covid florida

The number of people hospitalized in Florida because of COVID-19 has dropped below 1,600, according to data posted online Monday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The data showed that Florida hospitals had 1,594 inpatients with COVID-19, down from 1,732 on Friday. Also, the data showed that 355 patients with COVID-19 were in intensive-care unit beds, down from 400 on Friday.

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surged in July and August before steadily declining in September, October and early November.

As a comparison, Florida had 15,177 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sept. 1, after the highly contagious delta variant spread across the state.

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School boards are asking an appeals court to “expedite” consideration of a challenge to a Florida Department of Health rule aimed at preventing student mask requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

School boards in Miami-Dade, Leon, Duval, Broward and Alachua counties took the case Friday to the 4th District Court of Appeal after an administrative law judge upheld the emergency rule. The emergency rule, issued Sept. 22, said decisions to opt out of student mask requirements are at the “sole discretion” of parents or guardians.

Also, it allowed students to attend school if they have been exposed to COVID-19 but are asymptomatic, preventing districts from requiring quarantines for those students.

The Florida Department of Education has used the rule as a basis to impose financial penalties on school districts that have required students to wear masks. The school boards argued, in part, that the DOH overstepped its authority with the rule, which helped carry out a July 30 executive order by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Judge Brian Newman issued a decision Friday rejecting the challenge.

In asking the appeals court to move quickly, the attorneys for the school boards said the emergency rule is slated to expire Dec. 21.

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