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Vaccine Access, COVID-19 Liability, And Miami-Dade Schools' Teacher of the Year

Antonio Castro receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from Walgreens Pharmacy Intern Erika Blanco, 24, at The Palace Renaissance & Royale, an assisted living facility in Kendall, on Wednesday, January 13, 2021.
Miami Herald
Antonio Castro receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from Walgreens Pharmacy Intern Erika Blanco, 24, at The Palace Renaissance & Royale, an assisted living facility in Kendall, on Wednesday, January 13, 2021.

Florida has already vaccinated millions, efforts may shift starting today. The state has a new law in the books that makes it very difficult to sue an institution if you think they were negligent and allowed COVID to spread. And we meet Teresa Murphy, Miami-Dade's teacher of the year who embraced teaching from home — while battling cancer.

On this Monday, April 5, episode of Sundial:

COVID-19 Vaccine Access

Three million Americans are getting COVID-19 vaccines a day as the federal government continues to ramp up supply. On Monday, Florida opened vaccine eligibility to those 16 and older.

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More than six and a half million have already received their first dose in the Sunshine State. Brooke Whitley is a Miami resident and among those who received the Pfizer shot.

“My feelings going into that first appointment were just great relief. Being vaccinated means so much to me ... getting the vaccine was really what I saw as the beginning of the end,” she told WLRN.

However, many Floridians are still struggling to book appointments or have faced problems for not having health insurance.

“I think it's still a bit confusing because there's so many pop up sites that are opening up every day. And unfortunately, that leaves out a lot of people who don't use Twitter,” said WLRN health care reporter Verónica Zaragovia.

Zaragovia made it clear that health insurance is not a requirement for a COVID-19 vaccine although pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens or Publix may ask for proof of insurance.

Vaccine Access
Image: VA VAntage Point blog

COVID Liability

As of Monday afternoon, 33,710 people have lost their lives to COVID-19 in Florida. Thousands more family members are continuing to grieve and struggle with the repercussions of losing their loved ones.

For many it remains unclear whether the hospitals, nursing homes or grocery stores where they were working or were being treated could’ve done more to protect them. Under a new state law, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, it will be very difficult for these businesses to be held criminally liable.

Michael Ryan is an attorney with the consumer justice law firm Freedland Harwin Valori Ryan and the mayor of Sunrise in Broward County.

“This is a law that's very broad and complex, but fundamentally, there are going to be thousands of families who are going to be denied the opportunity to hold anyone accountable for the wrongs committed against their family members,” he said on Sundial. “This new law is very strict in what types of cases can be brought and the standard that a family will have to prove is extraordinarily high and difficult.”

COVID Liability

M-DCPS Teacher of the Year

Teresa Murphy teaches at Spanish Lake Elementary in Miami-Dade County and has been working in the school system for 27 years. On top of the challenges presented by COVID-19, Murphy was faced with her own personal health problems.

“The 3 Cs, COVID, cancer and chemo, I call it,” she said on Sundial. “I was diagnosed in the summer with breast cancer and it rocked my world. It was very unexpected. It was right before the school year was going to begin.”

Murphy hid her diagnosis from her students in the first four months of the school year and continued teaching despite a rigorous chemotherapy treatment. Back in February she was granted the honor of being Miami-Dade County Public Schools' Teacher of the Year for 2020. Murphy is continuing to teach despite the health challenges she faced.

M-DCPS Teacher of the Year

Chris knew he wanted to work in public radio beginning in middle school, as WHYY played in his car rides to and from school in New Jersey. He’s freelanced for All Things Considered and was a desk associate for CBS Radio News in New York City. Most recently, he was producing for Capital Public Radio’s Insight booking guests, conducting research and leading special projects at Sacramento’s NPR affiliate.