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.
Hillsborough Schools Will Begin August 24, e-Learning For First 4 WeeksHILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - After a 5 hour Special Board Meeting today, it was voted that Hillsborough County Public Schools would delay the Reopening Plan that was passed 2 weeks ago. Hillsborough County Public Schools will still begin August 24th, but e-Learning will be for at least the first 4 weeks. The intentions of Thursday meeting was to hear from local medical experts from TGH/ USF and the director for the county's health department on the current COVID-19 situation in the community. According to school officials, two meetings will take place tomorrow with the district staff to get more clarity on this evolving situation. The decision to delay the start of that reopening plan and switch to 100% e-Learning or virtual schooling came today after those medical experts presented data and gave their opinions on the situation. Students will have a specific schedule to follow daily and participate in the Zoom classes with his/her teacher. This is a non-negotiable. Individual class schedules will be provided the week prior to school starting. These details will be available on the HCPS webpage. On Tuesday, September 8th the school board will meet at regularly scheduled time and have updated COVID-19 data presented. At that time they will make a recommendation to continue the current plan or extend it for longer. Please check back with CW44 News At 10 frequently for up to date information. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Several Pasco County Teachers: 'We Are Not In A Position To Open!'PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - With the new school year rapidly approaching, teachers and parents in Pasco County, Florida are pleading to Pasco County School Board Members to reconsider original reopening plans. The School Board as responded with a list of detailed safety measures. CW44's Andrea Alvarez reports several teachers took the podium yesterday at the board meeting with one simple message, 'We are not in a position to open!' One of the teachers elaborated, “I believe this is the wrong conversation for you all to be having today. Here in Pasco County, the plan to return to brick and mortar instruction ignores the recommendations of our nations tops public health officials.” Pasco County teachers are set to return to the classroom on August 17, 2020 and students on August 24. Amy Monroe of Pasco County Schools says, "We’ve got a staffing shortage as it is. We’re covering each other’s classes as it is last year and we can’t afford to do this.” Five year staff member of the district, Jeremy Blythe stood with several other teachers to speak out against the board's move to bring students back into brick and mortar classrooms so soon. “We are not in a position where we should be opening schools for face-to-face instruction. COVID-19’s transmission may not be visible, but its physical and mental effects certainly are. We must put our children’s lives first, not politics, not money, not power.” According to the school board, more than 66% of parents who responded to a survey said they want their child to return to traditional face-to-face learning. Kurt Browning, Superintendent of Pasco Co. Schools said there is a lack of flexibility in the district's decision-making process, point out, “The fact remains that when you read the emergency order, it is very clear that funding is tied to the fact that school districts need to open with bricks and mortar.” The Executive Order that Browning referred to states that brick and mortar reopening must occur five days a week and cannot be split up. For further details and information, you can visit Pasco School's website. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The Florida Aquarium Welcomes Their Newest Adorable ResidentTAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - There's a dapper new resident in Tampa! Meet Kini, pronounced Keen-EE. CW44's Price McKeon was given an exclusive introduction to the newest penguin at The Florida Aquarium! Seven-year-old, Kini arrived this summer from the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans, Louisiana. She joins nine new penguin friends and when asked how she's adjusting to her new home, Biologist Elizabeth Rittenberry shares, "She's doing really well. She really loves being with all the other penguins that we have here. And she's starting to have relationships with us as well, so we're building our relationship with her." McKeon also reports that a special relationship is brewing between Kini and Pebbles, the only penguin without a mate - that is until Kini arrived. Following state health guidelines, The Florida Aquarium is open with limited capacity for each day. Online reservations are required and can be made on their The Florida Aquarium's website. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
