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Today’s top Florida stories
• Associated Press: Florida Begins To Restrict COVID Vaccine To State Residents. “Amid shortages of vaccines to protect against the coronavirus, Florida’s top health officer on Thursday advised counties across his state to prioritize available doses to residents, including so-called snowbirds who reside in the state part-time.”
• Miami Herald ($): Why are Miami-Dade, Broward vaccinating Black residents at slower rate than white residents? “Of the roughly 138,000 people who have gotten the vaccines in Miami-Dade, just 8,265 — or 6% — identified as Black, according to the latest state data, released Thursday. Excluding the 19,200 or so people who were marked as “unknown” race, that’s still just 7% of the total, compared to the overall portion of Miami-Dade that is black — 16.7%, according to U.S. Census data.”
• Florida Today ($): They’re older, vulnerable, worried — and frustrated over COVID-19 vaccine rollout. “In short, a nightmare. That’s how many Florida seniors — Brevard residents and legislators among them — describe trying to snag a slot for a COVID-19 vaccine.”
• WUSF: Florida Surpasses 25,000 Deaths From COVID-19. “The percent positivity rate dipped back down below 10%, while the number of people hospitalized statewide continues to decrease.”
• Orlando Sentinel ($): More-contagious COVID-19 variant is spreading in Florida. What does it mean? “While the strain is still being researched, early reports indicate those infected by it aren’t subject to different or more severe symptoms than are typically associated with the pandemic virus, and that it doesn’t lead to more-severe health outcomes, the CDC report states. However, because it transmits easier, it could drastically increase hospitalizations, ICU visits and deaths…”
• WUFT News: Nicole Harris Named 2021 Alachua County Public Schools Teacher Of The Year. “An English and African American history teacher at Gainesville High School, Harris, 34, was introduced during the event by a former student, Briyona Lawrence, a founding member of ‘Canes on Da Mic, a literacy arts and civic engagement organization the instructor established.”
• WFSU: State Colleges & Universities Receive $186 Million Stimulus. “Colleges and Universities across the state are receiving $186 million as part of the stimulus package passed by Congress last month.”
• WMFE: Marion County School Board balks at replacements for Sanford Harmony program. “Three months ago, the Marion County School Board removed the Sanford Harmony social emotional learning — or SEL — program because of how it countered gender stereotyping .A Baptist pastor told them its lessons on gender norms blurred the lines between ‘boyness and girlness.’ On Thursday, the board struggled to replace that free and highly rated curriculum for its students in kindergarten through fifth grade.”
• WUFT News: GPD, City Officials Respond to Recent Traffic Tragedies Near UF Campus. “The crackdown follows a deadly traffic accident last weekend at NW 17th Avenue and West University Avenue. Sophia Lambert, 18, a UF sophomore, died and five others were hospitalized after a car crashed into another moving vehicle while turning onto 17th Avenue.”
• Gainesville Sun ($): Gainesville City Council considers scaling back open-container rules. “Since September, people have been able to stand on all city property and have a beer or mixed drink without being ticketed for violating an open container law, a move city leaders made to try and keep businesses thriving despite the pandemic. People have been drinking outside of establishments on city property.”
• WCJB: Gainesville city commissioners approve Pedestrian Safety Ordinance, restricting panhandling. “Building on the sentiment to do more to protect pedestrians, Gainesville city commissioners voted unanimously to approve a Pedestrian Safety Ordinance that would effectively prevent panhandlers from begging in medians.”
• Ocala Star-Banner ($): Marion County looks to buy land in downtown Ocala. “The County Commission this week unanimously agreed to shift $1.4 million from other funds to finance purchase of the parcels, which are just north of Silver Springs Boulevard and east of Pine Avenue in front of the courthouse.”
• WJCT: St. Augustine Names Stormwater Engineer Jessica Beach As New Chief Resilience Officer. “The city of St. Augustine has named Jessica Beach as its Chief Resilience Officer. On top of her existing duties as the city’s stormwater engineer, Beach will now be leading efforts to protect the city from flooding and sea level rise.”
• Florida Politics: Randy Fine looks to ax in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants. “Rep. Randy Fine filed legislation Thursday to revoke in-state tuition rates for students who immigrated to the United States illegally.”
• New York Times ($): Florida ‘Monkey Whisperer’ Is Charged With Illegal Animal Sales. “Jimmy Wayne Hammonds, who runs an exotic animal ranch, illegally sold rare monkeys, prosecutors said.”
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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.