Frostproof, FL - Triple Homicide Update. CW44 News At 10's Andrea Alvarez receives new details in the massacre of three close friends while fishing in Frostproof, Florida.
Hillsborough County's Ninth COVID-19 Testing Site Opened On USF CampusHILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Hillsborough County and the University of South Florida (USF) have opened a free COVID-19 coronavirus public testing site on USF's main campus in north Tampa as of Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. The testing site is in the parking lot adjacent to the USF Health Therapy (MDT) building, 3515 E. Fletcher Ave. The site will operate Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. There is no charge for the testing, and health insurance is not required. As a reminder, all people who wish to be tested must register for an appointment in advance by going to HCFLGov.net/COVIDTesting. To make an appointment by phone, call (888) 513-6321 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The USF testing site is open to all Hillsborough County residents and offers a convenient location for students, faculty, and staff to be tested for free. In addition to drive-thru testing, this particular location will also accommodate people who arrive on foot or bicycle. The USF testing location is the ninth public site the County has opened since the start of the pandemic. It will be operated by volunteers from the USF Health and Student Health Services clinical staff, as well as USF faculty and staff from other areas. Other Free COVID-19 Public Testing Sites in Hillsborough County Lee Davis Community Resource Center, 3402 N. 22nd St., Tampa Plant City Community Resource Center, 307 N. Michigan Ave., Plant City SouthShore Community Resource Center, 201 14th Ave. SE, Ruskin Tampa Family Health Centers, 12085 W. Hillsborough Ave., Tampa Suncoast Community Health Centers, 313 S. Lakewood Drive, Brandon Raymond James Stadium, 4201 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa Redeemer Lutheran Church, 701 Valley Forge Blvd., Sun City Center Wimauma Opportunity Center, 5128 S.R. 674, Wimauma COVID-19 coronavirus public testing has been a collaboration among Hillsborough County, the City of Tampa, the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County, the University of South Florida, and medical groups in the region, including BayCare, Tampa General Hospital, AdventHealth, HCA Healthcare - West Florida Division, Tampa Family Health Centers, Inc., the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay/Transcare, and Suncoast Community Health Centers, Inc. Locations for some test sites have been offered by Redeemer Lutheran Church in Sun City Center and Enterprising Latinas in Wimauma. What to Bring: Personal vehicles MUST BE under the maximum height of 8 feet. Limit vehicle passengers to those getting a test. Have a photo ID with name and date of birth for all people being tested (can be driver's license, state-issued ID, or passport). Bring the CORRECT confirmation code provided when you made the appointment. This can be a printed copy of the testing confirmation email, a screenshot of the confirmation number, or the code may be provided verbally. A printed code or screenshot on the phone helps the process but is not required. You will be required to provide the following information: o Full name o Current address (where you are staying) o Best phone number to reach you in order to receive test results What to Expect: Testing sites are staffed by health care professionals in medical protective gear who are trained to test for COVID-19 coronavirus. Directional signage and law enforcement will help people through the testing site in an orderly fashion. You will be greeted by a health care provider in personal protective gear who will give you instructions. A minimally invasive test will be administered. Test results are not immediate. Most people will receive results within 10 days. After taking the test, you will be given information on how to access your results and what to do while you await them. Please be patient - calling back to check on your results will not expedite the process. People who are experiencing a medical emergency should dial 9-1-1 immediately.
