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10 Investigates: 10 impactful stories from a unique year

From the COVID-19 pandemic, to racial injustice, to flesh-eating bacteria and bus drivers being attacked, 10 Investigates looks back at investigations from 2020.

The pandemic changed pretty much everything we do daily, but it didn't stop our 10 Investigates team from fighting to get answers and solutions for you. 

In fact, COVID-19 added a lot of extra work to our team's plate. 

For most of us, Zoom calls became the standard way of communicating in 2020 during the pandemic. But no amount of social distancing could keep us from fighting for you.

#1: COVID-19 IMPACTS ON NURSING HOMES, JAILS AND CHILDREN

10 Investigates dug into every concern you had about the COVID-19 pandemic, from jails to nursing homes. We spoke to families of people who live in long-term care facilities and worked to get answers for them.

And, when the Florida Department of Health wouldn't release information on a mysterious illness in children related to COVID, we pushed back, getting that information from hospitals. 

RELATED: Deaths continue to climb at a Seminole long-term care facility

#2: LACK OF SCHOOL PANDEMIC PLANS

When students transitioned from classrooms to living rooms, many issues came to the surface. 10 Investigates uncovered major inconsistencies in school pandemic plans and in some cases no plans at all.  

RELATED: Inconsistent pandemic plans left Florida schools scrambling when COVID-19 hit

#3: SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS SLIPPING THROUGH THE CRACKS

Some of those hardest hit were special needs students. We spoke to parents who said their ESE students were not getting the time and resources promised by the state.

RELATED: Left Behind: Parents say school districts are not following education plans

#4: RACIAL WAGE GAP

As many lost their jobs, 10 Investigates identified a wide wage gap between white people and Black people in the Tampa Bay area. 

RELATED: Race and Money: The wage gap between Black families and white families in Tampa Bay

#5: YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION AT RISK

10 Investigates discovered government workers abusing their access to your sensitive personal information while many of the victims never had a clue.

"It's information that obviously could be used in identity theft, or it could be used for some nefarious purpose if it was leaked out."

RELATED: 10 Investigates: Government workers abusing access to your private info face few consequences

#6: DEADLY FLESH-EATING BACTERIA IN FLORIDA WATERS

10 Investigates also discovered dozens of deaths after people contracted flesh-eating bacteria in Florida waters over the years. But, many weren't reported here because of how the Department of Health tracks cases. Leaving many beachgoers in the dark about what is lurking below.

RELATED: Bacteria lurking in Florida water responsible for hundreds of cases

#7: BUS DRIVERS ATTACKED ON THE JOB

Meanwhile, on Bay area roads, bus drivers faced horrors of their own. 10 Investigates discovered a spike in attacks. When those drivers couldn't get help on their own, we took our findings to HART's director of safety and security. 

RELATED: Nearly 500 HART bus drivers were physically or verbally attacked in the last 3 years

#8: DEADLY BACTERIA IN HOSPITAL WATER

After at least eight Florida surgery patients got an infection caused by Nontuberculous mycobacteria or "NTM", 10 Investigates discovered facilities only have to notify the Florida Department of Health if there's an outbreak. Following our investigation, state Rep. Chris Sprowls asked the Florida Department of Health to make changes. 

"So, what we've asked the Department of Health to do is to rectify that. To change their rule to reflect that these cases, these infections, need to be reported to the state immediately," Sprowls said.

RELATED: She went to a Tampa hospital for surgery. Her family says she left with a deadly infection. She’s not alone.

#9: LICENSING LOOPHOLE

10 investigates uncovered a loophole that allowed a local certified nursing assistant accused of inappropriately touching patients to continue to work. State lawmakers decided to close it, voting to add a new Florida law, so it never happens again.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed off on the bill in July.

RELATED: Licensing Loophole: How a CNA accused of inappropriate behavior was allowed to keep working

#10: COSTLY ERROR

A triple murder suspect had more than 200 prior felony arrests.10 Investigates uncovered an error in the paperwork that showed he had no prior criminal history. 

Now, the local states attorney is calling for change to how the courts are run on the weekends. 

RELATED: 'Trigger man' accused of triple murder had 200+ felony charges: An error meant a judge didn't know

It's been a trying year for everyone, but 10 Investigates is still here, fighting for you.

And, we'll continue to do that in 2021. 

You can watch all of the work from our 10 Investigates team here

Contact 10 Investigates: Tips@10TampaBay.com

Our Investigative Reporters on Twitter:

  • Jennifer Titus: @jenntitus10 
  • Jenna Bourne: @jennabourneWTSP 
  • Courtney Robinson: @CourtneyWTSP