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  • The Florida Board of Education, next week, will consider taking action against 11 Public School Districts with mask mandates that are out of compliance with state rules and an executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis.Sarasota School Board members, next week, will vote on whether to repeal the district’s mask policy.A federal COVID-19 vaccination mandate for hospitals is coming in October. Today marks the deadline for NCH employees to be fully vaccinated or risk losing their jobs. Sarasota Memorial Hospital and Lee Health are not imposing a staff vaccine mandate in advance of the federal mandate.Nearly 40% of COVID-19 deaths in Lee Health hospitals have been in the past two months amid the summer pandemic surge driven by the delta variant.A new report projects Florida will have a shortage of 60,000 nurses by 2035.With weekly unemployment claims rolling in at pre-pandemic numbers, state leaders say they remain optimistic about seeing results from a summer push to get people back into the labor force.Republican state lawmakers are sponsoring a bill that would exempt religious institutions from emergency orders.Florida families with children are now set to receive more than $1 billion in federal pandemic relief funds through a program created by Congress last year to assist children who lost access to free and reduced-price school meals when instruction shifted from in-person to virtual.
  • 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.
  • Hospital officials from across Florida addressed members of the Florida House Pandemic and Public Emergencies Committee, calling impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic “devastating,” and highlighting the financial toll that treating COVID-19 hospitalized patients is having on healthcare systems.Hospitals in Southwest Florida continue to report declines in their populations of hospitalized COVID-19 patients even as the death toll remains high. State health officials reported 2,468 new COVID-19 deaths across Florida over the past week, bringing the statewide death toll from the pandemic to 51,240 fatalities.A Sarasota store owner has filed a lawsuit against Florida’s Surgeon General challenging a law that bars business owners from requiring proof of customers’ vaccination status before entering.
  • Governor Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody vowed, Monday, that Florida will fight local and federal COVID-19 vaccination mandates for both public and private workers. DeSantis says any Florida city or county that requires workers to get the vaccine, will be fined $5,000 per infraction.Parents suing to overturn DeSantis’ efforts to ban school districts from imposing student mask mandates are asking the Florida Supreme Court to take up the case after an appeals court, Friday, reinstated a stay on a ruling that allowed districts to keep their mask rules in place.Thousands of people attended a school mask exemption event in Venice, Sunday, where doctors were signing notes to exempt Sarasota school district students from the district’s mask mandate.Hospitals throughout Southwest Florida continue to report a decline in the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, as deaths continue to rise.
  • A Florida judge overturned an emergency motion, Thursday, attempting to reinstate a stay on his previous ruling that allows school districts to keep their student mandatory mask policies in place.Numbers of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Southwest Florida continue to decline, as COVID-19 deaths of hospitalized patients continue to grow.The Fallen Officer Memorial Page lists COVID-19 as the number one cause of death for law enforcement officers nationwide in both 2020 and 2021.
  • Two lawsuits over mask wearing in Florida schools will get hearings today. A state judge is considering whether local school district mandates will be able to stay in place until an appeals court weighs in on a ruling last month that struck down Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order barring school districts from imposing student mask mandates. A separate federal suit arguing that kids with disabilities and severe medical conditions are so vulnerable that they won’t be able to go to school unless everyone is wearing a mask.Statewide COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are on the decline. Health officials are cautiously optimistic as hospital resources remain strained.More COVID-19 cases have been reported in Lee County schools in the first four weeks of this school year than were reported in the entire last school year. The number of COVID infections reported in Collier County Schools is on pace to surpass the last school year’s total by the end of this month.Gas prices in Florida over the Labor Day holiday weekend were at their highest level in seven years due to the pandemic and impacts from Hurricane Ida.
  • CDC data shows Florida had more daily COVID deaths in August 2021 then during the previous pandemic peak of August 2020.COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death for law enforcement officers in Florida.A Venice chiropractor has signed more than 500 medical mask exemption forms for students in Sarasota, prompting the district to tighten its mandatory mask policy.Gov. DeSantis is appealing last week’s circuit court ruling striking down his executive order barring school districts from imposing student mask mandates.Lee Health, Physicians Regional Healthcare System and Sarasota Memorial Hospital reported declines in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, Thursday, while NCH, Manatee Memorial and Lakewood Ranch Medical Center all reported COVID patient increases.A Lehigh Acres couple faces up to 30 years in prison on charges stemming from COVID relief funding fraud.
  • A lawsuit has been filed against the Florida Department of Health for failing to provide information about county-level COVID-19 deaths.During a stop in Fort Myers, Wednesday, Governor Ron DeSantis indicated that the state may resume releasing county-level data on COVID-19 deaths.The number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide has risen dramatically in recent weeks.Florida plans to begin issuing $5,000 fines to businesses, schools and government agencies that require proof of COVID-19 vaccination beginning Sept. 16.Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has sent a letter to the Sarasota County School board, threatening to withhold funding totaling the amount of school board members' salaries over the district's mandatory mask mandate for students. At least ten other school districts face similar funding threats due to their mask policies.Governor Ron DeSantis did not violate the law by ending federal unemployment benefits early for out of work Floridians, according to a judge's ruling, Monday.COVID-19 patients continue to strain resources at Southwest Florida hospitals. Sarasota Memorial Hospital and Cape Coral Hospital now have refrigerated trailers serving as additional morgue space to store dead bodies.
  • Florida ranks 2nd among states with fastest COVID-19 spread on a per-person basis.Lee Health was operating at 99% of staffed operational bed capacity amid the ongoing surge in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. On Monday, Lee Health reported a record high single day COVID death rate of 18 patients. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Golisano Children’s hospital has never been as full as it is now. Cape Coral Hospital and Sarasota Memorial Hospital now have mobile refrigerated trucks providing additional morgue space.Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran is withholding funds from the Alachua and Broward School Districts over their student mask mandates, despite Friday’s circuit court ruling striking down Gov. DeSantis’ executive order barring schools from imposing mandatory mask rules.The Lee County School District will begin enforcing a mask mandate for students on Wednesday. The Sarasota County School District began enforcing a mandatory mask mandate on Monday.The Manatee County Sheriff’s office announced a deputy has died of COVID-19, and the Lee County Sheriff’s office announced, Tuesday, that a second corrections deputy has died of COVID-19 this month.
  • A Leon County judge heard closing arguments, Thursday, in a lawsuit challenging Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order barring school districts from imposing student mask mandates. A ruling is expected Friday morning.COVID-19 infections in Southwest Florida schools have skyrocketed since classes resumed earlier this month.COVID-19 hospitalization rates in Southwest Florida continue to strain Southwest Florida health care symptoms with Lee Health reporting another record-high number of patients. Lee Health and Sarasota Memorial Hospital are at 99% and 97% of staffed operational bed capacity, respectively.Governor Ron DeSantis was in Immokalee Thursday to announce the opening of another state-run monoclonal antibody clinic.