It’s Tuesday, July 20th - and NBC 6 has the top stories for the day.
No. 1 - With COVID-19 cases on the rise once again, Jackson Health System announced Monday it has upgraded its COVID threat level to “high” at most of its facilities.
Jackson Health says it has seen a 111% increase in COVID hospitalizations in just two weeks. Another eye-opening statistic from JHS, of the 139 COVID patients in its hospitals, 95% of those patients are unvaccinated. “It’s just been disheartening to see the effect now after we thought we had some glimmer of hope that this was getting behind us,” said Dr. O’Neil Pyke, Chief Medical Officer at Jackson North Medical Center. He says they’ve seen a demographic shift with these hospitalizations, including a younger group of patients.
No. 2 - As Florida's COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to spike, local health officials and the state's governor are urging people to get vaccinated.
According to figures released Friday, the number of reported cases in Florida have nearly doubled, from 23,000 to 45,000. One statistic released by the White House estimated that 20% of new cases last week occurred in Florida. About 3,200 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state on Friday, a jump of 73% since June 14, when 1,845 were hospitalized. At a news conference Monday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the case spike in July was expected as the virus is following a seasonal pattern, and he stressed the importance of getting vaccinated.
No. 3 - A South Florida man has come under fire for his statements on social media supporting the Cuban government-- and photo of him with Cuban leader Miguel Diaz-Canel.
In a tweet on July 11th, the day of the widespread protests on the island calling for freedom, Rodolfo Davalos, who is the son of a top legal advisor to the Cuban government posted, " if the revolution falls you will find me in Cuba with my father, knee on the ground, rifle in hand, defending the work of Fidel." On July 16th, as part of a tweet, he included "long live #Fidel." To hear why he says the comments do not mean he supports communism, click here for the story from NBC 6 reporter Laura Rodriguez.
No. 4 - A crane operator from Florida who breached the U.S. Senate chamber carrying a Trump campaign flag was sentenced Monday to eight months behind bars, the first punishment handed down for a felony charge in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and one that could help determine the severity of other sentences in hundreds of pending cases.
In pronouncing the sentence on Paul Allard Hodgkins, U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss said the 38-year-old had played a role, if not as significant as others, in one of the worst episodes in American history. Thousands of rioters loyal to then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol and disrupted the certification of Joe Biden's election win, in a stunning display of public violence. Moss acknowledged Hodgkins’ sentence could set a benchmark for future cases. Deciding an appropriate punishment for Hodgkins, he said, was more challenging because the case is unique and the court couldn’t look to previous sentencings as a guide.
No. 5 - Jeff Bezos is about to soar on his space travel company’s first flight with people on board.
The founder of Blue Origin as well as Amazon on Tuesday will become the second billionaire to ride his own rocket. He’ll launch from West Texas with his brother, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands and an 82-year-old female aviation pioneer from Texas — the youngest and oldest to ever hurtle off the planet. Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket is set to blast off with its eclectic group of passengers on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
No. 6 - Athletes have started arriving in Tokyo as the Olympic games are set to get underway. While Japan works to pull off a safe Olympics during a pandemic, COVID protocols have been the focus.
The opening ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympics are set to begin Friday and it will be an unprecedented games without fans during a pandemic. According to authorities, at least six athletes who are not residents of Japan tested positive for COVID so far. NBC 6 spoke to Miami native and Judo athlete Angelica Delgado, who arrived in japan on Friday. She is being hosted at a hotel in Ryugasaki, training before her big match. Click here to hear how she described the restrictions at the airport before she could even enter the country in a story from reporter Amanda Plasencia.