Coronavirus

Emergency Fund Pitched For Governor's Office

Mar 24, 2021
CHRIS O'MEARA / ASSOCIATED PRESS

A new pool of money for emergencies, separate from the state’s traditional "rainy day" funds, would be created in the governor’s office under a pandemic relief measure approved Tuesday by a Senate committee.

Gov. Ron DeSantis brought his COVID-19 vaccination update to Pensacola Tuesday morning, reminding the Panhandle that the shots are now available to everyone over the age of 50.

“Most of the Panhandle counties are about two-thirds of the seniors – some of them more – that have gotten shots,” said DeSantis. “Obviously this is open to 50-plus, but we hope there will be more remaining seniors come here.”

Krispy Kreme will give customers that show a valid COVID vaccination card a free glazed donut.
Business Wire

Krispy Kreme, which has four Jacksonville donut shop locations, has rolled out a tasty incentive for people to get their COVID-19 vaccines.

Vice President Kamala Harris, left, receives a vaccination center tour from FEMA's Gracie Szchech Monday, as Jacksonville Lenny Curry, left, and Rep. Al Lawson, fourth from left, look on.
Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

Vice President Kamala Harris visited Jacksonville Monday afternoon.

Harris departed Washington, D.C., landing at Jacksonville International Airport at 1:39 p.m., according to the White House. 

Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press

Coronavirus vaccines are now open to everyone age 50 and up in Florida, but a University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville doctor would like to see that number dropped down to age 16.

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine has been difficult for many in Florida. But the visually impaired have several additional hurdles that sighted people don’t.

Maggie Saldana of Naples is legally blind. She calls the process to get a vaccine appointment online “long and hopeless.”

“Because I am legally blind, the computer is not my friend,” Saldana said.

Saldana said that the Publix website is not compatible with the screen reader she uses to make websites accessible.

Like many people, she recruited family members to help.

For anyone looking forward to the annual frivolity of spring break or the diversion offered every year by March Madness, the coronavirus pandemic is once again reminding: not so fast.

DCPS
Cyd Hoskinson

Classroom desks only need to be three feet apart in elementary schools, according to new coronavirus guidelines issued Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three feet of separation is also okay for middle and high schools, but only if there’s not a high level of spread in the community.

A city employee stands next to a repurposed vaccine bus.
Sydney Boles / WJCT News

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority and Agape Family Health are making the coronavirus vaccine even more accessible by offering the shot on retrofitted city buses. The program is the first of its kind in Florida.

Associated Press file photo

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday that Florida will start offering COVID-19 vaccines to all people age 50 and older starting Monday.

Federal, State COVID Vaccine Sites In Jax Running Below Capacity

Mar 18, 2021
BILL BORTZFIELD / WJCT NEWS

For the last several weeks, Jacksonville has been able to vaccinate more than 6,000 people a day at federal and state vaccine locations. The number does not even include retail pharmacies, like Publix and Walmart.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday he doesn’t expect Florida to receive more shipments of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines anytime soon.

“We have no more J&J coming for the foreseeable future. For the next two or three weeks, we’re not anticipating any new J & J and I don’t know what the issue with that is. Hopefully we’ll get more of that soon,” he said at a news conference in Palm Harbor.

For the first time since September, federal health officials are recommending that nursing home residents be allowed to see visitors in person.

But in Florida, where visitation has been allowed for months, the new federal guidelines will only make slight changes to the state’s current procedures, established to protect vulnerable residents of long-term care facilities.

Gov. Ron DeSantis pitched plans Tuesday to use nearly half of the money coming to Florida from a federal stimulus package to bulk up infrastructure, bolster efforts to fight rising sea levels, fix the troubled unemployment system and provide first responders with $1,000 bonuses for their work during the past year.

Like most everything else, grass-roots advocacy has gone virtual in Tallahassee because of the pandemic. An effort is underway by one of Florida's largest counties to connect with the Florida Capitol under these challenging conditions.

For decades, Broward County held a two-day lobbying blitz in the Capitol. But this year, with the Capitol largely off-limits, it's an all-day Zoom call instead.

