government emergency orders, create a personal-protective equipment stockpile and establish an Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund for use by the governor.Sarasota city commissioners are taking steps to reinstate a mandatory mask ordinance amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Florida is again seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations. The Florida Division of Emergency Management reports, Sunday’s positivity rate increased to 10.09%, which is the highest its been since Feb. 3.Governor Ron DeSantis vows to sign an executive order banning governments and businesses from requiring “vaccine passports.”State lawmakers are planning to reserve more than $300 million in funding for public schools, in case some of the nearly 90,000 students who didn’t enroll amid the ongoing pandemic come back to school in the fall.Florida’s unemployment rate continued to decline in February to 4.7%.Governor DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody have threated to sue the federal government over the ongoing moratorium on cruise ship operations at U.S. ports, saying it’s hurting Florida’s economy.Former Cape Coral City Councilman John Carioscia died Sunday of complications from COVID-19. In his final months in office Carioscia supported an unsuccessful effort to adopt a mask mandate in the city.North Fort Myers business owner Casey David Crowther was convicted, Friday of COVID-19 relief funding fraud related to a $2 million PPP loan he was awarded last year.
  • Governor Ron DeSantis announced Thursday morning that starting Monday, March 29, vaccine eligibility will expand to people 40 and older and that the following Monday, April 5, vaccine eligibility will extend to anyone 18 and older. As of Wednesday morning, more than 5.2 million people in Florida have been vaccinated including more than 2.3 million people who have received a first dose, and more than 2.8 million who have completed the series.The CDC’s current moratorium on evictions is set to expire March 31, but experts say it will likely be extended.Florida House members are considering a wide-ranging bill aimed at helping Florida prepare for the next public health crisis. State lawmakers are also considering a measure that would make permanent Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order expanding the allowed use of telehealth services.