Last Call for 4.6.20 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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A digest of the day's politics and policy while the bartender refreshes your drink.

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

The stay-at-home order that went into effect Friday doesn’t apply to religious services, though Gov. Ron DeSantis has encouraged churches and temples to adhere to distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

Guidelines mandate people to avoid gatherings with more than 10 people. Except for housemates, Floridians are encouraged to remain six feet apart from others.

Whether the faithful heed that advice will be put to the test over the next week, with two of the most sacred holy days of the year, Easter and Passover, on the calendar.

Religious services aren’t the only activities carved out of the Governor’s stay-at-home order — fishing, exercise, and grocery shopping are also on the list — but they are the only mass gathering law enforcement are barred from dispersing.

DeSantis said he’s been in contact with Jewish and Christian leaders to talk about the risk of congregational spread if services don’t abide by the prescribed precautions.

Such events could serve as “super spreaders,” the Governor said, citing a large funeral held in Georgia that led to an outbreak in Dougherty County, which leads the Peach State in coronavirus-related deaths despite having a population of only 90,000.

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Normally, being a state lawmaker is a part-time job.

That’s not the case in the coronavirus era, as Floridians increasingly turn to their representatives and senators for help navigating through the unemployment claims process or direction in accessing other needed services.

The virus also presents some domestic dangers. Children, for example, are at much higher risk of abuse, and their chances of receiving help have dwindled with schools closed and all but essential out-of-home activities on pause.

With so many challenges facing Floridians, Rep. Jayer Williams said Monday that he won’t accept his state-funded salary this month. Instead, he will use his paychecks to boost a worthy cause.

“In an effort to do my part, I commit to donating 100% of my legislative salary for April to the Santa Rosa Kid’s House. To me, it’s a small step in stemming the tide,” he said on Twitter.

Williamson won’t be cutting his hours along with the self-imposed pay reduction, encouraging his constituents to call his office for help navigating “these choppy waters.”

He’s hoping others follow his lead.

“I offer a friendly challenge to the rest of my colleagues in the FL House & Senate. If able, please consider doing the same to a nonprofit in your district. A food bank, a group helping victims of domestic violence or COVID-19 relief efforts. The options are endless,” he said.

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The state’s workforce development arm said it’s redoubling its efforts to bring economic relief to the people who are suddenly jobless due to the coronavirus outbreak.

CareerSource’s new “Help is Here” program has multiple fronts. Job training, resources to keep businesses afloat, and personalized career help are on the list, but another facet of the effort is paramount to many displaced workers: help to get their unemployment applications filed.

COVID-19 layoffs have overwhelmed the state’s unemployment benefits website and upping capacity is more complicated than flipping a switch.

In response, the Governor has called for backup to get paperwork filed and processed.

“Job loss or major business impacts are devastating under any circumstance and people need sound advice, the most current information and a source of hope during a challenging time,” said CareerSource Florida Board Chairman Kevin Doyle.

“We know people need help now, and the state’s Reemployment Assistance program may be the first step on the path to economic recovery. The CareerSource Florida network can assist with this and other workforce needs such as finding a new job, training and more.”

CareerSource said it also stands ready to help connect people and businesses to federal resources to get them back on steady ground.

“Our staff is working remotely and available by phone, email and virtual career services on our website,” said CareerSource Palm Beach County Interim President and CEO Julia Dattolo. “We remain in direct contact with state and local officials and continue to keep our community partners up to date with information about business services, relief loans and more.”

Coronavirus Numbers

Positive cases:

— 13,214 FL residents (+305 since 10 a.m. Monday)

— 415 Non-FL residents (+16 since 10 a.m. Monday)

Origin:

— 1,164 Travel related

— 2,362 Contact with a confirmed case

— 788 Both

— 8,900 Under investigation

Hospitalizations:

— 1,720 in FL

Deaths:

— 254 in FL

Evening Reads

Key COVID-19 model now forecasting earlier peak in Florida via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen via Dave Lawyer of Axios

WHO says the coronavirus can spread one to three days before symptoms start via CNBC

The other coronavirus test we need via Allison Snyder of Axios

“‘Instant’ coronavirus tests now available in Florida hospitals via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

Marco Rubio finds his next act via Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine of POLITICO

Ron DeSantis will never do anything to offend Demented Daddy in D.C. via Diane Roberts of Florida Phoenix

Mario Díaz-Balart says he is virus-free, offers to donate plasma via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Trends show doubling of Palm Beach County cases by Easter via Chris Persaud of the Palm Beach Post

Coronavirus spread in Hillsborough, Pinellas shows potential slow down via Janelle Irwin of Florida Politics

Floridians could wait weeks for unemployment checks, officials say via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times

Chief Justice suspends jury trials through May via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida

How long until sports can return? You might not like the answer. via Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post

Electric utilities cutting bills temporarily for COVID-19 economic hit via Kevin Spear of the Orlando Sentinel

How low can they go? Florida gas prices plummet as economy tanks via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Myron Rolle, now a doctor treating coronavirus patients, draws on football background in crisis via Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post

Quote of the Day

“Keep God close, keep COVID-19 away.” — Gov. Ron DeSantis, saying church services should observe social distancing. 

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