Florida’s stricter ban on abortions could put more pressure on clinics elsewhere

Florida’s stricter ban on abortions could put more pressure on clinics elsewhere

WKMG News 6 & ClickOrlando

The drive to Bristol, Virginia, from Jacksonville, Florida, takes more than eight hours. It’s over 10 from Orlando and closer to 14 from Miami. Despite that distance, Bristol Women’s Health Center is preparing for an influx of women from Florida seeking abortions when a stricter ban kicks in next month.

For many people who otherwise would have obtained abortions in Florida, the clinic in southwest Virginia will become the closest practical option — as it already is for a swath of the South after a Florida policy change expected to resonate far beyond the state’s borders.

“The majority of the patients we do serve are coming from banned states,” said Karolina Ogorek, the clinic’s administrative director. “I think that Florida will just become another one of the states that we serve.”

On Monday, the Florida Supreme Court upheld the state’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. That step allows another, stricter ban to take effect on May 1, making abortion illegal in the state after six weeks’ gestation — before many women realize they’re pregnant. The ban includes exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape, incest or human trafficking, or that threaten the life or physical health or the woman and for fatal fetal anomalies.

In a separate but closely related ruling, the court also allowed a referendum that will let the state’s voters decide in November whether they want an amendment to the state constitution allowing abortion until viability.

Stephanie Loraine Piñeiro, executive director of the Florida Access Network, which helps pay for abortion care for Florida women, said that the law coupled with a 24-hour waiting period for abortion will be a “total ban” in practical terms.

And getting to a provider elsewhere, she said, will drive the average cost of abortion — including transportation, lodging, meals, child care and clinic fees — to around $4,000, about twice what it is now. That will strain organizations like hers, which already often hits its budget limit well before the end of the month, as they shift to helping people get care elsewhere.

That could strand people who can’t get time off work, afford travel, arrange child care or lack documentation to travel, Piñeiro said.

“The people who are most marginalized are going to cotinine to not have access,” she said.

She said she expects some of the state’s clinics to close for lack of patients.

Currently, the average distance to a facility that provides abortion for Florida residents is 20 miles (32 kilometers), said Caitlin Myers, an economics professor at Middlebury College in Vermont who studies the impact of abortion bans. But when the new ban takes effect, the average distance to one that offers abortion after the first six weeks of pregnancy will be 584 miles (940 kilometers).

And that only gets patients to North Carolina, where two in-person visits are required 72 hours apart to receive an abortion — and only for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in most cases.

It’s more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) farther to Virginia.

Some areas already have long drives to the nearest abortion providers — eight hours from San Antonio, Texas, to Santa Teresa, New Mexico, for instance, and nine from New Orleans to Carbondale, Illinois, or Houston to Wichita, Kansas. But the geography will make South Florida the most highly populated place in the U.S. that’s farthest from in-person abortion access past the first six weeks.

Georgia and South Carolina, which have bans that begin after about six weeks and Ohio, which had a similar one for a time, have seen in the neighborhood of half as many abortions with those policies in effect. Some people are able to obtain abortion close to home earlier in pregnancy rather than traveling.

It’s not only Florida residents who will be affected by the new ban.

“Florida is a really important state for Southern abortion access, and it has been a state that has experienced a surge in travelers from Georgia and Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana who are traveling out of those states, avoiding near total or six-week bans to facilities,” Myers said.

Of the 84,000 abortions provided in Florida last year, about 7,700 were for people who live out of state. Now most of those patients will travel farther for access, too.

The total number of abortions in the country has been roughly stable since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and ended a nationwide right to abortion in 2022. But the details have changed.

Far more are provided by pills rather than surgery, with a major increase in prescriptions through telehealth — including to patients in states with bans from providers where laws seek to protect such prescriptions. But there could be legal tests of whether those protections are valid. And the U.S. Supreme Court is already considering an effort to roll back approvals for one of the two drugs usually used in combination for medication abortion.

