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South Beach, Miami, is dealing with a terrible spring break.

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South Beach, Miami, is dealing with a terrible spring break.
South Beach, Miami, is dealing with a terrible spring break.

South Beach, Miami, is dealing with a terrible spring break.

 

The world-famous South Beach in Florida is in dire need of a makeover.

Officials believe it is finally time to rid the chic community of its law-breaking, party-all-night vibe, with more than 1,000 arrests and nearly 100 weapons seizures during this year’s spring break season.

Years of increasingly strict initiatives, such as banning alcohol from beaches and canceling concerts and food festivals, have failed to prevent the city from being overrun with out-of-control parties and anything-goes antics.

Thousands of spring breakers and pandemic-weary visitors flocked to Ocean Drive this weekend, breaking into street battles, damaging restaurant land, and triggering many dangerous stampedes as a result of Florida’s lax virus-control laws. The situation became so tense that Miami Beach Police called in SWAT teams to disperse pepper bullets, as well as officers from at least four other departments. After much deliberation, the city agreed to impose an emergency curfew of 8 p.m., which will likely last well into April after the spring break season is over.

Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola said Monday, “We certainly want people to come and have fun.” “It’s a city renowned for its nightlife. People of all races, genders, and sexual orientations are welcome. But we can’t stand people who think they can come here and recreate a scene from “The Fast and the Furious,” racing down the streets and firing weapons into the air.”

The curfew has enraged some visitors, who say it has put a damper on long-awaited vacations for which they paid good money. Meanwhile, some officials argue that instead of responding in the midst of the chaos, they should have implemented more stringent measures earlier, as New Orleans did prior to Mardi Gras last month.

Arriola and other commissioners, on the other hand, believe the city will need a completely different approach.

They point out that the city has been gradually raising the stakes with new laws and regulations over the past few seasons, such as banning scooter rentals after 7 p.m., limiting alcohol sales after 8 p.m., and cracking down on loud music — all to no avail.

“We come up with new restrictions every year, but they have no impact, so when are we going to try anything new?” enquired Arriola, who proposed that more family-friendly and business-friendly activities be held.

The pandemic coincided with an unseasonably cold winter, pent-up demand from being quarantined at home, and the allure of a sunny climate with miles of sandy beaches in a state with few COVID-19 restrictions, creating the ideal storm for large crowds.

New Orleans, which hosts tens of thousands of visitors each year for Mardi Gras, spared the chaos that erupted in Miami. Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, had also enacted a statewide mask law, as well as occupancy restrictions for bars, restaurants, and other establishments.

New Orleans Democratic Mayor LaToya Cantrell went even further, closing all bars in the area, including those that were licensed to function as restaurants. For the final weekend of the season, city officials also closed Bourbon Street to cars and restricted pedestrian entry.

Despite strong resistance from Republicans and business leaders, Edwards and Cantrell were adamant about not repeating Mardi Gras 2020, which state officials later blamed for New Orleans being an early hotspot in the coronavirus pandemic.

“If people think they’re going to come to Louisiana, anywhere… and partake in the kinds of things they did before the pandemic, they’re wrong, and they’re not welcome here to do that,” Edwards said ahead of Mardi Gras.

Under Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has declined to enforce a mask-wearing ban and has insisted on allowing businesses to remain open, Miami Beach has taken less preventive steps. Instead, this year, city officials sent text messages to visitors warning them to “Vacation Responsibly or Be Arrested” and laying out a long list of laws. To prevent big crowds, the city even cancelled all concerts and food festivals, but the throngs of people who turned up anyway congregated aimlessly in impromptu street parties.

After being enticed to the state by a $5 million national tourism promotional campaign, the biggest in 20 years, some tourists were disappointed by the mixed messages.

Reg Mac, an Orlando paralegal, spent $800 on his trip to Miami, which he described as a bust due to the curfew of 8 p.m. He’d been looking forward to having a good time — and had even saved up special outfits for the after-hours scene.

“I was planning on going out to enjoy the nightlife,” Mac said, but instead chose to sleep in his hotel room. “The food was disgusting, and the service was terrible.”

“It’s sad that you can’t do anything that we want to do, that we hope to do,” Deaja Atwaters, who traveled from Harker Heights, Texas, said, “but we’re going to make the best of it.”

Officials in Miami Beach said the partygoers were mainly adults from out of town, not college students. They said that many of them didn’t even go to local restaurants or shops.

“Not all visitors to Miami Beach are bad people who come to break the law and threaten our quality of life, but this is a different situation that necessitates drastic measures,” said interim City Manager Raul Aguila, who imposed the emergency curfew.

My self Eswar, I am Creative Head at RecentlyHeard. I Will cover informative content related to political and local news from the United Nations and Canada.