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Florida Teacher With Medical Condition Says District Denied Request To Teach VirtuallyPINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - A Pinellas County teacher is speaking to CW44 News at 10, exclusively, after she says her pre-existing medical condition makes it dangerous to work in a classroom, but that the school district denied her request to teach virtually. “The only choices I have remaining for myself now is A. retire early, or I can take a medical leave of absence under no pay,” said a Pinellas County Teacher who wishes to remain anonymous. She is left with making a tough decision after she says she was denied to teach online classes instead of in-person by the school district. “When I was 30, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune deficiency disease called Crohns,” said the teacher. With more than 3 decades at Pinellas County Schools, her disease caused her to miss work and added limitations. “I couldn’t carry more than ten pounds.,” she explained. But with new obstacles to face, she says there’s more to worry about now with schools reopening. “Both, my physician assistant and my doctor, both of them have recommended that I do not go back into a classroom because I am at such a high risk [due to COVID-19],” said the teacher. According to the Pinellas County School District, employees with preexisting health conditions need to provide documentation to become a candidate for teaching online classes. “We had about three hundred employees that requested the alternative assignment due to the health condition, but until they are able to provide that medical documentation, we have them listed in category four,” explained Paula Texel, the Associate Superintendent of Human Resources Services, during Tuesday’s special called board meeting. Once that documentation is provided, officials say the employee is then moved to category one. But this teacher says that’s not what happened in her case. “The Human Resources Department from Pinellas County Schools sent out to every staff member... it had four things on it. And you marked where you fit in that category,” said the teacher. “On that paperwork, nowhere did it list any autoimmune deficiency disease. My doctor wrote mine in and they basically said, I ‘have an autoimmune deficiency disease which automatically suppresses my immune system, but on top of that, I take the Humira shot and would be at high risk of catching an infectious disease’.” She says she received the call a week ago, “I was not a category one. I was actually a category four, which is the least priority for online classes,” said the teacher. “When I questioned [being classified as a category four], they sent me back an email with their guidelines that they use from the CDC and that was their justification of why I am a category four and not eligible for online,” the teacher said. Earlier this week, district officials met with staff about eligibility guidelines. “We did meet with our principals to remind and to discuss the importance of making sure that we are doing whatever possible to assign these employees in this category to a virtual assignment due to their documented underlying health condition,” explained Texel. But this teacher says her only choice right now is to report back to the classroom. “I didn’t ask for this disease, it’s a hereditary, genetic disease,” said the teacher. “So, I either take the risk and go into the classroom and pray that, ‘please, Lord, don’t let me catch this disease… or I go without money…” Pinellas County instructional personnel, including this teacher, returned to classrooms Thursday. Students return on the 24th , giving her just 11 days to determine her next step. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
St. Pete's Fighting Chance Fund Application Process Closes August 14ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - St. Petersburg business owners impacted financially by COVID-19 have less than two days now left to apply for the city's Fighting Chance Fund. CW44's Price McKeon spoke with one business owner who received relief money and used it in a unique way. Kelly Rodriguez Laureano and her husband own Sofia's on the corner of 24th St. N. and Central. "It's been a really traumatic I think, situation for most small business owners, not just us." The St. Pete small business owner shares a story that we've heard all too often. "It's really frightening to think how it will affect us in the long run," said Rodriguez Laureano. Restaurant owners in the Tampa Bay region and beyond have been forced to make tough decisions: laying off employees that are like family, throwing away thousands of dollars of perishable items only to reopen up to half capacity inside and remain that way for who knows how long. "You worry about [employees] being able to pay their bills and feed themselves and their families." Never giving up looking for fighting chance, Rodriguez Laureano applied to the city's grant, fittingly named, St. Pete's Fighting Chance Fund. She was approved for assistance. "I say, 'do it'. I mean, there's nothing to lose." That's her message to other St. Pete small business owners that were hurt financially by COVID-19. The grant application cutoff is approaching quickly, but Rodriguez Laureano says the application process is incredibly simple. Grant money is still available and applications will still be accepted through 5pm on Friday, August 14, 2020. Small businesses that are brick and mortar are eligible for $4,000. Home-based businesses are eligible to receive $2,000. If you own two businesses, each may apply for the grant, which is exactly what Rodriguez Laureano did. "I think it took me maybe 10 to 15 minutes," said Rodriguez Laureano. Both of her St. Pete restaurants received help from the city. At Sofia's, she thought outside of the box and use some of the money to build a box. More specifically, all of their Basil now is grown in-house. They've built planters to make outdoor seating more appealing which helps the patio scene flourish, hoping to attract more business. Rodriguez Laureano reiterates, "We all are in this together and that's one thing that so great about St. Pete. We are in this together." The grant helped to give her business that fighting chance and she hopes it gives other owners a chance as well. Again, the application process ends Friday, August 14, 2020 at 5pm. You may apply on the City of St. Petersburg's website. