- HOME HEALTH PARTNERSHIP: Lakeland Regional Health has bought a minor interest in BayCare Home Health in order to increase access to at-home care for patients released from the hospital. | ALSO: News release
- TEACHER OF THE YEAR for Polk County Public Schools is Ashley Brannon, curriculum coach at Karen M. Siegel Academy. School-related employee of the year isTiffany Berrien, p.e. paraeducatior at Rochelle School of the Arts. | ALSO: News release
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Amy Wiggins, a communications professional whose career has focused on Lakeland non-profit organizations, has been named president and CEO of the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce. It’s a homecoming for her because she had been an executive there from 2005 to 2015. More
Lakeland Regional Health has opened a temporary COVID-19 Care Clinic for patients with mild, cold-like symptoms. It’s across Parkview Place from the hospital’s emergency room and intended to relieve pressure from the busy ER, News Channel 8 reports. The clinic is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Patients with difficulty breathing, chest pains or for life-threatening emergencies are urged to go to the nearest ER.
A car chase that started in Plant City ended on New Tampa Highway in Lakeland near a Publix warehouse, where a robbery suspect continued shooting at the law enforcement officers pursuing him. Francisco Cabrera, 27, was apprehended after being hit when officers from three agencies, including LPD, shot at him, News Channel 8 reports. | ALSO: Fox 13 News | More
FCC Environmental, which contracts with Polk County to collect garbage in unincorporated areas near Lakeland, has hired a subcontractor and is generating fewer customer complaints since it was put on notice, county officials said Wednesday. Starting Feb. 1, residents whose collections are missed by the company will be able to dispose of their garbage at the county landfill without paying a fee, The Ledger reports.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Polk County hit a new high last week, but the rate of increase is slowing down, according to the latest report from the Florida Department of Health. The testing positivity rate is still over 30%, but lower than the previous week, the report shows. And Lakeland Regional Health is seeing strain on employees as admissions fueled by the omicron variant continue to escalate. More
- COUNTY GARBAGE: The company that hauls garbage in Lakeland’s unincorporated suburbs has responded to Polk County’s written threat to sever its contract. FCC Environmental says the county has not proven the company defaulted on its agreement and that missed pickups account for fewer than 1% of customers.
- RANCHO BONITO: Polk County’s wish list for the Florida Legislature for 10 years has been topped by hopes for a law to help them control the “lawlessness” in the undeveloped Rancho Bonito subdivision north of Lakeland. But as this year’s Legislature convened this week, no bill had been filed to increase controls over nuisances in unrecorded subdivisions. (Subscribers-only story)
A proposed recreational trail along the west side of Lake Hunter should use boardwalks to take walkers, joggers and bicyclists over the water instead of hugging the shoreline next to a busy roadway, even if it means the city of Lakeland supplements the project’s state funding, Mayor Bill Mutz said Friday. More
- TEACHER SALARIES: The Polk School Board has ratified retroactive teacher pay increases negotiated between administrators and union reps. Among the raises: Teachers hired before July 1, 2014, get an extra $210; those hired later get an extra $315.
- COVID HOSPITALIZATIONS in Polk were up 74% last week over the prior week, according to the CDC. Lakeland Regional Health reported 208 COVID-positive patients as of Monday evening, with 54.8% of them unvaccinated; the hospital’s chief informatics officer said the vaccinated patients generally have co-morbid conditions and those who are unvaccinated are typically sicker and require more care.
- LEDGER CUTBACKS: Like 135 other newspapers owned by Gannett, The Ledger will cease printing its Saturday editions but will make them available to subscribers as an online replica. “The change we are making this year is in response to the direction in which subscriber and advertising trends are headed,” Editor Leon Tucker said.
As the Florida Legislature convened Tuesday, Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, filed a bill restricting abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, mimicking a Mississippi law under review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Exceptions can be made if the mother’s health is at risk or in cases of fatal fetal abnormality, the Tampa Bay Times reports. There is no exception for incest or rape. ALSO: Fox News | Politico | News Channel 8