I wrote Monday that Gov. Ron DeSantis was winning the pandemic battle but losing the perception war.
That not only remains the case, but the problem is also growing.
DeSantis is packing his days with calls. His Monday schedule alone had time slotted for calls to Attorney General Ashley Moody, Senate President Bill Galvano, Senate President-Designate Wilton Simpson, House Speaker-Designate Chris Sprowls, and White House Domestic Council Director Joe Grogan.
Yet, nowhere on that schedule was there a call with Florida Mayors to coordinate the state and local responses, which have marked much of DeSantis’ strategy.
The solution is easy. DeSantis could work into his day, say, five calls with five Mayors, each representing one of the five regions in the state.
It’s not a blanket solution to all of the problems the state faces. It won’t completely solve testing or, in and of itself, flatten the curve. There is no single solution to claim victory.
But it can solve a lot of things. It would create a more unified response throughout the state, putting local officials more at ease and open robust dialogue and opportunities for sharing ideas.
Now about that one glove thing. We’re still waiting on an answer about what the heck you were thinking.
— EXECUTIVE SUMMARY —
-Global total COVID-19 cases topped 1.96 million, while deaths exceeded 125,000.
-China didn’t warn public of likely pandemic for 6 critical days. Read more here.
-U.S. infections continue to slow, with New Jersey showing signs of a flattening curve and California outlining its plans to lift restrictions. Read more here.
-New York City added 3,700 to its death toll to account for victims who died without seeking hospital care. Read more here.
-The world economy faces its worst downturn since the Great Depression, the IMF predicted. Read more here.
-U.S. airlines reached a preliminary agreement with the Treasury Department to access billions of dollars in aid. Read more here.
— TOP STORY —
“Some European nations ease pandemic rules, but move warily” via Patrick Kingsley of the New York Times — Slowly, tentatively, a handful of European countries began lifting constraints on daily life this week for the first time since the start of the coronavirus crisis, providing an early litmus test of whether Western democracies can gingerly restart their economies and restore basic freedoms without reviving the spread of the disease. On Tuesday, Italy, the epicenter of Europe’s crisis, reopened some bookshops and children’s clothing stores. Spain allowed workers to return to factories and construction sites, despite a daily death toll that remains over 500. Austria allowed thousands of hardware and home improvement stores to reopen, as long as workers and customers wore masks. In Denmark, elementary schoolteachers readied classrooms so young children could return to school on Wednesday, while in the Czech Republic, a restless public relished the reopening of sports centers and some shops. … The fledgling, country-by-country loosening, enacted without any coordination between nations, underscored the absence of any common agreement, or even understanding, about the challenge of keeping economies alive while stemming the disease.
“Donald Trump says some state economies may open for business by May 1” via Kevin Breuninger of CNBC — “The plans to reopen the country are close to being finalized,” Trump said at a press briefing on the virus in the Rose Garden. “I will be speaking to all 50 governors very shortly,” Trump said, “And I will then be authorizing each individual governor of each individual state to implement a reopening and a very powerful reopening plan of their state at a time and in a manner as most appropriate.” “The day will be very close because certain states, as you know, are in a much different condition and are in a much different place than other states. It’s going to be very, very close. Maybe even before the date of May 1,” he said.
“Coronavirus testing hits dramatic slowdown in U.S.” via David Lim of POLITICO — The number of coronavirus tests analyzed each day by commercial labs in the U.S. plummeted by more than 30 percent over the past week, even though new infections are still surging in many states and officials are desperately trying to ramp up testing so the country can reopen. One reason for the drop-off may be the narrow testing criteria that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last revised in March. The agency’s guidelines prioritize hospitalized patients, health care workers and those thought to be especially vulnerable to the disease, such as the elderly. Health providers have been turning away others in part due to shortages of the swabs used to collect samples. It’s not clear whether demand has peaked among the groups on the CDC’s priority list. But after being overwhelmed for weeks, commercial labs say they are now sitting with unused testing capacity waiting for samples to arrive. The continued glitches in the U.S. testing system are threatening to impede attempts to reopen the economy and return to normal life. Expanding testing as much as possible is essential so officials have enough data to determine when it’s safe to lift social distancing measures and allow people to go back to work.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
Searches for #News are now higher than at any time in Google history.
— GoogleTrends (@GoogleTrends) April 14, 2020
—@MarcoRubio: #PPP UPDATE: 1. As of the latest figures, last night over 52000 #PPPloans have been approved in #Florida for a total of $12.6 billion 2. Nationally, the average PPP loan to #SmallBusiness is $239,152 3. 70% of the loans approved so far are under $150000
—@SenRickScott: Glad to see @realDonaldTrump halt funding to the @WHO. We need to review their role in helping Communist China lie about the #Coronavirus, before any more taxpayer money is spent. This was the right move and I look forward to a full Congressional investigation into the WHO.
—@RepLoisFrankel: I can think of no worse time to cut funding to the @WHO. #Coronavirus is a global pandemic that is impacting the lives of millions around the world. We need to be working WITH our partners, not pointing fingers and pulling funds from a widely trusted #publichealth organization.
—@BillGates: Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds. Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs @now more than ever.
—@Liz_Cheney: The federal government does not have absolute power. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” United States Constitution, Amendment X
—@RepValDemings: We’re in a pandemic. The Governor of Florida should withdraw our state from the lawsuit to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
—@KatyTurNBC: Keep in mind, Americans are dying during these briefings. During yesterday’s briefing, between 5:30 and 7:45, there were 93 reported deaths.
