Unvaccinated Floridians embrace COVID-19 antibody treatment -- but so do the vaccinated

It isn’t just people who are unvaccinated using Florida’s 25 monoclonal antibody treatment clinics, according to Florida officials. About 45% of the more than 135,000 people who have received the COVID-19 treatment were fully vaccinated, state officials estimate. In parts of the state with higher vaccination rates, such as Miami-Dade County, the percentage has been as much as 60%. But do vaccinated people with breakthrough cases and mild symptoms need to get monoclonal antibody treatment? The question of who should be prioritized is drawing debate in the medical community. The pricey drug cock...

Florida Gov. DeSantis vows lawsuit over federal vaccine mandate, hints at state ban on business mandates for workers

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday vowed to sue President Joe Biden’s administration over a mandate on businesses to vaccinate or test workers for COVID-19, but he also suggested the state might need to pass its own law to prevent businesses from imposing their own mandates. “We are going to contest that immediately. We think the state of Florida has standing to do it and we also know businesses that we’re going to work with to contest it,” the Republican governor told reporters in Lee County. “I think the mandate is going lose in court.” Biden last month said he would r...

‘Part science, part art, part luck’: NASA’s Lucy spacecraft set to launch Saturday to explore 7 Trojan asteroids

Hoping to piece together the history of the solar system, NASA is set to embark on one of its most ambitious missions: Lucy, a 12-year journey to observe the primitive asteroids trapped in Jupiter’s path around the sun. NASA will attempt to launch the probe from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s pad 41 on Saturday between 5:34 a.m. and 6:49 a.m. aboard United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket. The weather for the launch is currently 90% go. Named for the hominid fossil discovered in 1974 Ethiopia that scientists came to call Lucy, the spacecraft will fly by seven Trojan asteroids, each one n...

GOP-led redistricting battle in Florida could decide control of Congress

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The balance of power in Florida, and maybe even in Washington, lies in the hands of 160 state lawmakers who have already begun the process to redraw congressional and legislative boundaries. Redistricting is inherently political, as any change in the lines can mean the difference between winning or losing a U.S. House or legislative seat. That’s especially true in Florida, a historic swing state whose constant population surges mean the 2020 U.S. Census data used to capture the changes will reshuffle the political calculus. The stakes are high. Democrats hold a slender 220-...

Crist touts justice reform for Florida, picks up key endorsement

ORLANDO, Fla. — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist unveiled his criminal justice platform and picked up what he believes will be a key endorsement in the region in his bid for the governor’s mansion. Crist, a former governor, also picked up the endorsement of Chris King, a 2018 gubernatorial candidate who later joined Andrew Gillum on the Democratic ticket as lieutenant governor Monday, minutes before the pair joined Orlando-area voting rights activists and elected officials for a roundtable on the subject. Crist faces Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in the Democratic primary, with the winner taking...

Florida redistricting battle begins, with control of Congress potentially in the balance

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The balance of power in Florida, and maybe even in Washington, lies in the hands of 160 state lawmakers who have already begun the process to redraw congressional and legislative boundaries. Redistricting is inherently political, as any change in the lines can mean the difference between winning or losing a U.S. House or legislative seat. That’s especially true in Florida, a historical swing state whose constant population surges mean the 2020 U.S. census data used to capture the changes will reshuffle the political calculus. The stakes are high. Democrats hold a slender 22...

Orlando ranks as most LGBTQ-friendly travel destination in US

ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando is at the top of the list for most LGBTQ-friendly travel destinations in the United States, according to research from travel website ParkSleepFly. The rankings are based on anti-discrimination scores (using data from the Human Rights Campaign), LGBTQ events, safety, hotel prices and the number of bars and clubs. The City Beautiful has 40 bars and clubs per 100,000 people, many hotels to choose from, several annual LGBTQ events — including Come Out With Pride and Disney’s Gay Days — and is considered an accepting city. The survey also considers that Central Florida has ...

Family attorney says sister saw Brian Laundrie twice after his return to Florida, report says

ORLANDO, Fla. — The whereabouts of the still-missing Brian Laundrie’s movements upon his return to Florida without Gabby Petito continue to be dissected as well as statements made by his sister during the September search that ultimately led to finding Petito’s body. Attorney Steve Bertolino, the lawyer that represents the Laundrie family, stated that sister Cassie Laundrie saw her brother Brian twice after his return to his parents’ North Port, Florida, home on Sept. 1, according to a report on WFLA, an NBC affiliate serving Tampa Bay. Brian and Petito had left on a cross-country trip in July...