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
2020 Census: Officials Urge Residents To Respond SoonPINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - The Census affects local food assistance, roads, healthcare and education funding. As Florida continues to grow, Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch says billions of dollars in funding are at stake, so having an accurate Census count is at the top of the priority list. 2020Census.gov suggests considering of your morning commute: Census results influence highway planning and construction, as well as grants for buses, subways, and other public transit systems. Or think of your local schools: Census results help determine how money is allocated for the Head Start program and for grants that support teachers and special education. The list goes on, including programs to support rural areas, to restore wildlife, to prevent child abuse, to prepare for wildfires, and to provide housing assistance for older adults. “In order for the government to know we’re here, we have to respond to this census,” said Welch. “It’s almost as important as voting. You know, if the government doesn’t know that we’re there, then we don’t get representation [in Congress].” Commissioner Welch chairs the Countywide Census Committee. He says the urgency for all residents to respond quickly to the 2020 Census recently increased after the bureau announced it will end the nationwide count a month earlier than expected at the end of September. As of Tuesday, just over 63% of Pinellas County residents responded. “Unless we want the funding that would normally come to St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, Tampa Bay to go to Sacramento… it’s about fair distribution of resources from the Federal Government,” said Welch. But it’s doesn’t stop at Congress; programs throughout Florida get about $44 billion in federal funding based on data collected. But because we’re a growing state and our population is continuously rising, Welch says we need that accurate count. “And when you see things like that CARES Act which is sent for Pinellas County, $170 million to help our businesses, our families get through this COVID crisis, that’s driven by our representation in congress so it does matter,” said Welch. He says, given COVID-19 is keeping most of us at home right now, we’ve been able to turn to technology to get the job done. “Gives folks another reason to respond online,” said Welch. “We’re doing better than every county in the immediate bay area except for Pasco, and so Pinellas County needs to get on board, we want to be the best in the bay area and get that response rate up.” According to 2020Census.gov, as of August 11, 2020, only 60.3% of Florida has self-responded. Here's how Tampa Bay Area counties stack up in the same time frame: Citrus: 65.8% Hernando: 68.5% Sumter: 69.8% Pasco: 63.8% Polk: 58.9% Hillsborough: 61.9% Pinellas: 63.7% Hardee: 43.3% DeSoto: 45.4% Manatee: 56.9% Sarasota: 63% Highlands: 57.1% To monitor reporting in your area, visit the 2020Census.gov website where you can also complete your 2020 Census if you haven't already done so. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Super Bowl LV: Tampa Bay Plans First Fully Free To Public FestivitiesTAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Tampa is set to host Super Bowl LV in just under 200 days and COVID-19 isn't stopping plans to move forward with the festivities. Tampa Bay has hosted the Super Bowl four times and ready for the fifth. As one of the signature events surrounding Super Bowl LV in Tampa Bay, Super Bowl Experience presented by Lowe’s, will be free and open to the public beginning Friday, January 29 and will span 2.7 miles, including the Tampa Riverwalk. The event will take place within waterfront parks along the Riverwalk and feature concerts, food and beverage, sponsor activations, NFL Shop presented by Visa and more. Super Bowl LV will be the first time that Super Bowl Experience will be free for all attendees and produced jointly by the NFL and Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee. Julian B. Lane Park will house the NFL’s free football theme park celebrating Super Bowl LV. Fans will have the opportunity to collect Player and Legend autographs, take photos with the Vince Lombardi Trophy and immerse themselves in a variety of exhibits and interactive games. Fans will also be able to enjoy the youth-focused Play 60 Zone and other family-friendly activities throughout Super Bowl Experience. “We look forward to working with the Tampa Bay Host Committee on creating memorable moments that will celebrate Super Bowl LV and bring the community of Tampa together in a safe and meaningful way,” said Peter O’Reilly, NFL Executive Vice President of Club Business and League Events. “We are working hard to ensure all activities during