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West Wing Hotel Converted Into COVID-19 Care Site In Hillsborough CountyHILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - COVID-19 positive patients in Hillsborough County, Florida can now go from the hospital to a hotel for continuing medical care. CW44's Price McKeon explains how this new project works. This boutique hotel on Fowler Avenue is now a new COVID-19 care site. "Hillsborough County has acquired this hotel to turn it into a transitional living facility." Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, Ray Hanson explains the purpose behind the county refitting the West Wing Hotel to accommodate patients recovering from a COVID-19 hospital stay. "For the main purpose of freeing up hospital bed space of patients that don't require hospital care or hospital level care in the hospital setting." The county says the site serves patients who are eligible for discharge from the hospital but still need medical support and may not be able to go straight home from the hospital. "What the county has done to the hotel is they've upgraded the electrical system for the installation of an automatic transfer switch," said Hanson.  Hillsborough says the changes made are to accommodate specific needs of a medical facility. Hanson elaborates, "We will have a generator because, obviously COVID-19 is going to be lasting through the hurricane season. And we want to be prepared in case we have a long term power outage." "We're really excited and very thankful for this partnership with the county," Baycare Health Systems teamed up with the county to launch this new project. "This is really allowing us to meet community needs by expanding healthcare resources above and beyond what we have in our hospitals right now." Dr. Jackie Callie says COVID-19 patients who have to be hospitalized tend to take a long time to recover. "...and they tend to have symptoms for quite a while and remain infectious, even when they're ready to be discharged from the hospital." So now there's this option where patients can receive around the clock medical care until they can check out and go home. "...and so by having this opportunity we can house them safely before they go home and could potentially expose others in the household." According to the county, the hotel has 115 rooms. 50 of them will be used by Baycare. About a dozen rooms have been converted to support rooms which are like mini-nursing stations. Other hospitals and Hillsborough can use the remaining rooms if they need to. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Violent Protesters In Beirut Accuse Government Corruption Led To BlastBeirut, Lebanon (CW44 News At 10) - People in Beirut, Lebanon are protesting against the government after a giant explosion killed more than 150 people on August 4, 2020. Demonstrators claimed corruption led to Tuesday's blast which destroyed thousands of homes and a large amount of the country's food supply. Grief has turned to anger in Beirut. Overnight, protesters battled security forces near parliament. They're furious that the government knew about the 2,700 tons of explosive Ammonium nitrate stored at a facility in the port and did nothing about it, despite warnings from customs officials for years. That neglect resulted in Tuesday's deadly blast. Rescue teams continue to search for the dozen still missing next to the smoldering explosion site. Family members wait nearby hoping for a miracle because the alternative is unbearable. Tatiana, the daughter of a missing victim of the blast said, "I think he's there, but I think if we continue to work slowly, probably, time will run out." Others confront their grim new reality. Corporal Georges de Abbas was one of those taken in an instant. He was donating blood when the blast killed him. On Thursday, people in the city greeted Emmanuel Macron with chants calling for a revolution. The French President vowed to help the people, not the politicians, "We need an open and transparent International Investigation to avoid, first of all, things being hidden, but also to stop doubt setting in." For now residents of Beirut start the long process of piecing their lives back together. An insurmountable task to repair a city of broken homes and broken hearts. More than 25 countries including the U.S. have offered aid to Lebanon including desperately needed money, medical supplies and food. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Citrus County Sheriff's Office Nab 55 In Operation Coin TossCITRUS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - According to Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast, the fourth and final quarter of Operation Coin Toss has concluded, resulting in the seizure of more fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine off the streets of Citrus County. Originally started in June 2019, the first quarter of Operation Coin Toss targeted those responsible for drug trafficking and those who sell illegal narcotics.  Throughout the entire operation, the Citrus County Sheriff's Office Tactical Impact Unit (TIU) partnered with the US Marshals, the Florida Department of Correction's Probation Services, Citrus County Code Enforcement, and many other community partners. In the Fourth Quarter, TIU focused on reported drug overdoses and intelligence collected through these investigations. By obtaining information on suppliers tied to fatal drug overdoses, TIU was able to conduct covert surveillance and undercover drug purchases resulting in the combined seizure of 40 grams of deadly fentanyl, 143 grams of methamphetamine, 87 grams of heroin, and 30 grams of cocaine. The Fourth Quarter resulted in nine individual residential search warrants and 23 individuals arrested. During the process of conducting covert surveillance and gathering intelligence, an additional 32 individuals were arrested. The final quarter resulted in 55 arrests, 122 felony charges and 43 misdemeanor charges. "The focus of Operation Coin Toss is to dismantle the drug supply chains plaguing the vulnerable population of Citrus County," said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. "We continue to focus our attention on the dealers who are making a profit by exploiting addicts and their loved ones." In addition to seizing illegal narcotics, detectives were able to recover several stolen items and seize firearms from convicted felons. The Fourth Quarter yielded the recovery of a stolen Honda dirt bike, a stolen Suzuki four-wheeler, counterfeit currency making devices, and stolen firearms. There were several firearms that had been illegally modified or had their serial numbers removed. All firearms were seized and resulted in 12 felony firearm charges. "There is a direct correlation between the illegal sale of narcotics and the dealing in stolen property and other property related crimes," stated Major Justin Ferrara. "Focusing on the suppliers of deadly narcotics also allows us to recover stolen property and reduce the indirect crimes associated with drug sales."
