It’s Wednesday, January 5th - and NBC 6 has the top stories for the day.
No. 1 - Florida added more than 51,000 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday, as hospitalizations in the state continued to rise.
The state reported 51,644 cases on Monday, pushing the state's total to 4,360,178 since the pandemic began, according to figures released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last week, Florida set records for daily cases for five straight days, peaking with 75,902 on Dec. 30. It was one of four days last week where Florida reported more than 50,000 new cases. The record-breaking numbers came as the omicron variant surged in Florida and across the country amid the holidays. The latest report from the Florida Department of Health released Friday showed Florida's positivity rate rose to 26.5%, after it had dropped to just 2.1% in mid-November.
No. 2 - The crunch for COVID-19 tests over the holidays and to start 2022 has Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his medical team encouraging people without symptoms to skip the lines altogether.
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The governor hopes this would bring fewer people to testing sites — for example, those who have symptoms, those who are vulnerable, or people who plan to visit high-risk family members. But infectious disease expert Dr. Aileen Marty says it’s dangerous to discourage testing. Marty insists people who are asymptomatic should certainly still test if they’ve been exposed or work in an indoor setting with people who are unvaccinated or unmasked. Click here for more in a report from NBC 6’s Marissa Bagg.
No. 3 - The omicron variant surge is creating a substantial staffing challenge for the Miami-Dade and Broward public school districts.
Over the past two days, Miami-Dade County Public Schools have been short about a thousand teachers each day compared to these same two days last year, immediately after the winter break. Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, making an example of himself, taught a class Tuesday at Jackson Senior High School, where he began his career 31 years ago. He said every available employee who has a teaching certificate is being shifted into the classroom. Click here for more in a report from NBC 6’s Ari Odzer.
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No. 4 - The Norwegian Pearl cruise is returning to PortMiami due to COVID-19 cases on board.
Norwegian Cruise Line confirmed to NBC 6 that the Pearl's voyage through the Panama Canal — which started Monday and was scheduled to end on the 6th — is now canceled because of "COVID-related circumstances." In a statement, Norwegian said it is “navigating the fluid public health environment while focusing on delivering a safe experience for all on board ... We will never compromise on health and safety and we will, of course, continue to take all appropriate action to ensure everyone’s well-being and to protect public health.”Just before the new year, the CDC issued new guidance against going on cruises, even for the fully vaccinated.
No. 5 - For Jonathan Barnes, the specialty van he needs is now even harder to find.
For the Barnes family, getting around with their handicapped son is not what it used to be. Son Jonathan, 34, is blind, suffers from cerebral palsy, and uses a wheelchair. Three weeks ago, a driver smashed into his specially equipped Chrysler Pacifica van. Jonathan’s dad Joe was alone behind the wheel, trying to make a left on Kendall Drive and SW 94th Avenue. No one was seriously hurt, but now, Jonathan doesn’t have a proper ride. Finding a replacement has been rough. Click here to find out why in a report from NBC 6’s Julia Bagg you’ll see Only on 6.
No. 6 - Surveillance footage shows a car veering off Interstate 95 and crashing into the lot of a classic car dealership in northwest Miami-Dade.
The crash happened at around 3 a.m. Sunday. The driver of a sedan appeared to lose control while driving southbound on the highway and slammed into several vintage cars at Ted Vernon's Specialty Automobiles. Ted Vernon, the owner of the dealership, said a 1946 Chevy was damaged along with two other vehicles. He also believed the driver and the passenger of the sedan intentionally fled the scene without waiting for the police. The couple told NBC 6 the vehicle had an OnStar system that contacted 911. They were waiting for Florida Highway Patrol to show up and claimed they never did. Click here for more in a report from NBC 6’s Cristian Benavides.