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Florida Legislature

  • State health officials reported 1,613 new COVID-19 cases and 35 deaths on Monday. So far, more than 7.2 million people in Florida have been vaccinated including more than 2.8 million who have received a first dose and more than 4.4 million people who have completed the series.Governor Ron DeSantis is railing against YouTube and Google and accusing the tech giant of censorship for removing a video of a COVID-19 discussion he had with scientists who oppose government lockdowns, school closures and mask wearing.Florida is suing the Biden administration and the CDC to let cruise ships sail again after being shut down for more than a year during the COVID-19 pandemic.The Florida Education Association is seeking clarity on recently adopted exemptions to testing requirements for this school year.Public school districts in Southwest Florida plan to scale back their distance learning options for students returning to school in the fall.A bill to make pandemic-induced expansions on the use of telemedicine permanent continues advancing in the state legislature.FEMA is now offering financial assistance to help cover the cost of funerals for those who have died of COVID-19.Lee County Commissioners stopped manning toll booths to collect bridge tolls on the outset of the pandemic and now they’re considering making that change permanent. They’re also considering a proposed increase in bridge tolls paid by motorists.A Florida woman was sentenced to 30 days in jail, last week, for deliberately coughing on a cancer patient during a dispute, last year, that was caught on a video that went viral.
  • U.S. Rep. Cathy Castor, D-Tampa, and healthcare advocates held a media conference Monday to highlight a long-shot effort in the Florida House to expand Medicaid through the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
  • State Health officials reported 3.406 new COVID-19 cases and 22 deaths Monday. Nearly 6.4 million people in Florida have been vaccinated including nearly 2.7 million who have received a first dose and nearly 3.7 million who have completed the series.As of Monday, all adults 18 and older are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Sixteen and 17-year-olds also became eligible for the vaccine, Monday, but teenagers are restricted to the Pfizer version of the vaccine and must have parental consent.Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order, Friday, banning businesses from using vaccine passports to require people to prove they’ve been vaccinated in order to receive services.The Florida Legislature is taking up budget proposals this week and how to use Florida’s share of federal funds stemming from the American Rescue Plan remains a point of contention in budget negotiations.Lawmakers in the state House and Senate are considering several pieces of legislation to limit local-government emergency orders, create a personal-protective equipment stockpile and establish an Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund for use by the governor.Sarasota city commissioners are taking steps to reinstate a mandatory mask ordinance amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
  • State health officials reported 5,294 new COVID-19 cases and 87 deaths on Wednesday. So far, more than 5.8 million people in Florida have received a vaccine including more than 2.5 million people who have received a first dose and more than 3.3 million who have either completed the two-shot series or received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.Vaccine eligibility in Florida will expand next Monday, April 5, to include anyone 18 and older. Sixteen and 17-year-olds will be eligible, Monday, for the Pfizer vaccine with parental consent.Gov. Ron DeSantis says he’ll take emergency action to prevent government or businesses from requiring the vaccine or a vaccine passport system. Meanwhile, the Biden administration says it will not issue a federal mandate requiring proof of inoculation. The White House will be letting private companies handle the logistics for vaccine passports.Farmworkers in Homestead spoke with Miami-Dade officials this week as they push for vaccine access. Time is short before changes in the growing season prompt migrant farmworkers in Florida travel elsewhere.Attorneys general from 13 states, including Florida, have filed a lawsuit against the Biden Administration over a provision in the federal stimulus that bars state governments from using the relief funds to offset tax cuts.Gov. DeSantis announced Wednesday that principals and teachers at Florida's K-12 public schools will receive $1,000 bonuses similar to the $1,000 bonuses he announced two weeks ago for first responders.
  • 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.
  • Governor Ron DeSantis announced Thursday morning that starting Monday, March 29, vaccine eligibility will expand to people 40 and older and that the following Monday, April 5, vaccine eligibility will extend to anyone 18 and older. As of Wednesday morning, more than 5.2 million people in Florida have been vaccinated including more than 2.3 million people who have received a first dose, and more than 2.8 million who have completed the series.The CDC’s current moratorium on evictions is set to expire March 31, but experts say it will likely be extended.Florida House members are considering a wide-ranging bill aimed at helping Florida prepare for the next public health crisis. State lawmakers are also considering a measure that would make permanent Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order expanding the allowed use of telehealth services.
  • State health officials reported 4,599 new COVID-19 cases and 55 deaths, Wednesday for a total of more than 1.9 million infections and 33,120 deaths since the start of the pandemic. So far more than 4.4 million people in Florida have received a vaccine dose, including nearly 2.5 million people who have completed the vaccine series.Governor Ron DeSantis wants to use some of the money coming to Florida through the federal COVID-19 relief bill to provide $1,000 bonuses to firefighters, law enforcement officers and other first responders. He also wants $260 million to go to supporting Florida’s struggling seaports and $50 million to be allocated to the state’s tourism marketing arm Visit Florida to help revitalize the tourism industry.The Florida Senate is set to vote today on a bill protecting businesses and healthcare providers from pandemic-related litigation. A bill cracking down on COVID-19 vaccine-related fraud passed its first Senate committee this week.New CDC guidelines recommend that nursing home residents be allowed to see visitors in person.Two pediatricians in Boca Raton have published a study after a vaccinated woman with no history of COVID-19 gave birth to a baby with COVID-19 antibodies.A new report from a national COVID-19 commission reports a dramatic rise in domestic violence amid the pandemic.
  • State Health officials reported 2,826 new COVID-19 cases and 93 deaths on Monday. Meanwhile more than 4.2 million people in Florida have been vaccinated, including more than 1.88 people who have received a first dose, more than 2.2 million who have completed the series with two doses and more than 90,000 people who have received the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.On Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis expanded vaccine eligibility to adults 60 and older and he expressed confidence that Florida will open vaccine eligibility to all adults by President Joe Biden’s deadline of May 1.
  • State health officials reported 4,853 new COVID-19 cases and 59 deaths, Wednesday. So far more than 1.75 million people in Florida have received a first vaccine dose and more than two million people have completed the series with two doses. More than 25,000 people have received the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.After vaccine eligibility in Florida expands to include people 60 and older on Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he’ll open up eligibility to people 55 and older soon after before eventually doing away with age restrictions altogether.An additional 76 CVS Pharmacy locations in Florida will begin offering vaccine appointments this week including stores in Charlotte, Collier and Lee Counties here in Southwest Florida, and at locations in 21 other counties.Despite pushback from some parents, Collier County School District officials say its mask policy will likely remain in place at least through the end of the current school year.
  • State Health officials reported 6,118 new COVID-19 cases and 120 deaths, Thursday. As of Wednesday, more than 3.1 million people in Florida have been vaccinated, including more than 1.4 million who have received a first dose and more than 1.7 million people who have completed the series.Retail pharmacy sites offering the vaccine like CVS and Publix are now offering doses to K-12 school employees, daycare workers and those extremely vulnerable to the virus due to a medical condition, regardless of age.Florida Democratic leaders like Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried remain critical of the governor’s vaccine rollout, citing another example of an affluent community in the Florida Keys including nearly two dozen financial supports of DeSantis, that was given vaccine priority.A draft Inspector General’s report, this week, details problems with Florida’s unemployment benefit system.A U.S. Census Bureau survey this week reveals that most U.S. businesses are not requiring COVID-19 testing for workers or vaccines when employees become eligible to receive them.Democrats in the Florida House, Thursday, introduced a broad COVID-19 relief bill.