Florida taxpayers paid more than $30K for Cabinet trip to Israel, and costs aren't all in yet: Records obtained by the News Service of Florida detailing travel expenses of Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Cabinet staff members show taxpayers footed the bill for nearly $30,000 in hotel rooms, airfare, "registration fees," baggage fees and per-diem costs, which can include meals. That total covered expenses for Fried, three of her staff members, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis' chief of staff and Attorney General Ashley Moody's general counsel. The full delegation included about 200 people, and final expenses have not yet been reported.
Beloved Central Florida manatee Dix found dead after watercraft collision: Dix, one of the star manatees of Blue Spring State Park, was recently found dead in DeLand. After assessing her injuries, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says she died from an "acute watercraft collision." Dix rose to fame by bringing three calves into the Blue Spring area, fearlessly hanging around an alligator, and being an overall friendly creature adored by visitors and locals alike. The death of this popular manatee highlights an escalating problem: More manatees than usual are getting struck and killed by boats.
Florida ranked third most dangerous state in the nation: A new report from WalletHub claims Florida is the 48th safest state in the country. The study factored in things like personal and residential safety, financial safety, road safety, workplace safety and emergency preparedness, with Florida ranking among the bottom in almost every category. But it was our roads and our terrifying drivers that really tanked our standing.
Florida Department of Health to partner with Centers for Disease Control to address hepatitis A outbreak: The state reported 1,718 cases of hepatitis A between Jan. 1 and June 29, and 346 new cases between May 31 and June 29. Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection with effects ranging from mild illness to severe incapacitation. The CDC says hepatitis A spreads when a person ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by undetected amounts of feces from an infected person.
SPLC adds plaintiffs to solitary confinement suit against Florida Department of Corrections: The lawsuit, filed in early May, focused in part on five inmates who said they were put in solitary confinement for extended periods even though they had been diagnosed with mental illness. This week, the lawsuit was amended to add two new plaintiffs, said a spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Department of Corrections is expected to be served by next week. A department spokeswoman said the state won't comment on the lawsuit until then, but said solitary confinement is used only when "absolutely necessary."
Five sea turtles and a sandhill crane were returned to natural environments after SeaWorld Orlando care: The SeaWorld rescue team returned three juvenile green sea turtles to Flagler City and Ormond Beach on June 18 following months of treatment after they were found lethargic and covered in barnacles. The team returned two loggerhead turtles to Cocoa Beach on June 25. One of the turtles, rescued initially by the UCF marine turtle group, had a missing left flipper and was also lethargic and covered in barnacles. Additionally, the SeaWorld rescue team returned a sandhill crane on June 25. The crane was found with a fishhook in its foot and treated with antibiotics before being returned.