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Today’s top Florida stories
• News Service of Florida: Florida Senate Committee Approves Major Changes To Proposed Toll Road Through North Central Florida. “The bill calls for extending the turnpike west from Wildwood toward the Suncoast Parkway and running the Suncoast Parkway north by linking it with U.S. 19.”
• WMFE: Gov. DeSantis Says Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Shipment Will Be Enough For All Police, Firefighters And Teachers 50 And Up To Get Shots. “DeSantis says vaccination pods could be set up in Pasco, Pinellas, Lee, and Broward counties to start out with. He says daycare workers in the state who are 50 and up could soon be lining up to get their shots at these pods, too.”
• Miami Herald ($): Wealthy Keys enclave received COVID vaccines in January before much of the state. “As Florida’s eldest residents struggled to sign up to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, nearly all those aged 65 years and older in a wealthy gated enclave in the Florida Keys had been vaccinated by mid-January, according to an emailed newsletter obtained by the Miami Herald.”
• Spectrum News: “We Hear You”: DEO Head Dane Eagle Seeks Funding, Fixes to Persistent Unemployment Problems. “The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has been under siege the past year, as it tries to tend to an understaffed, out of date, and overwhelmed unemployment system. Even a year later, problems still persist.”
• WUSF: Report: Super Bowl Not a ‘Super Spreader’ Event, But Actual Cases Likely Underreported. “People refusing to cooperate with contact tracing, young, asymptomatic people not getting tested, and logistical challenges of tracking COVID-19 likely led to Super Bowl-linked cases being underreported.”
• WFSU: Florida Lawmakers Want To Shield Health Care Providers From COVID-19 Related Claims. “During the early parts of the coronavirus pandemic, health care workers were asked to do the best they could with what they had. Across the country that meant improvising masks and other protective equipment, stretching staffing levels and sometimes depending on experimental methods for treating COVID-19 patients. Now, lawmakers want to protect medical facilities and nursing homes from liability claims stemming from those unusual circumstances.”
• News Service of Florida: House Moves Forward On Violent Protest Crackdown. “The proposal would also allow citizens to challenge reductions in local law-enforcement budgets and give the governor and Cabinet the authority to overturn such reductions.”
• WUFT News: Running Regas: Dunnellon Native Seeks Paralympic Glory In Tokyo. “As he lies on his back in the shadows on the hot track after a rigorous day of training, Woods closes his eyes and rests. The 39-year-old can see his future this summer in Tokyo, representing the United States again as a Paralympian. He can see his 13-year-old son, LJ, watching and cheering him on. … Woods is not your average athlete. The Dunnellon native was born with a congenital anomaly that didn’t allow his tibia and fibula to properly develop. His mother, Deborah, was given the option to either amputate both his legs at age two or six, and she opted for the earlier age so he wouldn’t know anything else.”
• Ocala Star-Banner ($): Ocala council adjusts wording in ‘open lodging’ ordinance. “With no discussion or debate, the Ocala City Council on Tuesday unanimously adopted an amendment to the city’s trespass and unlawful lodging ordinance. No one from the public offered a comment about the amendment, which is designed to make sure the ordinance is in keeping with a recent federal court ruling.”
• WUFT News: Children’s Trust Of Alachua County Finalizes Summer Plans To Help Families. “The Children’s Trust of Alachua County just passed the two-year mark since its creation, and the faith voters placed in its leadership is starting to produce results. The initial visibility of its most prominent efforts so far will appear in the coming months, when it helps to add more summer programming in the county at a cost of $500,000.”
• Florida Politics: Dog chaining bill advances in Senate. “The Senate Agriculture Committee gave its approval to the bill (SB 650), which would stop the tethering of dogs or cats to stationary objects. The legislation would forbid leaving cats and dogs tied outside during severe weather. But it would also establish regulations for lawful tethering of animals.”
• CBS Miami: ‘Once In A Lifetime Event’: Florida Man Spots 5 Elusive Florida Panthers In Single Day, 4 At The Same Time. “The FWC states there are only about 120-230 adult Florida panthers left in the wild, making them one of the rarest and endangered mammals in the world.”
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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.