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Stephanie Colombini

  • The Florida Board of Education, next week, will consider taking action against 11 Public School Districts with mask mandates that are out of compliance with state rules and an executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis.Sarasota School Board members, next week, will vote on whether to repeal the district’s mask policy.A federal COVID-19 vaccination mandate for hospitals is coming in October. Today marks the deadline for NCH employees to be fully vaccinated or risk losing their jobs. Sarasota Memorial Hospital and Lee Health are not imposing a staff vaccine mandate in advance of the federal mandate.Nearly 40% of COVID-19 deaths in Lee Health hospitals have been in the past two months amid the summer pandemic surge driven by the delta variant.A new report projects Florida will have a shortage of 60,000 nurses by 2035.With weekly unemployment claims rolling in at pre-pandemic numbers, state leaders say they remain optimistic about seeing results from a summer push to get people back into the labor force.Republican state lawmakers are sponsoring a bill that would exempt religious institutions from emergency orders.Florida families with children are now set to receive more than $1 billion in federal pandemic relief funds through a program created by Congress last year to assist children who lost access to free and reduced-price school meals when instruction shifted from in-person to virtual.
  • The Florida Department of Health has changed its policy on school mask mandates, saying parents can opt their children out of mask wearing for any reason and that students no longer have to quarantine if they test positive for COVID-19, but have no symptoms. The rule change has led a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Florida school districts seeking to impose stricter mask-wearing policies.The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients across Florida continues to decline. HHS data indicates about 8,000 Floridians were hospitalized with the virus as of Wednesday, which is down by more than 250 patients from the day prior.Sarasota School board members are delaying action on possible changes to its public comment policy at school board meetings. The proposed changes stem from more than a year of meetings with hours of public comment and heated contention among speakers often raising concerns that are not part of the meeting’s agenda.After initially turning down $820 million in federal funds to provide food for poor children, state officials have reversed course and will now accept the money.
  • A lawsuit has been filed against the Florida Department of Health for failing to provide information about county-level COVID-19 deaths.During a stop in Fort Myers, Wednesday, Governor Ron DeSantis indicated that the state may resume releasing county-level data on COVID-19 deaths.The number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide has risen dramatically in recent weeks.Florida plans to begin issuing $5,000 fines to businesses, schools and government agencies that require proof of COVID-19 vaccination beginning Sept. 16.Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has sent a letter to the Sarasota County School board, threatening to withhold funding totaling the amount of school board members' salaries over the district's mandatory mask mandate for students. At least ten other school districts face similar funding threats due to their mask policies.Governor Ron DeSantis did not violate the law by ending federal unemployment benefits early for out of work Floridians, according to a judge's ruling, Monday.COVID-19 patients continue to strain resources at Southwest Florida hospitals. Sarasota Memorial Hospital and Cape Coral Hospital now have refrigerated trailers serving as additional morgue space to store dead bodies.
  • Closing arguments are slated for today (Aug. 26) with a ruling expected Friday in a lawsuit filed by parents challenging Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order barring school districts from imposing mask mandates for students.Lee Health reported another record-high number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, Wednesday, with 646 patients, including 15 children.A Leon County circuit judge, Wednesday, waded into a lawsuit about whether Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration violated state law when it cut off federal unemployment money in June for tens of thousands of jobless Floridians. A ruling is expected by Friday, though the decision is likely to be appealed.Florida’s Poison Control Centers say they’ve treated nearly 30 Floridians after they took doses of ivermectin in an effort to ward off COVID-19. Ivermectin is a deworming medication used to treat livestock.Tampa Mayor Cathy Castor announced Wednesday that the city will mandate COVID-19 vaccines for the city’s 4,700 employees.The Florida Hospital Association is sounding the alarm, saying a survey shows 68 hospitals have less than a 48-hour supply of oxygen. The lack of available liquid oxygen due to the surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations has prompted Tampa Bay water officials to temporarily use bleach at its Lithia Hydrogen Sulfide Removal Facility, meaning residents may notice slight changes in the way their water tastes and smells.In the past four weeks, the average number of weekly vaccine doses administered in Florida rose by 57% from the previous month. Experts say that's great, but it won't stop the surge overnight.
  • A Florida Hospital Association survey conducted Aug. 9, finds that by next week, 68% of hospitals expect to reach the point of having a critical staffing shortage.Lee Health has hit another record high of 498 hospitalized COVID-19 patients as of Friday morningA lawsuit filed by parents challenging the constitutionality of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order barring school districts from imposing mandatory student mask mandates will be heard Friday afternoon in a Leon County courtroom. A second federal lawsuit has also been filed alleging the executive order jeopardizes the rights of disabled students who can’t wear mask, but need to be protected.Gov. Ron DeSantis is touting a monoclonal antibody treatment for those infected with the coronavirus called Regeneron. On Thursday, he announced emergency treatment “strike teams” will deploy across the state to increase access to the treatment and to help relieve pressure at hospitals that are seeing rising cases of COVID-19.An expert at the University of Washington with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation tracking pandemic trends says Florida could be at its peak when it comes to new coronavirus cases, but that a rough couple of months are still ahead.University of South Florida researchers are looking for volunteers to participate in a clinical trial about the use of a coronavirus vaccine on children under 12.