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1. Florida expands vaccine access to some 50 and older
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed an executive order to expand vaccine eligibility to all sworn law enforcement officers, firefighters, and K-12 school employees who are 50 and older.
DeSantis said Florida could potentially receive 175,000 doses this week of a new COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, which was granted an emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Saturday.
Last week, DeSantis signed an executive order to allow physicians to administer the coronavirus vaccine to anyone, including those under 65, who are "determined by a physician to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19."
2. Florida lawmakers face challenges as 60-day session begins
Coronavirus, budget questions, anti-riot legislation and an attempt to reign in large technology companies will be among issues lawmakers will take up in their 60-day session that begins today.
One of the biggest priorities is finalizing the governor's $96.6 billion budget. The budget isn't the only bill lawmakers have to pass, but the financial hit caused by the pandemic will make that a challenging task and cuts to state programs are expected.
Minority Democratic Leader Pro Tempore Bobby Powell is looking to expand benefits by increasing the maximum weekly payment from $275 to $500 and extend the amount of time unemployed workers can collect benefits from 12 to 26 weeks, which is the national average.
Republican Rick Roth who represents West Palm Beach has proposed to increase the percentage of votes needed to make changes to the state's constitution from 60% to 66%.
3. Speaking of bills to be passed: Senate to vote on stimulus this week
The American Rescue Plan has made its way to the Senate after passing a mostly party-line vote in the US House early Saturday morning. The legislation will need to return to the House for final approval before going to Biden for his signature.
The reason the bill will be returned to the House is because the Senate is expected to make some changes to the bill, namely removing a controversial $15 per hour minimum wage provision that a Senate parliamentarian ruled cannot remain in the bill.
The stimulus bill includes $1,400 checks for most Americans making less than $75,000 a year. It also includes $1,400 for eligible dependents.
4. Florida's coronavirus cases rise 1,700, lowest in 4.5 months
On the one-year anniversary of the first two reported coronavirus cases in Florida, infections rose by only 1,700, the lowest in four months.
Florida, California and New York were the only states to post triple-digit deaths increases Monday, one day after fatalities in the U.S. rose by 1,273, which is 365 days (one year) after the first death was announced in the nation in Washington state.
After the first two deaths in Florida were announced on March 7, the Florida resident death toll has reached 30,999 for an average of 86 per day.
5. Palm Beach County Schools has critical need for substitute teachers
Today, the district will host its first 'Substitute Teacher Recruitment Coffee Chat' at 3 p.m. The virtual event will provide information and allow people to ask questions about becoming a sub.
The district says there are about 2,900 subs in their pool but only about one-third of them are currently responding and willing to work.
In order to qualify to be a substitute teacher, you must have 30 hours of college credit and complete a training course. You can learn more at the link above.
Cold front on the way:
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On This Day In History
On March 1, 1917, barely a month before the United States enters World War I, President Woodrow Wilson signs the Jones-Shafroth Act, granting U.S. citizenship to the inhabitants of Puerto Rico.
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