Here is a public service reminder: For the love of humanity, do NOT mess with people today.
Yes, it’s April 1, and we all know what that means.
And nobody loves a good April Fool’s joke like this website. Remember this date three years ago when this headline popped up on the homepage: “Tampa Bay Times to purchase Peter Schorsch’s Extensive Enterprises Media.”
The story went on to say that Peter would join the Times’ editorial board. That’s when people started checking the calendar and getting the joke.
It was the classic well-executed April Fools’ Day move. Tom Brady has a better chance of playing on the front line for the Tampa Bay Lightning than that sale does of ever happening.
But that was then. There’s nothing funny about what’s going on now.
Nothing. Funny. At. All.
People are sick and dying, and those that aren’t are skittish and scared. People are especially susceptible in this click-and-believe age to any story with COVID-19 or coronavirus in the headline.
Anyone tempted to make a joke about all this, thinking it might lighten the mood, one word: NO!
Generally, April 1 is a great relief valve for pent-up stress, but not now. Maybe we’ll be laughing again a year from now, but things are just messed up today.
So, be nice to each other today (and, well, every day).
That’s what we all need today.
— “Google is canceling its legendary April Fools’ Day jokes this year because of the pandemic” via Business Insider
— EXECUTIVE SUMMARY —
— There are more than 845,000 global infections and more than 41,000 deaths worldwide.
— Between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans could die from the coronavirus in the next several months as it ravages the country, according to models developed by top government scientists. Read more here.
— More than 183,500 people in the U.S. have tested positive for the virus. At least 3,700 patients with the virus have died. Read more here.
— Spain had its deadliest day yet, while Italy’s new COVID-19 cases have leveled off. Read more here.
— Stocks were down in subdued trading as Wall Street wrapped up its worst quarter of performance since the 2008 financial crisis. Read more here.
— Goldman Sachs expects U.S. unemployment to hit 15%. Read more here.
— TOP STORIES —
“UN chief says COVID-19 is worst crisis since World War II” via Edith M. Lederer of The Associated Press — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the world faces the most challenging crisis since World War II, confronting a pandemic threatening people in every country, one that will bring a recession “that probably has no parallel in the recent past.” Many countries are not respecting WHO guidelines, with each tending to go its own way in dealing with the pandemic. Guterres said developed countries must massively increase the resources available to the developing world.
“Government to begin sending stimulus payments in the next three weeks” via John D. McKinnon of The Wall Street Journal — The government will begin sending out stimulus payments to households in the next three weeks, and will distribute them automatically, with no action required for most people, officials said. The payments will provide $1,200 to most adults and $500 for children under age 17. The cash will total about $292 billion. The government will create a web portal for people who haven’t already provided their direct-deposit information to upload it to the IRS so they can get their money more quickly, the IRS said. People who don’t usually have to file returns will need to file to receive the payments, the IRS said.
“Worst day yet for coronavirus in Florida: 1K new cases, 14 deaths” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — State health officials confirmed more than 1,000 cases of the novel coronavirus and 14 deaths, making it the deadliest day for the outbreak in Florida so far. The day’s new cases make up 15% of the now 6,741 cases in the state, including 251 positive non-Florida residents isolated in the state. And today’s reported fatalities make up 16% of the state’s now 85 deaths. Additional completed tests only made up 12% of new testing. At least 63,400 people have been tested, and 1,261 are awaiting results. There were also 142 new hospitalizations reported Tuesday, up to 857. The bulk of new cases, 634, were reported overnight, but eight of the new deaths were reported for the day.
“Ron DeSantis continues to resist a Florida shutdown” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — “I’m in contact with (the White House Task Force), and I’ve said, are you recommending this?.” DeSantis said. “The task force has not recommended that to me. If they do, obviously that would be something that carries a lot of weight with me. If any of those task force folks tell me that we should do X, Y or Z, of course, we’re going to consider it. But nobody has said that to me thus far.” That deference to the White House was later applauded by President Donald Trump, who lauded DeSantis, a close political ally. When asked if Florida needed to issue a blanket order, Trump replied that DeSantis is a “great governor who knows exactly what he’s doing.”
“Donald Trump to speak to DeSantis about allowing ships with infected passengers to dock” via Florida Politics — Trump says he will speak to DeSantis about the fate of two cruise ships carrying passengers sick with the coronavirus that are hoping to offload passengers in the state. DeSantis has said the state’s health care resources are already stretched too thin to take on ships’ coronavirus caseload. But Trump says: “They’re dying on the ship,” adding, “I’m going to do what’s right. Not only for us, but for humanity.” Holland America’s Zaandam and Rotterdam ships are set to arrive later this week and at least two people on board need emergency attention. U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Longboat Key Republican, said he has been told 49 of the passengers on the two ships are Florida residents.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@RealDonaldTrump: With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades-long-awaited Infrastructure Bill. It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country! Phase 4
—@AriFleischer: Suggestion: Whenever the media posts a statistic from China about Coronavirus, it should be accompanied by a giant asterisk. That’s what we do in sports. That’s how we should look at China’s data reporting.
—@SamanthaJoRoth: Trump on Florida preparation for coronavirus: “They are doing well in comparison,” he said in response to a question asking whether Florida should be locking down like New York and New Jersey.
Florida continues to show an acceleration in new #COVID19 cases, with Miami as one of a number of epicenters of spread. The state was probably heavily seeded at some point in early/mid February given pace of the case growth, which suggests there are multiple expanding clusters. pic.twitter.com/CBywYaBj3k
— Scott Gottlieb, MD (@ScottGottliebMD) March 31, 2020
—@Rob_Bradley: Hospitals in Florida are at 37% capacity. This is a major data point I am monitoring. The fact that our hospitals have this much capacity at this point in time is positive news.
—@MaryEllenKlas: “This model assumes full mitigation” says Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House’s coronavirus task force, at the WH press conf now. The question: What does “full mitigation” mean for Florida if it is another day of not doing anything differently?
—@ChrisHongTU: You know the seriousness is settling in when the flu-truthers start deleting their tweets.
— Andrew Rush (@andrewrush) March 30, 2020
—@MechanteAnemone: Hot take: if public schools are shifting to online classes, then internet is a basic service and everyone should have access.
—@FrancesRobles: The Florida Keys are on lockdown to outsiders. On Tuesday morning, approximately 1,600 cars were turned around.
—@ShevrinJones: You will not receive an end of the month fundraising email or message from our campaign. Instead, visit @MiamiFoundation, or @UnitedWayMiami, @UnitedWayBC to help them help families struggling during this time.
—@MCIMaps: The last two years I have done an April fools article around political events. I am opting not to this year. We are in the midst of a pandemic and no time needs to be wasted with stuff people might sow confusion or mistrust. It’s totally not because I’m swamped with work.
—@FinalLevel: ICE Cold Fact: If somebody owes you money … Put on your mask and pop up at their crib right now … They’re Home.
