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Coronavirus testing

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis says school districts that choose mask mandates could see their school board and superintendent’s salaries cut. a group of parents have filed suit over DeSantis’ executive order in Leon County Court, and a second mask lawsuit has been filed in South Florida. Democratic Senators have pledged to create a GoFundMe campaign to help repay any school leaders who lose their salaries by trying to put a student mask requirement in place.The ongoing surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations has resulted in an exponential increase in pediatric patients requiring treatment and hospitalization in Lee Health’s Golisano Children’s Hospital in Fort Myers. The start of a new school year, with mask wearing optional, is alarming local healthcare professionals, who shared their experiences treating children sick with COVID during a news conference, Tuesday.Sarasota Memorial Hospital and Lee Health both reported record-high number of COVID -19 patients admitted to their hospitals with 201 and 455 patients, respectively.Florida health officials and the administration of Governor Ron DeSantis said late Monday that the number of new COVID-19 infections reported publicly by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was wrong. Finger pointing over the data comes as the numbers of hospitalizations for patients with COVID-19 increases.The Celebrity Cruise Line plans to sail and comply with a state order barring businesses from requiring proof of vaccination status by placing several restrictions on passengers who refuse to provide proof of vaccination when asked.
  • 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.
  • More Floridians are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 than at any point in the pandemic: more than 12,400 patients across the sunshine state.Hospital systems in Southwest Florida continue to report increases in COVID-19 patient hospitalizations and the Florida Hospital Association reports, 60 percent of Florida’s hospitals say they will have a critical staff shortage in the next week.Broward, Duval and Alachua County School District officials plan to have mask mandates when schools reopen this month, in defiance of an executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis barring schools from imposing masking rules.Gov. Ron DeSantis says the state does not plan on reopening coronavirus testing sites despite the current surge in cases.
  • On Saturday, Florida reported the highest single-day number of new COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic. On Sunday, Florida had the highest single-day number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients since the beginning of the pandemic.Governor Ron DeSantis, Friday announced plans for a new executive order barring schools from requiring mask-wearing.Sarasota Memorial Hospital is no long allowing visitors and NCH announced Friday it will require all staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 16.Manatee County officials announced another confirmed COVID-19 death among county staff. An outbreak in June forced the closure of the Manatee County Administration building.A nationwide moratorium on evictions that was put in place amid the pandemic expired Sunday, July 31, and the AP reports, Florida received $870 million in federal funds to help renters who've struggled to keep up with rent payments, but has only distributed 2% of that money.
  • With Florida at the epicenter of a nationwide resurgence of COVID-19 infections, some local governments are defying Republican Governor Ron DeSantis with new mask and vaccine mandates. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried plans to begin providing daily COVID-19 data to the media after the state switched to only providing weekly data in June. Lee Health and NCH hospitals report 600% and 800% increases in COVID-19 patients who are mostly unvaccinated. High levels of community spread and low vaccination rates are putting many nursing homes in Florida at risk for COVID-19 outbreaks. Some facilities are taking extra precautions.
  • As a surge in new COVID-19 infections is leading to increased hospitalizations, heath systems in Southwest Florida are re-imposing restrictions on hospital visitation.
  • Despite a nationwide decrease in COVID-19 cases over the last week, a USA Today Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data finds that in the week ending June 6, Florida experienced a 14.9% increase in new cases compared to the prior week. Florida has documented more than 2.3 million COVID-19 infections and more than 37,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.More than 19 million total vaccine doses have been administered in Florida so far. Last week, the Florida Hospital Association reported that COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state are at their lowest level in more than a year and down nearly 20% from the peak reached in July 2020.The American Federal of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations are urging Governor Ron DeSantis to reverse coarse on a plan to prematurely end Florida’s participation in a federal program that provides an additional $300 a week in unemployment benefits to jobless Floridians.A federal judge will hear arguments, Thursday, in Florida’s lawsuit against the CDC over its rules for how the cruise industry can resume sailings. One way the CDC will allow cruise ships to resume operating is if staff and passengers are fully vaccinated, but a new Florida law set to take effect July 1, bars businesses from requiring vaccine passports. Meanwhile, the Norwegian and Royal Caribbean cruise lines have recently announced plans to resume cruises from Florida portsState health officials are no longer providing daily updates on the coronavirus pandemic through the Florida Department of Health's online COVID-19 dashboard, and instead are updating information on a weekly basis.Florida courts can lift mask-wearing and social distancing requirements for in-person proceedings starting June 21.