The first wave of COVID-19 vaccines have arrived in Florida. Frontline health care workers and long term care facilities are slated to be the first to have access to the vaccinations.

In Cape Coral, the senior living community Atrium at Liberty Park is getting the message out to residents and staff that the vaccines will be available soon.

Executive Director Robert Lord said the facility will not require residents and staff to get vaccinated.

A second school in Panama City is sending students home after a recent outbreak in COVID-19 infections.

All students at Southport Elementary School will complete the last four days of instruction before winter break virtually after nearly a quarter of the student body was ordered to quarantine at home. Starting on Tuesday, teachers and support staff will work from their classroom, streaming video lessons via Canvas for the rest of the week.

Florida Tops 20,000 COVID-19 Resident Deaths

Dec 14, 2020
Rachel Moore writes a tribute to her cousin Wilton "Bud" Mitchell who died of COVID-19 at a symbolic cemetery created to remember and honor lives lost to COVID-19, in the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami.
Lynne Sladky / Nov. 24, 2020, Associated Press file photo

As Gov. Ron DeSantis and health officials celebrated the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, Florida reported that more than 20,000 residents have died from the disease, offering a sobering reminder of its continuing toll.

Pointing to what they called “baseless” legal arguments, lawyers for Gov. Ron DeSantis have urged an appeals court to sanction a Northwest Florida attorney who filed a lawsuit to try to force DeSantis to close beaches to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Santa Rosa Beach attorney Daniel Uhlfelder drew national media attention during the pandemic by dressing as the Grim Reaper and criticizing the state’s handling of COVID-19.

Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Spring Hill), one of the state’s three most-powerful political leaders, has tested positive for COVID-19.

The 54-year-old Simpson underwent testing for the virus on Sunday, in advance of a Monday afternoon meeting of Florida electors.

The electors were slated to gather in the Senate chamber to cast ballots for President Donald Trump, who defeated President-elect Joe Biden in Florida by more than three percentage points in last month’s election.

Jacksonville Classical Academy's Facebook page / Via News4Jax

Parents with students at Jacksonville Classical Academy, a charter school in Mixon Town, said they were surprised to learn that the school made the decision to end its virtual learning program starting in January.

'Magical' Moment As COVID-19 Vaccine Arrives In Florida

Dec 14, 2020
Chris O'Meara / Associated Press

The first wave of coronavirus vaccinations began in Florida on Monday, with health-care workers in Tampa and Jacksonville among the first to get inoculated.

UF Health Jacksonville CEO Leon Haley became the first person in Jacksonville Monday to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

UF Health Jacksonville hospital has taken delivery of the Pfizer vaccine for coronavirus.

Lawmakers in Congress are debating a second COVID-19 relief bill, and with that, more funds for the Paycheck Protection Program. In Florida, small businesses have exhausted money from the program and are waiting for more aid.

Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio says the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was a success despite its initial hiccups.

"It is clear that the Paycheck Protection Program has been the most, single most effective part of the CARES Act that was passed and one of the most effective federal relief programs in modern history," Rubio says.

 Rebekah Jones

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement released the full body camera footage from the raid at the home of the state’s former COVID-19 data curator, Rebekah Jones.

Democrats Attack DeSantis On Coronavirus Response As Unemployment Claims Tick Up

Dec 11, 2020

Democrats increased criticism of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ handling of the coronavirus pandemic Thursday, as first-time unemployment claims in Florida were up last week from the holiday-shortened previous week.

The U.S. Department of Labor estimated 25,012 initial jobless claims were submitted in Florida during the week that ended Dec. 5, up from 23,063 claims during the previous week, which included Thanksgiving.

DeSantis: Florida To Receive Nearly 180,000 COVID-19 Vaccines

Dec 11, 2020

Florida will receive 179,400 doses of Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine in its first shipment from the federal government, Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a video recording released Thursday evening.

More than half of the vaccines --- 97,500 doses --- will be sent to five Florida hospitals to be administered to high-contact and high-exposure health care personnel, DeSantis said.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi
Mark Lennihan / 2019 Associated Press file photo

Saying drivers and delivery people have been a “lifeline to their communities,” Uber’s chief executive officer on Thursday asked Gov. Ron DeSantis to prioritize the COVID-19 vaccine for the online platform’s workers.

DeSantis Outlines Florida's Vaccination Plan

Dec 9, 2020
Gov. Ron DeSantis
The Florida Channel

Participating in a White House vaccine summit on Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis outlined what appeared to be the state’s final COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan.

More Floridians are dying from drug overdoses amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report from the Orlando-based advocacy group Project Opioid.

The report looks at preliminary data from the Florida Department of Health and found overdose deaths between March and August of this year went up by at least 43 percent compared to the same time last year. Deaths in the month of May nearly doubled.

