It’s Friday, September 10th - and NBC 6 has the top stories for the day.
No. 1 - Florida's new “anti-riot” law championed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis as a way to quell violent protests is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced, a federal judge ruled Thursday.
The 90-page decision by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in Tallahassee found the recently-enacted law “vague and overbroad” and amounted to an assault on First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly as well as the Constitution's due process protections. People engaged in peaceful protest or innocently in the same area when a demonstration turned violent could face criminal charges and stiff penalties under the law, the judge said. The lawsuit was filed against DeSantis and other state officials by the NAACP Florida conference, Dream Defenders, Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward and other groups who argue the law appears specifically aimed to halt protests by Black people and other minorities.
No. 2 - As COVID cases and hospitalizations in Florida recede from their all-time peaks, the death count is soaring to record levels -- more than 300 people dying each day for a stretch in late August, with more deaths being added once they are confirmed.
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But the state is no longer releasing what was public information revealing details about those victims and the counties they lived in when they were struck with a virus that has now killed 48,273 Floridians. State Rep. Carlos Smith (D-Orlando) and a nonprofit government accountability group are suing the Department of Health seeking to force the state to cough up the data. Until June 3, the state released a detailed two-page report for each of the 67 counties, detailing cases, hospitalizations and deaths broken down by 10 age cohorts. Since then, it's released weekly summaries that reveal how many new cases were detected in each county along with the counties' positivity and vaccination rates. Click here for more in a report from NBC 6 investigator Tony Pipitone.
No. 3 - In his most forceful pandemic actions and words, President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered sweeping new federal vaccine requirements for as many as 100 million Americans — private-sector employees as well as health care workers and federal contractors — in an all-out effort to curb the surging COVID-19 delta variant.
Speaking at the White House, Biden sharply criticized the tens of millions of Americans who are not yet vaccinated, despite months of availability and incentives. As part of the White House's "Path Out of the Pandemic" plan, the expansive rules mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans. And the roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid also will have to be fully vaccinated. Republican leaders — and some union chiefs, too — said Biden was going too far in trying to muscle private companies and workers, a certain sign of legal challenges to come.
No. 4 - The Miami-Dade County School Board on Thursday approved a one-time stipend for employees receive the COVID vaccination.
Full-time and some part-time employees have 60 days to submit proof of vaccination in order to receive the $275 stipend. Based on informal poll, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said about 84% of Miami-Dade public school teachers are vaccinated. Another level of protection Miami-Dade school officials won't back down on is a mask requirement. Click here for more in a story from NBC 6 reporter Laura Rodriguez.
No. 5 - Survivors of the Surfside condo collapse survivors are worried a down-zoning plan will limit the compensation they get when the Champlain Towers South property is sold.
But as of Thursday night's workshop, a compromise is on the table — where the site would be exempt from the plan and its value would be protected. Susie Rodriguez, who survived the condo collapse, showed up to city hall to push back against the town’s down-zoning plan. Then came a possible compromise — and her night ended with an emotional embrace with commissioner Nelly Velasquez. Click here for more on that compromise in a report from NBC 6’s Ryan Nelson.
No. 6 - Michelle Cruz took the last elevator before the second plane hit the second tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
Two decades later, she always carries that life-defining moment with her. The yoga instructor, author, and motivational speaker knows all about how life can change in an instant. Twenty years ago, she was sitting at her desk on the 95th floor of tower two at the World Trade Center. Her quick actions and stroke of luck kept her alive, but processing what happened and seeing so many of those in her company die in the moments following her escape triggered a need for a change. So Cruz came to Broward County. Click here for more on how her story of survival helped motivate her to help others in a report from NBC 6 investigator Willard Shepard.