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Universal workers must be vaccinated or get weekly testing

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Starting next month, workers at Universal Orlando’s theme parks will have to be vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing in order to comply with federal guidelines, company officials said Wednesday.

A majority of workers already are vaccinated. The new policy doesn’t affect guests.

Under federal regulations that took effect Monday, companies with 100 or more employees must require workers to be vaccinated or mandate unvaccinated employees to undergo weekly COVID testing. The regulations are being challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Workers at Universal’s theme parks must be fully vaccinated by Feb. 9 or be required to take a test every week, Universal officials said in a statement. They said the company initially will provide free, onsite testing.

“The health and safety of our guests and team members has been our ongoing focus during the pandemic,” the statement said. “We will also be monitoring legal action involving these regulations by a variety of state and private interests and will adapt accordingly if there are changes.”

Last fall, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a measure prohibiting private businesses from having vaccine mandates unless they allow workers to opt out for medical reasons, religious beliefs, immunity based on a previous infection, regular testing or an agreement to wear protective gear. The federal law trumps Florida’s.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Florida first lady finishes chemotherapy for breast cancer

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BOWLING GREEN, Fla. (AP) — Florida first lady Casey DeSantis has completed her final chemotherapy treatment after a breast cancer diagnosis, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday.

The first lady’s diagnosis was made public in October. The governor said she finished the chemotherapy treatments Wednesday, calling it a “big milestone.”

“She’s doing well and we look forward to having good news over the ensuing weeks and months,” the Republican governor said at a news conference in Bowling Green.

Casey DeSantis, 41, has played an active role in her husband’s administration, often appearing alongside the governor at official events. The couple has three children.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Alec Baldwin sued for defamation by family of slain Marine

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The widow and two sisters of a U.S. Marine killed in Afghanistan are suing Alec Baldwin, alleging the actor exposed them to a flood of social media hatred by claiming on Instagram that one sister was an “insurrectionist” for attending former President Donald Trump’s Washington, D.C., rally on Jan. 6 last year.

The sister, Roice McCollum, protested peacefully and legally; was not among those who stormed the U.S. Capitol that day and, after being interviewed by the FBI, “was never detained, arrested, accused of or charged with any crime,” according to the lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Cheyenne.

The lawsuit comes as Baldwin is immersed in an ongoing investigation into the death of a cinematographer and the wounding of a director last fall after a prop gun the actor was holding on a movie set went off.

Last year, Baldwin sent McCollum a $5,000 check to help the widow of her brother Marine Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum of Jackson, who was among 13 U.S. soldiers killed in a suicide bombing Aug. 26 at the Kabul airport, according to the lawsuit.

On Jan. 3 of this year, the lawsuit says, the actor privately messaged Roice McCollum on Instagram soon after she posted an almost year-old photo of the Trump rally, asking if she was the same woman who’d taken his donation. The suit says McCollum confirmed she was at the protest and told Baldwin, “Protesting is perfectly legal.”

The suit says Baldwin responded by remarking that “her activities resulted in the unlawful destruction of government property, the death of a law enforcement officer, an assault on the certification of the presidential election,” and told McCollum that he’d reposted the photo to his 2.4 million Instagram followers.

“Good luck,” Baldwin wrote, according to the lawsuit.

“Baldwin plainly ignored Roice’s denial of rioting and the assertion that she was cleared by the FBI for participating in any of the conduct Baldwin chose to falsely attribute to her via his massive following,” the lawsuit reads.

Representatives for Baldwin didn’t immediately return email and phone messages Wednesday. FBI officials in Denver didn’t return email messages Wednesday asking if the lawsuit’s assertions about Roice McCollum are true. Federal court records reviewed by The Associated Press did not show any criminal charges against her.

After Baldwin shared the photo of the Jan. 6 protest on social media, Roice McCollum got “hundreds upon hundreds of hateful messages,” including one telling her to “get raped and die” and that her brother “got what he deserved,” according to the lawsuit.

In a post under his Instagram account, #alecbaldwininsta, Baldwin called that message “abhorrent,” and told Roice McCollum, “There are hateful things posted toward you that are wrong,” according to computer screenshots filed in the case.

The lawsuit says Baldwin didn’t do anything to remedy the situation, however. And by sharing the photo, he “lit the match and blew on the fire,” resulting in the hateful messages and death threats not only against Roice McCollum but also against Rylee McCollum’s other sister, Cheyenne McCollum, and widow, Jiennah McCollum, it says.

The lawsuit, first reported by the Casper Star-Tribune, alleges invasion of privacy, defamation, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress and seeks $25 million in damages.

Jiennah McCollum gave birth to her late husband’s daughter in September. Online fundraisers have raised around $1 million for the widow and child.

On Friday, Baldwin surrendered his cellphone to authorities investigating a fatal shooting on a film set in New Mexico last fall. Baldwin’s prop revolver discharged a live round during a rehearsal, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza, according to authorities.

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Driver transported after crashing into fence in Pembroke Pines

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PEMBROKE PINES, FLA. (WSVN) – A woman has been transported to the hospital after crashing her vehicle into a fence in Pembroke Pines.

7SkyForce hovered over the scene where rescue crews could be seen carrying the woman away from the side of the road on a stretcher.

The crash happened along the westbound lanes of Pines Boulevard near 68th Avenue, early Thursday morning.

The vehicle the woman was driving crashed into a nearby neighbor’s yard. There was apparently another vehicle involved in the crash.

The victim’s condition remains unknown but police said initial reports showed her injuries were not serious.

7News spoke with homeowner Ismail Samara, whose fence was destroyed. He said his son woke him up after hearing a loud crashing sound at around 5:45 a.m.

“It was like a really loud ‘Boom,’ like you know when you hear lightning strike?” said the homeowner’s son, Yousef Samara. “It was louder than that.”

At around 6 a.m., his neighbor then called to see if he knew about the damage to his fence.

“He told me, ‘You don’t have any fence,’” said Ismail.

“From my understanding, I think the car that hit my house, she hit that black car then she ran into my fence and my neighbor’s fence and she damaged both of them,” he said. “Luckily nothing [else] happened because the concrete stopped her from going further.”

Ismail said he was shocked but thankful his house wasn’t hit.

“It’s amazing. People driving fast on this street and we always hear it when we’re inside. They go over 60 miles [per hour] and sometimes they race on this street,” he said.

Now, he’s left to pick up the mess left behind.

“I have kids and I cannot leave the house like this,” he said.

Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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