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Boosters still protect against coronavirus variants, new Minnesota health data shows

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Boosters still protect against coronavirus variants, new Minnesota health data shows

Timely booster doses of coronavirus vaccine continue to protect Minnesotans from severe illness and death, even as new strains of the virus emerge, according to new data released Monday by the Department of Health.

People 65 and older benefit the most, breakthrough data from the last 60 days shows. Among seniors who got COVID-19, the unvaccinated have been more than four times as likely to die and nearly five times as likely to need hospital care compared to their boosted peers.

Getting the initial shots of vaccine without boosters provides some protection, but as the coronavirus mutates into new strains, that initial protection is not as strong as it was when vaccination began in December 2020. The latest data is the first time state health officials have provided specific information showing the increased protection from additional COVID-19 shots.

“We are still seeing a substantial benefit in the 65 and up category with boosters,” said Stephanie Meyer, epidemiologist supervisor at the health department. But she noted there were still a lot of questions about how the timing of booster shots and different coronavirus variants impacts vaccine protection.

Variations of the omicron strain of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, have dominated Minnesota infections since mid-December. The latest breakthrough data shows the various omicron variants are having better success infecting the vaccinated and are more likely to cause severe disease than some of the previous strains.

However, other factors also are at play, most notably patients’ underlying health conditions that may put them at higher risk. In recent months, Minnesota’s COVID-19 deaths again have been concentrated among older residents who tend to have other medical conditions.

“The comorbidity piece is something we cannot account for in these data. It is a really important factor,” said Keely Morris, senior epidemiologist. She noted that federal data continues to show vaccines offer protection to people who are high-risk because of other health conditions.

Morris also added that as more people get vaccinated, the share of new cases that affect vaccinated people is expected to climb. About 67 percent of the state’s 5.7 million residents have gotten their initial doses of vaccine, but only about 46 percent are up-to-date on their shots.

Meyer and Morris said state health officials continue to study breakthrough cases and the impact of vaccines and the timing of boosters.

CASES LEVEL OFF

There was some evidence released Monday that Minnesota’s latest spike in cases, driven by four different omicron sub-variants, may have stalled. The 2,152 new cases reported from last Friday is a week-over-week decline of about 11 percent.

However, case counts offer an increasingly limited view of the state’s outbreak because more people test at home and those results are not reported to the state. Health officials more closely watch hospitalization data and the prevalence of coronavirus genetic material in wastewater.

And last week, the Metropolitan Council reported a 58 percent increase in coronavirus DNA in Twin Cities sewage. The data was from the week ending May 16 and suggests cases could continue to rise.

Rates of hospitalization and death have ticked up in recent weeks but remain much lower than the state’s last big winter surge.

There are 422 patients hospitalized in the state with COVID-19, including 36 in intensive care. Critical cases have remained relatively flat as overall hospitalizations have fluctuated.

Another nine COVID-19 deaths also were reported Monday. They ranged in age from their early 60s to their 90s with six residing in private homes and three in long-term care.

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, 12,596 Minnesotans are known to have died from COVID-19. About 82 percent were seniors and about 46 percent residents of long-term care.

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Timberwolves reach agreement with Tim Connelly to make Denver’s top decision maker Minnesota’s new president of basketball operations

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Timberwolves reach agreement with Tim Connelly to make Denver’s top decision maker Minnesota’s new president of basketball operations

At the start of each of his business ventures, serial entrepreneur Marc Lore puts an intense focus on three facets – vision, capital and people.

And people, he’s often noted, are the most important component.

“Bringing in the very best people in the world,” Lore said last fall, “and letting them do their thing.”

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, when it came time to select a president of basketball operations for the Timberwolves – of whom Lore became a minority stake holder in 2021 and, along with Alex Rodriguez, is slated to become a majority owner by the end of 2023 – Lore’s search started at the very top, and ended with one of the game’s most lauded executives joining the organization.

Tim Connelly has agreed to join the Timberwolves as their new basketball boss, a source confirmed Monday, leaving the same role in Denver to come to Minnesota.

Connelly is largely credited with Denver’s ascension to a consistent Western Conference force. He drafted two-time, reigning MVP Nikola Jokic – whom he flew out to Serbia this month to meet and hand-deliver Jokic’s 2021-22 MVP trophy – Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. to construct the Nuggets’ formidable big three. That was supplemented by later selection gems like Bones Hyland and Monte Morris, and Aaron Gordon, who Denver acquired at the trade deadline in 2021.

Denver reached the Western Conference Finals in the bubble in 2020, and has seemingly only been derailed by significant injury losses the last two postseasons. The Nuggets’ future looks as bright as anyone’s in the NBA moving forward.

