NEW YORK (AP) — A new analysis of blood samples from 24,000 Americans taken early last year is the latest and largest study to suggest that the new coronavirus popped up in the U.S. in December 2019 — weeks before cases were first recognized by health officials.

TALLAHASSEE — As the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday labeled the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus a “variant of concern,” Gov. Ron DeSantis downplayed the potential impact it could have on the state.

TALLAHASSEE — COVID-19 vaccination rates lag in vast swaths of rural Florida compared to the rest of the state – a pattern that also has been seen in other areas of the country, a new report shows.

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Highlands County saw 26 new cases of COVID-19 in the past week, according to the Florida Department of Health’s Friday weekly update. This is the second Friday the state has reported numbers on a weekly basis.

When the Florida Department of Health abruptly changed its COVID-19 reporting procedure on Friday, not everybody supported the switch. The state has gone to a weekly reporting method after reporting daily since March 16, 2020.

TALLAHASSEE — A mediator declared an impasse in talks aimed at resolving a battle between Florida and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about restrictions on cruise ships during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office said Thursday.

Florida wasn’t the first state to end daily COVID-19 reporting — and it certainly won’t be the last, as COVID numbers continue to drop around the country. Alabama just switched to a Monday-Wednesday-Friday reporting cycle and a number of states have already stopped reporting on weekends.

The Florida Department of Health has ended its daily COVID-19 reports and is now updating numbers on a weekly basis. Friday’s FDOH report was for the week of May 28-June 3 and shows data just for Florida residents.

Scientists have found clues that the world’s leading COVID-19 vaccines offer lasting protection that could diminish the need for frequent booster shots, but they caution that more research is needed and that virus mutations are still a wild card.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is announcing a “month of action” Wednesday to urge more Americans to get vaccinated for COVID-19 before the July 4 holiday, with an early summer sprint of incentives, including free beer, childcare and sports tickets to convince Americans to roll up the…

The Florida Department of Health is taking Memorial Day weekend off from reporting on the state’s COVID-19 numbers, which are hitting some pandemic lows.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden ordered U.S. intelligence officials to "redouble" their efforts to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, including any possibility the trail might lead to a Chinese laboratory.

Highlands County saw nine new cases of COVID-19, according to Wednesday’s numbers released by the Florida Department of Health. This was down from the previous day. Five of the new cases were ages 35-44.

TALLAHASSEE — Four Florida residents have been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice as part of a nationwide crackdown on health-care fraud that authorities say exploited the COVID-19 pandemic. Authorities said they charged 11 people and added charges for three other defendants in six states.

SEBRING — The number of new school COVID-19 cases has dropped significantly in two weeks, according to the latest data from the Florida Department of Health.

SEBRING — Wearing a face mask is now optional in Highlands District Schools with the School Board removing the mask requirement for bus riders and students in transition at the secondary level.

Highlands County saw 12 new cases of COVID-19, according to Tuesday’s numbers released by the Florida Department of Health. This was the largest increase since Friday and second largest in the last two weeks. Four of the new cases were children between ages 5-14.

Highlands County saw eight new cases of COVID-19, according to Monday’s numbers released by the Florida Department of Health. This was the most since Friday. Three of the new cases were age 15-24.

LAKE PLACID — On Saturday afternoon, Toby’s Clown Museum hosted a kid’s carnival, open to everyone in the community. The carnival was a celebration of sorts as the restrictions of COVID are lessening. Clowns dressed in bright colors with bright wigs and red noses practiced the art of clownin…

LAKE PLACID — Although the COVID numbers may be on the decline, those on the frontline are still battling acute cases and dealing with the complications the disease has wrought. Still, the power of prayer is a constant comfort to those on the front line.

TALLAHASSEE — Florida plans to stop providing $300 a week in additional federal unemployment benefits as it pushes for people to return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Highlands County saw just two new cases of COVID-19, according to Sunday’s numbers released by the Florida Department of Health. Both cases were seen in children, with one being 2 and the other being 10 years old.

SEBRING — Highlands County added 17 new COVID-19 cases, all in residents, for a total of 8,724 cases from the latest numbers on Saturday from the Florida Department of Health.

While it’s far too early to declare victory over COVID-19, there is no doubt the country’s numbers are much better than they were just a month ago. The seven-day average for new coronavirus cases is down 58% from one month ago, while hospitalizations are down 35%. The nation’s positivity rat…

After four straight days with 10 coronavirus cases each, Friday saw Highlands County with just two new cases of COVID-19, according to the Florida Department of Health’s daily virus update. The cumulative total is now at 8,707. The cases are divided by 97 non-residents and 8,610 residents.

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed to block businesses from requiring customers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations, but legislation he recently signed included a carve-out for the health-care industry.

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The county’s COVID-19 daily reports have been good this week, so far. The hope is that this becomes a trend. When the daily coronavirus updates were released on Wednesday, there were only 10 new cases again. That’s the third day in a row with 10 cases, only one new case was reported Sunday. …

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Highlands County coronavirus numbers remained steady on Tuesday. The Florida Health Department’s report showed low numbers across the board when its daily COVID-19 report was released.

TALLAHASSEE — Florida’s tourism industry saw improvement during the first three months of 2021, but the number of visitors was still down 14% from a year earlier as the state continued to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Highlands County continued with low COVID-19 numbers on Monday. The new cases of coronavirus show just 10 people testing positive when Monday’s update was released by the Florida Department of Health. There have only been 11 new cases since Sunday started the week; they have all been from re…

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SEBRING — After the last person is inoculated on Saturday, the Highlands County Board of County Commission will close the doors on the Lakeshore Mall Point of Distribution (POD) for COVID-19 vaccines. The POD, located in the former JCPenney store has served as a central location for those se…

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The usual weekend lag was in full effect Saturday, as evidenced by the numbers released by the Florida Department of Health on Sunday. Numbers were down across the board — with testing, new cases and deaths all taking a turn downward.

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