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6 Things to Know: Plan in Place to Restore Biscayne Bay, COVID Relief Bill Passes Congress

It’s Tuesday, December 22nd - and NBC 6 has the top stories for the day

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It’s Tuesday, December 22nd - and NBC 6 has the top stories for the day.

No. 1 - The fourth installment of Miami’s food gift card giveaway takes place Tuesday for residents who have signed up for help amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The event takes place from 8 a.m. to noon at Jose Marti Park, located at 351 Southwest 4th Avenue. Gift cards range from $100 to $350 and are to locations such as Publix, Winn Dixie, Sedano’s and more. Cards are limited to one per household and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Residents must register for a card. For more information and to register, click on this link.

No. 2 - With the arrival of a second vaccine in South Florida, more health care workers at local hospitals are set to get vaccinated. However, many health care providers who don’t work at hospitals, but are still on the frontlines, are struggling to get their shot. 

This is until Holy Cross Hospital opened up its surplus of vaccines to qualifying health care workers outside its own system. Holy Cross has about 2,000 doses of the vaccine left and plans to distribute it to workers who fall into the Tier 1a group over the next three days. The Fort Lauderdale hospital is the only one NBC 6 found that is starting to distribute the vaccine to qualifying health care workers outside of their system.

No. 3 - Congress passed a $900 billion pandemic relief package Monday night that would finally deliver long-sought cash to businesses and individuals and resources to vaccinate a nation confronting a frightening surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

The relief package, unveiled Monday afternoon, sped through the House and Senate in a matter of hours. The Senate cleared the massive package by a 92-6 vote after the House approved the COVID-19 package by another lopsided vote, 359-53. The bill combines coronavirus-fighting funds with financial relief for individuals and businesses. It would establish a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit and a $600 direct stimulus payment to most Americans, along with a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants, and theaters and money for schools, health care providers and renters facing eviction.

No. 4 - Roughly $32 billion in federal loans were given out to help small businesses in Florida during the pandemic. NBC 6 Responds found a chunk of that money went to nonprofits and religious organizations that didn’t qualify for these types of loans previously.

Like many businesses, many houses of worship in South Florida closed their doors during the pandemic, including Beth Or Temple in Kendall. According to data released by the SBA, Beth Or Temple received around $14,400 in PPP funding. King Jesus International Ministry Church got $2,027,537 in PPP funds, according to the SBA data. The Miami mega-church hosted an event for President Donald Trump earlier this year. NBC 6 Responds at least 185 religious organizations in South Florida that received over $150,000 in PPP loans. To hear why the houses of worship say they deserve the help, click here for the story from consumer investigator Sasha Jones.

No. 5 - The State of Florida and Miami-Dade County are launching a $20 million protection and preservation project for Biscayne Bay.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the new project during a news conference Monday in Key Biscayne with Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. DeSantis said $10 million will come from the state's $625 million water preservation fund, and $10 million will come from the county. Initial projects will include infrastructure updates to help prevent sanitary sewer overflows in Biscayne Bay, which was experiencing large fish kills over the summer and fall. The kills happen when pollutants seep into the bay, killing off seagrass and growing algae - which lowers oxygen levels.

No. 6 - Weatherwise, a cool change arrives in South Florida on Tuesday with temperatures dropping even further just in time for the Christmas holiday. Keep your NBC 6 app handy for push alerts on any severe weather as well as First Alert Doppler 6000.

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