— @JaredEMoskowitz: [email protected] Thank you for your donation of 60,000 masks. They are headed to the front lines at @JacksonHealth where they will keep our heroes safe. #flapol
— @Rob_Bradley: We should encourage people to walk, exercise and get outside! If someone wants to go to a drive-in worship service- yes! @GovRonDeSantis has this right-maintain social distancing but walk, enjoy fresh air, and drive to worship if that’s your thing!
— @JKennedyReport: Evidently tonight … WWE > WHO
— @JamesGrantFL: We have Mayors believing a crisis makes them a Governor, County Commissions believing a pandemic turns them into a Legislature, and Governors thinking a crisis crowns them king … what could possibly go wrong? Who needs the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 9th, and 10th Amendments anyway?
— @ShevrinJones: The problem with what’s happening with @FLDEO is becoming exhausting and constituents are progressively getting annoyed. @GovRonDeSantis, please help bring relief to these families. I am literally begging you and your team.
—@JohnMorganEsq: Suddenly, the whole nation is depending on the very people they don’t believe should be making $15 an hour.
— DAYS UNTIL —
First quarter campaign reports due — 3; Last day of federal candidate qualifying — 7; NFL Draft — 8; Florida Schools reopen (maybe) — 16; New estimated peak for COVID-19 in Florida — 18; Pulitzer Prizes announced — 19; The next supermoon — 22; Gov. DeSantis’ executive order closing bars and restaurants expires — 23; Mother’s Day — 25; TNT’s adaptation of “Snowpiercer” premieres — 32; Last day of state candidate qualifying — 54; Federal taxes due — 91; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” premieres — 93; “Mulan” premieres — 100; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 124; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 125; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 131; “A Quiet Place Part II” premieres — 142; First presidential debate in Indiana — 167; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 175; Second presidential debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 183; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 184; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 190; 2020 General Election — 202; “Black Widow” premieres — 205; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 216; “No Time to Die” premieres — 224; “Top Gun: Maverick” premieres — 252; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 464; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 471; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 569; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 674.
— CORONA NATION —
“Trump says U.S. will halt funding for the World Health Organization while conducting coronavirus review” via Berkeley Lovelace and Noah Higgins-Dunn of CNBC — “Today I’m instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” Trump said at a White House news conference. Trump criticized the international agency’s response to the outbreak, saying, “one of the most dangerous and costly decisions from the WHO was its disastrous decision to oppose travel restrictions from China and other nations.” “Fortunately, I was not convinced and suspended travel from China, saving untold numbers of lives,” he said.
“‘We don’t have a king’: Backlash at Trump’s authority claims” via Jill Colvin and Zeke Miller of The Associated Press — Invoking the movie “Mutiny on the Bounty,” Trump suggested that objections by governors to his claim of absolute authority over when to lift guidelines aimed at fighting the coronavirus were tantamount to insurrection. Democratic and Republican Governors sounded the alarm after Trump asserted that he and he alone would determine when and how to reopen the economy, despite clear constitutional limitations on federal powers. Trump indicated he was relishing the fight with state officials. Anxious to put the crisis behind him, Trump has been discussing how to roll back federal social distancing recommendations that expire at the end of the month.
“Trump doesn’t wield ‘absolute power,’ GOP electeds say” via Josh Gerstein of POLITICO — Republican politicians are pushing back against Trump’s assertion that he has the “absolute power” to overrule state orders and reopen the economy. The rebuffs were swift, fierce, and came from politicians who have traditionally been strong supporters of the President. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio didn’t mention Trump by name, but tweeted “how and when to modify physical distancing orders should & will be made by Governors.” U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney also checked Trump’s claim that he could reign supreme. They join Democrats, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in shooting down the President’s view as government overreach.
“In unprecedented move, Treasury orders Trump’s name printed on stimulus checks” via The Washington Post — The Treasury Department has ordered President Trump’s name be printed on stimulus checks the Internal Revenue Service is rushing to send to tens of millions of Americans, a process that could slow their delivery by a few days, senior IRS officials said. The unprecedented decision, finalized late Monday, means that when recipients open the $1,200 paper checks the IRS is scheduled to begin sending to 70 million Americans in coming days, ‘President Donald J. Trump’ will appear on the left side of the payment. It will be the first time a president’s name appears on an IRS disbursement, whether a routine refund or one of the handful of checks the government has issued to taxpayers in recent decades either to stimulate a down economy or share the dividends of a strong one. … The checks will … bear Trump’s name in the memo line, below a line that reads, ‘Economic Impact Payment,’ the administration officials said. The IRS will mail the checks to people for whom it does not have banking information. Many of them have low incomes. The checks will carry the signature of an official with the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, the Treasury Department division that prints the checks. The checks will follow direct deposits issued in recent days to the bank accounts of about 80 million people. Those payments do not include Trump’s name.
What Alan Suskey is reading — “Anti-malarial drug touted by Trump was subject of CIA warning to employees” via Devlin Barrett of The Washington Post — The CIA has privately advised its workforce that taking an anti-malarial drug touted by Trump and some of his supporters as a promising treatment for the novel coronavirus has potentially dangerous side effects, including sudden death. The warning, featured on a website for CIA employees with questions related to the spread of COVID-19, came in late March after public discussion — and promotion by the president — that hydroxychloroquine, administered in concert with the antibiotic azithromycin, might prove effective against the disease.