Planned Parenthood centers in Florida have been preparing for the stricter ban to take effect. Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said they’ve implemented rapid blood tests to determine pregnancy earlier, increased education and contraception programs, and ramped up efforts to help people travel elsewhere for abortion.

“We’re doing what we can,” she said. “But we’ve as we’ve seen in other states, it’s still going to have a devastating impact on our public health system.”

Since states began enforcing bans after the 2022 ruling, the Bristol clinic has added appointment slots in afternoons, Saturdays and some Sundays — and has adjusted to the idea that patients could be late because of traffic jams as far away as Atlanta.

“In order for them to come to Virginia, there’s a lot of planning involved,” Ogorek said. “It’s not just taking a few hours off of work and driving 20 minutes”

11th case of measles reported in Florida

11th case of measles reported in Florida

WKMG News 6 & ClickOrlando

There have now been 11 cases of measles reported in Florida since the beginning of the year with the latest popping up in Martin County.

The majority of measles cases, 9, have been concentrated in Broward County with another in Polk County — all of which were reported in February.

Measles cases in at least three other states — Louisiana, Indiana and Ohio — have also been linked to people traveling to Florida, according to reports by CBS News.

Prior to 2024, Florida has not had a case of measles since 2020.

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The health department says medical workers are required to report any suspected measles cases immediately to the county health departments.

Measles is very contagious and can remain infectious in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours. The measles rash appears three to five days after the initial infection, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Complications from measles can include pneumonia, encephalitis, diarrhea and death.

For those who have a full vaccine course for MMR, the chance of getting measles is very low. The MMR vaccine is 98% effective, according to the state.

Two doses of the MMR vaccine are required for students to attend public schools in Florida, but parents can get exemptions for religious or medical reasons.

If you need a measles vaccination, you can get it at a pharmacy, visit your county health department, or check with your doctor.

The U.S. recently marked an unwanted milestone in this year’s measles surge, with more cases in the first three months of 2024 than in all of 2023.

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Marriages in the US are back to pre-pandemic levels, CDC says

Marriages in the US are back to pre-pandemic levels, CDC says

WKMG News 6 & ClickOrlando

U.S. marriages have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels with nearly 2.1 million in 2022.

That’s a 4% increase from the year before. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the data Friday, but has not released marriage data for last year.

In 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 1.7 million U.S. weddings — the lowest number recorded since 1963. The pandemic threw many marriage plans into disarray, with communities ordering people to stay at home and banning large gatherings to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Marriages then rose in 2021, but not to pre-pandemic levels. They ticked up again in 2022 and surpassed 2019 marriage statistics by a small margin.

New York, the District of Columbia and Hawaii saw the largest increases in marriages from 2021 to 2022. Nevada — home to Las Vegas’ famous wedding chapels — continued to have the highest marriage rate in the nation, though it slightly decreased from 2021.

The number and rate of U.S. divorces in 2022 fell slightly, continuing a downward trend, the CDC said.

Overall, marriages remain far less common than they once were in the U.S.

According to data that goes back to 1900, weddings hit their height in 1946, when the marriage rate was 16.4 per 1,000 people. The rate was above 10 in the early 1980s before beginning a decades-long decline. In 2022, the marriage rate was 6.2 per 1,000 population.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

These are the most termite-infested US cities. No. 1 is in Florida

These are the most termite-infested US cities. No. 1 is in Florida

WKMG News 6 & ClickOrlando

On Thursday, pest-control company Orkin released its 2024 list of the most termite-infested cities in the country.

According to company officials, the list was based on treatment data from cities where Orkin has performed the greatest number of termite treatments between Feb. 1, 2023 and Jan. 31, 2024.

For the second year in a row, Miami topped the list.

Meanwhile, three other Florida cities made the top 10 — Tampa (No. 3), Orlando (No. 8) and West Palm Beach (No. 9).

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Orlando moved up two spots from its rank last year, and West Palm Beach rose six places, the study shows.

