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CW44 News - 7.1.2020 - Alvarez“I’ve never not worked a whole day in my life. I left home at 15 and I’ve always had two jobs so it was really challenging for me to get out of that work mode and to just slow myself down,” said Leah Chavie, Owner of Leah Chavie Skincare Boutique in Manatee County. Filled with passion and drive, Leah Chavie says it might be a difficult time to chase a dream but not even that could stop her. “I left Rosemont Minnesota and went to Chicago and opened my own business about 10 years ago on Halsted [Street] in Chicago,” said Chavie. With her Chicago business meeting it’s 10th anniversary, and what the year 2020 had in store, she wasn’t exactly able to celebrate. “Where I live and where my business is, is right in the heart of the city which is considered a hot zone and so that kind of brought some fear and anxiety within itself for me. You know it was just a really hard decision to step away and to step back from my business but we had no choice, you know, we had to be socially responsible and shut down. How can we practice safe skincare being so close?” And after dealing with loss and her 2nd Chicago location burning down she decided to get away for a moment. “We made a decision to pack up our car and our three dogs and to drive 19 hours to kind of escape the cold and, at that point, we just really didn’t know the intensity of everything that was happening and there was so much fear floating around,” said Chavie. But that week turned into 2 months along with a life changing decision. “It was just an interesting time and we had made the decision prior to coming back that we wanted to open this business here just… it called to me, something called to me and everything just kept opening up for us down here,” said Chavie. She beat the odds and opened up a new business on Anna Maria Island during a pandemic. “Truth be told the way that my mind was thinking was that what if Chicago doesn’t allow us to open back up anytime soon because it was such a hot spot, that we wanted to have another option,” said Chavie. She says it wasn’t easy, but was one of the best instinctive decisions she’s made. “It a scary time and nobody knows what’s going to happen, nobody knows where this is going to go if, now were seeing a resurgence. I just feel like, ‘why not’, you know. Why not try it and see what we can do,” said Chavie. And she hopes to be an inspiration to other business owners during some of the most trying times. “But you know, you learn through everything and you grow from each experience and it makes you a stronger person and a better business owner if you will. I feel, with the pandemic, that really has brought that out for a lot of people. What important, and it’s about people and relationships and respect and integrity,” said Chavie.
CW44 News - 6.30.2020 - McKeonMIKE MERRILL DOESN’T HOLD BACK DURING HIS FINAL ON CAMERA INTERVIEW AS HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY’S ADMINISTRATOR… I've learned a lot of lessons along the way. So I’m going to put it this way we’re in a war. ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO THE CURRENT COVID 19 SURGE. So we’re not just fighting for for our lives we’re fighting for our livelihoods. MIKE MERRILL OFFICIALLY RETIRES TUESDAY AFTER RUNNING HILLSBOROUGH’S DAY TO DAY OPERATIONS FOR MORE THAN A DECADE. So I'd rather not because I think there is some benefit in continuity but I have no choice THE MAN WHO’S WORKED FOR THE COUNTY SINCE 1988 EXPLAINS THAT 5 YEARS AGO HE OPTED INTO A RETIREMENT PLAN THAT MAKES HIM CALL IT QUITS WITHIN THOSE 5 YEARS. So 5 years ago when I elected it I didn’t know we'd be in a pandemic now fast forward 5 years and June 30th I have to leave WITH THE SPIKE IN COVID 19 CASES… AND EYES AROUND THE COUNTRY LOOKING AT LOCAL LEADERS… A MAJORITY OF THIS INTERVIEW WITH HIM FOCUSED ON THE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS…. *Put aside whatever disagreements other things that are going because the virus doesn’t care about that this is going to keep coming BUT MERRILL RAN THE COUNTY OPERATIONS THROUGH MUCH MORE THAN THIS PANDEMIC… THINK BACK TO 2010… WHEN HE FIRST GOT THE JOB TITLE. certainly getting the economy thru the recession was important THE INTERVIEW STARTS TO WRAP UP AS I ASK HIM WHAT TYPE OF LEGACY DOES HE HOPE TO LEAVE BEHIND. I wold hope that people would feel that I was fair commited and really worked hard for the community to improve EARLIER THIS MONTH COMMISSIONERS RENAMED THE PET RESOURCE CENTER AFTER HIM.... BUT WHAT SOME MAY WONDER... WHAT'S NEXT FOR WHO THE MAN WHO SERVED THE COUNTY FOR MORE THAN THREE DECADE? Sleep for a while AND HE SAYS HE'LL SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH HIS TWO PUPS AUGGIE AND SUNI. REPORTING IN HILLSBOROUGH CO PM CW 44 NEWS AT TEN.