“When the coughing stops and the sense of helplessness begins” via Craig Spencer of The Washington Post — Healthcare providers are taking care of multiple patients at once. When treating patients, needs come at workers incessantly. Patients being treated are silent because they can’t cough when they’re intubated and on life support. Many patients are on multiple IV drips. Many providers feel like they cannot help patients because there are so few medications available.
“Patients in pain, dentists in distress: In a pandemic, the problem with teeth” via Jessica Contrera of The Washington Post — In March, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommended that all dentistry practices close for everything except emergencies. The organization realized that the most basic routines of dentistry, from close contact with mouths to the water-spraying tools that send fluids flying, were suddenly filled with risk. Because so many coronavirus carriers lack symptoms, it is impossible to know who is safe to treat and who can safely offer that treatment. Dentists are deferring mortgages, applying for loans and laying off staff, desperate to save their practices. Patients are calling in with chipped teeth, decaying molars and receding gums, their aching exacerbated by free time and dread.
“Millions of public school students will suffer from school closures, education leaders have concluded” via Laura Meckler, Valerie Strauss and Joe Heim of The Washington Post — Education leaders across the country have concluded that millions of children’s learning will be severely stunted. Experts suggest holding back more kids, a controversial idea, while others propose a half-grade step-up for some students. A national teachers union is proposing a massive national summer school program. Ideas being considered will require political will and logistical savvy and are already facing resistance from teachers and parents. They’ll also require lots of money. A coalition of school administrators and teachers unions are seeking more than $200 billion in stimulus funding, citing depleted state budgets.
“Airbnb, SEIU strike deal to provide housing for ‘front-line’ COVID-19 workers” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Members of the 1199SEIU Healthcare Workers East labor union who need a place away from home to safely reside while caring for COVID-19 patients can get free stays through Airbnb. The “Frontline stays” program will provide free stays for members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East who are working on the coronavirus front lines in New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, Maryland, and Florida. DeSantis has banned vacation rental home lodging, except for emergency and health care workers. The Frontline stays program qualifies under that exception.
“Who would have predicted this? Americans excel at staying home” via Michelle Fay Cortez of Bloomberg — Americans, it turns out, are excellent at following social-distance and stay-at-home orders. Data shows that Americans responded quickly and thoroughly to directions from federal, state and local leaders, doing everything from carefully washing their hands, cleaning high-touch areas, avoiding the workplace, and, in many cases, giving up much-needed income to stay at home. Those measures now appear to be paying off by slowing the spread of the disease. American’s embrace of social distancing has been surprising. Some experts estimated 50% compliance with social distancing mandates. The number has now been pegged at more than 90%.
— CORONA FLORIDA —
“Florida COVID-19 hospitalizations exceed 3,000” via Florida Politics — But growth comes at the steady rates seen last week rather than the exponential growth that marked March and early April. Total cases climbed to 21,628 cases of COVID-19, an increase of 261 since this morning. Deaths from the disease rose to 571, with 39 more people reported dead between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., according to the Department of Health. A total of 3,050 have been hospitalized with the disease. On April 7, estimates predicted upward of 240 Floridians a day would die from COVID-19. As of Saturday, the approximation had been halved. The most likely estimate, 112 deaths a day, is also significantly lower than The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projection late last month.
“State spends $500M to battle COVID-19” via News Service of Florida — Florida has spent about $500 million on emergency supplies and support for the COVID-19 pandemic, Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz acknowledged. “What is the value of saving a life? The answer is that it’s unlimited, right? So, if we have to make decisions to get life-saving PPE (personal protective equipment), regardless of whatever the cost is, and buy it from whoever has it, we are going to do that,” Moskowitz told reporters following a news conference with DeSantis. Moskowitz’s comments came after DeSantis announced the White House had “earmarked” one million N95 face masks for Florida.
“Gov. DeSantis announces 1 million N95 masks for health care workers” via John Kennedy of the USA TODAY Network — DeSantis, an ardent supporter of President Trump, touted his White House connections Tuesday in helping secure 1 million N95 masks for Florida health care workers dealing with the coronavirus. COVID-19 deaths in Florida surged Tuesday evening to 571 — up by 72 fatalities from the night before, while overall cases reached 21,628 – up a relatively low 609 for the day. For his part, DeSantis played up the federal government’s role in relief efforts.
“DeSantis a fan of holding sporting events” via News Service of Florida — DeSantis defended declaring professional wrestling an essential service and raised the possibility of holding other televised sporting events in empty venues as people shelter at home amid the coronavirus pandemic. DeSantis said people are “starved” for new entertainment, a day after it was reported he gave the green light to the wrestling giant WWE as an essential business to tape events in Orlando. “I think if NASCAR does a race and can televise it without having a large crowd, I think that’s a good thing,” DeSantis told reporters at the Capitol. He also supported a proposed one-on-one golf challenge between golfers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
“DeSantis to assemble task force on reopening Florida amid pandemic” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis will announce a task force, likely this week, exploring what phase two of the state’s COVID-19 response will look like as the coronavirus pandemic continues. The task force will work on solutions for the economy, education, quality of life, and physical and mental health. With the economy backsliding, hundreds of thousands of Floridians unemployed, and deadlines approaching on extending various orders attempting to preserve public health in the face of COVID-19, the Governor must choose when and how to reopen the economy. DeSantis must also decide when to send kids back to school, if at all this school year. The current executive order runs until Friday, May 1, meaning students would return Monday, May 4.