SpaceX Facilitates First Splashdown For NASA In 45 YearsFLORIDA (CW44 News At 10) - Mission accomplished, for two NASA astronauts who returned to Earth Sunday, following the first human flight for SpaceX. Pilots, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday. It's the first splash-down for NASA in 45 years. The pilots spent two months in space after becoming the first Americans to launch from the Kennedy Space Center since the shuttle program had been retired in 2011. "I think we're both super, super proud to have been just a small part of the team that accomplished, bringing those space flights back to the Florida coast and bringing that capability back to America." Behnken exclaimed. SpaceX Founder and CEO, Elon Musk voiced his enthusiasm, "I think this is one of those - is one of those things that is universally good no matter where you are on planet Earth. This is a good thing. And I hope it brightens your day." What's next? SpaceX now has plans to collaborate with NASA on astronaut flights to the moon, and then to Mars. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
News_8.3.20_TikTok Has 45 Days To SellTikTok Has 45 Days To Sell
2020 Primary Election Early Voting Now Open Through August 16 In Hillsborough CountyHILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Yesterday was the first day of Early Voting in the 2020 Primary Election in Hillsborough County, Florida. According to the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Office, as of 6 p.m. last night, the unofficial turnout to date was: Early Voting: 1,654 voters Vote By Mail: 78,938 voters The busiest Early Voting sites were Bloomingdale Regional Public Library, Bruton Memorial Library and Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library. Early Voting continues every day through August 16, 2020 (including weekends), 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 24 sites throughout the county. During Early Voting, voters can visit any of these locations to vote. This is different from Election Day voting, when voters can only vote in the polling place assigned to their precinct. Election Day for the Primary Election is August 18, 2020. The elections office has also taken extensive measures to ensure the health and safety of in-person voting, and has posted a video preview on the 2020 Primary Election page of their website. For more information on turnout today and throughout Early Voting, please visit VoteHillsborough.org. To view unofficial turnout counts, click here. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Office contributed to this story.
Video: Newly Hatched Turtle Scuttling Into The Ocean Before Hurricane IsaiasVERO BEACH, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - As Hurricane Isaias threatened the East Coast of Florida on Sunday, a beachgoer captured this adorable video of a freshly hatched turtle making its way to the ocean in Vero Beach, Florida. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Florida Businesses Struggling With Increase In Chargeback FraudTAMPA BAY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Florida is ranked among the highest in the nation when it comes to reported cases of fraud. Experts are speaking up about scams which have led to chargebacks, ultimately hurting some Tampa Bay businesses. “When the pandemic hit and people were given stay-at-home orders, you couldn’t do things like you normally did,” said Don Bush, Vice President of Sales/Marketing at Chargebacks911. “It drove people from going down to their local market, or their local store online to make purchases. And with millions and millions and millions of new people coming online and ordering things, chargebacks went up.” Amid a pandemic, online scamming is practically inevitable. More scammers are home with more time on their hands. “Scammers love pandemics and crisis and chaos and they will take advantage of that, so their presence went up,” said Bush. In 2018, 1.4 million Floridians lost more than $84 million in fraudulent activity. “Scammers will get online and they’ll say ‘hey, would you like to donate to this cause to help people with the pandemic.’. ‘Hey we’ve had to close your credit card account because we don’t have this information so, click here,” said Bush. When cardholders fall victim to fraud, businesses get chargebacks as a result. A chargeback happens when your online order is delivered incorrectly, or not at all, and you were still charged after disputing it. That’s when your bank intervenes. “And they will go to the merchant and say, ‘you didn’t perform as you’re supposed to so we’re going to take that money out of your account and give it back to the consumer,” said Bush. According to experts at Chargebacks 911, the number of these chargebacks is only climbing, and so are the sales. Experts calculated a 23% increase in overall chargeback issuances within weeks of the quarantine. “We saw a huge rise in chargebacks initially, it’s still above normal, we haven’t seen it drop back down yet,” said Bush. “We’ve already seen, gosh, about a 40% across-the-board growth in e-commerce, which it usually is about 16% to 18% year over year. And then, going into the fourth quarter is when you’ve got all the retailers see higher levels of transactions.” Some tips to avoid being targeted by scammers: donate directly to the source, such as The Red Cross or directly to your church. Emails are a large source of scams as well. You can check the sender name or web address to make sure it’s a legitimate, like RedCross.org and not a series of numbers and letters afterward. If you have any doubt whatsoever, the most reliable way to complete purchases or donations is to visit the website directly instead of clicking links within emails. For more information and tips, visit Chargebacks911.com. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
