It’s Tuesday, August 31st - and NBC 6 has the top stories for the day.
No. 1 - The Florida Department of Education has withheld the monthly salaries of school board members in Broward and Alachua counties over their mandatory mask mandates.
“We’re going to fight to protect parent’s rights to make health care decisions for their children. They know what is best for their children. What’s unacceptable is the politicians who have raised their right hands and pledged, under oath, to uphold the Constitution but are not doing so," Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said in a news release Monday. The school districts in Broward and Alachua counties have upheld their mandatory face mask policies for students and staff. The state says the districts are violating parental rights by not allowing children's legal guardians to decide whether they can opt out of the mask-wearing policy.
No. 2 - The number of patients with coronavirus in Florida hospitals continues to drop as infection rates stay high, a sign that while more people are testing positive for the virus, they are not necessarily developing severe illness.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tallied 15,488 patients with COVID-19 in Florida hospitals, an 8% decrease over the past week. Hospital officials are cautiously optimistic, saying the Jacksonville area hit its peak sooner and the Panhandle and Sarasota area is now feeling strained. At Jackson Memorial Hospital, the numbers are also slowly trickling down, although Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hany Atallah remained on alert. Click here for the story in a report from NBC 6’s Laura Rodriguez.
No. 3 - Louisiana communities battered by Hurricane Ida faced a new danger as they began the massive task of clearing debris and repairing damage from the storm: the possibility of weeks without power in the stifling, late-summer heat.
Ida ravaged the region's power grid, leaving the entire city of New Orleans and hundreds of thousands of other Louisiana residents in the dark with no clear timeline on when power would return. Some areas outside New Orleans also suffered major flooding and structure damage. President Joe Biden met virtually on Monday with Bel Edwards and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves along with mayors from cities and parishes most impacted by Hurricane Ida to receive an update on the storm’s impacts, and to discuss how the Federal Government can provide assistance. Edwards said 25,000 utility workers were on the ground in Louisiana to help restore electricity, with more on the way.
No. 4 - A new Florida law designed to deter violent public demonstrations is instead unconstitutionally chilling free speech and legitimate rights to protest, a federal judge was told Monday.
Attorneys for several organizations challenging the law championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis asked U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in a hearing in Tallahassee to block enforcement of key parts of the law. Joining the lawsuit are the NAACP Florida conference, Dream Defenders, Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward and other groups who claim the law appears specifically aimed to quell protests by Black people and other minorities. Walker did not immediately rule during the hearing held by teleconference. “I will do my best to get an order out as soon as possible,” the judge said.
No. 5 - Officials with a South Florida museum are collecting the photos, notes and other personal items that make up a memorial wall near the site of the deadly building collapse that killed 98 people.
A group from HistoryMiami Museum was working Monday near the Champlain Towers South site in Surfside. In the days following the June 24 collapse, friends and family members who lost loved ones began creating the memorial wall along a fence that surrounded tennis courts across the street from the collapsed building. There were no immediate plans for an exhibit, but spokeswoman Michele Reese said the museum would be happy to work with the city and county in the future. For now, with three months left in hurricane season, museum officials just want to protect the memorial wall, Reese said.
No. 6 - A Leon County Circuit Judge denied to grant a temporary injunction that would have reinstated some federal unemployment benefits.
The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, known as FPUC, provided Floridians with an extra $300 a week in benefits. In an 18-page decision, Judge Layne Smith stated the state has the legal right to stop participating in the program. The lawsuit, originally filed in Broward County, alleged that the federal payments should have been allowed to continue until Sept. 6. The lawsuit also alleged the state’s decision to stop participating was against Florida law. To find out what this means for residents across the state, click here for the story from NBC 6 consumer investigator Sasha Jones.
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