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Florida Department of Health

  • A settlement has now been reached requiring the Florida Department of Health to release COVID-19 data withheld from the public during the height of the pandemic.The Florida Center for Government Accountability and former State Representative Carols Guillermo Smith fought for release of the data in a two-year legal battle. We take a closer look at the settlement and what release of the hidden data will mean going forward in a conversation with Smith and the Florida Center for Government Accountability’s Michael Barfield.
  • The largest number of locally-acquired malaria cases in the U.S. in 20 years is clustered in Sarasota County, where there have been six cases since late May.
  • Four months after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Southwest Florida state health officials are once again warning beachgoers to stay out of the water, but this time their alert says stay off the sand, too. Shards of debris have been washed onto beaches and lawns, and there is a spike in the number of cases of the very dangerous "flesh-eating bacteria."
  • As Florida medical boards continue advancing proposed rules to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth living with gender dysphoria, we explore how gender-affirming care for minors is actually carried out. We also hear the story of one local family now getting gender-affirming care for their teenage sons.
  • The rate of new coronavirus infections statewide is relatively unchanged from two weeks ago, but the Lee Health and Sarasota Memorial hospital systems have been reporting slight increases in hospitalized COVID-19 patients over the last couple of months. Now they’re also preparing to provide vaccinations for young children ages six months to five years old and helping raise awareness about the availability of monoclonal antibody and antiviral treatments.
  • Cases of West Nile virus have been confirmed by Collier County health officials and there is a heightened concern that more residents will become ill.
  • Lee Health and the NCH Healthcare systems have resumed performing elective surgeries as numbers of hospitalized COVID-19 patients continue to decline.State workers in Florida are still struggling more than a year and a half into the pandemic. Three state prisons have closed due to a lack of corrections officers. Agencies under Governor Ron DeSantis' control began ordering employees back to their offices last October with mask wearing and social distancing optional. Since then, state agencies have disclosed little public information about how their workers are faring.Gov. DeSantis is crediting the recent decline in hospitalized COVID-19 patients to his efforts to increase access to monoclonal antibody treatments, but doctors argue that the treatments are just part of the reason why hospitalizations are on the decline and that the treatments are not a replacement for vaccination.A lawsuit filed by several Florida school districts over mask mandates was recently dismissed, but Leon County School District officials say they’ll refile their suit to reflect recent rule changes from the Florida Department of Health. A dozen other Florida districts are presently defying Gov. Ron DeSantis’ attempts to ban mandatory masking in schools.
  • The Alachua County School District is the first in the nation to receive federal funding from a Biden administration program aimed at supporting school districts facing financial sanctions for imposing student mask mandates.Florida’s supply of federally-purchased monoclonal antibody treatments will be cut by more than half starting next week.The Collier County School District has documented more COVID-19 cases in the first six weeks of this school year than in the entire previous school year.
  • A federal judge struck down a lawsuit from parents of disabled children, Wednesday, that challenged Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order barring Florida school districts from imposing mandatory mask mandates on students.AARP is sounding the alarm as CDC data shows that COVID-19 deaths in Florida nursing homes have sharply increased in the past month amid a statewide surge in new infections and deaths.County-level data on COVID-19 deaths in Florida is once again available, more than three months after the state stopped publicly reporting the information through its COVID-19 online dashboard.Lee Health continues to report gradual declines in its hospitalized COVID patient population, even as resources remain significantly strained.The Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida is downplaying concerns that a federal mandate requiring vaccination of most hospital employees will exacerbate the healthcare worker shortage.
  • 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.