Super Bowl LV week will adhere to the latest public safety guidelines set by medical and public health officials, as safety is our number one priority.” Other parks along the Riverwalk will feature a variety of experiential opportunities including local food and beverage, music and entertainment, health and fitness activities, activation zones, and more. The Riverwalk will transform into a Super Bowl amusement park showcasing the destination’s culture and experiences of Tampa Bay. “Although these last five months have presented us with unprecedented challenges, our partnership with the NFL has never been stronger and we are ready for the opportunity to host the most important Super Bowl of our lifetime,” said Rob Higgins, President/CEO, Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee. “We are thrilled to be able to officially announce our blended-model, Super Bowl Experience in tandem with our friends at the NFL, in addition to our primary social legacy initiative, Forever 55, along with new host committee strategic partners today. We look forward to showcasing our hometown’s incredible growth, unwavering resiliency and very bright future through our community’s host movement leading up to and during Super Bowl LV on February 7th, 2021. We are confident that the positive impacts of this event will be felt in our community for many years to come.” More details about Super Bowl Experience and how to reserve free tickets will be announced at a later date. Fans can sign up to receive updates on the latest Super Bowl information at NFL.com/TampaSB. All NFL activities during Super Bowl week in Tampa Bay will adhere to the latest public safety guidelines set by medical and public health officials, as well as operate in full compliance all local and federal government regulations. For more information on the local host effort for Super Bowl LV, please visit the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee’s official website at TampaBayLV.com. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Latest Reopening Plan In Pinellas County Public SchoolsPINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Pinellas County School officials called a special board meeting Tuesday morning to discuss the latest changes to the districts reopening plans. The board has officially adopted face coverings for students and staff. Other details from transportation to cafeteria seating were also discussed and presented nearly finalizing all plans. Last month, the school board voted on their biggest change to push the start of the school year back by almost two weeks. This allowed more time for teachers and students to prepare. Tuesday’s meeting lasted eight hours as officials went over every detail left on the table!! “We can get the buses moving out of the bus ramps. Even going so far as to find, maybe a place down the street, a parking lot, something like that where the drivers can pull in, wipe down before they pick up that next student,” said Clint Herbic, Assoc. Superintendent, Operational Services. Questions aligning with brick and mortar style schooling ranged from sick leave to directional hallways and eliminating student locker options. “If you have a pending COVID-19 test, you are not to report to work,” said Sara O’Toole, Managing Officer, School Health Services. “The employees and visitors will complete a self-screening tool each day. The district will inform and encourage our parents to conduct that self-screening for their child each day,” said Paula Texel, Assoc. Superintended, Human Resources. District officials say every turn has been accounted for. “We’re going to have to live this to kind of see how this works but these experts are going to be visiting our schools before and after students are coming back to give us advice and also they’re going to be making calls in terms of the quarantine,” said Superintendent of the district, Dr. Michael Grego. “I feel confident in it. We’re doing all we can do. We’re at a point right now where I think we can move forward,” said Bill Dudley, Pinellas County School Board. The district has returned to its normal hours of operation to assist families with registration including some extended hours. For the complete details visit Pinellas County Schools Reopening Plan website. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
West Wing Hotel Converted Into COVID-19 Care Site In Hillsborough CountyHILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - COVID-19 positive patients in Hillsborough County, Florida can now go from the hospital to a hotel for continuing medical care. CW44's Price McKeon explains how this new project works. This boutique hotel on Fowler Avenue is now a new COVID-19 care site. "Hillsborough County has acquired this hotel to turn it into a transitional living facility." Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, Ray Hanson explains the purpose behind the county refitting the West Wing Hotel to accommodate patients recovering from a COVID-19 hospital stay. "For the main purpose of freeing up hospital bed space of patients that don't require hospital care or hospital level care in the hospital setting." The county says the site serves patients who are eligible for discharge from the hospital but still need medical support and may not be able to go straight home from the hospital. "What the county has done to the hotel is they've upgraded the electrical system for the installation of an automatic transfer switch," said Hanson. Hillsborough says the changes made are to accommodate specific needs of a medical facility. Hanson elaborates, "We will have a generator because, obviously COVID-19 is going to be lasting