The Point, Dec. 1, 2021: ‘Main thing is not to panic’ about omicron’s possible presence in Florida, expert says


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The stories near you

• WCJB: City of Gainesville has major debt problems per FL Auditor General’s preliminary audit. “The auditor suggests that the city reevaluate how much GRU spends on the general fund transfer. GRU’s operating revenue is more than $410 million and the annual transfer is more than $36 million.”

• WUFT News: UF Jewish community celebrates Hanukkah. “The first night of the eight-night celebration of Hanukkah began Sunday. Jewish organization Chabad UF hosted a menorah-lighting event Monday night to commemorate the start of the holiday.”

• WUFT News: The heartwarming story behind Hawthorne’s holiday celebration of lights. “The Poes felt compelled to create a large display after the man most known in the community for his holiday decorations could no longer hang lights, set out train tracks or create his magnificent presentations.”

• WUFT News: Gainesville Regional Soccer League looks forward to Forrest Park renovations. “Drainage is one of the many issues Gainesville Regional Soccer League is hoping to fix with a $2.1 million budget for renovations the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs approved during a meeting in March.”

• WUFT News: Arc of Alachua County marks decades of celebrating people with special needs. “In 1966, parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities saw the need to create a space that could offer them appropriate services. Today, The Arc of Alachua County is one of the largest nonprofit organizations of its kind in the county, serving about 300 adults with disabilities and providing them with resources so they can fully participate in the community. Out of approximately 29 Arcs in Florida, The Arc of Alachua County is the state’s fifth-largest. This October marked its 55th year.”

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Around the state

• Tampa Bay Times ($): Omicron variant may already be in Florida. What happens next? “Based on the global spread of the omicron variant it is almost certainly already in the U.S., said University of Florida biostatistician Ira Longini Jr., ‘and probably even in Florida by now. The main thing is not to panic,’ Longini said. ‘It’s just something that needs to be dealt with in a measured, deliberate way. But sitting back and doing nothing is really unconscionable.'”

• NPR News: Despite omicron, Ron DeSantis remains firmly against lockdowns and vaccine mandates. “Florida’s governor is reacting to the omicron variant much differently than New York’s. Messaging around how to respond has varied widely by state, depending on politics and recent COVID burdens.”

• Florida Today ($): Florida vaccination rates slowly creep up as case numbers continue to drop. “Between Nov. 19 and Nov. 25, 69% of the eligible population in Florida— those ages five and older — were vaccinated. This marked an increase of only one percentage point since the week prior.”

• WLRN: Did this Republican congressional candidate cast an illegal vote? Florida can’t tell. “After weeks of asking, neither the Florida Department of State nor the Florida Department of Corrections was able to deny or confirm if Republican congressional candidate Jason Mariner cast a legal ballot or not.”

• WFSU: Florida could adopt tech to curb algal blooms under bill moving forward in the legislature. “A bill that passed its first committee stop today would require the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to procure technology capable of removing harmful algae, toxins, and nutrients from water bodies.”

• Florida Politics: ‘Our generation’s big forever chemical’: Senate panel crafts bill to tackle PFAS. “On Tuesday, the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee approved a bill that would have Florida start looking at how to get rid of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and related chemicals possibly still in use in Florida, and those already contaminating facilities, soil and groundwater throughout the Sunshine State.”

• WTSP-Tampa Bay: Cause of death of 7 penguins at Florida Aquarium remains unknown. “It may never be known how seven African penguins died at The Florida Aquarium. A team of more than 10 veterinarians and testing at five different laboratories could not determine a definitive cause of death for the handful of birds that was found dead in early July, a spokesperson said in a statement.”

From NPR News

• Health: As U.S. races to detect and track omicron, patchwork surveillance makes that tough

• Health: An FDA panel supports Merck COVID drug in mixed vote

• Health: Pfizer wants the FDA to let 16- and 17- year-olds get a COVID-19 booster shot

• World: Barbados has removed the Queen of England as head of state and is now a republic

• Weather: The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season ends as the third most active year ever

• National: CNN suspends Chris Cruomo over his role helping his brother

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

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