Hello and welcome to Friday ...

Even as there are signs that the latest round of COVID-19 infections may have finally peaked, Florida is pushing ahead with a plan to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in the months ahead to pay for testing, medical staff support and a media campaign to encourage vaccinations.

State legislators on Friday signed off on two substantial budget amendments for the Department of Health totaling nearly $750 million. The money comes from federal coronavirus relief funding that the state has received over the past two years.

Michele Tallent, Department of Health deputy secretary for administrative services, told the Joint Legislative Budget Commission that $480 million will go toward a “three-pronged strategy” designed to battle COVID-19. The plan includes $355 million for testing support for both public and private health labs.

The strategy also includes $113 million to pay for a surge in medical support staff and $12 million for a media campaign to encourage vaccinations that will include both television and radio advertisements.

Sen. Audrey Gibson, a Jacksonville Democrat, questioned whether $12 million would be enough to pay for a robust advertising campaign in Florida, which has multiple media markets. She also wanted to know more about the populations and geographic regions that would be served.

Tallent briefly explained that the campaign would target vaccine hesitancy and also be aimed at high-risk and vulnerable populations.

The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 11.4 million people in Florida --- 53.4 percent of the state's population --- have been fully vaccinated. Florida has the 22nd highest vaccination rate in the country.

Legislators on Friday also signed off on a $263 million budget amendment to beef up staffing at county health departments. Staff will focus on disease investigation, outreach and testing.

And on a personal note, this is my last edition of the Weekly CheckUp as, after four years, I am leaving The News Service of Florida to pursue other opportunities. There is no harder working group of journalists I know (and I know some hard-working journalists). A hat tip to NSF Executive Editor Jim “Words Matter” Saunders; Weekly CheckUp editor and future tea date, Dara Kam; office mate Tom Urban; Jim “Five Stories A Day” Turner; and kickass education reporter Ryan Dailey.

RULES

The Board of Osteopathic Medicine proposes amending Rule 64B15-14.0076 to update the rule language regarding physician registration. More here.

The Board of Medicine proposes amending Rule 64B8-9.0091 regarding standards of practice and registration of physician office surgery centers. More here.

The Board of Psychology proposes amending Rule 64B19-13.004 to add an additional enumerated subject matter for medical errors courses. More here.

The Board of Psychology proposes amending Rule 64B19-13.004 to rewrite licensure application forms. More here.

The Department of Health proposes developing Rule 64-4.013 to replace the emergency rules currently in place regarding compassionate use of medical marijuana. More here.

The Board of Massage Therapy proposes amending Rule 64B7-32.005 to clarify language. More here.

The Board of Massage Therapy proposes developing Rule 64B7-23.001 to define massage therapy assistants. More here.

The Board of Massage Therapy proposes amending Rule 64B7-29.007 regarding the Colonic Irrigation Apprenticeship Training Program. More here.

The Board of Massage Therapy proposes amending Rule 64B7-32.002 regarding proof of graduation. More here.

The Board of Massage Therapy proposes amending Rule 64B7-32.003 regarding approved massage schools. More here.

LOBBYISTS

Samantha DeBee has registered to lobby for the Florida Association of Nurse Anesthetists.

Hayden Dempsey has registered to lobby for PulseLight.

Whitney Doyle has registered to lobby for the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology, Inc.

Megan Fay, Nick Iarossi, Ron LaFace Jr. and Chris Schoonover have registered to lobby for Longhorn Health Solutions.

Candice Ericks has registered to lobby for the Florida Mental Health Advocacy Coalition.

WEEK IN REVIEW

Balancing act ... Tampa Bay hospitals push COVID vaccine - but won’t mandate it for their workers. More here.

–Holiday rush? ... COVID-19 surges eases in Florida, but Labor Day sparks concern. More here.

–’The war zone’ ... Twelve hours in a Florida COVID-19 ICU. More here.

–Data dive ... Florida changed its COVID-19 data data, creating an ‘artificial decline’ in recent deaths. More here.

–Revived ... USF will house center that tracks nursing shortages in Florida. More here.

–Looking for evidence ... Over 40,000 COVID-19 patients in Florida have had monoclonal antibody treatments. Is it working? More here.

–What’s next? ... Where does Florida medical marijuana giant Trulieve go from here? More here.

CALENDAR

Sept. 6

2 p.m. The Independent Living Services Advisory Council meets to review the implementation of extended foster care, postsecondary education services and support, and aftercare services. Link to meeting here.

Sept. 8

2 p.m. The Agency holds a public workshop on proposed changes to Rules 59C-1.008 and Rule 59A-3 regarding hospital certificate of need requirements. Call 1-888-585-9008; participant code: 476211242.

Sept. 9

3 p.m. The Florida Department of Children and Families opens the replies to ITN 2021-001. Link to meeting here.

Sept. 10

9 a.m. The Board of Nursing meets to discuss disciplinary cases. Call 1-888-585-9008; participant code: 275112502.

12 p.m. The  Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine meets.Call 1-888-585-9008; participant code: 618262429. Agenda here.