CW44 News - 6.30.2020 - AlvarezPinellas County officials discuss beach plans ahead of fourth of July weekend “We’ve been receiving a lot of emails asking us to close the beaches,” said Ken Welch, Pinellas County Commissioner. Just 4 days ahead of the Fourth of July weekend, Pinellas County commissioners started a conversation during Tuesday’s board meeting after receiving emails from citizens to close beaches. The big question: should beaches remain open during the pandemic? “We know we have an issue with people intermixing in large groups, but we also know that indoor places are much higher risk,” said Barry Burton, Pinellas County Administrator. Miami and Fort Lauderdale beaches are among those already closing for the holiday weekend due to the virus. While the majority of commissioners mentioned they would not support the idea. “I really don’t believe the beaches are the problem,” said Kathleen Peters, Pinellas County Commissioner “I’m not in favor of closing the beach either, I think it’s counterproductive at this point,” said Pat Gerard, Pinellas County Commission Chair “I do not support that at this point but I also am concerned about having a presence on the beach and making sure we don’t have a replay of Spring Break,” said Ken Welch, Pinellas County Commissioner. They recalled Memorial Day weekend where hundreds of law enforcement officers were present along the coastline. “I’d like to see us step up enforcement in those places we know are going to be hot spots,” said Pat Gerard, Pinellas County Commission Chair. But Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says it’s not that simple. “We’ll keep an eye on it, but to do what we did before with 300 deputies, law enforcement officers every place and the amount of personnel and the costs and to try and implement that with a couple days-notice, I’m not sure we’re accomplishing anything and there will be a whole lot of push back,” said Gualtieri. He says a large enforcement presence disbursing any crowds doesn’t exactly fix the problem during a pandemic. “So now you’ve got a situation where the hotels are extremely high occupancy plus you’ve got the locals. And you start pushing people away, all you’re going to do is push them into the pools, the pool decks and the hotels,” said Gualtieri. And he’s counting on citizens to take on the task. “Where does personal responsibility come in? When do we stop holding everybody’s hand.. ‘cause either they’re going to do it or they’re not at this point,” said Gualtieri. Right now, there are no local orders that pertain to the beaches however we are still under the governors phase two order which does impact your day at the beach. Your group can be no larger than 50 people and you must still remain 6 ft. apart from other groups. Stick with CW44 News for this developing story.
CW44 News - 6.29.2020 - AlvarezPINELLAS COUNTY (CW44 News At 10) - According to a Twitter post from Baycare, for the second day in a row, Tropicana Field COVID-19 Testing site forced to turn away residents after depleting testing supplies. On Monday, June 29th, A Pinellas County COVID-19 testing site shut down after running out of tests. Hundreds of cars lined up outside of Tropicana Field, Monday morning, just before sunrise to catch their spot in line for Covid-19 testing. The site was created as a partnership between the City of St. Pete, Baycare Health System, The Florida Dept. of Health in Pinellas and Pinellas County and opened at 7:00 a.m. Testing was on a first come, first serve basis. What they didn’t expect is the overwhelming amount of cars that would show up. Just an hour after opening, the site had to be shut down after reaching capacity. CW44 News at 10 reached out to Baycare who released this statement reading in part “No one likes turning people away, but unfortunately the nation’s supply lines and laboratories capacity continue to struggle to expand fast enough to keep up with COVID-19’s spread and the increased demand for testing.”. Health officials say 357 people were tested before they made the announcement to shut the site down. Testing materials had run out. St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman responded to the shut down given the site’s partnership with the City of St. Pete. On social media he said in part "The testing capacity is disappointing. We are working with the state to bring additional, expanded testing with Saturday and evening hours to another St. Pete site ASAP." The St. Pete Police Department took to Twitter during the shut down. The department urged citizens right away to return to the site when it opens back up on Tuesday at 7:00 a.m. For more testing info, call 1-800-BAYCARE.
CW44 News - 6.29.2020 - AlvarezPinellas Co testing site shuts down after running out of tests Hundreds of cars lined up outside of Tropicana Field Monday morning just before sunrise to catch their spot in line for Covid-19 testing. The site was created as a partnership between the City of St. Pete, Baycare Health System, The Florida Dept. of Health in Pinellas and Pinellas County and opened at 7:00 a.m. Testing was on a first come, first serve basis. What they didn’t expect is the overwhelming amount of cars that would show up. Just an hour after opening, the site had to be shut down after reaching capacity. CW44 News at 10 reached out to Baycare who released this statement reading in part “No one likes turning people away, but unfortunately the nation’s supply lines and laboratories capacity continue to struggle to expand fast enough to keep up with covid-19’s spread and the increased demand for testing.”. Heatlh officials say 357 people were tested before they made the announcement to shut the site down. Testing materials had run out. St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman responded to the shut down given the site’s partnership with the City of St. Pete. On social media he said in part "The testing capacity is disappointing. We are working with the state to bring additional, expanded testing with Saturday and evening hours to another St. Pete site ASAP." The St. Pete Police Department took to Twitter during the shut down. The department urged citizens right away to return to the site when it opens back up on Tuesday at 7:00 a.m. For more testing info, call 1-800-BAYCARE.