“In hard-hit Florida, jobless workers struggle to get state aid” via Andy Sullivan and Jonnelle Marte of Reuters — With cruise ships idled and airplanes almost empty, Florida travel adviser Nick Pena has been out of work for nearly a month, spending his days trying to secure jobless benefits from a state seemingly unable to provide them. Thrown out of work by a coronavirus pandemic that has killed at least 25,000 Americans, workers across the country have encountered downed websites and busy phone lines as they try to secure benefits that will help them pay for groceries and other essentials.
“FEA urges DeSantis to keep classrooms closed” via the News Service of Florida — “We know our public schools serve as a refuge for many students, that our campuses provide them with meals, education and a safe haven with committed staff,” Florida Education Association President Fedrick Ingram said in a letter. “As much as our students and educators want the opportunity to be back at our schools, returning prematurely will threaten the safety and well-being of all on campus.” State education officials last month called for all school districts to close their campuses through May 1 to halt the spread of COVID-19. Classes are online, while campuses are closed. DeSantis had not decided about whether to reopen campuses and raised the possibility that some students could return to classrooms sooner than others.
“Nursing home visitation ban to be extended” via News Service of Florida — DeSantis’ administration was caught by surprise Tuesday to learn that a 30-day executive order banning visitation at nursing homes was set to expire. Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew told nursing home providers that the state would move quickly to ensure the 30-day ban, first announced March 14, stays in effect. “We will get a communication out,” said a surprised Mayhew. “It does not expire. But clearly, we need to get another communication out that makes it clear that restriction on visitation is still in existence. It will likely need to be in existence for quite some time.”
“Ashley Moody touts progress on price gouging, threatens to ‘hold bad actors accountable’” via Florida Politics staff reports — Moody says her office has issued 65 subpoenas and secured nearly $160,000 in refunds relating to price gouging schemes amid the novel coronavirus outbreak. Moody has been routinely updating the public on her office’s progress relating to those scams. The AG’s office has received an estimated 2,700 contacts about potential price gouging incidents. Those convicted of price gouging “are subject to civil penalties of $1,000 per violation and up to $25,000 for multiple violations committed in a single 24-hour period,” according to the AG’s office.
“Nikki Fried wants Cabinet to address COVID-19 issues” via Jim Turner and Tom Urban of News Service of Florida — Agriculture Commissioner Fried reiterated a call for DeSantis and the state Cabinet to address issues related to the coronavirus pandemic jointly. Fried, who has complained about a lack of communication between the statewide elected officials, said she’s been requesting weekly briefings from the Governor’s office since before an April 7 Cabinet meeting was canceled. DeSantis and the Cabinet — Attorney General Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Fried — haven’t held a meeting since Feb. 4, more than a month before the Governor declared a state of emergency as Florida tried to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“Which elder-care facilities have COVID-19? Florida won’t say, filling families with dread” via Mary Ellen Klas and Ben Conarck of the Miami Herald — Barred from visiting their relatives amid a pandemic, people with relatives in nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the state say they are also being deprived of information that could reassure them that their loved ones are safe. Kristen Knapp, a spokeswoman for the Florida Health Care Association, the trade group representing most nursing homes in Florida, said “we’re recommending and encouraging [the homes] to disclose” information to relatives of residents but that it’s “the decision of the Department of Health” to release the data to the broader public. The health department has refused to share it — or to tell the Herald the legal justification for not doing so.
“Prison coronavirus cases on the rise” via News Service of Florida — Florida prison officials said 11 additional corrections workers in the state have tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The latest count brings the total number of positive cases among workers in the state prison system to 54, the Florida Department of Corrections announced in a news release Tuesday. The employees who have tested positive for the highly contagious disease work at 24 prisons and three probation offices across the state, officials said. In addition to the prison workers, 35 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the release.
“Deloitte postpones request for nearly $500K job incentive package, citing coronavirus” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Pointing to the novel coronavirus, Deloitte Consulting LLP, one of the largest technology and consulting firms in the world, pulled back its request today for $480,000 from Seminole County to help the company create 400 professional jobs over the next three years at its office complex in Lake Mary. In a letter to the county, Deloitte representatives said they would rather wait until the global COVID-19 pandemic has subsided before resubmitting their application. Seminole commissioners at Tuesday’s meeting agreed to wait until Deloitte resubmits its application.
“How counties are enforcing the Governor’s order to suspend vacation rentals” via Lia Fernandez of WTSP — DeSantis extended his suspension of vacation rentals in the state to April 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some police departments are using cameras to track when new cars enter their jurisdiction. Other areas aren’t taking their enforcement as far. A Hillsborough County spokesperson said its enforcement is a “complaint-driven endeavor.” Violating DeSantis’ order is a second-degree misdemeanor. Those charged will have to go before a judge, who will determine the penalties and fines.