Loida Mendez, 86, gets the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from U.S. Army medic Luis Perez, at a FEMA vaccination site at Miami Dade College, Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in North Miami.
Marta Lavandier / Associated Press

As shots go into more arms around Florida, anyone 60 and older can now be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Fencing is going up around the Lavilla tent city.
Sydney Boles / WJCT News

The Jacksonville City Council has approved $6 million in CARES Act funding to support people experiencing homelessness. 

COVID Restrictions Expected To Remain For Duration Of Fla. Legislative Session

Mar 15, 2021
News Service of Florida

The Florida Capitol is expected to remain largely closed to the public for the rest of the legislative session because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as lawmakers get more comfortable meeting face to face.

  

At the Statehouse, major legislation intended to shield businesses and health care providers from lawsuits related to COVID-19 is headed to the full Senate after its Rules Committee this week merged two bills into one lengthy proposal.

One bill dealt with liability of health-care providers; the other initially deals only with liability of non-health care businesses. Sponsor Jeff Brandes (BRAND - iss) describes the decision to roll the bills into one measure as a strategic move, as negotiations move forward with House leaders.

Local governments in Florida and their ability to strictly enforce measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus are being targeted by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis’ executive order issued late Wednesday requires local governments to cancel fines issued for violating local COVID-19 orders between March 1, 2020 and this past Wednesday.

Jacksonville Doctor Surprised By Pandemic Politics

Mar 11, 2021
The COVID-19 vaccination center at Regency Square mall is pictured.
BILL BORTZFIELD / WJCT NEWS

It was one year ago on March 11, 2020 that the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking outside at the podium, National Guard members with masks on behind him.
Lynne Sladky / Associated Press

Speaking in Jacksonville Thursday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that 97 Walgreens around the state will begin offering all three vaccines beginning March 12.

Some infectious disease experts say Florida's efforts to restrict who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine are starting to be counterproductive.

Health News Florida's Stephanie Colombini talked with Dr. Glenn Morris, Director of the University of Florida's Emerging Pathogens Institute, who said it's time to make it easier for people to get shots.

Florida Cities Will Benefit From American Rescue Plan

Mar 11, 2021

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which Congress passed on Wednesday and President Biden is expected sign on Friday, includes money for local governments that have lost revenue during the coronavirus pandemic.

In this Feb. 8, 2021, file photo, Florida seniors have their temperatures taken before receiving the second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Jackson Health System in Miami.
MARTA LAVINDIER / ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Carver Center in Jacksonville Beach is opening a COVID-19 vaccination site for ten days starting on Sunday, March 14.

AARP Florida is pressing members of the Legislature to oppose two bills that would grant health care providers some immunity from COVID-19-related lawsuits.

The bills, first introduced by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, would protect health care providers from lawsuits over abuse, neglect and financial exploitation, said Jack McCray, advocacy manager for AARP.

Jacksonville Area CVS Stores To Begin Vaccinations This Week

Mar 9, 2021
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference in Lehigh Acres.
News4Jax

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday announced that 76 more CVS pharmacies in Florida will begin administering vaccines later this week.

Fla. COVID Vaccinations To Start For People 60 And Up March 15

Mar 8, 2021
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks Tuesday, March 2, 2021 during his State of the State address at the Capitol in Tallahassee.
Phil Sears / Associated Press

After focusing for more than two months on vaccinating seniors against COVID-19, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday the state will authorize giving shots to people ages 60 and older.

Photo of twenty dollar bills
Elise Amendola / Associated Press file photo

Florida tax revenues slowed somewhat in January from the final months of 2020 but continued a trend of beating a forecast issued as the state phased out COVID-19 lockdown efforts in the summer.

The Florida House on Friday voted 113-0 to approve a measure (HB 9) that seeks to prevent scams that have taken place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill, a priority of House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, stems from people using authentic-looking websites to run scams that purportedly offer access to COVID-19 vaccines or personal protective equipment.

It would lead to felony charges for people who run the scams and would authorize the attorney general to seek injunctions to shut down websites or other platforms that are used to spread fraudulent information.

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