6 Things to Know: Surfside Demands Access to Collapse Site for Investigation

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It’s Wednesday, July 28th – and NBC 6 has the top stories for the day.

No. 1 – As the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant continues, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has adjusted their mask recommendations for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

The update specifically recommends children under 12 wear masks indoors, and that includes teachers and staff. Over the last month, more than 9% of new cases have been in children under 12, compared to last year when they made up no more than 6% of new monthly cases.  Children under 12 are showing the biggest increase in cases among all age groups, up nearly 80% over the previous week The president of the United Teachers of Dade, Karla Hernandez Mats weighed in, releasing a statement on behalf of the group that these newly issued mask guidelines are in the best interest of students and educators. Miami-Dade School’s superintendent Alberto Carvalho said around two months ago they announced masks would be optional, now it’s back to the drawing board. 

No. 2 – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose re-election campaign is selling koozies quoting him saying, “How the hell am I going to drink a beer with a mask on?” held a private meeting Monday with doctors to oppose mask mandates in public schools.

DeSantis said he fears that the federal government might try to force mask mandates in schools, saying children would suffer. On Tuesday, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status. DeSantis didn’t invite media to the discussion, but his office provided a video and transcript of the meeting in the state Capitol. Florida accounted for a fifth of the nation’s new coronavirus infections last week, more than any other state, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

No. 3 – A South Florida politician is one of the thousands of patients recovering from a breakthrough case of COVID-19.

“When I was vaccinated, I was still masking up,” said North Miami Beach City Commissioner Fortuna Smukler. Smukler and her husband both got vaccinated and both contracted the COVID virus. Out of the 180 patients being treated at Broward Health System, 15 already had their COVID vaccinations. They are what’s known as “breakthrough COVID cases.” Doctors are not surprised. Click here for the story from NBC 6 reporter Steve Litz.

No. 4 – On a day when Gov. Ron DeSantis was meeting privately in Surfside with victims of the Champlain Towers collapse, a funeral was going on in New York City.

Five weeks of agony and the torment of not being able to put her to rest ended Tuesday for the family of Estelle Hedaya. She was the last victim recovered from the rubble. So her loved ones finally have closure. Tuesday morning, DeSantis met with a group of family members and local officials to discuss a variety of topics, including the future of the Champlain Towers site. Another topic discussed by the governor with the families was the investigation into the collapse. On Friday, Mayor Charles Burkett sent a letter to Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniela Levine Cava, asking once again for the Town’s hired structural engineering expert, Allyn Kilsheimer, to be allowed onto the site to conduct analytic testing. To find out why, click here for the story from NBC 6 reporter Ari Odzer.

No. 5 – The Florida Commission on Ethics rejected a $6,500 fine against a controversial South Florida political candidate.

The panel voted unanimously to pursue a stiffer penalty against former state senate candidate Alex Rodriguez as commissioners described a “flat out bribe.”  Commission advocate Elizabeth Miller signed off on the rejected agreement with Rodriguez’s attorney and presented it to the commission last Friday. In the agreement, Rodriguez admitted he filed improper paperwork and accepted money from former state senator Frank Artiles to change party affiliations and run to siphon votes away from a democratic candidate with the same last name, former state senator Jose Javier Rodriguez. For more on this story, click here for a report from NBC 6 investigator Phil Prazan.

No. 6 – American gymnast Simone Biles, who withdrew from the team final on Tuesday, will not compete in the women’s individual all-around final on Thursday, USA Gymnastics announced.

Biles could still compete in next week’s individual finals, and will continue to be evaluated daily, according to the team. Jade Carey, who put up the ninth-highest score in qualifications, will take her place in the all-around events. After her withdrawal on Tuesday, Biles told TODAY’s Hoda Kotb, “Physically, I feel good. Emotionally it varies on the time and moment. Coming to the Olympics and being head star isn’t an easy feat.” Biles has dazzled audiences with stunning routines. She made history when she became the first woman to complete a move called a triple-double in a floor routine, in which she accomplished two backflips and three twists.

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