“Florida Supreme Court to hold arguments remotely” via The Associated Press — The Florida Supreme Court, for the first time, will hear arguments via teleconferencing as a precaution because of the coronavirus outbreak, the court announced Tuesday. The arguments scheduled for May 6 include an advisory opinion on whether a recreational marijuana ballot proposal can go before voters in 2022. Justices will also hear arguments on whether the state’s tight regulation of the medical marijuana industry violates the state constitution. Justices and lawyers will connect online from separate locations, and the proceedings will be livestreamed on the court’s website and Facebook page.
“The truth about K-12 remote learning at home: Kids may fall behind academically by next school year” via Issac Morgan of the Florida Phoenix — Weeks after K-12 students left brick-and-mortar schools because of the COVID-19 pandemic, kids may not be learning at home what they need to know to advance to the next grade level, the Florida Phoenix has found. In some cases, parents have been struggling to help their students with difficult assignments. And educators are still tackling remote-learning technology and trying to teach a full slate of classes that may not be doable, according to interviews with families and educators. Some school officials have been providing “review work” rather than teaching new material, suggesting that students are already falling behind in the curriculum this academic year.
“For Florida tourism, the sun will come out” via the Herald-Tribune — Tourism stats are falling farther and faster than elsewhere. According to data compiled by VISIT FLORIDA, hotel demand March 22 was down 74.9% percent statewide from the same date in 2019, as compared to a national drop of 66.8%. The agility and creativity with which merchants have adapted to dramatic public health and safety constraints have been nothing short of remarkable. But for every cafe or pizza parlor still up and running, others cannot weather these punishing headwinds, and may not be back when they subside. Florida’s hospitality economy has proved quick to rebound. The small businesses that make our tourist scene unique are fragile but also easier to jump-start in response to returning demand.
“Publix rolls out dedicated shopping hours for health care workers, first responders” via Janelle Irwin of Florida Politics — Thursday evenings from 8-9 p.m. and Friday mornings from 7-8 a.m., the store will open only for documented health care workers, law enforcement officers or first responders. The schedule takes effect April 16 and will continue until further notice. It’s Publix’s latest effort to protect vulnerable individuals and, in this case, those whose health is crucial to the ongoing battle with COVID-19.
“Police handcuff black doctor who tests homeless for coronavirus” via Johnny Diaz of The New York Times — The soundless video shows a man wearing a protective mask picking up bags and boxes outside a white van when a Miami police officer pulls up. The officer steps out of his squad car. Words are exchanged. Then the officer handcuffs and detains the man, Dr. Armen Henderson, who was recently featured in a Miami Herald article about volunteers who provide free coronavirus testing for homeless people in downtown Miami. Henderson was eventually uncuffed after his wife, Leyla Hussein, emerged from the couple’s home and showed identification to the officer. Henderson was not arrested, but after a video of the encounter was shared widely online, Chief Jorge Colina of the Miami Police Department ordered an internal investigation into the matter.
“Doctor who lost child custody because of the coronavirus gets daughter back, for now” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — A South Florida emergency-room physician is getting her daughter back after an appeals court suspended a judge’s order stripping her of custody because she works with coronavirus patients. Miami’s Third District Court of Appeals on Tuesday issued a stay of the judge’s order, meaning Dr. Theresa Greene can continue sharing custody of her 4-year-old daughter as legal wrangling continues between the doctor and her ex-husband. The decision came four days after Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Bernard Shapiro, in a decision that outraged some members of the medical community, ruled that the child was at heightened risk of contracting the highly contagious virus because of her mother’s work.
“County health director: Think about reopening — ‘This will be over someday’” via Jane Musgrave and Wayne Washington of The Palm Beach Post — With the pace of new coronavirus cases beginning to ease, Palm Beach County Health Director Dr. Alina Alonso told County Commissioners Tuesday that they should start discussing how to reignite the local economy. The advice from Alonso came on a day when the number of new coronavirus cases, both statewide and in the county increased by less than 3 percent even as the county’s death toll jumped past 100. The small bump in new cases, the lowest since the pandemic began sweeping the state, offered hope that life-paralyzing efforts to flatten the curve had worked. “We are very optimistic,” Alonso said. “We have to make sure we’re past the hump of the curve. We’re getting very close. I’m an optimist. This will be over someday.”
“Broward jail population drops to lowest level in decades amid coronavirus threat” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward’s jail population dropped to under 3,000 for the first time in decades, the direct result of a concerted effort to clear the system of nonviolent inmates who are still awaiting trial, Broward’s chief judge said. According to the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the jail population was 3,049 spread across four facilities Sunday. On Monday, that figure fell to 2,989. For a county that was until recently under federal oversight to ease jail overcrowding, the development is remarkable. Broward Chief Administrative Judge Jack Tuter credited the recent efforts of the offices of the State Attorney, the Public Defender, and numerous criminal defense lawyers who recognized the need to reduce the jail population as part of the response to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Fewer poor students log on for PBC’s virtual classes, worsening the ‘digital divide’” via Andrew Marra of The Palm Beach Post — Children in Palm Beach County’s poorest public schools are participating far less in online classes than other students, despite efforts to ensure each child has a computer and Internet access at home. The disparities, revealed in a new school district report, appear to confirm fears that the move to virtual schooling during the coronavirus pandemic would worsen long-standing gaps in how poor and more economically stable students learn. While nine elementary and middle schools saw at least 97% of their students log in each day for the district’s first two weeks of online learning, five high-poverty elementary schools had participation rates of 65% or lower, district records show.