President Trump Makes A 2020 Campaign-Stop In Tampa Bay AreaTAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - President Donald Trump stopped to fundraise for his reelection campaign yesterday in Tampa, a little more than three months from the Presidential Election. During his stop at Tampa International Airport with law enforcement and a group of supporters, he slammed Democrats, including his opponent, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. President Trump repeatedly told the crowd at the airport, defunding the police will not happen. "[Joe Biden] said that when the well-armed officers do their job, enforce the law, they become the enemy. I say, 'they become the enemy when they enforce the law - that's nice'. When asked recently, he supports cutting police budgets, Biden looked at them and said, 'Yes, yes absolutely,' but again, I don't think he know what, exactly what the question meant." The President recently suggested the Presidential Election be delayed over voting-fraud concerns, but that change is in the hands of Congress where many members say the election will not be delayed. Naomi Ruchim reports from New York, President Trump again pushed his unfounded claim that mail-in voting will cause rampant voter-fraud. This, after he Tweeted that the 2020 election will be the most inaccurate and fraudulent election in history. Trump defended, "I don't want to delay. I want to have the election. But I also don't want to have to wait for three months and then find out that the ballots are all missing, and the election doesn't mean anything." The President doesn't have the power to delay an election. That decision is up to Congress, where Republican leaders say there will be an election on November 3, 2020. Senator Mitch McConnell defends, "Never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions, and the Civil War have we ever not had a Federally scheduled election on time. And we'll find a way to do that again this November third." In his argument, President Trump referred to New York's recent primary election where it took more than a month to count absentee ballots, the results were just finalized this week. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio defended, "We need to have that election on time. We need to have an election so the American people can make their decision." This week, during the funeral of Representative John Lewis, a staunch voting rights activist, former President Barack Obama appeared to accuse the administration of voter suppression. "Even as we sit here, there are those in power, who are doing their darndest to discourage people from voting." Back in April, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden predicted President Trump would try to move the election.
Local Entrepreneurs Utilize Pandemic To Disrupt Healthcare Tech IndustryTAMPA BAY AREA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Local and national healthcare innovators and entrepreneurs, better known as disruptors in this case, are using the COVID-19 pandemic to get ahead in technology and medicine. Their plan: Disrupt The Bay. “Entrepreneurs and health care experts out there have these ideas and they already have these products and they have these prototypes,” said Stan Liberatore, Founder of Disrupt the Bay. “But we need to get them to market so people can get quality care.” When describing Disrupt The Bay, “Innovators and disruptors and entrepreneurs and C-level executives and chief physicians from the major healthcare systems in the country, all together and putting them in one room so that way we can truly disrupt traditional healthcare,” said Liberatore. He says it’s a virtual conference where fresh minds will showcase big data and new technology. “Granted, there is technology out there that has been pushed to market, and now it’s finally because of COVID, it’s getting the attention that it deserves and it’s accelerating,”. Some keynote speakers present at the conference will include professionals from Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa General Hospital, and John Nosta, who says now is the time to disrupt. “Today is a unique time in human history. You know, you go back a little bit and everybody knows what IQ is, we want to be smart, and people want to be empathic and have a high EQ, but interestingly, what we’re seeing today is the emergence of a new idea that’s called TQ, our ability to assimilate technology into our lives is an arbiter of success,” said Nosta, who also serves on the Google Health Advisory Board and is a World Health Association Tech Expert. Liberatore says the rate of innovation in healthcare is at an astronomical speed right now. Some examples we’ve seen just during the pandemic include telehealth and mobile clinics. “It’s been something that’s been in the works and iterated on for the last ten years and now it’s a must,” said Liberatore. “With these concepts, with these ideas, we need to get them exposed.” That virtual conference will be held August 6th and 7th. For tickets, just visit DisruptTheBay.org.
