Wednesday July 8, 2020

As coronavirus cases surge in Florida, intensive care units at local hospitals are filling, and some are at full capacity. According to a news affiliate, the latest report shows in Palm Beach County, 27 percent of ICU beds are available overall, but several hospitals are either full or close to capacity. Namely, Lakeside Medical Center in Belle Glade has full ICUs, with 0 beds available, as of July 6.

Governor Ron DeSantis said Monday that he is more concerned about having enough hospital staff to care for more patients. He said he has submitted a request to the federal government to send more healthcare workers to Florida to fill the anticipated need. Gov. DeSantis said the rise in ICU patients can be attributed, in part, to more people going into the ICU for unrelated reasons like car accidents, then testing positive for COVID-19 when they are swabbed at the hospital. Read the AHCA ICU capacity report here.

Palm Beach State College recently released its plan to return to campus in the fall. It calls for a flexible mixture of remote, hybrid (partially in-person and partially online) and some completely face-to-face courses, particularly for labs and career programs that can’t convert to remote instruction. It also includes a staggered return and scheduling approach for employees, although most employees who can effectively perform their duties remotely will continue to do so. Each of the 3 phases is designed to limit the number of students and employees on campus at the same time. Guests are encouraged to make an appointment before visiting a campus. The plan includes prevention measures, including a mandatory mask requirement and prevention and workforce safety training, as well as frequent cleaning and advanced disinfecting procedures.

Hendry and Glades County School boards went live on their social media platforms to discuss the updated reopening plan in light of the Governors mandate to open brick and mortar schools five days a week. One of the concerns, highlighted by HCSB chair Stephanie Busin, was the bus schedule. Mrs. Busin found that the school bus schedules and routes, would have children dropped off at school, well before school hours begin, nearly an hour before, to which Superintendent Paul Puletti responded “we’re working on it”. The scheduled passed anyway with Busin being the only nay vote. The board will go live on FB Thursday at 1:30p for a public forum. The next board meeting with be on the 21st. Glades County had a live Q&A on their FB page also. Dr. Pepe was part of a panel of local administrators answering questions about the Coronavirus and about the vaccine, and about masks and temperature checks for students and teachers. The County is also preparing to return on August 10, providing a drive through service for chrome books, schedules and forms. Dr Pepe says, he’s hoping a COVID vaccine, which will not be mandatory, will be available by late fall. Interim superintendent Kim Jordan said teachers will not be required to get tested for the virus before returning, and masks will be available to students, but not mandatory. The district is working on having a designee to take temperatures of students getting on school buses.

Jared Murray, 37, had construction materials sent to a job site, where he was building a home. The items, which exclusively came from Lowe’s, were delivered by couriers. All of Murray’s business was handled by someone who lived in the Lake Placid area. A contractor, who didn’t want to be named, said Murray seemed a bit “shady”. He says he never personally met Murray and Murray would never answer his phone. The fact is, no one ever met Murray. Why? Because he was in a prison cell. An FBI affidavit lays out allegations that Murray executed a scheme to defraud Lowe’s Home Improvement out of well over a million dollars’ worth of inventory.”  How’d he pull off this brilliant scheme? It’s actually a long intricate story but, according to a news source, basically using cellphones that were smuggled into the South Bay Correctional Facility, where he is serving up to 25 years. Murray allegedly stole the identities of contractors with open lines of credit at Lowe’s, according to the affidavit. Then, prosecutors say, he would order large amounts of building supplies, charging them to the unwitting contractors’ accounts. Murray, who has been locked up for much of the past decade for his participation in an armed robbery,  has not yet been charged in connection with the Lowe’s matter. The investigation, which centers on allegations of wire fraud and money laundering, is ongoing. Read the full story here.