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The stories near you
• News4Jax: Omicron wave will ‘potentially’ infect most of Florida’s population, UF study finds. “Most Floridians will potentially have been infected with COVID-19 by the time the omicron wave ends, according to a new report from the University of Florida. Researchers also now predict the omicron variant wave will peak this month. The original prediction for February changed after the recent surge of cases.”
• News Service of Florida: Judge weighs arguments on University of Florida policy. “A federal judge sparred Friday with an attorney representing University of Florida leaders in a lawsuit filed by professors challenging a school policy that gives administrators discretion to block faculty from participating in legal cases.”
• The Alligator: City Commission votes to provide city workers with COVID-19 at-home test kits. “The Gainesville City Commission unanimously passed a three-part plan proposed by Commissioner Harvey Ward to fight the COVID-19 Omicron variant. The commissioners plan on using $300,000 of previously allocated American Rescue Plan Act funds to pay for at-home testing kits.”
• Ocala Star-Banner ($): COVID: Ocala schools delay out-of-state field trips, lest students get ‘criminal records.’ “The board, however, announced Thursday that the schools will have to postpone out-of-state field trips because Florida law forbids a mandate on masks and vaccination passports, both of which are required by many states that students were going to visit.”
• Mainstreet Daily News: DeSantis hands $3.5 million check to Lake Butler. “At the press conference held at city hall DeSantis said the money is a response to the damage left in the wake of Hurricane Irma in 2017. It will help with the purchase of generators for six pump stations for Lake Butler’s wastewater collection and pumping system.”
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Around the state
• Politico: DeSantis defends allowing stockpiled Covid tests to expire. “Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie admitted during a Thursday press conference that the tests expired, and DeSantis on Friday sought to explain why the state didn’t distribute them. DeSantis has argued that the stockpile resulted from a lack of demand in the later part of 2021 and blamed President Joe Biden’s administration for not granting extensions to keep the tests eligible — something it did in September for three months.”
• Axios: A record 1,101 manatees died in Florida in 2021. “Florida recorded an astonishing 1,101 manatee deaths last year, according to the state’s final preliminary 2021 mortality report published Wednesday. The number smashes the previous record of 830 set in 2013.”
• NPR News: Actor and comedian Bob Saget dies at 65. “Actor, comedian and director Bob Saget has died at age 65. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Florida said deputies were called to the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando on Sunday after an unresponsive man was found in a hotel room.”
• WFSU: A new proposal has Florida municipalities worried they could be subject to a myriad of lawsuits. “Sen. Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) says businesses should be able to claim damages from local governments if they pass an ordinance that causes a revenue loss of 15% or more.”
• WMFE: Dozens of TSA workers call out sick at Orlando International Airport in a single day as Omicron surges. “Dozens of TSA workers at Orlando International Airport are calling out sick every day as the highly infectious Omicron variant spreads. So far, these new cases haven’t affected wait times at security checkpoints at the airport.”
• Palm Beach Post ($): A lesson from Surfside? Underground assault from sea-level rise puts coastal structures at risk. “Subterranean assaults by rising seas on the ill-fated Champlain Towers South more than doubled over a 26-year period, according to a Florida International University study that measured how often water levels rose higher than the building’s basement floor.”
• TCPalm ($): After Gabby Petito’s death, her father is helping domestic violence victims in Vero Beach. “Joe Petito is concerned that one in three women across the country and one in five men have been victims of domestic violence. He’s hoping educational programs and awareness initiatives will reduce those numbers.”
• WJCT: Does Jacksonville need a convention center? City leaders say no. “A Tampa-based development group pitched a plan Thursday for a new convention center on Bay Street in downtown Jacksonville. But City Council members weren’t thrilled about the idea.”
• Florida Today ($): From NASA to SpaceX, these are the top Florida launches to look forward to in 2022. “This year promises to be just as exciting thanks to launches of new mega rockets, the first step to returning humans to the moon, and a look at a rocket that might someday carry astronauts to Mars.”
From NPR News
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.