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COVID-19 update: More signs that the omicron surge is easing in Florida as state reports drop in cases, hospitalizations

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Florida’s omicron-fueled COVID-19 surge continued to show signs of easing as the state reported a decline in cases and hospitalizations on Saturday, data shows.

There were 49,339 new cases on Friday, bringing the 7-day average of new cases to its lowest level in eight days, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The count does not include those who used at-home tests.

The new data shows that more than 5 million Floridians have been infected with COVID since the beginning of the pandemic.

The number of patients in the hospital with COVID-19 also held steady for the past week, after more than a month of steep increases. There were 11,561 patients with the virus on Friday, data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows, a slight decline from the previous two days. The number of intensive-care beds in Florida occupied by COVID-infected patients increased slightly to 1,510 on Friday.

The state added another six deaths to its toll, ending the week with one of its highest tolls since the end of the delta wave. The 7-day average for new deaths stood at 66 on Saturday, the highest since early December. Death reports lag behind case reports by several weeks.

On Friday, Florida reported the first decline in its weekly testing positivity rate, from 31.3% last week to 29.3% this week.

The decline in cases this week has also led to a decline in Florida’s per-capita ranking among other states. Florida dropped to 9th in the U.S. on Saturday with a 7-day average of 286 cases per 100,000 population after being in the top five earlier this month. But in per-capita death rankings, Florida has risen from near last a week ago to 41st on Saturday with a 7-day average of 0.31 deaths per 100,000.

As of Friday, at least 5,041,918 Floridians have been infected by COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic and at least 63,090 have died in total.

Meanwhile, the number of vaccine doses being administered in Florida is averaging 68,412 per day over the past seven days, the lowest vaccination level in over a week. About 64% of Floridians are fully vaccinated and 35% have received booster shots.

Here are the key statistics in Florida to watch:

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Thursday is warming up Orlando, but the heat won’t stay for long

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A warming trend is rising in Central Florida, but another cold front is hot on its heels coming into the weekend.

Temperatures are approaching well above the average for January, with the high forecast for 79 degrees Thursday, the temperature low is predicted at 58, said Maureen McCann, Spectrum News 13 meteorologist.

A southwesterly wind is warming things up ahead of an approaching system thought to be bringing rain and cold temperatures to Central Florida, McCann said.

Thursday is not anticipated to have rain, but rain chances emerge Friday at 20% and Saturday at 40%. Following the rain, temperatures should drop, with Saturday’s high forecast for 65 degrees and the low at 48. That cold trend should remain in the five-day forecast through the rest of the weekend and into the start of the next work week.

Jpedersen@orlandosentinel.com

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Driver transported after crashing into fence in Hollywood

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HOLLYWOOD, FLA. (WSVN) – A woman has been transported to the hospital after crashing her vehicle into a fence in Hollywood.

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 eastbound lanes of Pines Boulevard near 68th Avenue, at around 5:45 a.m., Thursday.

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.

7News spoke with the homeowner whose fence was destroyed. He said his son woke him up after hearing a loud crashing sound.

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

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

“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.”

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

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Missouri highway patrol blasts out ‘Batman’ cell phone alert by mistake

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(CNN) — The Joker is not on the rampage in Missouri, but it looks like authorities there are ready for the “Batman” villain.

An emergency alert mistakenly sent to mobile devices Tuesday by the Missouri State Highway Patrol asked residents of Gotham City to be on the lookout for a purple/green 1978 Dodge 3700 GT. The sedan, with license plate “UKIDME,” sounds a lot like the cars used by the Joker’s goons in the 1989 Batman movie.

It turns out there is no Gotham City in Missouri, and the message was sent in error during a test — apparently by someone with an impressive knowledge of the vehicles used in the movie that pits characters played by Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson.

“This was meant to be a test message, THERE WAS NO ALERT,” the law enforcement agency soon posted on social media. Similar errors by other public agencies sometimes have sparked real concern — and also gotten corrected quickly.

Missouri State Highway Patrol had been conducting “a routine test of Missouri’s Blue Alert system” when the message was sent to wireless devices around the state, the agency said in a news release.

“The Patrol regularly tests the Blue Alert system to ensure it works properly when needed. During the test, an option was incorrectly selected, allowing the message to be disseminated to the public,” the release said.

The Blue Alert system is designed to quickly spread information about “violent offenders who have killed, seriously injured, or pose an imminent and credible threat to law enforcement,” according to the highway patrol.

Last year, authorities in Chile mistakenly sent a tsunami evacuation warning following an earthquake. And in 2018, residents and tourists in Hawaii were terrified by a text warning of an incoming ballistic missile that turned out to be a false alarm.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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