So why would Connelly leave Denver? It seems as though the decision — which he took a couple days to make — came down to compensation. Lore has said the pursuit of the best people is made without concern for cost. You don’t cheap out, particularly not when filling your most critical positions.

Connelly’s compensation from Minnesota is expected to be large, as the Timberwolves will empower him to run their basketball operations as he sees best fit. Connelly met with current Timberwolves majority owner Glen Taylor over the weekend to earn the final, most important stamp of approval.

Now he takes over a Minnesota roster filled with promise, starting at the top with Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and Jaden McDaniels. There are other young pieces and other key players that Connelly will now be tasked to determine whether or not they fit into the Timberwolves’ puzzle.

Recently-extended head coach Chris Finch and his coaching staff are certain to work under Connelly for the foreseeable future. Will Sachin Gupta, who ran the basketball operations for the last eight months after Gersson Rosas was fired?

Gupta was a candidate to take the position permanently, but now the question is whether he wants to stick around in a No. 2 role, and if Connelly also finds that scenario attractive. If he does, Minnesota will feature one of the top executive tandems in the NBA.

A number of important decisions face Minnesota’s new head man at the start of what’s already proving to be a transformational offseason for the Timberwolves.

Both his track record as Denver’s shot caller since 2013, and Lore’s track record of tabbing decision makers, suggests Connelly is up to the task.

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Dolphins Q&A: What can we expect of Josh Boyer as defensive coordinator without Brian Flores?

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Dolphins Q&A: What can we expect of Josh Boyer as defensive coordinator without Brian Flores?

Here’s the latest installment of our Miami Dolphins Q&A, where South Florida Sun Sentinel writers David Furones and Omar Kelly answer questions from readers.

Q: Without [Brian] Flores being part of the defensive play-calling, what can we assume or expect with how well Josh Boyer will be now that this is his defense moving forward? — Dan Giunta on Twitter

A: Much like how it’s a “prove-it” year for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa because he has everything he should need to succeed heading into his third season, this could also be viewed as the season when the pressure is on Josh Boyer as defensive coordinator.

This will be the true test for him — with defensive personnel that offers him all the tools he needs — to show he can do it without leaning on ex-Dolphins coach Brian Flores, whom he’s had a longstanding relationship with going back to their decade-plus together as assistants with the New England Patriots.

As new coach Mike McDaniel reshaped the Dolphins’ offensive staff, he retained Boyer in his same defensive coordinator role as last season, along with other defensive assistants in linebackers coach Anthony Campanile and defensive line coach Austin Clark.

With all 11 starters and several rotational pieces on defense returning, if the Dolphins defense takes a step back in 2022, the blame will land on Boyer, who no longer has Flores with him or former defensive backs coach Gerald Alexander. Alexander, according to Sun Sentinel sources, took on added responsibilities in leading the defense in the second half of last season as the unit turned the team’s fortunes around for eight wins in the last nine games following a seven-game losing streak.

Early on upon being named head coach, McDaniel pursued former Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio for the defensive coordinator role, as the Sun Sentinel reported, but a deal couldn’t be reached. With Boyer retained, maintaining as much continuity as possible on a successful defense became the evident goal.

With the defense now nearly entirely his, Boyer already has the blueprint of what makes it work.

Bring exotic blitzes. Let cornerbacks Xavien Howard, Byron Jones and Nik Needham play man coverage. Allow safeties Jevon Holland and Brandon Jones to be versatile. Utilize multiple defensive fronts with the versatility that many in the front seven possess. And the addition of Melvin Ingram as another pass rusher helps.

Boyer, speaking recently with media at team facilities, said “a lot” of his time is consumed with the internal debate of how much to keep the same with the defense and what he’ll tinker with.

“Even the things that we do and we’ve done consistently, you’re always trying to tweak or do it better,” Boyer said. “There’s always variables that go into that: What teams are doing to you and what you’re looking to do to teams.”

One aspect that McDaniel, offensively, can facilitate for Boyer and the defense is to take some of the pressure off by installing an effective run game in Miami. The better the Dolphins can run the football under McDaniel, who led a consistent rushing attack for years in San Francisco, the more Miami can win the time of possession battle, keeping the defense fresh and not having to get run back out onto the field time and time again following three-and-outs from the offense.

Have a question?

Email David Furones, or tag @OmarKelly or @DavidFurones_ on Twitter.

Previously answered:

Where will Dolphins add another veteran free agent?

Is Christian Wilkins next for multi-year extension?

What could Dolphins’ draft strategy be?

How should Dolphins fill out O-line around Armstead?

Could AFC’s young guns at QB affect Dolphins’ commitment to Tua?

Why not throw downfield to Waddle more?

What do Dolphins think of practice squad rookie RB Gerrid Doaks?

Can Tua still be a top-10 quarterback?

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