6 to Know: What to Watch For as COVID Hospitalizations Reach Near Record Levels – NBC 6 South Florida

It’s Wednesday, August 18th – and NBC 6 has the top stories for the day.

No. 1 – The new school year is here in Broward County as students return to campuses Wednesday for the first day of classes.

Last year, roughly half the students in Broward County Public Schools stayed home for remote learning. This year, everyone’s expected back in the classroom – which creates challenges of its own. Along with books and pens, many of those students will also be packing face masks in accordance with the district’s mask mandate. The county’s school board decided last week to require masks for students and teachers for the beginning of the upcoming school year, amid an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases in the county and throughout the state. The district will have a new interim leader after Dr. Vickie Cartwright was chosen last month. In a 5-4 split decision vote, the school board chose Cartwright to be the temporary boss in the time between Robert Runcie’s departure and the hiring of a permanent superintendent.

No. 2 – The Florida State Board of Education voted to direct Education Commissioner to consider sanctions against Broward and Alachua counties over their mask mandates.

The vote was taken during an emergency meeting Tuesday. State Board of Education Chair, Tom Grady, asked the board to authorize and direct the commissioner to investigate further and take all the legal steps to enforce the board rules of the Department of Health and laws that have been “duly enacted by the legislature in accordance with the Florida Constitution.” “If the State Board of Education determines that a district is unwilling or able to comply with the law or state board rule, it is authorized to impose sanctions in order to secure compliance, including the withholding of funds and reporting to the legislature,” the memo read in part.

No. 3 – Passengers returning from a Carnival cruise are frustrated by COVID-19 protocols they said they were unaware of prior to boarding.

The passengers said it is a tough lesson they learned themselves and want to make sure others know what to expect before setting sail. NBC 6 spoke with some passengers who were all vaccinated but traveled with kids under 12 who were not. They said they did not expect the trip to be so strict and they wish they took a closer look at the policies. To hear why, click here for the story from NBC 6 reporter Julie Leonardi.

No. 4 – The City of Hollywood will be limiting access to city buildings and indoor facilities amid a spike in COVID-19 cases across the state.

Officials said Tuesday that all city facilities, including Hollywood City Hall and various community centers, will be closed to the public for indoor activities starting Monday, August 23. The closure will remain in effect until further notice, according to a news release. Outdoor recreation facilities, such as playgrounds, sports fields and tennis courts, will remain open, the release said. Parks, the marina and the Driftwood Community Pool will also remain open. Officials said the new ruled will be implemented amid a surge in COVID-19 infections and the elevated risk to public health.

No. 5 – Tuesday brought a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations according to the Florida Hospital Association. 16,521 people are in Florida hospitals with the coronavirus, up 773 from the day before according to the organization. 

Doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators across Florida become increasingly concerned with the steady stream of unvaccinated patients brought in but the delta variant. About 8.2% of the state’s ICU beds are available per the association. President of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, Justin Senior, says most hospitals have done the first three. At this point, he says, hospitals are not putting up tents outside to handle patients. Senior says staffing is the primary concern for hospital systems. To hear what you need to know as the hospitals get closer to capacity, click here for the story from NBC 6 investigator Willard Shepard.

No. 6 – The situation in Haiti was made worse Monday with heavy rains in areas where people have lost their family members, and there are hundreds wounded – many of them in rural areas.  

Tuesday evening, NBC 6 saw just what it takes to save them. A little girl injured in the earthquake was being moved onto a stretcher. Her face capturing the distress of this region and the plea for help. She’s just one of the people who was hurt. On the 35-minute flight back to Port Au Prince, the three whose lives were turned upside down when the ground started rumbling Saturday tried to remain calm and those on board with them tried to lift their spirits. NBC 6 investigator Willard Shepard was one of those on board – click here for his report you will see Only on 6.

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