The Point, March 8, 2021: Florida’s COVID-19 Hospitalizations, Positivity Rate Drop To Lowest So Far In 2021

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The top stories near you

• WUFT News: With Affordable Care Act Special Enrollment Period Underway, Insurance Agents In Alachua County Say Engagement Is Slow. “Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, insurance agent Kayla Silcox said the reaction to the special enrollment period has been much slower than anticipated.”

• Gainesville Sun ($): University of Florida faculty miffed over COVID vaccine-rules snub. “New orders announced Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from President Joe Biden and Gov. Ron DeSantis have now added teachers and school staff, regardless of age, to the priority list — but only those working in K-12 education.”

• The Alligator: One dead following shootout with Alachua County Sheriff’s deputies. “Alachua County Sheriff’s Office deputies shot and killed a person during a shoot-out in East Gainesville Friday. At about 4:07 p.m., ACSO deputies arrived at 2325 SE 46th Terrace, a house near Eastside High School, after they received a call about gunshots, sheriff’s office spokesperson Sgt. Frank Kinsey said.”

• WMFE: 3,500 Seniors Getting Vaccines At On Top Of The World Near Ocala. “Gov. Ron DeSantis stopped by On Top of the World near Ocala Friday to celebrate another temporary distribution site providing coronavirus vaccines to seniors.”

• WUFT News: Native Burial Ground New Site For Dollar General Store In Micanopy. “Alachua County and Micanopy town officials are receiving opposing messages regarding a new Dollar General. Although plans for the store are not yet finalized, it may be built next to a Native American burial ground.”

• Spotlight On Levy County Government: Williston Hopes to Establish Broadband Internet City Utility. “City Hall officials were hurrying this week to complete an application for a privately funded grant of up to $180,000 that would establish a Williston broadband internet utility named C.O.W Link. C.O.W. stands for City of Williston.”

• News4Jax: Putnam County part of Florida’s pilot program to expand vaccines in rural areas. “The state is partnering with Health Hero Florida, an immunization provider, to implement the program in Putnam and several other counties, including Highlands, Glades, Levy, Dixie, and Gilchrist.”

• WUFT News: Florida Plant Nursery Businesses Grow During Stifling Pandemic. “According to Riley Blitch, Garden Gate Nursery’s owner, revenue increased 28% since last year. He’s used that money to do things he said he wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.”


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Around the state today

• WUSF: Florida’s Coronavirus Positivity Rate Nears 5%, Lowest In Months. “The last time the positivity rate in Florida was lower was Oct. 25 when it was 4.71 percent, according to a tally kept by WUSF.”

• NBC-2 Fort Myers: So when could all Floridians be vaccinated? “The average number of vaccines that are delivered per day in Florida is 39,905 doses. If we use that average number, it would take 459 days from March 5, which is 15 months, for every Floridian to have access to the vaccine. That puts us at June 7, 2022 — if vaccine distribution were to stay at the same production pace it is now. But, experts believe more vaccines will be produced, with quicker distribution times, over the next few months.”

• WFLA-Tampa: Hillsborough County forced to turn away hundreds of residents who want vaccine but aren’t yet eligible. “The problem is a number of people in Hillsborough County are making appointments to be vaccinated even though they don’t meet current state guidelines to get the vaccine.”

• News4Jax: A federal vaccine site in Jacksonville can handle 500 people a day. Only 29 got the shot Thursday. “As more vaccines become available, the demand in Duval County seems to be dropping.”

• Miami Herald ($): Hospital and county contradict DeSantis’ claim about role in Ocean Reef vaccine. “After Gov. Ron DeSantis claimed “the state was not involved” in arranging for more than 1,200 Keys residents in the wealthy Ocean Reef community to get accelerated access to the COVID-19 vaccine in January, both Baptist Health South Florida — which supplied the doses — and Monroe County have contradicted his claims, saying the distribution was authorized by the state.”

• WLRN: ‘Nothing Is Accidental In Nature.’ Why Scientists Are Racing To Save Sea Urchins. “Florida researchers hoping to save coral reefs have begun depositing groups of sea urchins at a Key Biscayne restoration site to see if they can help cure ailing reefs.”

• Politico: Student opposition mounts against scaling back Bright Futures scholarships. “Opposition campaigns have sprouted on social media as students claim the legislation — which aims to tailor the coveted financial aid to degrees that lead directly to jobs — would result in more college debt and limit their career choices. In one week, an online petition fighting the measure eclipsed 53,000 signatures with the bill teed up for its first hearing on Tuesday.”

• News Service of Florida: ‘Grandparent Tuition Waiver’ Gets Florida House Go-Ahead. “A proposal is advancing in the House that would allow high-performing students who live outside of Florida to pay in-state tuition rates at public universities if their grandparents reside in the Sunshine State.”

• WFSU: Police Could Observe Crowds Of 50 Or More With Drones Under Bill Heading To Senate. “Police could use drones to survey crowds of 50 or more people under a bill advancing through the legislature. The measure is raising privacy concerns from a watchdog group.”

• New York Times ($): DeSantis Is Ascendant and Cuomo Is Faltering. “About a year into the pandemic, Mr. Cuomo has fallen from his perch as a liberal icon. Mr. DeSantis has ascended to conservative stardom. And New Yorkers and Floridians are still mourning, masking and waiting for brighter days.”

• WFLA-Tampa: Brandon man indicted for death of deputy killed 1 shift away from retirement. “Travis Garrett, 28, will be prosecuted for first-degree premeditated murder of a law enforcement office in the death of Corporal Brian LaVigne.”

• Associated Press: Sunshine State dims for Dems amid election losses, cash woes. “Democrats may delight in their brightening prospects in Arizona and Georgia, and may even harbor glimmers of hope in Texas, but their angst is growing in Florida, which has a reputation as a swing state but now favors Republicans and could be shifting further out of reach for Democrats.”


From NPR News

• National: ‘Why Us?’: A Year After Being Laid Off, Millions Are Still Unemployed

• Politics: Senate Passes Milestone Coronavirus Relief Package. What Happens Next?

• Business: Hold That Drill: Why Wall Street Wants Energy Companies To Pump Less Oil, Not More

• Race: For The First Time In 56 Years, A ‘Bloody Sunday’ Without John Lewis

• Race: Derek Chauvin, Charged With George Floyd’s Death, May Face Additional Murder Charge

• World: The Dalai Lama Gets A COVID-19 Shot And Urges Others To Get Vaccinated

• Health: Study Finds Wildfire Smoke More Harmful To Humans Than Pollution From Cars

• Health: As States Ease Restrictions, Study Says On-Premises Dining Linked To COVID-19 Spread

• Health: Are We Raising Unhelpful, Bossy Kids? Here’s The Fix

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 emagoc@wuft.org.

About WUFT News

Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news @wuft.org

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