Tampa Teen, UK Teen & Orlando Man Charged In 'Bit-Con' Twitter HackTAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Three individuals have been charged today for their alleged roles in the Twitter hack that occurred on July 15, 2020. Mason Sheppard, aka “Chaewon,” 19, of Bognor Regis, in the United Kingdom, was charged in a criminal complaint in the Northern District of California with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and the intentional access of a protected computer. Nima Fazeli, aka “Rolex,” 22, of Orlando, Florida, was charged in a criminal complaint in the Northern District of California with aiding and abetting the intentional access of a protected computer. The third defendant is a juvenile. With exceptions that do not apply to this case, juvenile proceedings in federal court are sealed to protect the identity of the juvenile. Pursuant to the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act, the Justice Department has referred the individual to the State Attorney for the 13th Judicial District in Tampa, Florida. SEE RELATED ARTICLE: Tampa Teen Arrested In Relation To July ‘Bit-Con’ Twitter Hack “The hackers allegedly compromised over 100 social media accounts and scammed both the account users and others who sent money based on their fraudulent solicitations,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The rapid investigation of this conduct is a testament to the expertise of our investigators, our commitment to responding quickly to cyber attacks, and the close relationships we have built with law enforcement partners throughout the world.” “There is a false belief within the criminal hacker community that attacks like the Twitter hack can be perpetrated anonymously and without consequence,” said U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson for the Northern District of California. “Today’s charging announcement demonstrates that the elation of nefarious hacking into a secure environment for fun or profit will be short-lived. Criminal conduct over the Internet may feel stealthy to the people who perpetrate it, but there is nothing stealthy about it. In particular, I want to say to would-be offenders, break the law, and we will find you.”
Pinellas County Officials Prepare For Impact Of Hurricane IsaiasPINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - NOTE: Friday, July 30, 2020 - At the time of the meeting, Hurricane Isaias was a Tropical Storm and had yet to be upgraded. It is important to follow up to the minute coverage of the storm. Pinellas County’s Emergency Management team gave county board members insight on their plans as Floridians prepare for tropical storm Isaias. “We are looking at the current timing for when we think the storm could potentially impact Pinellas County,” said Cathie Perkins, Director, Pinellas County Emergency Management. “In Emergency Management, we always like to prepare for higher impacts just in case, so our team has been having community meetings,”. Officials say they have boots on the ground in different parts of the county checking flood areas. “Public Works has already gone out to look at the usual spots for where there is flooding. The Brooker Creek, Tarpon Springs area is running a little bit higher than normal, so they are monitoring that,” said Perkins. The good news: we haven’t had a major influx of rain in those areas so most levels are low according to Emergency Management. “They will certainly monitor that. If they need to put pumps out there, they are prepared to do that,” said Perkins. The next step, Perkins says, is looking at shelters and staffing them, of course, with Covid-19 in mind. “If we need to open up any shelters, we have been talking about contingencies for that. If we think we could have the high tropical storm force winds, then we could look at potentially opening a community center,”. “Obviously staffing during a pandemic is a concern. It’s a concern for everybody. We’re going to have to work together to talk about options and alternatives,” said Barry Burton, Pinellas County Administrator. Officials are keeping a close eye on coastal areas but don’t expect life-threatening storm surge in the county. “At this point in time, we don’t think there is a need to call for any evacuations. Certainly if we think the winds will be high, we’ll take into consideration our electric dependent and our folks that live in mobile homes,” said Perkins. PIE International Airport is also looking at any impacts on their runways with any high tides or coastal inundation. As we mentioned yesterday, Mahaffey site operations have been suspended until next week. The CIC will be open to take calls from the public. