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The Point, Feb. 15, 2024: State agency investigates HCA North Florida Hospital

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The stories near you

• WUFT News: HCA Florida North Florida Hospital undergoes inspection after surgery shutdowns. "The agency’s Feb. 6 visit to the facility, 6500 W. Newberry Road, comes nearly three weeks after the HCA Florida Healthcare building suspended surgical operations due to a lack of sterilized equipment. Hospital staff reported tools contaminated with blood and tissue, in addition to compromised trays."

• WUFT News: Putnam County moves forward with new school construction and renovations thanks to $300 million bond referendum. "Fifteen months later, two elementary schools are in the preconstruction phase, and one high school is set to undergo upgrades. One of the schools in preconstruction will be in Crescent City, and the other will be in Palatka."

• WUFT News: Parents of Williams Elementary magnet students say they will leave if the new IB program takes effect. "At a Feb. 6 Alachua County School Board meeting, parents of students in the magnet program at Williams Elementary School spoke to the board against the program. They said 94% of families polled said they’d leave Williams if the program is implemented at its projected rate."

• News Service of Florida: UF Health included in plan to boost behavioral health care. "With the bill citing an 'urgent need' to increase the number of doctors and other workers to care for people with mental-health and substance-abuse issues, the Florida Senate on Tuesday began moving forward with a $114 million plan that includes designating behavioral-health teaching hospitals."

• WUFT News: Q&A with Sen. Keith Perry on 2024 Gator Day. "Wednesday marks Gator Day in Tallahassee. It's an annual event held during each legislative session that promotes the University of Florida’s impact on the state’s collegiate education system, research advancements, and community engagement."

• Gainesville Sun ($): Amid complaints, city working to address growing homeless encampment in downtown Gainesville. "The veterinarian and founder of the nonprofit St. Francis Pet Care in downtown Gainesville says the sidewalk in front of her business is now home to more than a dozen tents, open-air drug use, garbage dump and public restroom."

• Mainstreet Daily News: Alachua County delegation bills advance, stall as session winds down. "Alachua County’s five representatives have filed several bills. While some sit stagnant, several bills have moved through committee and will get heard in the upper and lower chamber."

• WUFT News: Free firearm safety classes available through Marion County Sheriff's Office. "Free firearm safety classes are available for current and prospective gun owners. MCSO worked with the Marion County Commission and the United States Concealed Carry Association to create the classes."

• WUFT News: Pickleball growing rapidly in Gainesville, additional courts coming to Tom Petty Park. "To meet this demand, the city has plans to build eight courts at Tom Petty Park. Peter McNiece, project manager for the City of Gainesville, said it has been challenging to keep up with the demand."

• The Point Podcast: Dengue in Brazil, Florida's potential risk. Thursday’s host, Ailee Shanes, speaks with Michael von Fricken, an associate professor of environmental and global health at the University of Florida, on the threat the spread of dengue fever in South America could have on the United States and for Florida in particular. Listen now on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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Around the state

• NPR: Gun violence killed them. Now, their voices will lobby Congress to do more using AI. "The messages will appear on the Shotline, a new online platform that the groups created, where users can individually send the AI-generated audio directly to the offices of members of Congress, demanding further action on gun violence prevention."

• WUSF-Tampa: Environmental groups will sue to increase scrutiny of phosphate mining and production of fertilizer. "Several environmental groups say they plan to sue the federal government for failing to regulate waste produced by phosphate mining. The move comes after they had asked the feds to toughen industry standards."

• Miami Herald: Tallahassee bills aim to kill efforts by counties to establish heat protections. "Exactly a week after lobbyists succeeded in derailing Miami-Dade County’s landmark heat safety legislation, a lawmaker filed a bill in Tallahassee to block similar efforts in the future."

• NPR: Hurricane Idalia shows nature may provide the best shoreline protection. "On Cedar Key over the past several years, a team of researchers from the University of Florida has used a variety of tools to mimic nature. Instead of building seawalls and jetties, they've brought in sand, put in marsh plants and used artificial reefs to encourage the growth of oyster beds offshore."

• News Service of Florida: Should schools teach the history of communism? "The bill would require lessons about communism and its history in all grades of public schools. The requirement would take effect in the 2026-2027 school year, and lessons would have to be 'age appropriate and developmentally appropriate' while covering certain topics."

• WMFE-Orlando: Orange County is among the highest syphilis case rates in Florida. "Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published research that showed syphilis cases had spiked from 2018 to 2022. Cases of babies born with syphilis were a particularly concerning spike."

• WFSU-Tallahassee: The DeSantises call for more funding for cancer research. "During a press conference at the Governor’s Mansion, Gov. Ron DeSantis called on the Florida legislature to allocate $230 million to cancer-centered initiatives championed by his wife, Casey."

• WLRN-Miami: Is it time to make the flamingo Florida's state bird? "The move comes after more than a decade of research concluded flamingos, which once inhabited the state by the thousands and likely nested in parts of the Everglades and Southwest Florida, are rebounding after being hunted to extinction in wetlands that were mostly reconfigured for flood control."

• WUSF-Tampa: Florida may be the setting for a lot of movies. Why they're not filmed here much anymore. "Florida was once considered the Hollywood of the south. Now, movies set in Tampa are actually being filmed in Georgia and other states."

From NPR News

• National: 1 dead, at least 21 injured in shooting at Kansas City Chiefs' Super Bowl rally

• Law: Special counsel asks Supreme Court to move quickly on the Trump immunity case

• World: Rafah was supposed to offer refuge. Now, the city waits for a possible Israeli attack

• Media: Journalists turn to picket lines as the news business ails

• World: In Greece, same-sex couples await a landmark parliamentary vote on marriage equality

• Health: A man died from Alaskapox last month. Here's what we know about the virus

• Business: Empty office buildings litter U.S. cities. What happens next is up for debate

• History: The Lonesome Hearts of 1937

• Health: So you think you know all about the plague?

Kristin Moorehead curated today's edition of The Point.