It’s Wednesday, October 27th - and NBC 6 has the top stories for the day.
No. 1 - Broward County Public Schools is relaxing the mask mandate for high school students.
Starting Nov. 1, Broward high school students will no longer be required to wear a mask, though they will be strongly encouraged to wear one. The district will do this through a parent opt-out that allows parents to choose whether their children will wear a mask. Mandatory masking will remain in place for middle and elementary school students. The school board voted 5-3 in favor of the change, noting that keeping younger students masked is important for now because the COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available for children under age 12.
No. 2 - The U.S. moved a step closer to expanding COVID-19 vaccinations for millions more children as a panel of government advisers on Tuesday endorsed kid-size doses of Pfizer's shots for 5- to 11-year-olds.
A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted unanimously, with one abstention, that the vaccine’s benefits in preventing COVID-19 in that age group outweigh any potential risks — including a heart-related side effect that's been very rare in teens and young adults despite their use of a much higher shot dose. While children are at lower risk of severe COVID-19 than older people, ultimately many panelists decided it's important to give parents the choice to protect their youngsters — especially those at high risk of illness or who live in places where other precautions, like masks in schools, aren't being used.
No. 3 - Florida’s surgeon general said conversations while wearing masks aren't productive and argued that he offered to meet elsewhere when a state senator didn't let him in her office without a mask, citing a serious health condition.
Dr. Joseph Ladapo said in a statement released Tuesday that he offered to meet outside or in a hallway for his scheduled meeting last week with Democratic state Sen. Tina Polsky. He said he doesn't believe he can communicate clearly and effectively while wearing a mask. Polsky was not satisfied, he said. The incident drew broad attention over the weekend after Polsky revealed that she had breast cancer, though at the time of the meeting last Wednesday she had told Lapado only that she had a serious health condition. Ladapo said in his statement that he’s “saddened” by that news and wished her “blessings and strength.”
No. 4 - New body camera footage shows police officers and firefighters responding to a fire at a Fort Lauderdale motel that authorities said was intentionally set.
Fort Lauderdale Police on Tuesday released the footage that shows the response to the Bali Hai Motel off U.S. 1 on Saturday. The footage shows flames pouring from a room on the motel's first floor before firefighters arrive and rescue a man who was inside the burning room. An officer then throws the man over his shoulder and takes him across the street to a fire station for help. But police said that man, 44-year-old Martin Kendall, is the person who intentionally set the room on fire. Investigators even found a blowtorch inside the motel room, officials said. Click here for more on that story from NBC 6 reporter Julie Leonardi.
No. 5 - Florida fishing guide and environmental activist Paul Fafeita says a highlight for his charter customers is spotting the manatees that forage for seagrass in shallow waters.
It's not so thrilling when they come across the emaciated carcass of a manatee that starved to death. Florida is experiencing an unprecedented die-off of manatees this year, with 959 documented deaths as of Oct. 1. That's already more than any full year on record, and colder weather soon to come could bring another wave of deaths in a population that numbers between 7,500 and 10,200 along both Florida coasts, according to state estimates. Manatee deaths this year will likely double the 593 recorded in 2020 and will far outnumber the latest five-year average of 146 deaths in Florida, according to state figures, with no end to the die-off in sight.
No. 6 - Rapper Kodak Black is giving back during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
On Tuesday, the South Florida rapper and radio personality Supa Cindy surprised 22 breast cancer survivors and fighters with a lunch. Kodak, whose real name is Bill Kapri, says he wanted these ladies to feel special since some of them are still fighting cancer. Kapri gifted each woman a wig from a local manufacturer, flowers and a gift card. To see the emotional moments, click here for the story from NBC 6 reporter Marcine Joseph.
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