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Tom Urban

  • 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.
  • On Friday, Florida reported more than 75,000 COVID-19 cases over the past week, which marks a continuing decline from the summer surge driven by the delta variant. Over the past week, Florida reported an average of more than 10,800 new infections a day.Hospitals in Southwest Florida also continue to report gradual declines in admitted COVID-19 patients.A Florida Highway Patrol trooper in Fort Myers died of complications due to COVID-19 over the weekend. The coronavirus is the leading cause of death this year for law enforcement officers nationwide.Florida’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.0% in August as state leaders continue to push people back into the workforce.A University of Miami study (still pending peer review) finds that vaccinating teachers and cutting class sizes in half would be effective tools for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in schools.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Closing arguments are slated for today (Aug. 26) with a ruling expected Friday in a lawsuit filed by parents challenging Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order barring school districts from imposing mask mandates for students.Lee Health reported another record-high number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, Wednesday, with 646 patients, including 15 children.A Leon County circuit judge, Wednesday, waded into a lawsuit about whether Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration violated state law when it cut off federal unemployment money in June for tens of thousands of jobless Floridians. A ruling is expected by Friday, though the decision is likely to be appealed.Florida’s Poison Control Centers say they’ve treated nearly 30 Floridians after they took doses of ivermectin in an effort to ward off COVID-19. Ivermectin is a deworming medication used to treat livestock.Tampa Mayor Cathy Castor announced Wednesday that the city will mandate COVID-19 vaccines for the city’s 4,700 employees.The Florida Hospital Association is sounding the alarm, saying a survey shows 68 hospitals have less than a 48-hour supply of oxygen. The lack of available liquid oxygen due to the surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations has prompted Tampa Bay water officials to temporarily use bleach at its Lithia Hydrogen Sulfide Removal Facility, meaning residents may notice slight changes in the way their water tastes and smells.In the past four weeks, the average number of weekly vaccine doses administered in Florida rose by 57% from the previous month. Experts say that's great, but it won't stop the surge overnight.
  • A lawsuit challenging Governor Ron DeSantis’ ban on school districts imposing mask mandates for students is expected to conclude today. Lee Health reported a new record high of 641 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, Tuesday. Lee Health has reached 98% of staffed operational capacity and could soon begin seeing patients in traditionally non-treatment areas like cafeterias.Doctors are urging pregnant patients to get a COVID-19 vaccine and hoping the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine will help people overcome vaccine hesitancy.The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is not taking action against staff who knowingly spread COVID-19 by coming to work, despite a positive test and symptoms.Disney is requiring union workers to get vaccinated or lose their jobs.
  • 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.