Coronavirus

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a grant worth $7.5 million over five years to EcoHealth Alliance, a U.S.-based nonprofit that hunts emerging viruses. The award comes months after NIH revoked an earlier grant to EcoHealth, a move scientists widely decried as the politically motivated quashing of research vital to preventing the next coronavirus pandemic.

Florida Department of Health

The state Department of Health reported on Friday 88 more deaths due to the coronavirus in Florida, bringing the cumulative total to 11,099.

Fourteen of the deaths occurred in the greater Tampa Bay region.

The state also reported that another 3,815 people tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 611,991.

In the greater Tampa Bay region, there were 521 new positive tests.

The school board of the nation's seventh largest district voted Friday to press on with plans to open brick-and-mortar schools Aug. 31, reversing course on a plan it adopted earlier this month to delay reopening by four weeks due to coronavirus concerns.

During about two hours of discussion at the board meeting, concerns were raised about the chaos of changing course just days before school would start, and the desire of about half of parents to send their children to school.

School board members also discussed declining COVID-19 cases in the area.

Many People Of Color, Immigrants Among Over 1,000 US Health Workers Lost To COVID

Aug 28, 2020
Kaiser Health News

More than 1,000 front-line health care workers reportedly have died of COVID-19, according to Lost on the Frontline, an ongoing investigation by The Guardian and KHN to track and memorialize every U.S. health care worker who dies from the coronavirus. Earlier this month, the organizations published a major interactive database. It is the most comprehensive accounting of U.S. health care workers’ deaths in the country.

Orange Co. Schools Will Get More Rapid Coronavirus Tests Next Week

Aug 28, 2020
Raul Pino talking from a podium
Orange County

The Orange County school district will get 1,000 rapid tests and the machines that read them next week and will be able to refill that order as needed, Orange County Health director Raul Pino said Tuesday.

During a media briefing, Pino said only symptomatic teachers and students will get tested as there are limited supplies.

The Keys are known to be home to Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that can transmit dengue — along with other diseases like Zika — to humans.

"Unfortunately we have the perfect storm," said Andrea Leal, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District. "In 2019, we saw more imported cases of dengue fever in the state of Florida than we've seen, ever. And so we're all on guard … it's just a matter of time before we start seeing locally-acquired cases."

Looking for a snapshot of coronavirus outbreaks in U.S. schools? The National Education Association has just launched a tracker of cases in public K-12 schools.

The tracker is broken down by state and shows schools and counties with known cases and suspected cases and deaths, as well as whether those infected were students or staff. It also includes links to the local news reports so users know where the virus data comes from.

The primary goal of a COVID-19 vaccine is to keep people from getting very sick and dying. But there's another goal — to prevent the spread of the disease — and it's not clear most vaccine candidates currently under development can do that.

Some scientists think they can solve that problem by delivering a vaccine as a nasal spray.

Florida Department of Health

State health officials recorded the deaths of 139 people in the 24-hour period since Wednesday's report. It’s the third straight day the daily statewide death toll from the virus has been over 135.

As coronavirus cases pop up in K-12 schools that are reopening across the state, many districts are looking at what circumstances might force them to close.

On Tuesday, Hillsborough Schools Superintendent Addison Davis said he has been in talks with the Department of Health, Tampa General Hospital, and USF Health about possibly calling for a school to close if a certain percentage of students are in quarantine due to potential exposure to a COVID case.

Head shots of Charles Dodson and Ron DeSantis
2nd Judicial Circuit of Florida; WUSF Public Media

Siding with teachers unions, a Leon County circuit judge Thursday lifted a stay of his earlier ruling that a state order requiring schools to reopen in August is unconstitutional.

Judge Charles Dodson on Monday issued a temporary injunction accusing Gov. Ron DeSantis, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and other state education officials of ignoring the Florida Constitution by requiring school districts to resume face-to-face instruction this month amid the coronavirus pandemic. School districts risk losing state funding if they don’t comply with the emergency order, issued by Corcoran on July 6.

Florida State University classes are in full swing. Students walk across campus and lounge on Landis Green. Some wear masks—others don't. University policy requires faculty, staff, and students to mask up—whether they're outside, in classrooms or residence halls. But that's not always happening, says Jennifer, who lives in one of the dorms on FSU's campus.

FSU COVID-19 Guidelines Not Accessible To All Students

Aug 27, 2020

Florida State University has posted signs on campus and inside buildings asking students to wear masks and practice social distancing. But some students are having a difficult time accessing all of Florida State University's COVID-19 guidelines.

When Reahna Robinson stepped into an elevator inside her dorm, and another person joined her, something didn't feel right.

"I was kind of feeling a little bit uncomfortable just because it was a tight space," Robinson says.

When people reuse syringes to inject intravenous drugs like fentanyl, they are at higher risk of infectious diseases like HIV or hepatitis C. In 2016, Miami-Dade County established Florida's first legal needle exchange program in an effort to reduce problems that can come from sharing needles.

