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The top stories near you
• First Coast News: ‘Nobody else is doing testing like we’re doing testing:’ A behind the scenes look at UF Health COVID-19 testing. “Pathologists at UF Health say their constant testing is helping prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus.”
• News Service of Florida: State Blames Federal Government For Slow COVID Vaccine Rollout In Florida. “The federal government is mostly to blame for what some people see as a slow distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in Florida, state Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz told a House panel Thursday.”
• Gainesville Sun ($): Should restaurant, bar occupancy be lowered again? City, county ponder move. “Alachua County and Gainesville leaders are broaching the possibility of lowering the number of people allowed in bars and restaurants as a coronavirus precaution.”
• Ocala Star-Banner ($): Marion County man wanted in U.S. Capitol attack taken into custody. “The Summerfield man charged in last week’s storming of the U.S. Capitol was taken into custody on Thursday in Marion County. FBI officials said Michael Curzio was arrested about 1 p.m. in a traffic stop near County Road 42 and U.S. 301 in southeast Marion County.”
• WUFT News: How Dixie County Is Working To Improve Its Addiction Recovery Services. “Katrina VanAernam, Dixie County Anti-Drug Coalition executive director, said substance abuse in Dixie County has been evident in recent years. ‘In 2017, Dixie County was number one in the state for opioid-related death,’ she said. VanAernam said the coalition took action to combat opioid abuse by becoming a recipient of the rural community opioid response grant. From the grant, the coalition was able to hire a full-time community project manager who informs the public about substance abuse through education.
• Florida Museum of Natural History: Rare lichen unique to Florida discovered in museum collections, may be extinct. “Scientists have found a new species of fleshy verdigris lichen, thanks to DNA analysis of museum specimens. Misidentified by its original collectors, the lichen is only known from 32 specimens collected in North and Central Florida scrubland between 1885 and 1985. Now the hunt is on to find it in the wild – if it still exists.”
• WMFE: Congressman representing The Villages skipped vote on Trump impeachment. “(U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster), whose 11th District includes The Villages, could not be there and does not believe in voting by proxy. Webster announced on Facebook the day before that he would miss the vote, citing family medical obligations.”
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Around the state today
• Fresh Take Florida: It’s Legal In Florida For Certain Citizens To Carry Guns Inside The State Capitol. “Ahead of warnings about possible armed protests at Florida’s Capitol in Tallahassee so dire that legislative leaders urged employees to stay away, a surprising oddity emerged … Florida law allows citizens with concealed weapons permits – more than 2.2 million people – to carry guns inside the Capitol. They can walk armed under the Rotunda, roam the corridors, visit lawmakers’ offices or scan the city below from the 22nd-floor observation deck. During the spring legislative sessions, as many as 5,000 people may be inside the Capitol. “
• WUSF: Florida’s Coronavirus Positivity Rate Dips Below 10 Percent for the First Time In Over Two Weeks. “The positivity rate of people who tested positive for the coronavirus for the first time dropped to 8.63%, the lowest it’s been since Dec. 27 when it was 9.69%.”
• Sun Sentinel ($): Florida reports 217 new deaths from coronavirus, the highest single day count since August. “The state has now recorded nearly 24,000 people who died from COVID-19.”
• WFLA: Florida emergency chief strongly discourages ‘vaccine tourism.’ “State Emergency Director Jared Moskowitz issued a strongly worded statement on Thursday to discourage Canadians who are chartering flights to Florida to be vaccinated.”
• Spectrum News: People Younger than 65 with Comorbidities Now Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine in Florida. “Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to stress “seniors first” when it comes to who will be prioritized in getting the coronavirus vaccine. But the state is also allowing another vulnerable group of people to start getting access to the shots — people under the age of 65 with comorbidities.”
• Pensacola News Journal ($): ‘So happy’: Pensacola seniors flock to Publix for COVID-19 vaccine. “Older adults in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties started to receive COVID-19 vaccines Thursday at local Publix stores as part of a growing vaccination program between the grocery store chain and the state of Florida.”
• Lakeland Ledger ($): Gov. DeSantis’ office: Publix PAC money not linked to launch of COVID-19 vaccine program. “Retired Publix executive Barney Barnett made a $25,000 donation to DeSantis’ PAC in November. The timing of the recent contributions and the launch of the vaccination program is merely coincidental, DeSantis’ office said.”
• TCPalm ($): Earthjustice lawsuit aims to return federal oversight for Florida wetlands permits. “A lawsuit filed by a coalition of environmental groups Thursday seeks to stop Florida from having sole authority over wetlands permits. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in December stripped itself and the Army Corps of Engineers of oversight in the state process.”
• Tampa Bay Times ($): Florida’s Ashley Moody disavows politics, but fights Trump’s battles. “The state attorney general joined lawsuits backing Trump’s election challenge. What will it mean for the Republican rising star?”
• Orlando Weekly: Pasco County’s gigantic mystery hole is making a comeback in 2021, because of course it is. “Pasco County Emergency Management says a menacing sinkhole near Spring Haven Boulevard in New Port Richey has reopened, and it’s grown about another four feet.”
• Orlando Sentinel ($): ‘It was torture’: 11-year-old boy saved from abuse by server at Orlando restaurant, cops say. “The server flashed a handwritten note to a little boy at her table. He wore glasses, a mask and a hoodie, but bruises peeked out from behind all of them. ‘ARE YOU OK?’ the note said.”
• WTSP: Once homeless, Lutz businessman now operating plant-based cafe. “It wasn’t long ago that Robby Graham had very little to smile about. Now, it’s tough to wipe a grin off his face. … The menu is all plant-based. Graham switched his diet to plant-based after a ‘widowmaker’ heart attack he suffered while at the gym on Sept. 2, 2018. He had a stent in his left coronary artery. The diet changes that followed allowed him to lose 30 pounds and regain energy.”
• Florida Times-Union ($): Urban Meyer agrees to deal to become Jaguars next head coach. “The Jaguars reached an agreement Thursday to hire Urban Meyer as their next head coach, replacing Doug Marrone, the franchise announced.”
From NPR News
• National: ‘We Cannot Afford Inaction’: Biden Unveils $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Plan
• National: Former U.S. Olympic Swimmer Klete Keller Charged In Capitol Attack
• Science: Pandemic Causes Historic — But Fleeting— Drop In U.S. Climate Emissions
• World: Israel To Start Vaccinating Palestinian Prisoners Next Week
• Health: Why Billions In Food Aid Hasn’t Gotten To Needy Families
• Health: Mask-Wearing, Social Distancing Improve, But Too Slowly, Survey Shows
• Politics: State Republican Parties Blast Members Of GOP Who Voted To Impeach Trump
About today’s curator
I’m Ethan Magoc, a news editor at WUFT. Originally from Pennsylvania, I’ve found a home telling Florida stories. I’m part of a team searching each morning for local and state stories that are important to you; please send feedback about today’s edition or ideas for stories we may have missed to firstname.lastname@example.org.