House near us puts these bears out each day, doing a different activity every time. It’s all I live for currently… pic.twitter.com/cSKYiqZL1Z
— Adam Harrison (@Adam_Harrison13) March 30, 2020
— DAYS UNTIL —
Passover begins — 7; Quibi launches — 8; Third-season premiere of “Killing Eve” — 11; Easter — 11; Florida Schools reopen (maybe) — 14; First quarter campaign reports due — 17; Last day of federal candidate qualifying — 21; NFL Draft — 22; Gov. DeSantis’ executive order closing bars and restaurants expires — 37; Mother’s Day — 39; Last day of state candidate qualifying — 68; “Top Gun: Maverick” premieres — 86; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 102; Federal taxes due — 105; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” premieres — 107; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 139; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 145; First presidential debate in Indiana — 181; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 189; Second presidential debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 197; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 204; 2020 General Election — 216; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 230; “No Time to Die” premieres — 238; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 478.
— CORONA NATION —
“Both public health and politics played a role in Donald Trump’s coronavirus decision” via Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Yasmeen Abutaleb of The Washington Post — Aides and advisers say the president was heavily influenced by briefings from scientific and public health officials, as well as by the stark reality of the virus, including projections of greater deaths depending on what measures the government takes. But Trump campaign officials and political allies had also briefed the president in recent days about their fears of reopening the economy too soon, arguing that a spike in deaths could be even more politically damaging in November than the current economic downturn. Public health officials warned Trump that many rural areas — which form the bedrock of the president’s political support — do not have the necessary hospitals and doctors to handle an outbreak, should it come.
“Trump rejects ‘Obamacare’ special enrollment period amid pandemic” via Susanna Luthi of POLITICO — The Trump administration has decided against reopening ‘Obamacare’ enrollment to uninsured Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, defying calls from health insurers and Democrats to create a special sign-up window amid the health crisis. Trump and administration officials recently said they were considering relaunching HealthCare.gov, the federal enrollment site, and insurers said they privately received assurances from health officials overseeing the law’s marketplace. However, a White House official on Tuesday evening told POLITICO the administration will not reopen the site for a special enrollment period, and that the administration is “exploring other options.”
“CDC considering recommending general public wear face coverings in public” via Joel Achenbach, Lena H. Sun and Laurie McGinley of The Washington Post — Should we all be wearing masks? That simple question is under review by officials in the U.S. government and has sparked a grassroots pro-mask movement. But there’s still no consensus. More people have taken to covering their faces, although it remains a scattershot strategy driven by personal choice. The government does not recommend it. The recommendation under consideration calls for using do-it-yourself cloth coverings. Such DIY cloth masks would potentially lower the risk that the wearer if infected, would transmit the virus to other people.
“FDA authorizes two-minute antibody testing kit to detect coronavirus” via Marisa Fernandez of Axios — The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency approval y for a serological testing kit produced by Bodysphere Inc. that can detect a positive or negative result for COVID-19 in two minutes. Access to testing has improved in the U.S. thanks to commercial labs, but the average wait time for a patient’s results is four to five days. These antibody tests could help people know if they can go back to work, as well as aid researchers in tracking the scale and death rate of the disease — key data for current and future pandemic policies. They’re especially useful for determining whether health care workers have some immunity and are at a lower risk.
“At the top of the COVID-19 curve, how do hospitals decide who gets treatment?” via Mike Baker and Sheri Fink of The New York Times — Many states have developed triage plans for what happens in a natural disaster or a severe pandemic, if hospitals are overwhelmed. As the coronavirus pandemic expands, they have been reexamining those plans, hoping they will be useful if hospitals have more critically ill patients than ventilators. Almost all the plans give priority to otherwise healthy people who are most likely to fully recover. But it is not that simple. One underlying assumption: They should only be implemented if other measures fail. “When the system is at risk of becoming overwhelmed, the goal then becomes to conserve, substitute, adapt and reuse.”
“Hospitals tell doctors they’ll be fired if they speak out about lack of gear” via Olivia Carville, Emma Court, and Kristen V Brown of Bloomberg — Hospitals are threatening to fire health care workers who publicize their working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic — and have in some cases followed through. Ming Lin, an emergency room physician in Washington state, said he was told Friday he was out of a job because he’d given an interview to a newspaper about a Facebook post detailing what he believed to be inadequate protective equipment and testing. In Chicago, a nurse was fired after emailing colleagues that she wanted to wear a more protective mask while on duty. In New York, the NYU Langone Health system has warned employees they could be terminated if they talk to the media without authorization.
“Doctor’s firing in coronavirus crisis shows a failure of corporate medicine” via the Editorial Board of The Seattle Times — The strain of the coronavirus pandemic should have the entire health care system focused intently on quality and safety. Yet the dismissal of Bellingham doctor Ming Lin shows how misguided business practices can hold back medical providers in a time of crisis. Lin practiced at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, where he was an emergency-room doctor, for 17 years. As the coronavirus crisis mounted, he took to social media to publicize conditions at the hospital he found appalling. Lin’s employer removed him in response. Such a public airing of workplace grievance might anger most employers. But firing the messenger rather than acting on the message shows the company cared more about its public facade than accepting real evidence of issues that needed fixing.
“‘Never thought I would need it’: Americans put pride aside to seek aid” via Cara Buckley of The New York Times — The cars arrived at the food bank in southern Dallas in a stream — a minivan, a Chevrolet Tahoe, a sedan with a busted window, a Jaguar of unclear vintage. Inside the vehicles sat people who scarcely could believe they needed to be there. There was a landscaper, a high school administrator, a college student, and Dalen Lacy. Like 70 percent of the people who showed up at Crossroads Community Services one day last week, Lacy had never been there before. But when the coronavirus pandemic drove the economy off a cliff, the father of two lost his warehouse job and saw his hours at 7-Eleven slashed. “I’ve never had to actually do this,” he said. “But I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do for my kids.”
“Those without broadband struggle in a stuck-at-home nation” via The Associated Press — As schools, workplaces and public services shut down in the age of coronavirus, online connections are keeping Americans in touch with vital institutions and each other. But that’s not much of an option when fast internet service is hard to come by. There are no definitive numbers on those without broadband. The FCC puts the number at 21 million, but its data is faulty and most likely undercounts the problem. An independent group called BroadbandNow pegs it at 42 million. Many more just can’t afford broadband. U.S. broadband costs more than in many comparable countries — an average of $58 a month compared to $46.55 across 29 nations, according to a 2018 Federal Communications Commission report.
“U.S. warship captain seeks crew isolation as virus spreads” via Lolita C. Baldor of The Associated Press — The captain of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier facing a growing outbreak of the coronavirus is asking for permission to isolate the bulk of his roughly 5,000 crew members onshore, which would take the warship out of duty in an effort to save lives. The captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt said the spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating, and said that removing all but 10% of the crew is a “necessary risk” to stop the spread of the virus. The ship is docked in Guam. The ship’s captain said they must move the majority of the sailors off the ship, isolate them, and completely clean the vessel.