Task Force Delivers Blueprint For Nursing Home Visits

Aug 27, 2020
task force video conference screen
The Florida Channel

Florida should allow the resumption of face-to-face visits in nursing homes --- and let certain visitors touch residents --- under recommendations approved Wednesday by a task force and sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The recommendations, adopted by the Task Force on the Safe and Limited Re-Opening of Long Term Care Facilities, still must be approved by DeSantis, who has been looking for ways to reopen facilities to visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

WUSF

Lake County state Rep. Anthony Sabatini has lost another lawsuit challenging a mask ordinance, this time in Gadsden County.

Circuit Judge David Frank wrote in a ruling filed Monday that, as a lawyer, Sabatini has filed the same claims in at least four other lawsuits. A judge in Leon County has also ruled against him.

Judge Frank asked “when is enough enough?”

Gov. Ron DeSantis
News Service of Florida

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is applying to participate in a new federal unemployment assistance program to boost benefits another $300 a week.

DeSantis made the announcement Wednesday, saying he's applying to participate in the Lost Wages Assistance Program.

People currently receiving at least $100 in benefits and who lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic can be eligible for another $300 a week.

Once approved, benefits will be retroactive to Aug. 1.

Florida Department of Health

Florida deaths attributed to the coronavirus in a 24-hour period were again over 150 Wednesday.

The Department of Health recorded the deaths of 155 people since Tuesday's report; 20 of them in the greater Tampa Bay area.

Last week, as four of his kids played under a tree at a law office parking lot, Jose, a mechanic from Palmetto, was inside the building getting advice after his family had to leave their trailer home. His wife waited in the car with their 1-year-old baby. Jose, who didn't want to use his last name, is 38 and says until recently, he never had a problem paying his rent on time. But in June, he tested positive for the coronavirus, got sick and was unable to work.

Under normal circumstances, it could take years — if not decades — to bring a new vaccine to market. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all that. In May, the Trump administration launched Operation Warp Speed with the goal of delivering initial doses of a safe and effective vaccine by January 2021 — shortening the development time from years to months.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Across China, life has largely returned to normal. Domestic travel is picking back up as a coronavirus pandemic brought under control recedes from memory. Businesses and factories have reopened.

Except in Xinjiang. A sweeping, western region nearly four times the size of California, Xinjiang remains largely cut off from the rest of the country and its some 22 million residents under heavy lockdown, an effort officials say is needed to contain a cluster of more than 800 officially diagnosed cases.

Annie Spratt

Florida's public K-12 schools and universities are starting a new school year and while some students will be learning online from home, others are heading back to campus. With students back in the building, school administrators and staff are now tasked with keeping them safe and healthy.

"Florida Matters" host Bradley George spoke with WUSF education reporter Kerry Sheridan, University of South Florida public health professor Jay Wolfson and New College of Florida student Anna Lynn Winfrey, editor-in-chief of New College's campus newspaper, The Catalyst.

National Cancer Institute

University of Florida Health announced Tuesday it enrolled two patients in a national clinical trial about convalescent blood plasma and whether it can reduce the effects of COVID-19.

UF Health is one of 50 medical centers nationwide participating in the clinical trial, which is expected to enroll 600 patients.

Florida Universities Try To Stem Coronavirus Cases

Aug 26, 2020
John Thrasher
News Service of Florida

Florida university officials have started suspending fraternities and punishing students who flout coronavirus-safety measures, as schools grapple with cases of the virus at the beginning of the fall semester.

Debate Over Touching Stalls Nursing Home Recommendations

Aug 26, 2020
Image of Zoom meeting of nursing home task force
The Florida Channel

A task force set up by Gov. Ron DeSantis reached broad agreement Tuesday on a plan that would reopen nursing homes to “essential” and “compassionate” caregivers, as well as allow visitation by members of the general public at many of the state’s 4,000 long-term care facilities.

But a divide remains over a return to normalcy.

On this Tuesday, Aug. 25 episode of Sundial.

COVID-19’s Impact on Young Floridians

State officials have repeatedly said that Florida’s coronavirus crisis is largely sickening and killing our elderly population. And the data largely reflect that trend with 80 percent of the state’s coronavirus deaths being attributed to residents over the age of 65.

After a Leon County judge sided with the statewide teachers union in the legal battle over reopening brick-and-mortar-schools yesterday, the state has filed an appeal. That means an automatic stay has been applied to the case by the First District Court of Appeals.

As a result of the state’s appeal, school districts for the time being are still under the Department of Education’s order. That includes Leon County – Superintendent Rocky Hanna says the district is gearing up to welcome back 15,000 students to campus:

Florida Department of Health

The number of COVID-19 related deaths in Florida spiked Tuesday even as the number of people testing positive for the coronavirus continues to decline.

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