CW44 News - 6.26.2020 - McKeonCOVID-19 and Mosquitos.
CW44 News - 6.26.2020 - HCSO ISO Car Burglary SuspectsHillsborough County Sheriff's Office asking for help identifying car burglary suspects
CW44 News - 6.26.2020 - USDA and FDA Deny COVID-19 Transmits Via Food or PackagingUSDA and FDA Deny COVID-19 Transmits Via Food or Packaging
CW44 News - 6.27.2020 - AlvarezNew discoveries are being made on Covid-19 by scientists right here in the Tampa Bay area. “If you look at the species of bat that this evolved in, they aren’t intelligent, they don’t know what’s going on,” Dr. Jon Thogmartin, Scientist/Medical Examiner. Doctor Thogmartin is a local scientist with a lab dedicated to Pinellas and Pasco Counties. He serves as the Medical Examiner there studying autopsies and gathering research. He says, over the course of the last few months, a lot has been discovered about Covid-19, like the fact that it may not be able to survive in strong sunlight. “Virus uses RNA as its genetic material. It is a very simple machine. It does not have any skin or built in sunblock like we do. No melanin. We have DNA repair mechanisms, it has none of that. So when UVA, UVB from the sun hit it, damages its genome where it can’t reproduce,” said Dr. Thogmartin And research is underway to find out how long it can survive in the sun. “The Koreans did document an outdoor transmission but I think it was only one case. It can happen, it’s just far less likely than a small room, low ceiling, poorly ventilated,” said Dr. Thogmartin. Recently, the doctor says he was asked why Florida’s death rate was so low. “You know, if you’re in New York City and you don’t have a lot of sun, your UV index is much lower, but now, every day I look at the UV index and I see severe and I go ‘oh that’s great, I love severe UV index’,” said Dr. Thogmartin. And if you thought the virus was only capable of leaving a flu-like impact, think again. “If someone has a respiratory illness and they get this, or they have diabetes, hypertension, obesity, it’s all bad. This effects, not just the lungs, this effects almost every organ in the body. Heart illnesses, blood illnesses, blood clotting, liver injury, kidney injury, neurological injury,” said Dr. Thogmartin. But one thing he says hasn’t changed is how to beat it. “When the virus first arrived here in Pinellas or Tampa Bay area, we denied it host by locking down,” said Dr. Thogmartin. “This thing comes from your mouth and nose to another person’s vice versa. We have a choice, we can put space between us to deny it host or we can put material between us to deny it host.”
CW44 News - 6.25.2020 - AlvarezFace Masks and Lawyers
CW44 News - 6.25.2020 - McKeonRacist emails harassing Hillsborough County Official
CW44 News - 6.24.2020 - AlvarezPINELLAS COUNTY COMMISSION PASSES EMERGENCY ORDINANCE REQUIRING FACE COVERINGS AND OTHER SAFETY MEASURES FOR CITIZENS.
CW44 News - 6.24.2020 - DeSantis Increases Min. Wage For TeachersDeSantis Increases Min. Wage For Teachers
CW44 News - 6.23.2020 - DeSantis Vows Crackdown On Those Not Following Social Distancing OrdersDeSantis Vows Crackdown On Those Not Following Social Distancing Orders
CW44 News - 5.23.2020 - McKeonSt Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman orders masks to be worn for every person entering a business.
CW44 News - 6.18.2020 - AlvarezFELONY CHARGES FILED AGAINST HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY LOOTERS
CW44 News - 6.18.2020 - McKeonEffective Friday, June 19, 2020 at 5pm in the City of Tampa, face masks must be worn at all indoor locations outside of the home where residents are unable to maintain at least 6 feet of separation.
CW44 Rescan Day - July 1, 2020Some local TV stations in cities across the U.S. will be changing their over-the-air broadcast frequencies between now and July 2020. People who watch free over-the-air television with an antenna will need to rescan their TV set each time a station moves to continue receiving the local channel. It's the same scan that you did to find your local channels when you set up your TV or converter box for the first time. Except in rare circumstances, no new equipment or services are required. Subscribers to cable or satellite TV do not need to rescan. Service providers will do it for you.
CW44 News - 6.17.2020 - McKeonHILLSBOROUGH COUNTY (CW44 News At 10) - Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) is due to open a $23M elementary school facility this Fall in Sun City Center. CW44's Price McKeon was granted a first look tour of Belmont Elementary School, shortened to "BEST" which includes their mascot, Tigers. 