“Why jails are so important in the fight against coronavirus” via Anna Flagg and Joseph Neff of The New York Times — Picture thousands of cruise ships jammed with guests but short on hand sanitizer, protective gear and medical care. Every week, a quarter of the passengers get off, replaced by new people with the potential to either infect or be infected with the coronavirus. There is a place like that in your community: the county jail. Both in large jails located in virus hot spots like New York and Seattle and in smaller jails across the country, the churn of people moving in and out threatens to accelerate the spread of the disease, endangering the incarcerated, the staff and the larger community.
“Brooklyn man arrested for hoarding masks, coughing on FBI agents” via Carl Campanile — A Brooklyn man claiming to be infected with the coronavirus coughed on FBI agents who were investigating him for hoarding medical supplies, the US Attorney’s Office said. Baruch Feldheim, 43, is facing charges of assault and making false statements to the feds on Sunday outside his Borough Park home where he allegedly peddled and stored massive amounts of N95 respirator masks, federal officials said. Feldheim is also accused of price-gouging. On March 18, he’s suspected of selling a New Jersey doctor about 1,000 of the masks for $12,000, a markup of roughly 700 percent.
— CORONA FLORIDA —
“Scientist cited by White House told Florida: Shut state down” via David Smiley and Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times — One of the epidemiologists behind a coronavirus model cited by the White House over the weekend as a reason for extending national social distancing recommendations through the end of April has advised Florida’s state government to issue a statewide stay-at-home order — the kind of blanket decree that DeSantis has so far insisted is unnecessary. Ali Mokdad, a professor at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said he told Florida’s top health official Monday night that the Governor should issue a blanket stay-at-home order mandating the closure of nonessential businesses and social isolation to control the spread of the virus.
“As cases continue to rise, supplies remain an issue” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — States are competing with each other for protective gear and masks. Florida Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz has resorted to Twitter to ask for supplies, most importantly the N95 masks that filter out airborne particles that can carry the coronavirus. Moskowitz has said the private market for N95 masks right now is like “a Ponzi scheme.” “Different distributors represented by brokers selling the same lot of masks bidding against each other,” he posted on Twitter, replying to a question by entrepreneur, investor and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. “I’m chasing ghosts.” DeSantis said the competition for protective gear was particularly cutthroat, likening it to “Kabuki.”
“DeSantis addresses concerns with Florida business owners, leaders amid coronavirus pandemic” via TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat — During a call hosted by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, he said unemployment claims in Florida and across the country are “way, way, way more significant than in the Great Recession” and didn’t conceal his concern for small businesses. Even with the historic $2 trillion federal stimulus package approved last week, DeSantis said it might not be enough, and the additional aid may buy small business time to survive two to four weeks. “But once you get beyond that,” he said, “it becomes really, really difficult.”
“Lawmakers urge DeSantis to impose statewide moratorium on evictions” via John Kennedy of the Tallahassee Democrat — DeSantis should impose a statewide moratorium on evictions to avoid the ouster of thousands of tenants who have lost jobs because of the coronavirus shutdowns, Democratic lawmakers and local officials said Tuesday. Floridians, those urging action said worries about being evicted is a burden the state government could ease. DeSantis has said little about pocketbook concerns for Floridians, instead focusing on the state’s need for stepping up testing, and self-isolation. The governor has left decisions about eviction bans, or a pause in electricity shut-offs for lack of payment to local governments and utilities.
“State workers say they’re stymied in efforts to telecommute” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — Chaos and confusion continue to reign among state workers over “telework” options during the coronavirus crisis. While DeSantis has urged state agencies to encourage employees to work remotely, Tallahassee’s two state representatives have received scores of calls from workers who say they’ve been denied the opportunity. Loranne Ausley and Ramon Alexander, both Democrats, represent more than 20,000 state workers in Leon and Gadsden counties. Ausley said the situation became even more confused this weekend when DeSantis directed the state Surgeon General to text message a public health advisory that people over 65 should stay home for the next two weeks. “What does that mean for state workers?” she said she asked the Governor’s Office.
“COVID-19 scams, price gouging prompt statewide warnings, crackdown” via Wayne K. Roustan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — As the coronavirus spreads so do the schemes trying to capitalize on pandemic fears. Since setting up a Rapid Response Team to monitor price gouging, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office has issued over 50 subpoenas, deactivated more than 100 online posts, and secured over $79,000 in direct refunds for consumers. The office received more than 1,200 consumer complaints and contacted merchants about 1,900 allegations of price gouging, refunds, and scams. Violators of price gouging laws face fines of $1,000 per violation and up to a total of $25,000 for multiple violations committed in a single 24-hour period.
“For Florida’s uninsured, hospitalization for COVID-19 can be a $35,000 sucker punch” via Shirsho Dasgupta and Yesenia Amaro of the Bradenton Herald — Although elders are considered most vulnerable to the coronavirus, medical professionals have been surprised at the toll the virus has taken on younger adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans aged 19 to 54 account for nearly 40 percent of hospitalizations related to coronavirus. Almost 15 percent of American adults in that age group lack health insurance, a McClatchy analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data found. While costs will vary, recent news reports suggest that getting tested and treated for coronavirus can much as high as $35,000 for uninsured patients, painting a devastating picture for those U.S. residents without health coverage — nearly a tenth of the U.S. population.
“Can Florida schools conduct business as usual during coronavirus?” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — How do you conduct business and keep social distancing? The Hillsborough County School Board gave it a try. Lots of sanitizer and space were involved. Have you been Zoom-bombed yet? It’s happening more and more as the teleconferencing site gains popularity in remote learning. Here’s how to prevent the worst offenses. The state recommended schools stay closed through April 30. After a day’s delay, more districts agreed to follow the suggestion. But at least one decided to get more aggressive.
“Nikki Fried asks feds to move quickly on help for farmers” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The $2.2 trillion federal relief bill passed last week includes incentives for every sector, and Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner wants to ensure farmers aren’t left out. Commissioner Fried wrote U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on Tuesday, pushing to ensure farmers get their share timely. “We urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to swiftly act to get the $9.5 billion in agriculture financial assistance into the hands of our farmers impacted by COVID-19 as quickly as possible,” Fried wrote.
“‘It’s catastrophic.’ Coronavirus forces Florida farmers to scrap food they can’t sell” via Carlos Frías and Kevin G. Hall of the Miami Herald — The total shutdown of the hospitality industry, to stem the spread of the coronavirus, means farmers who grew crops intended for everyone from small, independent restaurants to busy hotels are stuck with millions of pounds of produce that will soon be left to die on the vine. A lot of the product will be turned into mulch. The federal government could invoke the power to purchase farm product for use in assistance programs. Charities are overwhelmed with produce that has been given to them, and some are having trouble processing it all.
“Three FHP members test positive for coronavirus” via Ana Ceballos of the News Service of Florida — Spokesman Aaron Keller said the three troopers who contracted the highly contagious virus are part of Troop E in Miami, Troop L in Lake Worth and Troop I in Panama City, and the facilities where they work are being decontaminated. “In each case, the Florida Highway Patrol immediately engaged with local health officials and followed self-isolation guidelines,” Keller, communications director for the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, which includes the highway patrol, said in a statement. But people who may have been in contact with the troopers are being notified about their potential exposure, Keller said.
