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With COVID-19 numbers at a pandemic high throughout the United States, Florida and Highlands County followed suit, with both showing all-time records for the number of new cases in a week. Highlands County had 1,519 new cases for the seven-day period of Jan. 7-13, an average of 217 new cases…

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden announced Thursday that the government will double to 1 billion the rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests to be distributed free to Americans, along with the most protective N95 masks, as he highlighted his efforts to “surge” resources to help the country weathe…

COVID-19 vaccines protect you from getting sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says people who are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots are well-protected from serious illness and dying from the disease.

CHICAGO (AP) — Students are poised to return to Chicago Public Schools after leaders of the teachers union approved a plan with the nation’s third-largest district over COVID-19 safety protocols, ending a bitter standoff that canceled classes for five days.

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis suggested Monday that getting vaccinated against the coronavirus was a “moral obligation” and denounced how people had been swayed by “baseless information” to refuse one of the most effective measures to save lives during the pandemic.

SEBRING — Area hospitals are seeing an influx of COVID-19 patients in their hospitals. They are also seeing an increase in the emergency rooms as well. Some people in the emergency rooms are simply there for COVID testing.

Highlands County had 951 new COVID-19 cases for the seven-day period of Dec. 31-Jan. 6, according to Friday’s COVID update from the Florida Department of Health. The county saw 622 new cases the previous week.

TALLAHASSEE — A top Florida tourism official called the future of travel to the state “bright” and said there are no plans to slow marketing efforts, even with the rapid spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Governors took sweeping actions during earlier surges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many closed schools and ordered businesses shut down. They issued mask mandates, vaccine requirements and even quarantines in some places for people who had traveled to out-of-state hot spots.

AVON PARK — It didn’t take long for the Highlands County Health Department and its partners to give away 1,000 COVID-19 at-home test kits on Friday morning at Memorial Elementary School.

TALLAHASSEE — Saying that the “federal government is not going to come through” on a plan to distribute at-home coronavirus tests, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday said the state is honing its own strategy to send tests to vulnerable Floridians.

TALLAHASSEE — Legislative leaders are monitoring the spike in coronavirus cases across Florida but haven’t made plans to reimpose restrictions on public access that were used during the 2021 session.

TALLAHASSEE — A Miami-Dade County circuit judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Florida International University that seeks refunds of fees collected from students when the school’s campus was shut down in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

TALLAHASSEE — Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious omicron variant, Florida’s surgeon general on Monday indicated the state Department of Health would issue guidance that would “unwind the testing psychology” of the federal government.

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended its emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to expand the use of a single booster dose to 12- to 15-year-olds. The FDA also shortened the time needed before receiving a booster from at least six months after completion of the…

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Getting a positive COVID test result can be unsettling whether you have symptoms or not. Many people run to the emergency room for care but Dr. Victoria Hutto-Selley, AdventHealth Emergency Department medical director for Highlands County and Wauchula, said the ER trip may not be necessary.

TALLAHASSEE — Saying it is “clear the pandemic is not over,” top university system officials are asking students and employees to wear masks on campus and get booster shots to protect against COVID-19 as the spring semester prepares to start.

With COVID-19 having a firm grip in the United States, Operation Warp Speed went into effect in May 2020. Its goal was to get as many vaccines to citizens as quickly as possible. The vaccines had the potential to save lives and were quickly developed.

BERLIN (AP) — The head of the World Health Organization said Wednesday that he’s worried about the omicron and delta variants of COVID-19 combining to produce a “tsunami” of cases, but said he’s still hopeful that the world will put the worst of the pandemic behind it in 2022.

Driven by the omicron variant and the typical holiday reporting lag, both the country and the state are seeing record COVID-19 numbers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 431,567 new cases for Tuesday, the second straight day with more than 400,000 cases in the U.S.

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Making sense of symptoms and getting sick during a pandemic can be confusing. Are those sniffles just the common cold or COVID-19? It turns out there is no easy answer, short of taking a COVID test.

BRUSSELS (AP) — After struggling with the coronavirus for far too long, the world understands all too well Belgium’s word of the year, “knaldrang!” — the urge to party, the need to let loose. Yet as New Year celebrations approach, the omicron variant is casting more gloom.

Just as Americans and Europeans were eagerly awaiting their most normal holiday season in a couple of years, the omicron variant has unleashed a fresh round of fear and uncertainty — for travelers, shoppers, party-goers and their economies as a whole.

TALLAHASSEE — Saying President Joe Biden exceeded his authority, a Tampa federal judge Wednesday backed Florida’s attempt to block a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for federal contractors.

TALLAHASSEE — State economists anticipate the new omicron variant of the coronavirus will slow, at least temporarily, Florida’s resurging pace of tourism — particularly a return of international visitors.

MIAMI (AP) — With Floridians lining up by the tens of thousands for COVID tests across the state this week, University of Florida researchers predict that cases in the Sunshine State, driven by the new omicron variant, could peak in February with more than 30,000 reported cases a day.

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