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.
Governor Ron DeSantis has appealed a Leon County Circuit Court Judge’s ruling striking down his executive order barring school districts from imposing student mask mandates.Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran sent a letter, last week, threatening to withhold state funding from the Lee County School district due to its mask-wearing policy for students, which only allows students to opt-out with a doctor’s note.The Florida Department of Health, last month, changed the way it reports the number of deaths from COVID-19 to a method that misleads people into believe there's been a decline in deaths.The Orlando Utilities Commission is reminding customers to conserve water as an unprecedented surge in the coronavirus causes a shortage of liquid oxygen. Two weeks after making the request, the utility says customers are saving on water, but not enough.With Florida legislative committee meetings starting later this month in advance of the 2022 annual law-making session, the state Senate is not planning to limit public access as Florida continues battling the COVID-19 pandemic.The Carnival Cruise Line plans to require proof of vaccination for passengers when cruises resume from some Florida ports in November.Federal COVID rental assistance relief funds in Sarasota and Manatee County have been slow to reach residents in need.