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State’s pandemic response committee to hold first meetings next week

Review will come as COVID-19 cases, deaths continue to rise in Florida

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 23: Leonida Lipshy, RN in the COVID unit at the Broward Health Medical Center shows off a bottle of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a press conference on December 23, 2020 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Broward Health Medical Center began vaccinating frontline healthcare workers last week with the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine and are continuing to inoculate frontline caregivers with both of the vaccines after the arrival of the Moderna. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 23: Leonida Lipshy, RN in the COVID unit at the Broward Health Medical Center shows off a bottle of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a press conference on December 23, 2020 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Broward Health Medical Center began vaccinating frontline healthcare workers last week with the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine and are continuing to inoculate frontline caregivers with both of the vaccines after the arrival of the Moderna. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) (2020 Getty Images)

A pair of legislative committees set up to review Florida’s response to the coronavirus pandemic will hold their first meetings next week.

State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees is scheduled to address the Senate Select Committee on Pandemic Preparedness and Response on Jan. 14. The committee’s agenda also includes a hospitals panel discussion.

The House Pandemics & Public Emergencies Committee, chaired by Ormond Beach Republican Rep. Tom Leek, is slotted to meet for an hour on Jan. 14, but the committee’s agenda had not been posted as of Wednesday.

House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, also has directed the committee to review emergency management and how the state can prepare “for future threats.”

The Senate Health Policy Committee will host a discussion by officials from the state Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Health about COVID-19 “mitigation” efforts on Jan. 13. The meetings are being held in advance of the 60-day regular session that begins March 2.

Next week’s meetings come as the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to climb. With an additional 98 deaths reported Tuesday due to the virus, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 22,188 Floridians. The Florida Department of Health has logged 1.39 million cases in the state since the pandemic started in March.

State officials also have reported that 289,773 people in Florida had been vaccinated with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine as of Tuesday.