“Appeals court refuses to revisit felons voting decision” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — Striking another blow against DeSantis, a federal appeals court has refused to reconsider a ruling that felons who have served their time but are unable to pay “legal financial obligations” must be allowed to vote. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals turned down the Governor’s request for what is known as an “en banc,” or full court, review. The case involves a challenge to a 2019 Florida law that made felons’ voting eligibility contingent upon payment of court-ordered fees, fines and restitution. The panel on Feb. 19 upheld a ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle that the state cannot bar felons from voting if they are “genuinely unable” to pay the obligations.
“Publix now allows certain employees to wear masks and gloves” via Sara DiNatale of the Tampa Bay Times — Before this week, Publix cashiers weren’t allowed to wear gloves or face masks while handling orders and checking out customers amid the coronavirus outbreak. The Lakeland-based chain has now created a new voluntary mask and glove policy, according to handouts provided to employees. Publix says PPE — personal protection equipment — can be worn for certain employees’ “personal comfort.” But gloves will only be provided while supplies last and only to the pharmacy and customer-service employees. And employees are on their own finding disposable dust or surgeon masks. The store won’t provide them because of the national shortage. The policy explicitly says reusable, or cloth masks are prohibited.
— CORONA LOCAL —
“A mayor’s lonely fight against the coronavirus in a state run by Republicans” via Mary Harris of Slate — Even as Florida’s coronavirus cases have skyrocketed, the state has been acting far too slowly. Gov. DeSantis is taking delayed measures while blaming outsiders for COVID-19 transmission, and residents continue to pack still-open public spaces. But one local leader is leading the charge to protect her constituents: Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.
“City Hall could offer $30 million in loans, aid to small businesses” via Christopher Hong of The Florida Times-Union — The City of Jacksonville could put as much as $30 million into a program for small businesses that would offer grants and loans. The announcement didn’t provide many details about the program, which would be a partnership between the city and Vystar Credit Union. Some elements of the program would be tied to employee retention. More details would be revealed this week.
“Governments loosening age limits for drive-through testing in Miami for coronavirus” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Miami loosened age restrictions on a drive-up coronavirus testing site at Hadley Park, allowing city residents as young as 45 to participate if they experience symptoms of COVID-19. Across town, Marlins Park began offering drive-through testing for any adult with symptoms of the virus. The looser rules follow a week of seniors-only testing at Marlins Park and of Miami, limiting home testing to people 65 and over. With less demand from older residents, governments administering the sites say they’re ready to open them up to a broader range of people. “We feel comfortable we have enough kits to lower the limit,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said.
“South Florida doctors turning to malaria drug for sickest coronavirus patients” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the Sun-Sentinel — Even before the FDA granted provisional approval this week, South Florida doctors started turning to an anti-malaria drug to treat the sickest coronavirus patients. The drug therapy, a combination of the malaria drug and an antibiotic, attacks the new coronavirus in different ways and has shown potential in fighting the highly contagious and deadly virus. Only patients who have had severe respiratory symptoms get the experimental treatment, which can have harsh side effects.
“Another cruise ship with sick people aboard is headed for Fort Lauderdale” via Ron Hurtibise and Lisa J. Huriash of the Sun-Sentinel — Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess has a “higher-than-normal” number of people with flu-like symptoms and plans to bring them to Port Everglades on April 4 following a service call in Bridgetown, Barbados, on Tuesday night, the cruise line said in a statement released Tuesday. Local officials have made no decision about allowing the ship to dock at Port Everglades. Health officials in Brazil turned down the cruise line’s request to let passengers disembark in that country and take flights home.
“Miami Beach to limit occupancy of ‘essential businesses,’ requires customers and employees to be six feet apart” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Miami Beach is ramping up its social distancing efforts, putting multiple restrictions on essential businesses as those limited outlets continue to operate. Per a Tuesday Emergency Order, companies that remain open will be limited to 50% capacity. All customers and employees must remain six feet apart as well. Businesses must also provide disinfecting wipes “at points of entrance, cash registers, and/or other appropriate locations, subject to availability.” Employees must be designated to wipe down carts, cash registers, “and other areas as frequently as possible.” Those stores will be required to offer hand sanitizer for customers and employees as well.
“Osceola, Seminole counties see COVID-19 caseloads top 100” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Two more Central Florida counties saw their COVID-19 caseloads reach triple digits Tuesday as Osceola County added 16 new cases and Seminole County 15 new cases. In the evening report posted by the Florida Department of Health, those put Seminole County at 110 people with confirmed cases of the disease, and Seminole at 103. Meanwhile, Orange County continued its steep increase in people infected with the new coronavirus, adding another 73 cases since the evening report Monday. That left Orange with 373 cases, more than four times as many as a week ago. Across Florida, there now are 11 counties that have recorded more than 100 patients infected with the new coronavirus.
“5 infants among coronavirus cases in orange and Osceola counties” via Roger Simmons of the Orlando Sentinel — Four infants in Orange County and one in Osceola County are now listed among those who have contracted coronavirus. All four of the infants in Orange County are boys. Two of them are 1-year-olds while the other two are younger. In Osceola, the girl is younger than 1-year-old, did visit an emergency department, and has not been hospitalized. Her case is not believed to be travel-related. Twenty-three cases of coronavirus have been reported across the state for those ages four years and under.
“Orlando Health doing elective surgeries, despite state order to postpone them” via Naseem Miller of the Orlando Sentinel — Federal and state officials have either asked or flat-out prohibited hospitals from performing elective procedures in order to preserve supplies, free up beds and protect providers from potential exposure to COVID-19, but many hospitals around the nation, including Orlando Health, are still performing the procedures. Several front-line medical workers at Orlando Health said the health system continues to perform non-emergency procedures such as bariatric and orthopedic surgeries, even though essential protective equipment is in short supply.
— MORE LOCAL —
“Tampa Bay could have coronavirus tests that share results in minutes by mid-April” via Caitlin Johnston of the Tamp Bay Times — Tampa Bay may have access within a couple of weeks to new tests that can tell a patient within minutes or an hour whether they’ve contracted COVID-19. That would be a vast improvement over many of the tests available here now, with some patients reporting waiting 12 days or longer to learn whether they have the fast-spreading coronavirus. BayCare Health System’s Chief Medical Officer Nishant Anand told the Tampa Bay Times the health care provider is in conversations with two companies behind these rapid tests. Diagnostics company Cepheid manufactured a test that can detect the virus within an hour. Abbott Laboratories says its test can deliver positive results in five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes.
“Tampa regional coronavirus strategy: Stay on your side of the county line” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas county officials held a virtual meeting on Tuesday, talking regionalism. On one point, they didn’t dispute provincialism in dealing with COVID-19: Don’t transport patients across county lines. Pasco County Chairman Mike Moore brought up the idea of counties sharing overflow space to ease hospital crowding. “We need to work together if one county gets overloaded. We may need to let people traverse back and forth across counties.’’ Tampa Mayor Jane Castor quickly shot down the idea.