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Pinellas County Suggests Adding These COVID-19 Essentials To Your Hurricane PreparationsPINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Pinellas County officials tell CW44 News at 10 they are now monitoring potential tropical cyclone #9 and suspending Mahaffey Theater test site operations. They are also asking residents to turn their attention to preparedness plans. “If you can open up your home to other people, safely, to come in and shelter with you, that’s an excellent idea,” said Cathie Perkins, Director, Pinellas County Emergency Management. Covid-19 continues to impact every aspect of our lives and it will also change the way we prepare during hurricane season. Pinellas County officials say most of their preparedness plans will remain the same but there are some notable differences. “From a perspective of you at home, you need to be thinking about, what do you need to put in your hurricane kit,” said Perkins. Among your kit with water, non-perishables, and flash lights, officials want you to add a few additional supplies this year. “This year we’re going to ask people to put those sanitation wipes and hand wipes in your kit if you can get them. Masks if you’re going to be sheltering with family or friends. Some of those supplies might still be a little bit scarce on the shelves, so just take your time and as you find those items, put them in your kit,” said Perkins. Due to the threat of the virus, officials say finding a host home with family or friends is a good idea. But if you plan on heading to a public shelter… “What will be different is we’ll do a temperature screening when people come in. We’ll make sure that everybody has their mask,” said Perkins. The County is making plans to assign people to different rooms to maintain distance. “We’re working on making sure that we have enough space so we can help people social distance when they come in. We’re working on making sure that we have increased sanitation at all of those locations, and making sure that we have supplies there,” said Perkins. And for anybody that may be COVID-19 positive when Pinellas County calls for an evacuation order: “We’ll be asking them, can you shelter or isolate safely in your home or another location? If not, then we’ll be looking at having some non-congregate sites so we can safely isolate them during the storm,” said Perkins The Mahaffey Theater testing site will suspend operations Thursday at 7 p.m. and will not operate Friday or Saturday and is anticipated to resume next week. For more hurricane preparation tips, download the ReadyPinellas app or visit pinellascounty.org. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
CW44 News - 7.28.2020 - McKeonHILLSBOROUGH COUNTY’S PET RESOURCE CENTER OFFERS RESIDENTS THIS FREE BAG WITH A CHECKLIST ON IT TO HELP PREPARE PET OWNERS FOR A POSSIBILITY OF A HURRICANE.
CW44 News - 7.28.2020 - AlvarezST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - SPPD is continuing its search for Angela Jolley, age 46, and her daughter Alexis Jolley, age 19, after finding that they most likely left Florida safely with their two dogs. They were last seen by Angela's stepfather on the evening of July 23, 2020. On Jul 24, 2020 Angela was supposed to start work at her VA Hospital job at 6:30am. Detectives obtained video of both Angela and Alexis packing their car and two dogs early that morning. At 6:52am, 22-minutes after she was supposed to show up at her job, Angela (and Alexis) appear on surveillance video at the GTE Financial Bank located across the street from their home. There Angela withdrew money and transferred some to different accounts. When Angela did not show up at work, her boss went to her home to check on her but didn't find her there. Her boss called police and reported her missing. At 3:30pm detectives arrived at their home in 4600 block of 38th Ave N to conduct a search and speak with Angela's stepdad(Alexis' grandfather) who lives with them. Investigators say there was no sign of a struggle or violence in the home. Both women's phones and other electronic devices were found inside the home. Through various investigative techniques, police found that the pair passed through Valdosta, Georgia in Interstate 75 around 11:29a.m. that morning. Later, their vehicle was spotted in Columbus, Mississippi. Detectives believe the pair stayed in a hotel overnight in Mississippi before Angela's car was last seen (at 7:09am) on July 25, 2020 entering Tennessee, just south of Memphis. Detective Kevin Haemmelmann said that they have every right to travel away from the area without notifying friends and family. However, he cannot rule out the possibility of foul play. The search for them will continue until detectives can verify Angela and Alexis are safe.
CW44 News - 7.27.2020 - St. Pete Announces Tropicana Field RFPSt. Pete Announces Tropicana Field RFP
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CW44 News - 7.27.2020 - AlvarezReturning to school amid the pandemic and how it may affect children with special needs.