SpaceX Astronauts Discuss Their Historic Mission To The ISSCAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - The two American astronauts who were the first to fly to space from US soil and nearly a decade, have been getting reacquainted with life back on Earth. Today they talked about their amazing adventures. After 64 days in space NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico. Just a few days after coming home, they say they're glad to be back on solid ground, "We're excited to be back we're already working through our exercise rehabilitation program to kind of get our Earth legs back." The veteran pilots were the first Americans to blast off from US soil in nine years, and then first to leave Earth on a rocket made by a private company. The rocket carrying the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida on May 30, 2020. Hurley and Behnken joined the crew of the International Space Station a day later. They went on four spacewalks and performed about 100, hours of science experiments. Hurley related, "The mission went, just like the simulators and, and I, I'm obviously from start to finish, all the way there was really no surprises." Behnken added, "The greatest lesson folks could take from our experience is one of perseverance." Behnken's wife, Katherine Megan McArthur is also an astronaut. She'll helm the next SpaceX mission to the ISS in Spring 2021 in the same capsule that took her husband there. Hurley called the experience one of the true honors of his life.
2020 Back-To-School Florida Sales Tax Holiday Is This WeekendFLORIDA (CW44 News At 10) - This weekend is Florida's annual tax free weekend for back to school bargains technology may be the hot ticket item, as many students across the state are returning to classes remotely. During this sales tax holiday period, qualifying items will be exempt from tax, including certain school supplies selling for $15 or less per item; clothing, footwear, and certain accessories selling for $60 or less per item; and the first $1,000 of the sales price of personal computers and certain computer-related accessories purchased for noncommercial home or personal use. This sales tax holiday begins Friday, August 7, 2020, and ends Sunday, August 9, 2020. For more information and a list of qualifying items, please review the Department of Revenue's Tax Information Publication (TIP) on the 2020 Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Job Fair: Raymond James Stadium Hosting The Event On August 22TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa, Florida is hosting a job fair ahead of the upcoming NFL football season. The job fair is August 22, 2020. Masks are required and temperature checks will be administered upon arrival. A wide range of positions are available, including: parking lot attendants, ticket takers, security, cleaning and food service roles. Representatives from Tampa Sports Authority, Legends, Sentry Events Services and other companies will be taking applications and conducting interviews. The job fair will take place from 9:00am to 3:00pm at the East Club of Raymond James Stadium. Please park in Lot B/C off of Himes Avenue.  ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Lebanese Government Places Port Officials Under House-ArrestBeirut, Lebanon (CW44 News At 10) - Investigators in Beirut, Lebanon are working to find out if Tuesday's gigantic explosion was caused by negligence. The blast killed at least 135 people including one American, around 5,000 others are injured.  The hellscape that was once Beirut's port, now laid to waste by over 2,700 tons of Ammonium nitrate. How such a vast quantity of such volatile material was allowed to rot for over six years in a warehouse so close to the city center is still being investigated. The Lebanese Government is putting the port's managers under house arrest while it pieces together how the Russian-owned cargo ignited. Many here are blaming the country's ruling elite after reports surfaced suggesting officials had repeatedly warned that dangerous chemicals needed to be removed. So few in Beirut were spared, including a little girl, Sophie, in intensive care whose brain is bleeding from shattered glass. Her parents say they also lost their home. Sophie's mother said, "I tried to protect her, but I couldn't..." There are still some moments of hope, like when rescuers pulled a man from the rubble 16 hours after the explosion. There's also music. 78-year-old May Melki survived Lebanon's 15-year civil war, and later, conflicts with Israel. Her home may now be in ruins but her piano skills and resolve are as strong as ever. Melki commented, "Each time these catastrophes happen, we stand up and start again." No further information has been released about the American who was killed or those injured, but a vast search and rescue effort continues. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The NRA Faces A Lawsuit That Could Shut Them DownNEW YORK CITY, NY (CW44 News At 10) - The nation's most powerful pro gun organization is now facing a lawsuit that could shut it down. Following an 18 month investigation, New York State is accusing National Rifle Association (NRA) leaders of using donations as a personal piggy bank. The NRA is firing back saying the allegations are politically motivated. Michael George has the latest. New York's Attorney General, Letitia James wants to dissolve the National Rifle Association. "The organization went unchecked for decades, while top executives funnel millions into their own pockets." In a lawsuit filed Thursday New York State alleges four NRA leaders including executive vice president Wayne LaPierre failed to manage NRA funds and failed to follow state and federal laws. James says, "They use millions upon millions dollars from the NRA for personal use, including for lavish trips for themselves and their families. In addition to grossly misusing these for personal use, Mr. LaPierre created an illegal pass through arrangement to conceal the very nature of these expenditures." In a statement NRA president, Carolyn Meadows says, "This was a baseless premeditated attack on our organization and the Second Amendment freedoms it fights to defend." She adds, "Our members won't be intimidated or bullied and their defensive political and constitutional freedom." The NRA is registered as a nonprofit in New York. While the organization is struggling financially, it still boasts more than 5 million members and fiercely defends gun ownership rights. President Trump is a big supporter. "That's a very terrible thing that just happened. I think the NRA should move to Texas and lead a very good and beautiful life." The NRA says it will counter-sue New York State which could set the stage for a legal battle that lasts for years. The lawsuit accuses LaPierre of using NRA funds to take a trip to the Bahamas over three years. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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