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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • State health officials report that Florida has seen more than 2.3 million COVID-19 infections and more than 37,500 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. As of last Friday morning, the state division of Emergency Management reports that more than 10 million people in Florida have been vaccinated against the virus, including more than two million people who have received a first dose and more than 8.1 million people who have either completed a two-dose series or who have received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.The Florida Department of Health data scientist who built the state’s online COVID-19 dashboard is receiving whistleblower status. Rebekah Jones was fired last year after raising questions about the accuracy of pandemic data being reported by the state.Gov. DeSantis says Florida will penalize cruise companies that require proof of vaccination of travelers on board under a new state law, but the federal government says cruise ships need to follow vaccination requirements in order to restart cruising. Under the new state law set to take effect July 1, Cruise companies would be fined $5,000 for each customer who must show proof of vaccination against COVID-19.A new study from the policy think tank, the RAND Corporation, finds students who attended school remotely during the pandemic had worse outcomes in math and language arts than students who attended a hybrid model and those who went to class in-person.
  • State health officials reported 1,606 new COVID-19 cases and 24 deaths Monday bringing Florida’s total to more than 2.3 million infections and more than 37,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. As of Monday morning, more than 10 million people in Florida have received a vaccine including more than two million who have received a first dose and more than 7.9 million who have completed a two-dose vaccine series or received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.The state Department of Economic Opportunity announced Monday that unemployed Floridians will no longer receive the additional $300 dollars a week in federal unemployment assistance beginning in late June. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program isn’t slated to sunset until early September, but state officials are cutting off jobless residents early as part of what they’re dubbing a “return to work” initiative.Florida unemployment rate inched up slightly to 4.8% in April as restaurants across the state are reporting labor shortages. The leisure and hospitality sectors are recovering more slowly than other industries in Florida.Norwegian Cruise Line plans to resume voyages from ports on the West Coast, Central America and the Caribbean starting in August. Norwegian is pulling its business from ports in Florida because Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill banning businesses from requiring proof of vaccination, even though the federal government requires that 98% of a cruise ship’s crew and 95% of passengers be vaccinated before setting sail.
  • State health officials reported 1,976 new COVID-19 cases and 58 deaths, Monday for a total of more than 2.2 million infections and more than 36,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. As of Monday morning, more than 9.6 million people in Florida have received a vaccine, including more than two million who have received a first dose and more than 7.5 million people who have completed the two-dose series or received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.Sarasota School Board members are revisiting the district’s mask mandate amid recent new guidance from the CDC. Theme parks in Florida are loosening COVID-19 restrictions following the CDC's new guidance that fully vaccinated people don't need to wear masks in most settings.St. Armands Key Lutheran Church in Sarasota is hosting a vaccine clinic Sunday, May 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. offering the two-dose Moderna vaccine and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to people with registered appointments and walk-ins alike.The Kaiser Family Foundation has been surveying the public's opinion toward COVID-19 vaccines since last December. 42% of rural Americans surveyed say they will wait and see whether to get the vaccine, will only get vaccinated if required, or will definitely not get the vaccine.The foundation's Liz Hamel says that percentage has less to do with geography and more to do with political opinion, noting that about one in five Republicans surveyed say they don't plan to get the vaccine at allGovernor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law, last Thursday, that makes permanent a popular COVID-19 emergency order allowing restaurants to sell alcoholic drinks with take-home meals.
  • State health officials reported 4,504 new COVID-19 infections and 71 deaths on Thursday. As of Thursday morning, more than 9.1 million people in Florida have been vaccinated, including more than 6.6 million who are fully vaccinated with either two-doses or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.Local Governments in Southwest Florida and beyond are allowing emergency declarations and COVID restrictions to end following Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order, Monday, lifting all coronavirus restrictions imposed by local governments.COVID restrictions are being loosened in Florida courthouse buildings. The CDC has issued guidance to cruise lines about how they can begin trial voyages and theme parks in Central Florida are planning to do away with temperature checks as the CDC’s guidance is changing.
  • State health officials reported 5,556 new COVID-19 infections and 70 deaths on Wednesday. So far more than 6.6 million people in Florida have been vaccinated including more than 2.7 million people who have received a first dose and more than 3.9 million people who have completed the series or received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.Lee County’s COVID-19 vaccination site is moving next week to the old Sears location at the Edison Mall. Starting Friday, eligible Sarasota County residents will be able to receive the vaccine without an appointment at the county’s vaccine clinic site at Sarasota Square Mall.Governors of other states across the political spectrum have publicly received a vaccine in an effort to combat vaccine hesitancy and assure people that the shots are safe, but Governor Ron DeSantis’ office confirms that DeSantis received the vaccine last week in private.Florida is beginning to provide COVID-19 vaccine doses to prison inmates.The Norwegian Cruise line intends to begin resuming some sailings by July 4. All passengers and crew members will be required to get vaccinated in order to board a ship.
  • Florida is again seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations. The Florida Division of Emergency Management reports, Sunday’s positivity rate increased to 10.09%, which is the highest its been since Feb. 3.Governor Ron DeSantis vows to sign an executive order banning governments and businesses from requiring “vaccine passports.”State lawmakers are planning to reserve more than $300 million in funding for public schools, in case some of the nearly 90,000 students who didn’t enroll amid the ongoing pandemic come back to school in the fall.Florida’s unemployment rate continued to decline in February to 4.7%.Governor DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody have threated to sue the federal government over the ongoing moratorium on cruise ship operations at U.S. ports, saying it’s hurting Florida’s economy.Former Cape Coral City Councilman John Carioscia died Sunday of complications from COVID-19. In his final months in office Carioscia supported an unsuccessful effort to adopt a mask mandate in the city.North Fort Myers business owner Casey David Crowther was convicted, Friday of COVID-19 relief funding fraud related to a $2 million PPP loan he was awarded last year.
  • State health officials reported 3,987 new COVID-19 cases and 29 deaths on Sunday. As of Friday morning, the Florida Division of Emergency Management reports more than 2.6 million people have been vaccinated including more than two million who have received first dose and more than 2.6 million people who have completed the series with either a second dose or the single-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine.Today, vaccine eligibility in Florida expands to include anyone 50 and older.Large crowds of spring breakers in Miami Beach over the weekend led officials to impose an 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. curfew that could be extended until April 13.Federally supported COVID-19 vaccine sites in Florida including the FEMA-operated clinics in Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa and Miami will stop providing first-dose shots sometime this week.A COVID-19 outbreak at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach has prompted a partial closure of the club.