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Coronavirus

  • Monoclonal antibodies have been in the news lately since Florida opened more than a dozen state-run centers providing these Covid-19 treatments. These laboratory-made “substitute antibodies” can help the immune system recognize and respond more effectively to COVID-19. We learn how they work, and who are the best candidates for treatment — including whether they’re appropriate for younger patients.
  • A Leon County circuit court judge has ruled in favor of a group of parents challenging Gov. Ron DeSantis' executive order that blocks school districts from requiring students to wear masks.
  • Hearings began Aug. 23 in a lawsuit brought by parents challenging Governor Ron DeSantis' executive order barring school districts from imposing mask mandates for students. Hearings in the legal challenge are expected to continue through Wednesday.Florida Democrats seeking to unseat Governor Ron DeSantis have focused heavily on the pandemic since the most recent surge in COVID-19 cases. A recent survey of voters indicates this strategy isn't hurting at this time.Sarasota Memorial Hospital is now leasing a refrigerated trailer to serve as an expanded morgue. The trailer isn't currently in use, but was leased in preparation for an expected surge in COVID-19 deaths in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Lee Health reported another record-high number of COVID-19 patients in its hospitals Monday, and capacity is stretched to the point that non-patient areas like cafeterias may be needed to care for patients.Sarasota Memorial Hospital is looking to boost the number of employees vaccinated against COVID-19 by offering $500 bonuses to staff who are fully inoculated by Oct. 1.
  • Lee Health is hosting a live virtual town hall on Tuesday, August 24 at 2 p.m. EST in an effort to increase public awareness about COVID-19 and the highly contagious Delta variant.
  • Hospitals around Florida are seeing COVID-19 cases in record numbers, and more younger patients are being admitted to hospitals in recent weeks than since the pandemic began nearly a year and a half ago. We're getting an update from Lee Health officials.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Florida is worst in the nation when it comes to hospitalization rates of COVID-19 patients, including children. Florida also has the highest weekly total number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in the country.Data reported by Johns Hopkins University finds that Florida now accounts for 22% of new weekly total cases nationwide and 25% of weekly reported deaths from the virus.The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports, Florida is currently the only state in the nation with a quarter or more of all inpatient hospital beds being used to treat coronavirus patients.Lee Health and Sarasota Memorial Hospital both report new record-high numbers of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.The strain of the COVID-19 patient surge is has hit medical resources to the point that ambulance services and fire departments in some parts of Florida are no longer able to respond to emergency calls as usual. Ambulances in Pinellas County are waiting up to an hour with patients still inside until a hospital bed opens up for them-That's time the ambulances are unavailable to respond to other calls.On Friday, a Leon County Circuit Court judge will hold a hearing in a lawsuit filed by parents challenging Gov. DeSantis’ executive order barring schools from imposing mask mandates. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran is demanding a change in policy from Broward County School Officials after the school board voted earlier this week to impose a mandatory mask mandate for students.The Sarasota County School District is temporarily barring visitors from school campuses and suspending any student field trips amid the current surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. 143 students and staff members were absent the first day of school, Tuesday, due to COVID-19 infections.A University of Florida study finds that people who end up in a hospital for COVID-19 are more than twice as likely to be hospitalized in the future for additional health problems related to a COVID-19 complication.
  • Lee Health President and CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci released a statement, Monday, saying the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic “continues to become bleaker by the day,” with hospitalization rates higher than they’ve ever been.Advent Health in Orlando and Volusia County are in the end phases of purchasing fleets of refrigerated morgues.As students head back to school, pediatricians from practices all over Collier County weighed in with a message: Kids should be wearing masks at school. The doctors report seeing a significant increase in hospitalizations in kids in the last few weeks.A USA TODAY Network analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University shows most children in Florida are returning to brick-and-mortar classrooms in areas where coronavirus outbreaks are much more severe than they were at the start of the previous school year.
  • Over the weekend, the nationwide COVID-19 surge surpassed 100,000 new confirmed daily infections. The AP reports, that milestone was last exceeded during the surge this past winter. The current resurgence is being driven by the more transmissible Delta variant and lower vaccination rates in Florida and other Southern states. Florida accounts for one in five new COVID-19 infections nationwide, which is more than any other state. The Tallahassee Democrat reports, the state broke another record for most reported new cases in a single day with 23,903 cases reported Friday, according to the CDC.The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported, Saturday, that there were 13,750 COVID-19 patients in Florida hospitals, marking another record high.Florida’s State Board of Education approved two emergency rules related to the ongoing pandemic, further riling up worried parents who are preparing to send their kids back to school classrooms this month. The first rule involves how students will be counted for attendance: kids who must quarantine due to coronavirus exposure or infection will be counted present if they have to learn at home. The second rule now in effect would allow students who are bullied over COVID to transfer to other schools using the state’s HOPE scholarship voucherStudents in K-12 schools throughout Southwest Florida return to the classroom Tuesday, Aug. 10, including in the Charlotte, Collier, Lee, Manatee and Sarasota County school districts. In Lee County, officials announced over the weekend that there will be a mask mandate. Parents who want to opt their kids out of mask wearing can do so by filling out a form that the district said it will make available by Monday evening.Private Catholic school students within the Diocese of Venice in Southwest Florida return to the classroom Monday, Aug. 9, and many parents are expressing anger over a last-minute decision to impose a mandatory mask policyA federal judge, Sunday night, granted the Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line's request to temporarily block a Florida law that bars businesses and government entities from requiring proof of vaccination status.The AP reports, the judge granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by Norwegian, as the company seeks to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination status of passengers before they board a ship.Florida hospital leaders and Gov. Ron DeSantis are urging more people to take advantage of monoclonal antibodies, a COVID-19 treatment that is proving to be very effective at preventing serious illness.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently expanded its emergency use authorization for the therapy.