CW44 News - 6.17.2020 - AlvarezST. PETERSBURG (CW44 News At 10) - In response to spiking positive COVID-19 cases, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman issued an order effective Friday, requiring face masks to be worn. Business Employees Must Wear Masks: Beginning Friday, June 19 at 5:00 P.M., all businesses in St. Pete are required to have their employees wear masks/face coverings when in areas of the business open to the public. Click here for Executive Order 2020-24 . This is in addition to all other standing orders issued by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. 
CW44 News - 6.16.2020 - McKeonSTARTING THIS WEEK HILLSBOROUGH OFFERS MORE FREE COVID 19 TESTING. SITES FROM WIMAUMA TO SUN CITY CENTER TO PLANT CITY TO BRANDON TO RUSKIN TO TWO TAMPA LOCATIONS— PLUS MOBILE TESTING.
CW44 News - 6.16.2020 - Alvarez“We have about 20,000 students enrolled in virtual Summer Bridge. Yesterday we began opening our campuses back up for some different programs including athletics,” said Kevin Hendrick, Assoc. Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Services. Tampa Bay students are back on school grounds!! Thursday, Governor DeSantis announced his recommendations to safely reopen Florida’s education system. Pinellas County Schools are finalizing plans for students to head back to class in August, but some major changes are being considered. “Of course there’s a long time and one of the things we’ve all learned in the last couple months is things change on a regular basis so we’ll see what that looks like come August 12th but we’re planning for multiple scenarios,” said Hendrick. During the summer bridge period, the district distributed 26,000 computers and other devices to students for continued education. “In many cases, parents were able to see teachers live, see what the lessons look like and support their children in different ways,” said Hendrick. And an upside to Covid-19’s impact on the district is the access to new resources for students. School officials say learning from distance gave them an opportunity to explore new educational options and some of those techniques are being adopted into their school system given the positive effect on student engagement. “Because they had technology support, because they had internet access at home. So as a school district, we’re going to try to extend that forever. We don’t think there’s ever a reason to why the students should be at home without internet and without a computer device,” said Hendrick. During a special Pinellas County School Board Workshop Tuesday morning, officials addressed specific protocols on how classrooms and workspaces will be sanitized. “What we’re asking them to do now is, from this point forward, every single night, to clean in a very prescribed protocol,” said Clint Herbic, Assoc Superintendent, Operational Services. And Hendrick says there’s a tunnel vision focus on helping students academically and emotionally as they reopen. “Face to face instruction with a high quality teacher is always going to be the best way, being around others their age and growing and learning. When you’re doing this digitally, there’s a chance that those things slide,” said Hendrick. Hendrick says it may take a couple years to get new computers in every student’s hand, but it’s become a long term goal. Pinellas County Schools’ final back to school plans will be released on July 14th. Stick with CW44 News at 10 for this developing story.
CW44 News - 6.15.2020 - Clearwater Beach Sidewalk Poetry Contest WinnersClearwater, Fla. – The city of Clearwater is excited to announce the winners of the city’s first-ever, city-wide poetry competition, “Poetry Made Concrete.” The five winning poems will be featured in the coming months on Clearwater’s sidewalks for the life of the walkway, by stamping the poems into the concrete of newly constructed and repaired sidewalks in five locations throughout the city. The city received more than 200 submissions from Clearwater residents and students. Thanks to the judges who participated: Dr. Greg Byrd – Professor at SPC-Clearwater, and published poet and author. Sarah Hayes – Countryside High School student. Juliahna Green – Clearwater Neighborhoods Coordinator. Howard Smith – Community Redevelopment Business Administrator and Diversity Leadership Committee Member. Lisa Baughman – Clearwater Librarian. “This program brings art and literature to the public realm by transforming something as ordinary as a sidewalk into a work of art. We hope that when residents happen upon these poems around the city, it will add moments of surprise and inspiration to an otherwise unassuming public space” said Juliahna Green, Neighborhoods Coordinator. The winners of Clearwater’s 2020 Poetry Made Concrete competition are Jason Fritsky, Karen Cunningham, Kathryn Marquina, Ted Knapp, and Shayna Walker. Their poems can be found here: https://www.myclearwater.com/residents/neighborhood-services/clearwater-placemaking-hub/sidewalk-poetry. The Poetry Made Concrete program is part of the city’s placemaking initiative to make public spaces fun and engaging. This is the sixth placemaking project the city has launched this year. The city has also introduced sidewalk rain art, signal box art, storm drain mural program, the little free library program, and dumpster art. All programs are active and have received widespread community interest and support.
CW44 News - 6.15.2020 - LGBTQ Supreme Court WinLGBTQ Supreme Court Win. Employers may not discriminate against LGBTQ employees.

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