“For Tampa’s finances during coronavirus crisis, ‘nothing is off the table’” via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times — Tampa City Council members met virtually for the first time Tuesday and heard that the economic damage to the city’s finances caused by the coronavirus pandemic will likely be deep. Chief Financial Officer Dennis Rogero told council members that “nothing is off the table” when it comes to the city’s $1.04 billion budget. An almost certain decline in sales tax revenue and an unknown effect on property taxes create a difficult fiscal challenge. So far, the city hasn’t had to dip into its reserves. Charlie Miranda noted that the crisis-induced recession would probably exceed that of the 2008 financial crisis, which cratered the city’s finances for the better part of a decade.
“In Tampa, police calls drop, but shootings tick up amid coronavirus” via Dan Sullivan of the Tampa Bay Times — Despite most of the city being shut down and local residents remaining in their homes to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Tampa police have seen an alarming rise in gun violence. Since March 14, police have logged 10 shootings and three homicides, Chief Brian Dugan said in a Tuesday afternoon news conference. The violence is centered in east Tampa. It has risen even as police calls for service have dwindled.
“U.S. Attorney in Tampa launches coronavirus fraud task force” via Richard Danielson of the Tampa Bay Times — “During this national crisis,” U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez said in an announcement of the task force, “we will prioritize the investigation and prosecution of crimes related to COVID-19.” The task force will pursue fake coronavirus charities, fraudulent health care billing schemes, robocalls offering medical supplies with no intent to deliver, and fake testing kits, treatments or cures for COVID-19; phishing emails that could contain malware from scammers posing as U.S. Centers for Disease Control or World Health Organization officials; threats to public officials advocating quarantines, threats to intentionally infect individuals with COVID-19, or robberies or assaults of patients leaving medical facilities; hoarding or price-gouging of necessary supplies.
“St. Petersburg woman, distressed by COVID-19, shoots at police officer” via Kathryn Varn of the Tampa Bay Times — A 63-year-old woman who her family says was distressed by the coronavirus pandemic is accused of shooting at a police officer who was checking on her. Family members of Brenda Martin asked police to check on her at about 4 a.m. Tuesday, according to St. Petersburg police. She was anxious about COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, police said, and was making “concerning statements.” An officer went to her house at 4137 35th Ave. N and knocked on the door. Martin opened the door, then pointed a .38-caliber revolver at the officer and fired, according to her arrest report. The officer took cover and wasn’t injured. Martin faces one count of aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer and one count of resisting arrest without violence.
“DeSantis’s ban on vacation rentals delivers another COVID-19 blow to Anna Maria Island” via James A. Jones Jr. of the Bradenton Herald — DeSantis’ executive order suspending vacation rentals for two weeks has dealt another blow to Anna Maria Island resort rental companies. “Revenue had gone from 100 percent to 25 percent. This executive order wipes out the last 25 percent,” said a representative of Anna Maria Vacation Rentals. DeSantis was direct and to the point Friday in announcing the two-week moratorium, part of a broader strategy to halt arrivals from states hard hit by COVID-19. “If you are on one now, finish and go home,” DeSantis said to visitors in vacation rental homes, although his order applies to new vacation rentals.
“Escambia County Commissioner sends mass email calling for loosening coronavirus measures” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Registered voters in Escambia County received an email from Escambia County CommissionerDoug Underhill calling for loosening social distancing measures as federal public health experts warn the worst of the coronavirus crisis is in the weeks ahead. Underhill said he sent the email to all voters in the county who provided their emails when they registered, all members of the Florida Legislature and all Florida county commissioners to share what he said were facts about COVID-19. He believes the facts “support caution, but not fear and frenzy.”
“Pensacola missionaries rapped in Peru are safely back home” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal — A pair of Pensacola missionaries who were trapped last week in Peru due to the coronavirus pandemic have safely returned home. Linda English and Caitlin Salak had been quarantined indefinitely inside their mission’s facility in the mountains of Jicamarca, Peru, about an hour outside of Lima, the country’s capital city, since March 15 and were having issues communicating with the American Embassy in Lima and were working with lawmakers to figure out a plan to get out of the country and return home. They said they finally received an email Friday that they would be boarding a plane on Saturday bound for the U.S.
“Capital City Bank marks 125-year milestone amid coronavirus challenges” via TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Capital City Bank is postponing its 125th-anniversary celebration amid the global coronavirus pandemic. The bank opened with one location, five directors and three associates, according to the bank’s history. While the crisis facing the nation and economy is unprecedented, Smith pointed out in a letter to the community that the bank has weathered periodic waves of financial uncertainty, from the Great Recession, two world wars, and natural disasters in a hurricane-prone state. Capital City Bank has grown to more than 800 employees across its financial network in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
“‘Do not come here’: Franklin, Wakulla ramping up distancing, beach closure enforcement” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Sandbar parties in Wakulla County and people on the beach in Franklin County continue to vex law enforcement trying to enforce coronavirus-related orders. Both sheriff’s offices are ramping up efforts to enforce Ron DeSantis’ executive order for boaters to stay 50 feet apart and have no more than 10 passengers on their vessels. There haven’t yet been discussions about closing the 120 boat ramps in Wakulla county, but that may change.
— CORONA ECONOMICS —
“Here’s how to get a small business loan under the $349 billion coronavirus aid bill” via Aaron Gregg of The Washington Post — The application has been posted on the Treasury Department’s CARES Act resource page. After you gather the information described on the application form, you should contact your bank or an approved lending institution. It is expected that most borrowers will be able to apply online through an approved financial institution. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Fox Business Network that small business loans would be made available starting Friday. Mnuchin and other administration officials say they are setting up a system for same-day loan approvals in which borrowers will be able to receive funds on the same day they submit an application.
“Why some of America’s best-known companies won’t qualify for bailout money” via Victoria Guida and Theodoric Meyer of POLITICO — Macy’s and Gap Inc. and other companies running out of cash can’t tap into the new loan program backed by the Federal Reserve because it’s only available to corporations whose debt is considered safe by credit rating firms. They warn that the central bank will need to cast a wider net to avoid a shock wave of defaults as private funding has begun drying up for all but the most stable companies. Retailers, casinos, and other industries are now lobbying the Treasury Department and the Fed to get access to hundreds of billions of dollars in loans included in the massive relief bill that President Donald Trump signed into law last week.
“Treasury urges airlines to apply for payroll grants by Friday” via Kate Davidson and Alison Siderof The Wall Street Journal — The Treasury Department released new details Monday night on how it will award grants and loans for airlines affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and urged companies to submit some applications by Friday to begin receiving funds as soon as possible. Payroll-support grants will be based on an airline’s total salaries and benefits paid to employees. The firms must sign payroll-support agreements that detail the terms, as well as any limits on executive compensation. The agency also detailed preliminary requirements for airline loans, including a description of a borrower’s existing debt and scheduled debt service for the next three years and their employment levels.
“MLB extends support to minor leaguers through May” via The Associated Press — Major League Baseball is extending its financial support to minor league players through May while suspending their contracts because of the new coronavirus pandemic. MLB announced March 19 that it was giving minor leaguers $400 weekly allowances through April 8, the day before the minor league season was scheduled to start. The commissioner’s office said Tuesday that minor leaguers will continue to receive those allowances and health benefits through May 31 or the minor league opening day, whichever comes first. Major and minor league seasons are on hold due to the new coronavirus. Weekly minimum salaries on full-season minor league teams range from $290 at Class A to $502 at Triple-A over the five-month season.