In 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law three new toll roads that would run from the state's border with Georgia down to Southwest Florida, and three task forces appointed to study the roads delivered their reports to the governor and legislature in November. The project is called M-CORES, or Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance.

A patient care room, computer equipment and multiple monitors in a small room next to a bed with no sheets
Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press

As the number of COVID-19 cases rises in Duval County, so too is the number of people being treated in local hospitals.

As of Tuesday evening, 254 COVID patients are in Jacksonville hospital beds  — 20 more than on Monday.

Chris O'Meara / Associated Press

An appeals court has tossed out a challenge by the Leon County Republican Party chairman to a county requirement that people wear face masks to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

West Nassau High School
West Nassau High School / Facebook

More than 200 West Nassau High School students were quarantined last week after roughly 20 classmates tested positive for COVID-19, the Nassau County School District confirmed Tuesday.

UF Health Jacksonville hospital
UF Health Jacksonville

Florida’s top public health official said Tuesday that five Florida hospitals, including UF Health Jacksonville, could receive COVID-19 vaccinations as early as next week.

Florida Readies For Vaccinations At Long-Term Care Facilities

Dec 3, 2020
An experimental Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is pictured in July.
Hans Pennink / Associated Press

Florida on Thursday ramped up plans to vaccinate seniors for COVID-19 by publishing two emergency rules that require nursing homes and assisted living facilities to allow representatives from the state health department, CVS and Walgreens into the facilities." class="wysiwyg-break drupal-content" src="/sites/all/modules/contrib/wysiwyg/plugins/break/images/spacer.gif" title="<--break-->">

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced plans Wednesday to roll out a coronavirus vaccine in as soon as two weeks.

In a 3-minute video message, DeSantis said he anticipates FDA approval for the Pfizer vaccine next week, and the Moderna vaccine the following week.

Once the vaccine is available, the governor said residents in long-term care facilities will get first priority.

FSU Adds Duke, Wake Forest To Football Schedule

Dec 3, 2020

Two games have been added to Florida State University’s football schedule. The Seminoles will play at home against Duke on Dec. 12. And they’ll take on Wake Forest on Dec. 19. FSU Head Coach Mike Norvell says the whole team is thrilled.

“I guess that’s the thing that I was most pleased of is that starting Sunday all focus goes to our continued improvement and then focus on game-planning for Duke," said Norvell. "It’s definitely a joy to know that those guys are going to get at least one more opportunity there out on the field at Doak and we’re just excited about it.”

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is travelling the state visiting restaurants and their owners to push for COVID-19 liability protections for small businesses. It’s a part of growing calls to shield businesses from COVID-19 lawsuits ahead of the state’s 2021 legislative session.

Sen. Keith Perry joined Patronis on the first stop of what the the CFO has dubbed the “Restaurant Business Liability Tour.”

Florida Appeals Courts Upholds Remote Hearings Amid Pandemic

Dec 3, 2020

In a legal test of remote court proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic, a South Florida appeals court Wednesday rejected arguments that using Zoom technology in a probation-violation hearing would violate a defendant’s constitutional rights.

The decision by a three-judge panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal came after a series of orders by the Florida Supreme Court that for months have led to court proceedings being held remotely across the state to try to prevent the spread of the disease.

Gov. DeSantis Wants Feds To Approve Unemployment Relief, Ease Travel Restrictions

Dec 2, 2020

Gov. Ron DeSantis wants Congress to approve more unemployment relief and for the federal government to ease coronavirus travel restrictions from Europe and Brazil.

DeSantis blamed federal policies related to trying to curb the spread of COVID-19 for many people losing jobs and said Washington should have “done a relief package months ago.” He made the comments Monday during an appearance in Central Florida, where theme parks and other tourism businesses have been hit hard economically during the pandemic.


On April 1, just weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, 7,773 people in Florida had tested positive for the insidious disease. By July 1, that total was up to 158,997. On Oct. 1, it had leaped to 709,144.

DeSantis Says Schools Will Remain Open In Spring, But Parents Will Have Choice

Dec 1, 2020

Public school instruction will continue in-person and online this spring as coronavirus cases continue to increase across Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said Monday.

Appearing at Boggy Creek Elementary School in Kissimmee, DeSantis supported a new order by Corcoran that will keep the online option available and provide protections for school-district funding.

In this Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 photo, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine lab technician processes blood samples from volunteers taking part in testing the NIH funded Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Miami.
Taimy Alvarez / Associated Press

Dr. Pauline Rolle with the Florida Department of Health in Duval County told a Jacksonville City Council committee Monday that she expects the first batch of a COVID-19 vaccine to be given out by the end of this year.


Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1, is recognized across the world as a way to give back. LifeSouth Community Blood Centers is hoping people will consider a donation beyond money this week.