Report details abuse, racism by former University of Florida coach

Accusations of abuse and racial insensitivity by former Florida women’s basketball coach Cam Newbauer surfaced Monday during a report by The Independent Florida Alligator. The article, authored by student journalist Zachary Huber, states that the school’s University Athletic Association was aware of Newbauer’s behavior and investigated the allegations but failed to mitigate the toxic environment in the coach’s program. The school then announced last spring Newbauer had agreed to a three-year extension including a clause that he would receive one year’s base salary ($283,000) if he were to be t...

4 civilians home safe after SpaceX mission Inspiration4 splashes down off Florida coast

ORLANDO, Fla. — A few dozen sunrises were enough for the crew of Inspiration4, which returned to Earth nearly three days after lifting off from Kennedy Space Center becoming the first all-civilian crew to launch into orbit. The SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience and its four passengers splashed down at 7:06 p.m. in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. Weather remained calm as the deorbit maneuvers ran like clockwork with the final descent taking less than an hour. “Thanks so much SpaceX. It was a heck of a ride for us,” said mission commander Jared Issacman. “We’re just getting started.” Ev...

Girl abducted from Florida at 6 finds her way back to mother 14 years later: police

ORLANDO, Fla. — A 19-year-old girl abducted from Clermont in 2007 reunited with her mother last week in Texas at the U.S.-Mexico border after reaching out to her on social media, the police department said Monday. Angelica Vences-Salgado told Clermont police that she received a message on Sept. 2 from someone claiming to be her missing daughter Jacqueline Hernandez, according to agency spokesperson Sgt. Erin Razo. The teenager told Vences-Salgado that she was in Mexico and requested they meet at the point of entry in Laredo, Texas, on Friday, Razo said. Vences-Salgado contacted Clermont police...

Democrats gave $700,000 to dark-money group that helped Republicans win races in ‘ghost’ candidate scandal

ORLANDO, Fla. — The dark-money nonprofit that worked with Republican strategists last year to promote spoiler independent candidates in important state Senate races in Florida also raised more than $700,000 from organizations controlled by Democratic fundraisers. The nonprofit, Grow United Inc., which is based out of a UPS Store in Denver, provided more than half a million dollars last fall that Republican strategists used to advertise little-known independent candidates who did no campaigning of their own in three key Senate elections — one in Central Florida and two in South Florida. The ads...

Federal judge temporarily strikes down anti-riot law touted by Florida Gov. DeSantis

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A federal judge partially blocked enforcement of Florida’s new anti-riot law Thursday, saying it is too vague and could lead to selective enforcement by police and the arrest of innocent people exercising their right to free speech. The law’s “new definition of ‘riot’ both fails to put Floridians of ordinary intelligence on notice of what acts it criminalizes, and encourages arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement, making this provision vague to the point of unconstitutionality,” U.S. District Judge Mark Walker of Tallahassee wrote in a 90-page ruling. Walker’s order is a ...

Carnival keeps vaccine requirement through end of year, ups testing to within 48 hours before cruise

ORLANDO, Fla. — Carnival Cruise Line announced it will keep its vaccine requirement policies in place for sailings in November and December this year while also announcing more restart plans from U.S. ports including Tampa and Miami, but pushing several other restarts to 2022. The line is advising its guests already booked that they will need to present both proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test at check-in, although it will continue to allot a number of capacity-restricted exemptions to children under 12 as well as others who cannot be vaccinated. Also beginning Sept. 13, followin...

A look at the updated Jungle Cruise at Disney World

ORLANDO, Fla. — Yes, they’ve monkeyed around with Jungle Cruise, one of the original rides at Walt Disney World. But the spirit of the Magic Kingdom attraction remains on board with skippers punning the show. Disney World posted on its Twitter account that work is complete on the Jungle Cruise makeover, which had not forced the ride to close for day guests. New scenes were plopped in over several weeks, and some affected areas were tarped over during the transition. Unless you’re a headhunter fanatic or someone steadfastly against change, the enjoyment level for Jungle Cruise should be similar...

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