“As winter makes its departure, many people are looking forward to the warmer spring weather,” the report reads. “Unfortunately, termites love spring, too. Termites thrive in warm environments, therefore, now is the perfect time for home and business owners to help protect their property.”

The full ranking is as follows:

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COVID pandemic hit Florida hard 4 years ago today. Here’s what happened in March 2020

COVID pandemic hit Florida hard 4 years ago today. Here’s what happened in March 2020

WKMG News 6 & ClickOrlando

Life changed drastically four years ago when shutdowns, closures and more took over as the coronavirus situation picked up.

On March 13, 2020, spring break was extended for Florida students and theme parks announced closures.

Here’s what the rest of March 2020 looked like as the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly evolved.

March 13 – Spring break extended

The state orders that all Florida public schools take an additional week off after spring break with the intent to resume classes on March 30.

March 13 – Theme parks announce closure

Officials from Universal Orlando Resort and Disney World say their theme parks will close effective March 15.

March 17 – First drive-up coronavirus testing opens in Central Florida

The first drive-up testing sites open in Central Florida.

March 17 – Bars/nightclubs shut down

Gov. Ron DeSantis orders that all bars and nightclubs be shut down statewide. We also learned students won’t return to class until at least mid-April.

March 20 – Restaurants ordered to switch to take-out, delivery only

DeSantis orders that all restaurants switch to takeout and delivery-only to prevent guests from dining inside.

March 20 – Orange County institutes curfew

Orange County was the first in Central Florida to issue a curfew. The curfew required residents to stay indoors from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., with exception to first responders and health professionals.

March 23 – Visitors from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut ordered to self-isolate

DeSantis orders that anyone flying from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to Florida self-isolates for 14 days. Later that night, DeSantis asks Trump for a major disaster declaration, which would allow certain FEMA programs to be activated.

March 23 – Flagler County beaches close

Flagler County officials close county beaches until further notice.

March 24 – Universal extends closure

Universal Orlando says parks will be closed through mid-April along with CityWalk.

March 24 – Stay-at-home orders issued in Orange County

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings issued a stay-at-home order for the county that included Orlando.

March 26 – Brevard beaches close

In an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Brevard County commissioners announced all beaches on the Space Coast will be closed on the weekends but remain open on weekdays.

March 27 – Seminole County issues social-distancing mandate

Seminole County issued a social-distancing order to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Officials said this type of order vs. a stay-at-home order would allow businesses to remain open.

March 30 – Retired first responders/medical personnel asked to return to workforce

DeSantis asks retired first responders and medical personnel to return to the workforce so they can help to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

To view a full timeline on the spread of coronavirus in Florida, click here.

Kelly O’Donnell reports on the latest information about COVID, its origins, and tension in China.

These are the fattest cities in the US. What’s the skinny with Florida?

These are the fattest cities in the US. What’s the skinny with Florida?

WKMG News 6 & ClickOrlando

On Monday, WalletHub released its ranking of the top cities nationwide that are struggling with weight-related health issues like obesity.

The study looks at the top 100 most populated cities in the U.S., examining factors like the number of physically inactive adults, healthy food access and projected obesity rates by 2030.

According to WalletHub, the country’s obesity epidemic costs over $190 billion in medical treatments per year and has caused around $4.3 million worth of productivity loss in the workplace.

“Americans are some of the most overweight people in the world, not just stereotypically but statistically, too,” the report reads. “In fact, nearly 42% of U.S. adults are obese, and it’s costing us.”

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Of the Florida cities on the list — Jacksonville, Orlando, Miami and Tampa — Orlando ranked the highest at No. 71.

However, Florida in general fell rather low on the list, with cities like McAllen, Texas and Jackson, Mississippi taking the top two spots for “fattest cities.”

Of the states that were on the list, Mississippi and Louisiana had the top two average scores, respectively. Meanwhile, Florida ranked toward the bottom of the list at No. 31.

The full list of cities is as follows:

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