CW44 News - 7.24.2020 - TB Rays and Social JusticeTAMPA BAY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) -
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CW44 News - 7.24.2020 - McKeonHILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Hillsborough County, FL - On Friday, July 24 at 11 a.m., the Hillsborough County Canvassing Board will meet to oversee the conduct of a Logic & Accuracy Test of ballot scanners that will be used in the 2020 Primary Election. "This is about transparency and integrity. We test every one of our tabulators, and then perform this public test of randomly selected equipment to demonstrate the accuracy of our vote tabulation," said Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer. Elections supervisors are required by Florida law to use election equipment that meets the state's stringent certification standards, and to perform this Logic & Accuracy Test before every election. During the test, stacks of pre-filled ballots are scanned through a random selection of the ballot scanners that will be used for all three methods of voting (Early Voting, Vote By Mail and Election Day voting) to ensure that the scanners are reading every position on the ballot and counting votes accurately. After the Logic & Accuracy Test, the equipment is sealed and kept under camera surveillance until being deployed to voting locations. Other checks and balances that ensure the accuracy and integrity of our vote tabulation include: -- Comparing the number of voter check-ins with the number of ballots scanned -- Posting paper results tapes from each scanner on the doors of polling places after voting has concluded -- Performing a post-election audit of 100% of our ballots by scanning them through an independent system to verify reported results The test is open to the public and takes place Friday, July 24, 2020 at 11 a.m. at the Robert L. Gilder Elections Service Center, 2514 N. Falkenburg Rd., Tampa, 33619. Attendees, including media, should go to the warehouse entrance in the back of the building, where they can observe from outside or inside the building. Those who come in the building will be required to pass a temperature check, maintain social distancing and wear a mask at all times. More information about the 2020 Primary Election is available at VoteHillsborough.org.
Sarasota Woman Pleads For Mask Mandate To Protect Florida SeniorsSARASOTA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Susan Thomas is a seasonal resident living in Venice, a small coastal town in Sarasota County. She is living in fear as little has been done on behalf of local officials to protect seniors during the pandemic. “Yeah, I mean, I got really, really scared in March. I was very scared and I still am. I have pre-existing conditions. I would not survive [COVID-19],” said Thomas. “You know, I don’t understand the lack of a mask order. I just don’t understand it.” Her response to the issue began back in June when she sent an email to Sarasota County Commissioners. Just days before, officials would vote on whether or not to require face masks, she urged them to pass an order requiring them. In her email, she stated she wouldn’t return to [brick and mortar] shopping until citizens were required to wear masks, also noting that local economy would be impacted by their decision. “Where it really hit home is when I had to do my will. I’m 62, and I was like, ‘oh my God’ and it made me so sad,” said Thomas. But to her surprise, county officials voted not to require face coverings. “There’s nothing in the county, I was shocked. Venice...and that really is a village, just the little island of Venice. They did not pass it and I’m just shocked." Thomas then reached out to Governor DeSantis’ office but says nothing was done. “And I just wonder, you know, I listen to the Governor and I just don’t see him doing anything to protect us. And he says, ‘oh we’re protecting seniors', and I’m thinking ‘what does that mean?’. When he thinks seniors, he thinks people in nursing homes,” said Thomas. As top health officials across the U.S. are pleading for universal mask mandates, the latest data shows more than half of U.S. states now have that mandate in place as COVID-19 remains a threat. But she’s upset Florida isn’t following suit, given it’s number of positive cases. “Honestly, it blows my mind. I’m-- I’m more scared now than I was before,” said Thomas. CW44 News at 10 also reached out to Governor DeSantis’ office with Susan’s concerns asking if anything had been done or was in the works to help protect seniors, but we have not heard back. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
CW44 News - 7.23.2020 - AlvarezHillsborough County Public Schools Meeting last night. At today's special called School Board meeting, the Board voted to approve the Superintendent’s recommendation that the first day of school for students be moved from August 10 to August 24. Teachers and staff will return to schools as planned on July 31. The School Board also approved a new student calendar to make up for missed classroom time due to pushing the school start day to August 24. The district will change Monday, March 22, 2021 and Monday, April 19, 2021 from non-student days to regular instructional days. Additionally, students will return from Winter Break a day earlier, on January 4, 2021. The School Board also voted on a new bell schedule to ensure students have the required amount of time in their courses. The district’s School Reopening Plan will now be sent to the state for final approval as required by the state’s Executive Order. Click here to view the proposed 2020-2021 Student Calendar PDF for Hillsborough County Public Schools.