Ben Montgomery
Jan 13, 2022 - COVID

COVID still worries Americans

Data: University of South Florida; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

😬 We're worried about Omicron.

Driving the news: Per a new public opinion survey from the University of South Florida, nearly 75% of Americans are "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about emerging variants.

Ben Montgomery
Jan 13, 2022 - COVID

Florida's stockpiled COVID tests can be used

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried speaks in Nov.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried speaks in Nov. Photo: Lynne Sladky/AP

The FDA extended the expiration date on one million COVID-19 test kits that have become a political football in recent weeks, per the Times/Herald.

Florida records its first two Omicron cases

Data: CDC; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

The Omicron variant has hit Tampa Bay.

What's happening: After Florida's first known Omicron coronavirus case was reported in St. Lucie County on Monday, the state's second case was identified at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa on Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Selene San Felice
Nov 17, 2021 - COVID

Thousands of kids around Tampa Bay are getting vaxxed

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Families across Tampa Bay are finally getting the COVID-19 vaccine for their children.

By the numbers: Nearly 45,000 children aged 5 to 11 got their shot last week when smaller doses of Pfizer arrived in Florida, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Selene San Felice
Nov 16, 2021 - COVID

Dog-loving hero Jack Novoselski dies at 76

Jack Novoselski, founder of SouthEast Beagle Rescue, whispered the promise of a better life to each dog his organization rescued.
Jack Novoselski, founder of SouthEast Beagle Rescue, whispered the promise of a better life to each dog his organization rescued. Photo courtesy of Lynn Keeney

It's highly likely no one in Tampa Bay loved beagles more than Jack Novoselski.

What's happening: Kristin Hare's latest beautiful obit for the Tampa Bay Times memorializes Novoselsk, a dog-loving hero who died Sept. 28 of the coronavirus. He was 76 and fully vaccinated.

Ben Montgomery
Oct 18, 2021 - COVID

Florida's secret delta toll

Illustration of a market arrow breaking through a pile of coronavirus cells.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Roughly 4,500 Tampa Bay residents — an average of about 36 per day — died from COVID-19 over the four months the Florida Department of Health did not share daily pandemic information with citizens.

Driving the news: The data is now available and gives a clearer picture of the heartbreaking toll of the latest record-breaking spikes from the delta variant — which is only now subsiding — between June and October.

Ben Montgomery
Oct 14, 2021 - COVID

Florida investigates businesses enforcing COVID-19 safety rules

Illustration of business doors being barricaded by a vaccine needle.
Maura Losch/Axios

The state Department of Health is investigating a bevy of Florida businesses for enforcing COVID-19 safety rules that violate the state's law against them.

Flashback: Florida passed a law this year that prohibits businesses from requiring customers to show a proof of vaccine. The department of health can "enforce penalties on applicable entities or institutions that require documentation of vaccination or post-exposure status."

  • For municipalities, the fine can be as high as $5,000 per infraction.
  • Anyone can report a violation to [email protected].
Selene San Felice
Oct 13, 2021 - COVID

Florida contact tracers aren't tracing

Illustration of a crowd of people with a glowing line identifying positive cases of coronavirus 
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Florida is spending tens of millions of dollars on contact tracing, but state officials can't say if the program is actually working, according to a new Tampa Bay Times report.

What's happening: The state health department isn't keeping track of calls made by contact tracers — who are already only doing a portion of the job as it's described in CDC guidelines.

  • The CDC says contact tracers are supposed to call people who have tested positive, give them their test results, ask who they've come in contact with, then reach out to warn those people.
  • But Times reporter Anastasia Dawson found many Florida tracers are telling infected people to reach out to their contacts themselves.
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