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Valerie Crowder

  • A Leon County judge, Wednesday, vacated an automatic stay on Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order barring school districts from imposing student mask mandates. This provides a temporary reprieve allowing school districts with mask mandates to keep them in place. Judge John Cooper said the state didn’t prove how it would be harmed if the ruling was allowed to go into effect.Lee County School District officials sent a letter to the Department of Education responding to threats of withholding state funds and imposing other sanctions over the district’s mandatory mask rule. In the response, officials say the Lee School District’s mask rule is in compliance with state law.Lee Health has surpassed 1,000 deaths of hospitalized COVID-19 patients since the beginning of the pandemic. Overall COVID patient populations in Southwest Florida hospitals are in decline even as in-hospital deaths have been on the rise in recent days.
  • Hearings began Aug. 23 in a lawsuit brought by parents challenging Governor Ron DeSantis' executive order barring school districts from imposing mask mandates for students. Hearings in the legal challenge are expected to continue through Wednesday.Florida Democrats seeking to unseat Governor Ron DeSantis have focused heavily on the pandemic since the most recent surge in COVID-19 cases. A recent survey of voters indicates this strategy isn't hurting at this time.Sarasota Memorial Hospital is now leasing a refrigerated trailer to serve as an expanded morgue. The trailer isn't currently in use, but was leased in preparation for an expected surge in COVID-19 deaths in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Lee Health reported another record-high number of COVID-19 patients in its hospitals Monday, and capacity is stretched to the point that non-patient areas like cafeterias may be needed to care for patients.Sarasota Memorial Hospital is looking to boost the number of employees vaccinated against COVID-19 by offering $500 bonuses to staff who are fully inoculated by Oct. 1.