It’s Thursday, September 16th - and NBC 6 has the top stories for the day.
No. 1 - Broward will be giving county employees who get COVID-19 vaccines a $500 payment, while those who remain unvaccinated could face a bi-weekly surcharge and weekly testing, Mayor Steve Geller said Wednesday.
Geller said the program is expected to be implemented by the end of September. The county has about 6,800 employees but it's unknown how many are vaccinated, Geller said. Eligible county employees will have 60 days to provide proof of vaccination in exchange for the one-time $500 payment, Geller said. Any county employee who doesn't show proof and who is receiving employment benefits like healthcare will have to pay a $20 bi-weekly surcharge, Geller said. They are also going to have to submit to weekly COVID testing. Geller said the county will reexamine the program at the end of the year and could implement more drastic measures, like mandatory vaccinations.
No. 2 - Days after rapper Nicki Minaj tweeted that the COVID-19 vaccine caused a family friend to develop swollen testicles, a University of Miami doctor and the health minister of Trinidad and Tobago are debunking the claim.
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Minaj tweeted Monday that her cousin in Trinidad refused to get the vaccine because his friend “became impotent” and his "testicles became swollen" after getting inoculated. But Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy, associate professor of urology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, says there is no evidence that vaccines cause erectile dysfunction or fertility issues. Other experts attest that whatever Minaj's cousin was suffering from weren’t known side effects of the COVID-19 shots. Ramasamy and his team conducted a clinical trial that shows the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are safe for male reproduction.
No. 3 - A former University of Miami professor, his wife and his sister are facing federal charges related to purchasing genetic sequencing equipment from U.S. manufacturers and illegally shipping it to Iran, prosecutors said.
Mohammad Faghihi, 52, his wife Farzeneh Modarresi, 53, and his sister Faezeh Faghihi, 50, made their initial appearances Tuesday in Miami federal court, according to court records. The family operated a Florida company called Express Gene. According to a criminal complaint, Express Gene received numerous wire transfers from accounts in Malaysia, the People’s Republic of China, Singapore, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates totaling almost $3.5 million between October 2016 and November 2020. Some of that money was used to purchase genetic sequencing equipment from U.S. manufacturers to ship it to Iran without a license, despite sanctions on Iran, investigators said.
No. 4 - Broward resident Susan Rizzo is heartbroken but is seeking her money back after she was scammed by a phony military officer. She is also looking to prevent other women from experiencing the pain she’s going through.
Normally, there’s not much to go on when these kinds of scams happen, but this time, Rizzo has lots of information, and where that information took NBC 6 wasn’t to Afghanistan, or the Middle East — but to Atlanta, Georgia. Rizzo said she sent $25,000 to who she thought was a handsome man who had posted his picture online. NBC 6 can’t determine the authenticity of the photo or the classy name he used: Nicholas Shawn Wells Edwards. To find out what happened next, click here for a report from NBC 6 investigator Willard Shepard.
No. 5 - Since she began her career in her 20’s, Lorinda Gonzalez always knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur. She now has a passion for supporting other entrepreneurs who are making an impact in their communities.
Through her business Grants Ink, she has focused on helping provide over $17 million in grants for non-profits and purpose-based businesses. Gonzalez assists businesses with grant writing and classes as she doesn’t want funding to be a barrier for those who have a vision. The Boricua is also proud of her Puerto Rican heritage. Before she got her organization off the ground, Gonzalez had some assistance. To see how she got that help and has overcome obstacles along the way, click here for the story from NBC 6 reporter Amanda Plasencia.
No. 6 - They’ve been playing jai-alai in Dania Beach for 69 years. There will not be a 70th season.
The Casino at Dania Beach is shutting the sport down in November. It’s a fluid, graceful, and incredibly fast sport, sort of like racquetball on a much bigger court. It’s not easy for jai-alai fans to see the curtain coming down. They used to draw thousands of fans to the fronton in Dania Beach as well, but these days they’re lucky if more than a hundred show up to place their bets. To find out why the downfall took place, click here for the story from NBC 6 reporter Ari Odzer.