Here are some of the top stories from the past week from NBC 6 News:
Florida Department of Health Issues COVID-19 Testing Guidance That Contradicts CDC's
The new guidance from the department of health comes days after Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo said the state is following a “sensible public health" campaign that focuses on testing only at-risk patients and those showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the number of people who end up on ventilators due to the omicron variant is much lower than during the summer surge of the delta variant. He said the most severely ill patients in hospitals still tend to be suffering from the delta variant.
“Our view on testing is if you are just young and healthy, you don’t need to be running out and getting tested every day," DeSantis said.
At a news conference Friday, DeSantis stressed that getting tested is an individual decision.
The new recommendations from the state urge symptomatic COVID-19 patients to get tested, but says that testing if you’re asymptomatic “is unlikely to have any clinical benefits.”
The guidance continues to say that certain groups of people who are at risk of severe COVID-19 infection — including those with cancer, diabetes, chronic lung conditions or compromised immune systems — should get tested promptly after symptom onset.
Conversely, the CDC emphasizes that anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19 – regardless of whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic — should get tested.
Miami Pair Accused of Kidnapping, Chaining Up, Extorting Man
A South Florida woman and man are accused of setting in motion an extortion plot that sounds straight of Hollywood. Miami Police say the duo lured a man to an apartment, tied him up in chains, and forced him to make an admission of infidelity.
The three days of hell and torture in December started when the victim gave a ride to somebody he knew. According to police, Marie Dorsainvil asked for the ride to her apartment.
Dorsainvil allegedly also asked the victim to come up and see her apartment. The victim said no because he's married — and so is Dorsainvil. The woman replied her husband was in Haiti, and both went up to the apartment.
Soon after the victim sat down on the couch, police say another man, Occius Dorsainvil, showed up with a gun and tied his arms and legs with a cord. The victim was then allegedly forced to crawl on his stomach to the bathroom.
He was ordered to rehearse and record a statement — admitting to cheating with the suspect’s wife. The pair also allegedly told the victim if he went to the bathroom, they would make him eat it. If he didn’t, they threatened to shoot him.
The next day, the suspects added chains to the victim's hands and legs. They allegedly offered their prisoner food but he refused to eat, afraid it would make him go to the bathroom. The couple then demanded $50,000 dollars in cash and his car title.
On day three, the suspects made the victim shower at gunpoint then drive with them in his car to escape. But before the victim was let go, he was forced to drink out of a container that had bleach and Haitian rum. The victim passed out. When he woke up 30 minutes later, he ran for help.
Florida Gov. DeSantis Confirms Up to 1 Million COVID Tests Expired in State Stockpile
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state's top emergency management official confirmed Thursday that 800,000 to 1 million COVID test kits in the state's stockpile recently expired without being used.
At a Thursday news conference, Kevin Guthrie, the director of Florida's Division of Emergency Management, told reporters when asked about the state's stockpile: "We had between 800,000 and a million test kits, Abbott rapid test kits, in our warehouse that did expire."
Guthrie said the reason the tests expired in the last week of December was that there was inadequate demand for their use. State officials had already requested a three-month extension on the tests' use from federal officials when they were last set to expire in September, only for the tests to again sit unused. Florida officials are again seeking a three-month extension on the tests, but have yet to receive an answer on their continued viability from federal officials and the manufacturer, Guthrie said.
DeSantis said tests from the stockpile were being sent out to localities as requested and that demand for them slowed beginning in September when the COVID case surge attributed to the delta variant began to cool down.
Prosecutors Drop Charge Against Man Who Flew Into MIA With Loaded Gun
Prosecutors have dropped a charge against a man who flew into Miami International Airport from Barbados with a loaded firearm.
In security video footage exclusively obtained by NBC 6 Investigators, airline passenger Cameron Hinds is seen being stopped at a Miami International Airport checkpoint after Transportation Security Administration officers found a loaded handgun in his belongings late last year.
Hinds said he went through security in Barbados with the gun and then flew with it in his pants on the three-hour flight to Miami. The TSA notified Barbados of Hind’s ability to carry his gun on the flight, which took off from Grantley Adams International.
“The bottom line, there’s no place for a gun in an airplane — any airplane,” said Luca Benceni, a commercial pilot and flight instructor. “The danger is not just about killing or injuring somebody in the plane, but also damaging the aircraft structure."
Neval Greenidge, a Barbados top official in Miami, told NBC 6 in December about the findings of his government’s probe.
“The gentleman was searched. He was patted down. He was scanned, but the firearm seemed to have been under a laptop and I think that’s where the blunder came,” Greenidge said.
NBC 6 obtained the close-out memo from prosecutors, which shows Hinds had a concealed weapons permit in Barbados so he thought it was OK to fly with the gun and that he hadn’t been in trouble before, and he went to a firearms course in Florida — a requirement for the charge to be dismissed.
Miami-Dade Officer Gets Double Lung, Kidney Transplant After COVID Battle
A Miami-Dade Police Department officer is recovering after a double lung and kidney transplant that came following a long battle with COVID-19.
Ofc. Frank Sangineto had the successful surgery this past week with his family calling it a "blessing."
“We couldn’t be happier," said his sister, Irma. “He knows he has a long road ahead of him still. He was scared, we didn’t know it was gonna happen. I think the moment that he went in, he went in with all thumbs up.”
Sangineto, who serves in the K-9 unit with the department, said the hardships of the job are no comparison to his fight against COVID.
“I was in the Marines, I did the police academy and this is the toughest battles I’ve ever had," he said in an earlier interview with NBC 6.
Sangineto's family said he had not been vaccinated. His sister said the support from the department was unlike anything they ever imagined.
"The brotherhood and sisterhood that exist amongst police, it’s something that’s so abstract and we hear about it but we’ve lived it," Irma said. "It’s been amazing the support that we’ve all received.”
4th Resident of Florida Retirement Haven Charged With Voter Fraud
A fourth resident of a massive Florida retirement community has been arrested on a charge of voter fraud.
Charles Barnes, 64, was arrested Tuesday and charged with voter fraud for casting more than one ballot, according to an arrest affidavit filed in court.
The arrest affidavit doesn't detail the basis for the charge. Barnes entered a not guilty plea on Thursday.
His attorney, Victor Mead, didn't immediately return an email inquiry.
Online voting records showed Barnes wasn't affiliated with any political party and that he first registered to vote in Sumter County in 2019.
Barnes' arrest was the fourth for voter fraud in the past two months of residents of The Villages retirement community in a county that is a Republican stronghold in Florida. Of the three other residents, two were registered Republicans and the third had no party affiliation.