through the hurricane season. And we want to be prepared in case we have a long term power outage." "We're really excited and very thankful for this partnership with the county," Baycare Health Systems teamed up with the county to launch this new project. "This is really allowing us to meet community needs by expanding healthcare resources above and beyond what we have in our hospitals right now." Dr. Jackie Callie says COVID-19 patients who have to be hospitalized tend to take a long time to recover. "...and they tend to have symptoms for quite a while and remain infectious, even when they're ready to be discharged from the hospital." So now there's this option where patients can receive around the clock medical care until they can check out and go home. "...and so by having this opportunity we can house them safely before they go home and could potentially expose others in the household." According to the county, the hotel has 115 rooms. 50 of them will be used by Baycare. About a dozen rooms have been converted to support rooms which are like mini-nursing stations. Other hospitals and Hillsborough can use the remaining rooms if they need to. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Violent Protesters In Beirut Accuse Government Corruption Led To BlastBeirut, Lebanon (CW44 News At 10) - People in Beirut, Lebanon are protesting against the government after a giant explosion killed more than 150 people on August 4, 2020. Demonstrators claimed corruption led to Tuesday's blast which destroyed thousands of homes and a large amount of the country's food supply. Grief has turned to anger in Beirut. Overnight, protesters battled security forces near parliament. They're furious that the government knew about the 2,700 tons of explosive Ammonium nitrate stored at a facility in the port and did nothing about it, despite warnings from customs officials for years. That neglect resulted in Tuesday's deadly blast. Rescue teams continue to search for the dozen still missing next to the smoldering explosion site. Family members wait nearby hoping for a miracle because the alternative is unbearable. Tatiana, the daughter of a missing victim of the blast said, "I think he's there, but I think if we continue to work slowly, probably, time will run out." Others confront their grim new reality. Corporal Georges de Abbas was one of those taken in an instant. He was donating blood when the blast killed him. On Thursday, people in the city greeted Emmanuel Macron with chants calling for a revolution. The French President vowed to help the people, not the politicians, "We need an open and transparent International Investigation to avoid, first of all, things being hidden, but also to stop doubt setting in." For now residents of Beirut start the long process of piecing their lives back together. An insurmountable task to repair a city of broken homes and broken hearts. More than 25 countries including the U.S. have offered aid to Lebanon including desperately needed money, medical supplies and food. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Citrus County Sheriff's Office Nab 55 In Operation Coin TossCITRUS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - According to Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast, the fourth and final quarter of Operation Coin Toss has concluded, resulting in the seizure of more fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine off the streets of Citrus County. Originally started in June 2019, the first quarter of Operation Coin Toss targeted those responsible for drug trafficking and those who sell illegal narcotics. Throughout the entire operation, the Citrus County Sheriff's Office Tactical Impact Unit (TIU) partnered with the US Marshals, the Florida Department of Correction's Probation Services, Citrus County Code Enforcement, and many other community partners. In the Fourth Quarter, TIU focused on reported drug overdoses and intelligence collected through these investigations. By obtaining information on suppliers tied to fatal drug overdoses, TIU was able to conduct covert surveillance and undercover drug purchases resulting in the combined seizure of 40 grams of deadly fentanyl, 143 grams of methamphetamine, 87 grams of heroin, and 30 grams of cocaine. The Fourth Quarter resulted in nine individual residential search warrants and 23 individuals arrested. During the process of conducting covert surveillance and gathering intelligence, an additional 32 individuals were arrested. The final quarter resulted in 55 arrests, 122 felony charges and 43 misdemeanor charges. "The focus of Operation Coin Toss is to dismantle the drug supply chains plaguing the vulnerable population of Citrus County," said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. "We continue to focus our attention on the dealers who are making a profit by exploiting addicts and their loved ones." In addition to seizing illegal narcotics, detectives were able to recover several stolen items and seize firearms from convicted felons. The Fourth Quarter yielded the recovery of a stolen Honda dirt bike, a stolen Suzuki four-wheeler, counterfeit currency making devices, and stolen firearms. There were several firearms that had been illegally modified or had their serial numbers removed. All firearms were seized and resulted in 12 felony firearm charges. "There is a direct correlation between the illegal sale of narcotics and the dealing in stolen property and other property related crimes," stated Major Justin Ferrara. "Focusing on the suppliers of deadly narcotics also allows us to recover stolen property and reduce the indirect crimes associated with drug sales."