— MORE CORONA —
“Coronavirus has people making more phone calls and sending fewer emails” via Graham Brink of the Tampa Bay Times — According to a report released by AT&T, some of the changes, compared to three weeks ago — Voice calls: up 33%. Instant messaging: up 63%. Text messaging: up 41%. Emailing: down 18%. Web browsing: down 5%. Video: up 4%. Global audio-conferencing solutions: up 200%. Audio, web and video conferencing tools: up 400%. Large-scale webcast events: 200%. Video accounted for over half of all mobile traffic. Business, home broadband and wireless usage were up 24% Monday compared to the same day in February. Home voice calling minutes were up 45%, and Wi-Fi calling minutes were up 97% compared to an average Monday.
“Watching the nightly news like Nana is the best way to feel anchored in a sea of information” via Hank Stuever of The Washington Post — Ratings are way up for these old-school yet stalwart newscasts, helmed by the figurative descendants of Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw, themselves descended from ancient anchors of television yore. Around 12 million viewers watched Lester Holt’s “NBC Nightly News” last week, reportedly the show’s best ratings in 15 years; David Muir’s “World News Tonight” is seeing a similar big boost, with the coronavirus crisis delivering the show’s biggest ratings in two decades. CBS’s “Evening News” is way up too, with viewership last week that beat nearly all of its prime-time shows. I’ve renewed my faith in the broadcast networks’ nightly newscasts, perhaps out of some faintly nostalgic idea that watching it is what grown-ups do, come hell or high water.
“Businesses get creative with take-home hair-color kits and karate lessons online” via Diana C. Nearhos of the Tampa Bay Times — As coronavirus spreads, businesses of all kinds are looking for new ways to serve customers from afar. Sit Happens Online is a series of videos to train your dog at home, including one video call with a trainer. The company also offers one-on-one training. Salty Roots Salon and Boutique came up with the idea of custom take-home dye kits. Gourmet Pizza Company has created pizza kits so you can make your own pizza from dough and sauce. The healthy food restaurant SoFresh is now selling groceries. And the World Champion Center is conducting video karate classes.
“Virtual baby showers, gift boxes planned for NAS Pensacola moms-to-be who can’t travel” via Jake Newby of the Pensacola News Journal — Many active-duty moms or wives of active-duty military members are not able to travel back to their home states due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions and are missing their scheduled baby showers. Virtual baby showers and a “Shower in a Box” initiatives are planned between now and June for moms in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. Each box includes gifts for mommy and baby, diapers, wipes, and a virtual baby shower opportunity.
— THE HUMAN TOLL —
“Coronavirus is making life on the street ‘Scary, scary, scary’” via David Whitley of the Orlando Sentinel — The economic halt from the coronavirus pandemic has hit homeless people especially hard. One homeless man in Orlando used to collect about $40 per day from people. One day last week he collected $3.16. Charitable food programs have cut back or shut down, making it harder to find food. Homeless people are twice as likely to be hospitalized and three times more likely to die from the illness than the general population, according to a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. On the other hand, a lot of people who aren’t homeless fear that is what will end up happening to them.
“Florida nursing homes become solitary confinement amid COVID-19” via Kate Santich and Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Since March 15, when state officials banned nearly all visitors from entering long-term care facilities to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of Florida families have struggled to monitor the well-being of their loved ones and let them know they’re not forgotten. Officials on Tuesday reported 69 cases of COVID-19, the highly contagious disease caused by the virus, among the state’s long-term care facilities. To prevent an escalation, the state Agency for Health Care Administration initially called for all long-term care facilities to require the universal use of face masks as well as gloves for all workers doing direct patient care. Several facilities didn’t have them.
“Virus disrupts pregnancy plans, raises anxiety and questions” via Lindsey Tanner of The Associated Press — Some pregnant women fear giving birth with no loved ones by their side. Others worry about getting sick with COVID-19 and not being able to hold their newborns. The coronavirus pandemic has injected anxiety and uncertainty to an already stressful time and while science about risks is mostly reassuring, doctors want clearer answers too. The University of California, San Francisco last week started the first U.S. registry of COVID-19 infected or exposed pregnant women. At least 60 women have enrolled so far. There is also no definitive evidence that the virus can be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy. However, three small and preliminary studies from China published last week raised that possibility.
— ONE GOOD THING —
Members of the U.S. Army Field Band do not just play for the music; they play for the Army — and America.
As concert dates canceled with the spread of COVID-19, no one questioned when the band was ordered back to Fort George G. Meade in Maryland. But the music would not stop.
Already amassing popularity on Facebook and YouTube, the Band quickly set up a studio space to livestream.
And so began a daily “We Stand Ready” virtual concert series, attracting more than 4.3 million viewers in just 10 days, Master Sgt. Brian T. Sacawa, a Concert Band saxophonist for 17 years, told The Associated Press.
Music “has the power to make incredibly deep and meaningful connections,” Sacawa added. “It inspires people. It heals people. It unites people. And what better time than now to send that message to the American people?”
Making up the Field Band unit are a concert band, chorus, jazz band and other smaller ensembles. It broadcasts from the concert band rehearsal hall set up with broadcast equipment.
Typically, the unit’s 150 musicians and support personnel spend about 100 days a year traveling to gigs, performing in concert halls, veterans’ homes, school gymnasiums, and, (at times) the theater of war.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Trump set to announce 90-day deferral for some tariff payments” via Jenny Leonard of Bloomberg — Trump approved a proposal pushed for by some businesses to delay payment of specific tariffs by three months, according to people familiar with the matter. The announcement to defer levies for so-called most-favored-nation duties will come in the form of an executive order, one of the people said. The order, which could come as soon as this week, would give the Treasury Department the authority to direct Customs and Border Protection to delay collecting tariffs on those imports for 90 days. The order wouldn’t apply to tariffs Trump imposed as a result of an enforcement action, such as on Chinese goods or steel and aluminum from around the world.
“Mitch McConnell: Impeachment ‘diverted attention’ from coronavirus” via Matthew Daly of The Associated Press — Trump’s impeachment trial distracted the federal government from the coronavirus as it reached the United States in January, Senate Majority Leader McConnell said Tuesday, despite warnings at the time from public health experts and members of Congress about the spread of the deadly virus. The outbreak “came up while we were tied down on the impeachment trial. And I think it diverted the attention of the government, because everything every day was all about impeachment,″ McConnell told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. McConnell’s argument breaks sharply with assurances that the Trump administration made early on about the virus.
“McConnell and Nancy Pelosi draw coronavirus battle lines” via Burgess Everett of POLITICO — House Democrats indicated they are already beginning to work on their legislation. But McConnell said it could be days, if not weeks before his majority has assessed what is needed in addition to last week’s $2 trillion stimulus bill. Republicans have criticized Democrats’ plans in the House, with Sen. Pat Toomey declaring this week that if another bill is needed “it should not be the vehicle for Speaker Pelosi’s partisan, parochial wish list,” specifically bashing any attempt to restore state and local tax deductions for wealthy states. But in an apparent prebuttal to McConnell, Pelosi said on “Morning Joe” that she hears “people saying ‘they’re doing this wish list.’ And that isn’t so.”
