ORLANDO, Fla. – Eight Florida school districts, including Orange and Brevard counties, found not in compliance with state COVID-19 measures Thursday will face financial consequences if they do not comply.
The State Board of Education backed a recommendation Thursday by Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to financially penalize school boards in Alachua, Brevard, Broward, Duval, Leon, Miami-Dade, Orange and Palm Beach counties.
Corcoran recommended that each of the eight districts be given 48 hours to rescind mask requirements and comply with a revamped state Department of Health rule that puts student mask decisions “at the parent or legal guardian’s sole discretion.”
Earlier this month, an appeals court reinstated the governor’s ban on mask mandates for students. There was also an emergency rule revised by the Florida surgeon general to require that parents be able to opt students out of school-mask requirements but includes a change that takes aim at some school districts that only allow opt-outs for documented medical reasons.
Orange County Public Schools has a universal mask mandate in place through October while the Brevard County School Board approved a policy this week that would give parents the choice to opt-out their children from the mandate only if COVID-19 spread lessens. According to the school board, the modified mask mandate would only occur when community spread dips to 50 cases per 100,000. The new rule must be authorized by Brevard County Schools Superintendent Mark Mullins.
Parents from these two counties also filed an emergency petition this week over student mask mandates, asking an appellate court to require the school boards to follow Florida law on mask mandates and opt outs.
Younger children are also closer to becoming eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine after Pfizer submitted officially asked the U.S. government to authorize its vaccine for children 5-11.
The Food and Drug Administration must decide whether the shots are safe and effective in younger children. And if it gets FDA emergency use authorization and then recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, experts say some children 5-11 could be fully vaccinated by Thanksgiving.
As vaccination efforts continue, the federal government outlined procedures earlier this week for employees to request medical or religious exemptions from President Joe Biden’s mandate.
[READ THE LAST COVID-19 REPORT: COVID-19 cases decline in Florida for 5th straight week]
Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on Oct. 8.
The Florida Department of Health reported 25,792 new cases on Friday that occurred during the past week, bringing the state’s overall total to 3,601,755 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020. That is an average of 3,684 new infections reported per day.
Even though the Florida DOH released numbers once a week, the state is still reporting daily infections to the CDC. Below is the CDC daily number, which is 24 hours behind.
Florida reported 147 new virus-related deaths Friday from the past week but the cumulative death toll of 56,667 actually shows there have been 1,368 new deaths added to the state total. The state has not provided any information as to when these deaths occurred.
The state stopped reporting the number of non-residents who died in Florida with its new weekly reporting method.
The state Agency for Health Care Administration deleted its current COVID-19 hospitalization database and the state is no longer reporting how many patients have been hospitalized with the virus. However, Florida is still required to report that information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the CDC continues to release that information online. The most recent hospital numbers show 4,474 adult and 88 pediatric patients in Florida.
The DOH reported the percent of positive results from coronavirus tests was 4.8% but did not provide how many people were tested during the past week. Health officials say the rate should remain between 5% and 10% to prove a community has a hold of the virus and is curbing infections.
The Florida Department of Health began releasing a daily report in December 2020 on COVID-19 vaccines administered throughout the state. In the new weekly reports, the state is combining the vaccination data with the COVID-19 infection numbers.
FDOH reports 13,718,950 people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. These individuals either received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or completed a two-shot series.
During the past week, 67,544 new people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
Central Florida region
The state is no longer providing a breakdown of county-by-county deaths or hospitalizations as of June 3. The Florida DOH is also no longer providing county numbers for non-residents who have tested positive, causing the total case numbers to drop significantly, in some counties by more than 1,000 cases.
For example, with non-resident positive cases as of June 3, Orange County had reported a total of 143,198 but with the state’s new reporting method, the county has 141,941 total cases, a difference of 1,257 positive cases.
Below is the Central Florida region breakdown of new cases and new vaccination numbers between Oct. 1 - Oct. 7, 2021.
|County||Total cases as of Oct. 7||New cases since Oct. 1||Total people vaccinated||Percent of 12+ population vaccinated|