“Break-ins in PBG, WPB could mean big jail time due to emergency orders” via Eliot Kleinberg of The Palm Beach Post — Three men face enhanced charges after they and accomplices allegedly broke into at least 15 vehicles early Sunday in suburban West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens during the county’s coronavirus stay-at-home order. Boynton Beach police charged two of the three in a separate incident in which one allegedly shot at a woman and child. The men are charged with 15 counts of burglary of an unoccupied vehicle during a state of emergency as well as grand theft of a firearm. A judge ordered all three to be freed on their own recognizance.
“Two residents are dead and five infected with coronavirus at Pompano Beach senior home” via Mario Ariza of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Two residents are dead, and five others are infected with the new coronavirus at a Pompano Beach senior living facility. The deaths and infections come as part of the growing toll the virus is taking on senior centers across the state and in Broward County. More than 1,100 residents or staff have been documented to be infected statewide, 104 of those in Broward, according to data from the Florida Department of Health. Over 3,600 seniors have died in nursing homes across the country during the outbreak so far, according to The Associated Press. Yet even as infections and deaths mount, information about the scope of the outbreak is hard to gather. Families and the public learn of deaths and infections at long-term care sites from the staff at the facilities themselves.
“Pompano Beach company donates masks, cold-therapy packs to first responders” via Brett Shweky of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Pompano Beach’s Life Wear Technologies President and CEO Bradley Waugh understood the ripple effects caused by the PPE and stepped up to do his part in the South Florida community. Waugh and Life Wear Technologies, a manufacturer and supplier of private label and branded sports medicine products, leveraged its supply chain connections and helped donate 3,000 additional masks to the first responders of South Florida, including the Broward Sheriff’s Office and Pompano Beach Fire Rescue.
“Some condo associations are blocking leases and sales. Realtors argue it’s illegal.” via Rebecca San Juan of the Miami Herald — Condo associations are overstepping their duties amid the coronavirus pandemic, experts say. The Miami Association of Realtors are receiving complaints from members daily saying condo associations are disrupting the lease and sale process, said Daniel Guerra, the vice president of sales for Fortune International Realty and the Association’s 2021 residential president. Some condo associations are halting virtual approvals, move-ins, move-outs and interviews of potential residents. Such actions fall in a gray zone because they are unprecedented, said Alessandra Stivelman, a partner at the Hollywood-based law firm Eisinger Law. “An association’s burden to justify the need and reasonableness for a restriction would be hard to prove.”
“Lantana principal dies of COVID after last-ditch plasma infusion” via John Pacenti of The Palm Beach Post — Palm Beach Maritime Academy Principal Reno Boffice, whose family hoped the blood plasma of a local COVID-19 survivor would save his life, succumbed to the virus Tuesday. Boffice died in the ICU at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center about 12 hours after receiving the infusion from a donor. He was 61. Besides the plasma, doctors also tried the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine touted by President Donald Trump. It had no effect on stopping the deadly strain of coronavirus from ravaging Boffice’s body. His sister, Louise Boffice, said red tape created numerous obstacles in getting her brother the plasma, rendering the last-ditch effort too little, too late.
“Water shortage may complicate COVID-19 response in South Florida” via Ryan Rossi for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The COVID-19 pandemic is the worst crisis our country, state and our community have seen in decades. This unwelcome and unexpected virus is killing thousands of Americans, and is slowly and quietly taking a toll on one of most important natural resources that we all need to survive — water. Consider: In just three counties — Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade — nearly 8 million people are stuck in their homes, using water at a higher rate than ever before. Will there be enough water? You might have noticed that lawns are turning brown, which sounds trivial during this time, but it’s an early indicator of a potential lack of rainfall. This also means Lake Okeechobee, the backup water supply for most of South Florida, is dropping.
“Device Drive reaches goal to help students adjust to online learning” via Brett Shweky of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — To help the students of Palm Beach County adjust to online distance learning, the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County came together with Florida Power & Light Co., Comcast and Office Depot to host a Device Drive for those in immediate need of electronic devices. With the coronavirus pandemic causing students all over Palm Beach County to work from their homes, the drive’s goal was set to accumulate $100,000 and invite the community to donate gently used electronic devices. So far, through two weeks, the Device Drive has received 83 specified devices and $117,904 from 193 donors.
“Dentists donate medical supplies surplus to Broward Health caregivers” via Brett Shweky of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Father-and-son periodontists Mark and Tom McCawley are doing their part in the South Florida community as they joined those helping the health care workers on the front lines battling the coronavirus pandemic. The Fort Lauderdale dentists donated their surplus of medical supplies by distributing 530 N95 masks, 1,800 gloves, and 100 surgical gowns to the Broward Health Foundation. “We just see what all you guys do in the community to keep us safe, to keep us healthy,” Mark McCawley said in an interview, referring to health care workers. “We just felt like we needed to do something to keep you guys as healthy as possible.”
— MORE LOCAL —
“Three state mental hospital workers have COVID-19. One says she worked without PPE.” via Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald — At least three employees at the state’s largest mental institution have tested positive for COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus. According to AFSCME Florida, the union that represents employees at the Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee, staff members who had contact with the first person to test positive worked for several days without personal protective equipment, or PPE, after the interaction. The union says the Department of Children and Families, which oversees the institution, has not quarantined or tested any staff members or residents who had contact with the people who tested positive.