“Marco Rubio encourages small businesses to use Payroll Protection Program” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — U.S. Sen. Rubio said small businesses throughout the country should look at whether a coronavirus package helps them make payroll. “The only thing you have to do is verify your payroll,” Rubio told nearly 5,000 business owners tuned into a webinar Tuesday. The Florida Republican and other lawmakers touted the Paycheck Protection Program, which devoted $349 million to help small businesses cover checks amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The webinar, sponsored by the American Business Immigration Coalition, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association and other business groups, stressed even businesses reliant on contract employees qualify.
“Rick Scott calls for congressional inquiry into WHO’s coronavirus response” via Andrew Desiderio of POLITICO — Scott on Tuesday called for a congressional investigation into the World Health Organization, suggesting that the U.S. should cut off its funding for “helping Communist China cover up” the full extent of the coronavirus pandemic. The WHO has come under intense scrutiny in recent days over its initial efforts to downplay the severity of the coronavirus. Scott said the WHO “willfully parroted propaganda” from China’s Communist Party, and called for hearings and a full investigation when Congress returns to Washington next month. Scott has called for aggressive policies to combat the spread of the virus in the U.S. and has been among the most vocal critics of the Chinese government.
“Ben Carson promises Scott foreclosure moratorium will continue into May” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Carson assured Sen. Scott his agency will halt evictions and foreclosures through mid-May. HUD officials released a readout of a Tuesday phone call between the Cabinet member and Florida’s junior Senator. The two discussed economic consequences of the global pandemic. Scott has stressed the need to ease fears of Floridians afraid of losing their homes. He called earlier this month for a complete moratorium on rent, mortgage payments, fees and utility payments.
“Vern Buchanan pushes State Department to help Floridians stuck overseas because of COVID-19” via Mark Young of the Bradenton Herald — U.S. Rep. Buchanan is pushing for quicker action from the U.S. State Department to get local Americans home who are currently trapped in various foreign countries due to the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, Buchanan sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on behalf of those Americans, including one from Sarasota and Daniel Orzech, of Bradenton. Orzech has been stranded in Peru since March 15 and placed in quarantine. Sarasota resident Kendra Simpkins is a U.S. Army veteran and co-founder of Operation Warrior Resolution. Simpkins has been trapped in New Delhi, India, amid a 21-day quarantine. Recently named “Sarasota Female Veteran of the Year,” Simpkins has had five flights canceled.
— STATEWIDE —
“DeSantis loses latest bid to curtail felon voting” via Bobby Caina Calvan of The Associated Press — Florida officials have lost their latest bid to enforce a state law denying the right to vote for felons who have not paid all court fines and fees. DeSantis and fellow Republicans have tried to limit the reach of Amendment 4, a ballot measure that restores the vote to felons who have served their sentences. The legislature then passed a law requiring financial aspects of a sentence to be paid before a sentence could be considered fully served. The latest ruling invalidated some parts of that new law.
Wilton Simpson’s office pushed policy favoring donor — Senate President-designate Simpson’s office backed legislation that would benefit a company that contributed to his political committee, Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida reports. The language was offered as an amendment to another bill, but was not approved. It would have shortened the window for property owners to file insurance claims after a hurricane. When it was up for consideration, Simpson referred questions on the policy to Sen. Keith Perry, who was sponsoring the overall bill. However, records show the provision was sent to Perry by one of Simpson’s aides.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Marc Dunbar, Dean Mead: Knox Nursery
Reginald Garcia, Reginald Garcia PA, Adjay Holdings
Cissy Proctor, LSN Partners: Restaurant Brands International US Services
Justin Wilson: ChargePoint
— 2020 —
“Joe Biden faces a cash gap with Trump. he has to close it virtually.” via Shane Goldmacher of The New York Times — Biden is working the phones with top donors while cloistered in his Delaware home. His digital team is searching for the right tone to ask small contributors for cash during the sharpest economic downturn in their lifetimes. And his finance operation is plotting how to keep the checks coming when catered parties for big contributors are on hold — indefinitely. Top Biden fundraisers and donors, as well as campaign, super PAC and Democratic Party officials, described urgent efforts to re-imagine the ways they raise money during a pandemic and global economic slowdown. And in nearly two dozen interviews, they expressed deepening concern that the downturn could choke off the flow of small online donations as millions of people lose their jobs.
“How coronavirus blew up the plan to take down Trump” via David Siders of POLITICO — Despite all the arguments Democrats have crafted and all the evidence they have amassed against Trump, his reelection is likely to rise or fall on his handling of the coronavirus crisis and its fallout alone. The pandemic’s impact on the Democratic Party has already been severe. Many Democrats believe the pandemic will ultimately hurt Trump’s reelection chances, but Trump’s popularity levels have ticked up since the beginning of the pandemic. In the meantime, Biden’s attempts to communicate with supporters from his home have been plagued with technical difficulties, robbing him of opportunities to speak to Democratic supporters.
“Democratic groups adjust to coronavirus, spend big to beat Trump” via Tarini Parti and Chad Day of The Wall Street Journal — Well-funded Democratic nonprofits and super PACs are adjusting their messaging and tactics in response to the coronavirus pandemic as they pour tens of millions of dollars into ad campaigns and digital platforms in an attempt to beat Trump in November. Many of the Democratic groups are putting Trump’s coronavirus response at the forefront. Trump’s effort has proved itself to be a fundraising machine and is pouring millions of dollars into online ads and a vast, data-guided turnout operation. Super PACs are already starting to coalesce behind Joe Biden because of his large lead over Bernie Sanders.
“GOP-tied groups challenge shift of Bloomberg cash to Democrats” via Tarini Parti of The Wall Street Journal — Two Republican-led groups have filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission against billionaire Michael Bloomberg, alleging the recent transfer of $18 million from his presidential campaign to the Democratic National Committee violates campaign finance laws. “Because it was public that Mr. Bloomberg was self-funding his campaign, the DNC knowingly accepted a contribution made in the name of another by accepting the $18 million contribution from the Campaign Committee,” the complaint states. The FEC lacks enough commissioners to reach quorum and hasn’t made any rulings or conducted official business in months.
What Matt Dixon is reading — “Coronavirus crashes the Wisconsin primary” via Zach Montellaro of POLITICO — The coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc on Wisconsin’s upcoming statewide election, one of the only presidential primaries still scheduled in April. The state is facing a huge shortage of poll workers ahead of Tuesday’s vote. Local elections officials may have to close and consolidate precincts to manage the situation, and some are warning of steep drops in turnout. State officials are urging voters to request absentee ballots, so they don’t have to vote in person. All of this is happening as Gov. Tony Evers has asked the federal government to issue a major disaster declaration for the entire state but has stood firm on holding the April 7 election as planned.
