Remote learning will still be an option for students in Florida in the second half of the school year. Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran made the announcement Wednesday and will have an update for students and teachers at the end of the month. Statistics have show 1.6 million of the state’s 2.8 million schoolchildren had signed up for in-person instruction back in March and the number has increased with parents and educators concerns over students falling behind.
COVID-19 cases in Florida are now over 900,000 with almost 18,000 Florida residents dying from the virus. On Wednesday 7,925 new cases were reported, bringing the total to 905,248 with 17,731 resident deaths. Free COVID-19 tests are available in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties For more information from the Florida Department of Health the COVID-19 Call Center is open 24/7 at 1-866-779-6121. You can also reach them by email at email@example.com. Email responses will be sent during call center hours. BayCare announced over the weekend that rapid results will be available at nine Urgent Care Centers for asymptomatic individuals. This is one you’ll have to pay for up front at $150 and can make an online appointment for on the BayCare web site.
The FDA gave emergency authorization for the first at home rapid result test kit that can give COVID-19 results in 30 minutes. You will have to have a prescription for the test from Lucira Health. It has also been approved for use in doctor’s offices and testing sites. A new COVID-19 vaccine that could be up to 95% effective was announced on Monday from Moderna. It can be stored for up to 30 days in regular refrigeration, and manufacturers believe they can have 20 million doses available by the end of the year and between 500 million and 1 billion doses by the end of next year. The vaccine from Pfizer plans a similar distribution plan but needs to be stored at much colder temperatures but has also showed an almost 95% rate of effectiveness. The state of Florida sent a distribution plan to the CDC last month that would have the first doses given to groups like first responders, health care workers and those at greatest risk. Public distribution would be last.
The first international non-stop flights since March will land Tampa International Airport today. The upcoming Thanksgiving week is usually the busiest time of the year, but TPA expects almost half the number of travelers this year. You can take advantage of self-service boarding pass scanners for outgoing passengers and COVID-19 testing in the terminal. The site is run by BayCare and has tested 100-200 people a day.
History will be made at this Monday night’s Bucs games against the Rams. It will be an all-black officiating crew for the first time in NFL history. The crew will include referee Jerome Boger, umpire Barry Anderson, down judge Julian Mapp, line judge Carl Johnson, side judge Dale Shaw, field judge Anthony Jeffries and back judge Greg Steed.
Keep an eye on your pets if you live in Westchase. A black coyote has been spotted numerous times and doesn’t seem fazed by residents trying to catch pictures. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said that black coyotes are rare but to keep an eye on small pets especially. There are no plans to try and catch the coyote because the FWC says more will just take its place.
It’s good news for the green sea turtle population in Pinellas County. Three nests were found on county beaches for the first time in ten years this nesting season which ended October 31st. The FWC is still compiling all the data but we can thank Sea Turtle Trackers in St. Pete Beach for finding one of them, and Clearwater Marine Aquarium turtle watchers for the other two.