“Orlando Health CEO: Central Florida COVID-19 cases may have peaked” via Mike Lafferty of the Orlando Sentinel — The CEO of Orlando Health told the Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board Tuesday that the number of COVID-19 cases requiring hospitalization may already have peaked in number. David Strong said the model his hospital system is using to predict the number of cases shows the peak may have come several days ago. Orlando Health officials cautioned that the models often shift. Still, Dr. Sunil Desai, president of the Orlando Health Physician Group, said: “I would say where the model landed right now is pretty accurate.” Statewide models have shown that hospitals in Florida will experience their busiest day treating COVID-19 on May 3.
“Orlando International to get $171 million in coronavirus relief” via Kevin Spear of Tronc — Federal authorities announced Tuesday the amounts that thousands of U.S. airports will receive in COVID-19 relief, including $171 million for Orlando International and $207 million for Miami International as the top Florida recipients. The $10 billion CARES Act is providing grants to more than 3,000 recipients, including top metropolitan airports and small, general aviation airports. The Federal Aviation Administration states that the grants “will be distributed to airports to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency.”
“Disney World equity actors also going on unpaid furloughs as numbers seeking unemployment benefits in Florida will grow” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — About 800 Disney World equity actors will also be furloughed without pay starting April 19, its union announced Tuesday as they will join thousands of others at the theme parks losing their paychecks indefinitely during the coronavirus pandemic. “We are proud to be able to reach agreement on our primary goals, to ensure both continued access to health care throughout the furlough, and a guaranteed return to employment under the contract for everyone on the Equity agreement,” said Russell Lehrer, chief negotiator for the Actors’ Equity Association, in a news release. The actors’ deal is similar to other agreements reached between Disney and its unions.
“Coronavirus prompts acts of kindness in Central Florida” via Kathleen Christiansen of the Orlando Sentinel — A few Central Floridians and local organizations are a shining light during these unpredictable times, performing acts of kindness. Guests can donate sandwiches to first responders in their communities with Dickey’s Barbecue Pit’s new First Responder Relief Packs. Plus, the Dickey family has pledged to match every sandwich donated to double the efforts to feed first responders. Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company is taking their mobile coffee bar to AdventHealth locations throughout Orlando this week and next to serve free coffee and tea to health care providers and volunteers. World of Beer Orlando is asking Central Florida residents to help “Pay it Forward” by donating $10 that will be used to purchase a meal for a health care professional. In return, World of Beer will match each meal.
“Brio Italian’s Orlando owner files for bankruptcy during coronavirus pandemic” via Austin Fuller of the Orlando Sentinel — Brio Italian Mediterranean’s Orlando-based owner is seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection during the coronavirus pandemic. FoodFirst Global Restaurants, which also owns BRAVO Fresh Italian, filed for bankruptcy last week after moving its headquarters from Columbus, Ohio, to Orlando in 2018. “The pandemic is creating enormous disruption throughout the economy, and the restaurant industry as a whole is especially” affected, bankruptcy documents state. The chains had 110 restaurants in 32 states when they were acquired by FoodFirst in 2018 for $100 million. Annual sales in 2019 didn’t meet expectations at $307 million, the documents state. Ten restaurants were already closed in January, and more were under review to be closed.
“Revive the backup transportation tax? Hillsborough commissioner is trying.” via Caitlin Johnston of the Tampa Bay Times — Hillsborough Commissioner Mariella Smith is hoping two weeks is long enough to change the mind of at least one of her fellow commissioners. On April 1, the Hillsborough County Commission voted to defer any public hearing on a backup transportation sales tax until 2021, citing the increased financial strain many families are facing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The vote shocked Smith, one of four Democrats on the commission who has advocated for increased funding for transit, safety and road projects. Florida’s highest court canceled oral arguments on the tax as the state deals with the coronavirus pandemic. But justices are still holding deliberations and could issue a ruling at any point.
“8,000 apartments under construction in Tampa Bay as unemployment surges” via Susan Taylor Martin of the Tampa Bay Times — Before the pandemic began to sweep the nation, the Tampa Bay area was in the midst of an unprecedented apartment boom. Developers had completed 170 projects with nearly 22,700 units in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties since the 2010 end of the Great Recession. Thirty-four projects with almost 7,900 units are still under construction. The vast majority is in Tampa and St. Petersburg, where developers touted the appeal of walking from “luxury’’ apartments to scores of trendy new restaurants and other urban amenities.
“Refugees across Tampa Bay face added challenges during coronavirus” via Divya Kumar of the Tampa Bay Times — For Ghadir Kassab and other leaders of organizations working with refugee communities in the Tampa Bay area, the last few weeks have been an attempt to establish calm while finding their own. For refugees, navigating their way through the coronavirus pandemic in a new country poses a unique set of challenges. The number of new refugees entering the Tampa Bay area has dipped over the last few years — as has federal funding to support organizations assisting with resettlement. Still, Hillsborough County has the state’s second-highest percentage of new immigrants — a number that includes refugees and asylum-seekers — after Miami-Dade County.
