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Regan McCarthy

  • A Florida House panel advanced a bill, Wednesday, that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with some exceptions.
  • Mask wearing is not optional for students and staff in the Sarasota County School district. The district’s mask policy calls for mask wearing to become optional once the daily COVID-19 test positivity rate drops to 8% for three consecutive days. Masking could again become mandatory if the positivity rate rises above 10%.The FDA has announced it will grant emergency use authorization for a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for people 65 and older, people at high risk for severe infection, and for people whose jobs put them at high risk of exposure to the virus.The rate of healthcare workers leaving their hospital jobs amid the ongoing pandemic has spiked. The average turnover rate during a normal year is about 17.5%, but this year that’s tracking closer to 45%.Some Florida teachers have seen their $1,000 disaster relief bonus checks from the state bounce due to a banking error. The Department of Education says the problem is being addressed and that any fees incurred by those impacted will be refunded.Carnival Cruise line lost $2.8 billion in the third quarter of 2022, but passenger bookings for the second half of 2022 are already tracking to exceed pre-pandemic levels.This week a consortium of performing arts organizations in Sarasota begin imposing a uniform set of COVID safety protocols including proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test in order to attend indoor performances.
  • Hospital officials from across Florida addressed members of the Florida House Pandemic and Public Emergencies Committee, calling impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic “devastating,” and highlighting the financial toll that treating COVID-19 hospitalized patients is having on healthcare systems.Hospitals in Southwest Florida continue to report declines in their populations of hospitalized COVID-19 patients even as the death toll remains high. State health officials reported 2,468 new COVID-19 deaths across Florida over the past week, bringing the statewide death toll from the pandemic to 51,240 fatalities.A Sarasota store owner has filed a lawsuit against Florida’s Surgeon General challenging a law that bars business owners from requiring proof of customers’ vaccination status before entering.
  • 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.
  • A federal judge struck down a lawsuit from parents of disabled children, Wednesday, that challenged Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order barring Florida school districts from imposing mandatory mask mandates on students.AARP is sounding the alarm as CDC data shows that COVID-19 deaths in Florida nursing homes have sharply increased in the past month amid a statewide surge in new infections and deaths.County-level data on COVID-19 deaths in Florida is once again available, more than three months after the state stopped publicly reporting the information through its COVID-19 online dashboard.Lee Health continues to report gradual declines in its hospitalized COVID patient population, even as resources remain significantly strained.The Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida is downplaying concerns that a federal mandate requiring vaccination of most hospital employees will exacerbate the healthcare worker shortage.
  • 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.
  • Florida ranks 2nd among states with fastest COVID-19 spread on a per-person basis.Lee Health was operating at 99% of staffed operational bed capacity amid the ongoing surge in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. On Monday, Lee Health reported a record high single day COVID death rate of 18 patients. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Golisano Children’s hospital has never been as full as it is now. Cape Coral Hospital and Sarasota Memorial Hospital now have mobile refrigerated trucks providing additional morgue space.Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran is withholding funds from the Alachua and Broward School Districts over their student mask mandates, despite Friday’s circuit court ruling striking down Gov. DeSantis’ executive order barring schools from imposing mandatory mask rules.The Lee County School District will begin enforcing a mask mandate for students on Wednesday. The Sarasota County School District began enforcing a mandatory mask mandate on Monday.The Manatee County Sheriff’s office announced a deputy has died of COVID-19, and the Lee County Sheriff’s office announced, Tuesday, that a second corrections deputy has died of COVID-19 this month.
  • A Leon County judge heard closing arguments, Thursday, in a lawsuit challenging Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order barring school districts from imposing student mask mandates. A ruling is expected Friday morning.COVID-19 infections in Southwest Florida schools have skyrocketed since classes resumed earlier this month.COVID-19 hospitalization rates in Southwest Florida continue to strain Southwest Florida health care symptoms with Lee Health reporting another record-high number of patients. Lee Health and Sarasota Memorial Hospital are at 99% and 97% of staffed operational bed capacity, respectively.Governor Ron DeSantis was in Immokalee Thursday to announce the opening of another state-run monoclonal antibody clinic.
  • A lawsuit challenging Governor Ron DeSantis’ ban on school districts imposing mask mandates for students is expected to conclude today. Lee Health reported a new record high of 641 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, Tuesday. Lee Health has reached 98% of staffed operational capacity and could soon begin seeing patients in traditionally non-treatment areas like cafeterias.Doctors are urging pregnant patients to get a COVID-19 vaccine and hoping the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine will help people overcome vaccine hesitancy.The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is not taking action against staff who knowingly spread COVID-19 by coming to work, despite a positive test and symptoms.Disney is requiring union workers to get vaccinated or lose their jobs.
  • 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.