It’s Thursday, December 31st - and NBC 6 has the top stories for the day.
No. 1 - Just hours after they began taking appointments to distribute the COVID vaccine to members of the public who meet certain criteria, Broward Health said they have reached full capacity for at least the next month.
In a statement, Broward Health said they are not taking appointment requests at this time and all appointment availabilities are taken until February. Officials from Broward Health said they received over 100,000 calls from residents trying to make an appointment. Dr. Aldo Calvo, Medical Director of Ambulatory Services with Broward Health, added the agency must look at a variety of issues - including staffing and the capacity at each location - before opening up more appointment times.
No. 2 - Musician Emilio Estefan and Miami Dolphins legend Nat Moore were among the first local residents to get inoculated Wednesday as Jackson Health System began to roll out the COVID-19 vaccination process for members of the elderly community.
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Officials began Wednesday distributing the vaccine to more than 10,000 patients ages 65 and older receiving care at their facilities who are at special risk of contracting the virus. Estefan, 67, and Moore, 69, joined three other residents to get the first vaccines in an attempt to boost public confidence, especially within the Black and Hispanic communities. Next week, Jackson will open an online platform for any resident in Miami-Dade County ages 65 and older to request an appointment. Once the request is granted, the person will get a call back with their appointment date and time.
No. 3 - Government officials at every level have been saying it since the pandemic started: teachers and school staffers are essential workers.
Schools are open, and teachers who are back in the classrooms are, of course, instructing students in person. There’s a certain amount of risk involved with being in that environment. The superintendents of Miami-Dade and Broward public schools have each said they support the idea of teachers being given priority for vaccinations. So far, there is no indication by state authorities that teachers are being prioritized in the vaccination effort. To hear why some teachers say they should be next and why others aren’t so quick to roll up their sleeves, click here for the story from NBC 6 reporter Ari Odzer.
No. 4 - New Year’s Eve will be radically different this year in South Florida.
Public celebrations of 2021’s arrival are non-existent in South Florida as local leaders try to curb the spread of COVID-19. Miami-Dade and Broward counties each have instituted curfews. Miami-Dade’s has been in place for months, while Broward started a curfew for the holidays. Each of them begins at 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day. Key West will have a curfew from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. each night from Thursday until Sunday morning, a move shutting locations down in the normally active party town after various events were canceled earlier this year.
No. 5 - For Delfina Dumaine, the process of applying for unemployment benefits has not been easy. The 28-year-old said she lost her job with a music studio days before Thanksgiving and quickly applied for benefits through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s CONNECT site.
If she ends up qualifying for benefits, she could also receive an enhanced federal unemployment payment of $300 a week through March 13, 2021, under the CARES Act Extension signed into law Sunday. The relief package will also provide those eligible with additional weeks of benefits. NBC 6 Responds reached out to the DEO Wednesday to ask about an update on the rollout of the newly passed benefits. To hear their response and why other Floridians are anxiously awaiting an answer, click here for the story from NBC 6 consumer investigator Alina Machado.
No. 6 - Weatherwise, South Florida is saying goodbye to 2020 with a rise in temperatures and mostly clear skies before a front arrives this weekend. Keep your NBC 6 app handy for push alerts on any severe weather as well as First Alert Doppler 6000.