SpaceX Astronauts Discuss Their Historic Mission To The ISSCAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - The two American astronauts who were the first to fly to space from US soil and nearly a decade, have been getting reacquainted with life back on Earth. Today they talked about their amazing adventures. After 64 days in space NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico. Just a few days after coming home, they say they're glad to be back on solid ground, "We're excited to be back we're already working through our exercise rehabilitation program to kind of get our Earth legs back." The veteran pilots were the first Americans to blast off from US soil in nine years, and then first to leave Earth on a rocket made by a private company. The rocket carrying the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida on May 30, 2020. Hurley and Behnken joined the crew of the International Space Station a day later. They went on four spacewalks and performed about 100, hours of science experiments. Hurley related, "The mission went, just like the simulators and, and I, I'm obviously from start to finish, all the way there was really no surprises." Behnken added, "The greatest lesson folks could take from our experience is one of perseverance." Behnken's wife, Katherine Megan McArthur is also an astronaut. She'll helm the next SpaceX mission to the ISS in Spring 2021 in the same capsule that took her husband there. Hurley called the experience one of the true honors of his life.
2020 Back-To-School Florida Sales Tax Holiday Is This WeekendFLORIDA (CW44 News At 10) - This weekend is Florida's annual tax free weekend for back to school bargains technology may be the hot ticket item, as many students across the state are returning to classes remotely. During this sales tax holiday period, qualifying items will be exempt from tax, including certain school supplies selling for $15 or less per item; clothing, footwear, and certain accessories selling for $60 or less per item; and the first $1,000 of the sales price of personal computers and certain computer-related accessories purchased for noncommercial home or personal use. This sales tax holiday begins Friday, August 7, 2020, and ends Sunday, August 9, 2020. For more information and a list of qualifying items, please review the Department of Revenue's Tax Information Publication (TIP) on the 2020 Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Job Fair: Raymond James Stadium Hosting The Event On August 22TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa, Florida is hosting a job fair ahead of the upcoming NFL football season. The job fair is August 22, 2020. Masks are required and temperature checks will be administered upon arrival. A wide range of positions are available, including: parking lot attendants, ticket takers, security, cleaning and food service roles. Representatives from Tampa Sports Authority, Legends, Sentry Events Services and other companies will be taking applications and conducting interviews. The job fair will take place from 9:00am to 3:00pm at the East Club of Raymond James Stadium. Please park in Lot B/C off of Himes Avenue. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Lebanese Government Places Port Officials Under House-ArrestBeirut, Lebanon (CW44 News At 10) - Investigators in Beirut, Lebanon are working to find out if Tuesday's gigantic explosion was caused by negligence. The blast killed at least 135 people including one American, around 5,000 others are injured. The hellscape that was once Beirut's port, now laid to waste by over 2,700 tons of Ammonium nitrate. How such a vast quantity of such volatile material was allowed to rot for over six years in a warehouse so close to the city center is still being investigated. The Lebanese Government is putting the port's managers under house arrest while it pieces together how the Russian-owned cargo ignited. Many here are blaming the country's ruling elite after reports surfaced suggesting officials had repeatedly warned that dangerous chemicals needed to be removed. So few in Beirut were spared, including a little girl, Sophie, in intensive care whose brain is bleeding from shattered glass. Her parents say they also lost their home. Sophie's mother said, "I tried to protect her, but I couldn't..." There are still some moments of hope, like when rescuers pulled a man from the rubble 16 hours after the explosion. There's also music. 78-year-old May Melki survived Lebanon's 15-year civil war, and later, conflicts with Israel. Her home may now be in ruins but her piano skills and resolve are as strong as ever. Melki commented, "Each time these catastrophes happen, we stand up and start again." No further information has been released about the American who was killed or those injured, but a vast search and rescue effort continues. ©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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.