Epilogue — “Biden, Trump primary election wins certified” via the News Service of Florida — DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis quickly certified the two decisive victories during a teleconference meeting of the state Elections Canvassing Commission. The primary contest, held as the state was ramping up its response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, helped cement Biden’s position as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. Of the 1.739 million votes cast by Democrats for 16 candidates, Biden received more than 1.1 million, nearly 62 percent.
“Across the country, campaign operatives are stuck” via Michael Kruse and Elena Schneider of POLITICO — So much of the world is stuck in this uneasy pause, this rattling standstill, on account of the spread of COVID-19, but Greta Carnes and Joey Pacific are two of a legion of political professionals in a particular sort of limbo. All of a (very long) month ago, four major presidential campaigns ended in the span of less than a week, the bids of Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Mike Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren shuttering one after the other after the next. The end of any campaign marks the beginning of an always unnerving interval for suddenly out-of-work staffers. But seldom do so many sprawling operations stop in such rapid succession — and never, needless to say, has that coincided with the rise of a sweeping, life-upending pandemic.
— TOP OPINION —
“Florida Legislature got a lot done this year and will do more to address COVID-19” via Tyler Sirois with Florida Today — We have many reasons to be optimistic about the future of the Space Coast and Florida. The budget adopted by the legislature was based on revenue projections and assumptions made before COVID-19 reached the United States. While the budget includes $300 million for COVID-19 response and an additional $4 billion in emergency reserves, a special session may be considered to address statewide impacts and recovery. The legislature also passed several programs geared toward economic development.
— OPINIONS —
Paul Theroux recalls a fear-filled lockdown via the New York Times — This peculiarity that we are now experiencing, the nearest thing to a world war, is the key theme in many of Shakespeare’s plays and Jacobean dramas, of old ballads, apocalyptic paintings and morality tales. It is the essence of tragedy and an occasion for license or retribution. As Hamlet says to his father’s ghost, “Time is out of joint.”
“The fireside chat Trump should deliver” via David Milbank for The Washington Post — In these dark times, Americans crave the comfort of competent leadership. Whatever happens, we’re totally prepared. Totally ready. We’re rated number one for being prepared. We are so prepared like we never have been prepared. Taking early intense action, we have seen dramatically fewer cases of the virus in the United States. If you’re talking about the virus, no, that’s not under control for anyplace in the world. I was talking about what we’re doing is under control, but I’m not talking about the virus. I didn’t say Easter. It was just an aspiration. I am giving consideration to a QUARANTINE. So, you’re talking about 2.2 million deaths. If we could hold that down … between 100,000 and 200,000, and we all together have done a very good job
“Fix the state budget to reflect the impact of coronavirus” via The Palm Beach Post editorial board — The coronavirus, which has nearly shut down our tourism-dependent economy, will cost the state billions in sales tax revenue. Ron DeSantis, rather than sign the budget bill, should quickly call state lawmakers back to Tallahassee for a special session to overhaul the unrealistic budget they passed on March 19. Granted, state lawmakers did scale back a major tax cut package. They also included $52.5 million in additional money, most of it from the federal government, for COVID-19 response in the current budget year. As anyone else who has been paying attention could surmise, a budget rewrite has been all but guaranteed since early March.
“Tell coronavirus ship ‘no,’ Broward County. It should dock at Navy base” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Holland America wants permission for its Zaandam cruise ship to dock at Port Everglades, bringing with it four dead, likely of COVID-19, and almost 200 passengers and crew with flu-like symptoms. “Not in our backyard” has been the response from DeSantis and the Mayors of Broward and Fort Lauderdale. They say they will try to stop the Zaandam, from berthing. Instead, they suggest two viable options: First, that the Zaandam and the Rotterdam be left offshore and the sick receive medical care provided by the cruise line; Or that the White House order the cruise ships diverted to a Navy base somewhere along the East Coast where passengers can be evaluated and quarantined, if necessary.
— TODAY’S SUNRISE —
Casualties from coronavirus continue to grow; now, there are 6,741 confirmed cases in the Sunshine State, with 85 fatalities.
Also, on today’s Sunrise:
— To open the new month, the April Fool’s joke is all the monthly bills are due. It’s no laughing matter if you’re one of the people laid off because of the pandemic. Sen.Rubio says there’s money in the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package for small businesses and nonprofits.
— All that money from the federal stimulus package makes a tempting target for scammers. Attorney General Ashley Moody warns that they are already trying to trick people out of the money, even though it hasn’t even arrived yet.
— The new month also means new worries over evictions. The Florida Supreme Court suspended the legal process for filing eviction papers until the middle of the month, but some Democrats in the legislature say that’s still not enough time. They want the Governor to declare a moratorium on evictions until the pandemic has passed.
— Florida State University professor Dawn Carr talks about the mental health impact of isolation on seniors. Carr offers some tips about how you can stay in touch with grandma and grandpa without putting their lives at risk.
— There was a big win for former felons trying to have their voting rights restored. A federal appeals court in Atlanta is refusing to reconsider or overturn a decision that says the state cannot refuse their right to vote if they cannot pay all their ‘legal fines and restitution.’
— The Public Service Commission approves a new area code for Tampa since 813 is almost played out. We don’t know yet what will the new area code be.
— And the latest on Florida Man, who sometimes wears a badge.
To listen, click on the image below:
— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —
— ALOE —
“Get ready for a ‘hub-and-spokes’ format for 2020 NFL draft” via Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times — The NFL draft is on schedule for April 23-25. But what it will look like? That’s a work in progress. “The planning remains fluid,” said Peter O’Reilly, the league’s executive vice president for club business and league events, on a conference call Tuesday. “We’re confident that we can deliver a powerful, competitively equitable, and unifying draft,” he said. The three-day event was moved from Las Vegas amid the COVID-19 outbreak, and will be conducted at remote locales, including video connectivity with about 50 prospects in their homes, as well as the option to virtually “pull-in” some current and former players, and even fans.
“The playoff scenarios NBA is discussing for hopeful return” via Marc Berman of the New York Post — Though news of the coronavirus pandemic has been discouraging, NBA executives still cling to hope of arranging a one-site, fan-less, 16-team playoff and a five-to-seven-game regular-season prelude, according to multiple NBA sources. “They’re very determined to have a champion,” one industry source said. The playoffs could be reduced to a slew of best-of-three series across the board. A single-elimination format has been all but ruled out — only under consideration as a last resort.
“Sarasota-raised filmmaker’s documentary to get Netflix release” via Jimmy Geurts of the Herald Tribune — “Spelling the Dream,” directed by Sarasota-raised filmmaker Sam Rega, will be released May 23 on Netflix. The documentary follows four Indian-American students as they compete to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The documentary also follows the Indian-American community’s overall relationship with the spelling bee, with an Indian-American student winning the tournament for the past 12 years straight. Now living in New York City, Rega graduated in 2004 from Sarasota’s The Out-of-Door Academy and would take any opportunity a teacher gave to make movies for school projects.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Celebrating today are former Pinellas Commissioner Neil Brickfield, Ryder Rudd, and our friend Chandra Tracy.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, A.G. Gancarski, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.