“Tampa family seeking stay of deportation produces free cloth masks” via Juan Carlos Chavez of the Tamp Bay Times — The Paredes family had been counting the days until the end of March, when they plead their case before immigration officials for a stay of removal allowing them and their two children to remain in the United States for another year. The coronavirus pandemic delayed their annual appointment until October, buying them more time. They’re using it, in part, to help stop the spread of the virus by making homemade cloth masks for others — people, especially Spanish speakers, who may not have another way of getting them. Williams Paredes, 37, said he is answering a community need, as he did when he worked as a police officer for the city of Maracaibo, Venezuela. They’ve distributed them to neighbors, friends, homeless people and those still working.
“More people than ever are fostering dogs and cats, say Tampa Bay rescues” via Christopher Spata of the Tampa Bay Times — The days of not having enough time for a dog or cat seem to be behind us, at least temporarily. Animal shelters around Tampa Bay say the number of volunteers fostering cats and dogs at their homes while the animals await adoption has grown quickly over the past few weeks. The numbers ticked up as people adjusted to working and studying from home, while staying put on nights and weekends. Hillsborough County’s Pet Resource Center had more than 100 cats and dogs in foster homes this week, about four times the normal amount. And Pinellas County Animal Services announced that the dog kennels were empty Monday night.
“AAA offering free roadside service to medical workers, first responders in April” via Malena Carollo of the Tampa Bay Times — Local first responders and medical workers will have free roadside assistance in for the rest of the month through AAA, the Auto Club Group. “These front-line workers are spending tireless hours protecting us while at work, and we want to protect them on their journey there and back,” AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said Tuesday. AAA will provide free towing, jump-starts, lockout service, fuel delivery and battery service for those workers in Tampa and St. Petersburg regardless of whether they are AAA members. Among those covered by the service are law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, 911 dispatchers, military personnel and medical professionals who are classified as essential workers.
“Sam Hunt, Omarion, King Crimson postpone Tampa Bay concerts” via Jay Cridlin of the Tampa Bay Times — A slew of Tampa Bay concerts in late May and June have just been postponed, moved or canceled, suggesting large-scale gatherings may still be months away. Among Tuesday’s moves: Country star Sam Hunt, who has pushed his June 12 concert at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre to Oct. 9. Tickets for the old show will be good at the new one. The Millennium Tour with Omarion, Bow Wow, Ashanti and Soulja Boy, is being postponed from May 1 to Aug. 1 and moved from Amalie to the Yuengling Center. Reggaeton superstars Zion y Lennox, meanwhile, have flat-out canceled their June 26 concert at Amalie. King Crimson has announced it is planning to postpone its 2020 North American tour until 2021.
“Lenny Curry wants to temporarily hire recently retired first responders” via The Florida Times-Union — Curry has introduced emergency legislation to the City Council that would allow recently retired first responders to temporarily return to work in the event of workforce shortages. The legislation would allow retired firefighters, police officers and correctional officers to return to work without impacting their pensions. Seventy-nine firefighters are in self-isolation after possibly being exposed to the coronavirus. Jax Fire Chief Keith Powers said the department isn’t experiencing a shortage of workers and that the measure, if approved, would serve as a “stopgap in case we need it.”
“Cargo drops sharply at Jacksonville’s port” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville’s port saw an 8% drop in cargo containers and a 21% plunge in automobile shipments in March compared to a year ago. JaxPort had expected to see a drop-off in March for cargo containers because the Chinese government shuttered manufacturing plants. Before the coronavirus pandemic, JaxPort had been expecting continued year-over-year growth in cargo containers, which are the big metal boxes stuffed with consumer items. The actual volume of containers in March was 14% below expectations.
“Jazz festival canceled: City calls off Memorial Day event” via The Florida Times-Union — The Jacksonville Jazz Festival, an annual celebration held over Memorial Day weekend in the downtown streets, has been canceled for 2020. The festival had been planned for May 21-24 on the Swingin’ and Groovin’ stages in downtown Jacksonville. Most of the festival would have been free, but refunds are being offered for those who purchased VIP seating.
— CORONA ECONOMICS —
“Coronavirus ‘great lockdown’ to shrink global economy by 3% in 2020: IMF” via David Lawder of Reuters — The global economy is expected to shrink by 3.0% during 2020 in a stunning coronavirus-driven collapse of activity that will mark the steepest downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The IMF, in its 2020 World Economic Outlook, predicted a partial rebound in 2021, with the world economy growing at a 5.8% rate, but said its forecasts were marked by “extreme uncertainty” and that outcomes could be far worse, depending on the course of the pandemic. The IMF’s forecasts assume that outbreaks of the novel coronavirus will peak in most countries during the second quarter and fade in the second half of the year, with business closures and other containment measures gradually unwound.
“U.S. likely lost more jobs in 4 weeks than it gained in 11 years” via Dion Rabouin of Axios — Torsten Slok, chief economist at Deutsche Bank Securities, says he is expecting this week’s initial jobless claims report to show 8 million Americans filed for weekly unemployment benefits last week. That would be the largest number ever, and the fourth time in history unemployment benefits have surpassed 1 million, all of which have been in the past four weeks. A reading that large would also mean the U.S. has officially shed more jobs in the past four weeks than it gained during the 11 years since the end of the Great Recession.
“The $1,200 stimulus checks are arriving. People are mostly spending them on food” via Heather Long of The Washington Post — The U.S. government has started sending $1,200 checks to Americans to help ease the financial pain caused by shutting down the economy to fight the deadly coronavirus. By Wednesday, 80 million people are expected to receive a direct deposit in their bank account, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. The checks are the centerpiece of the U.S. government’s economic relief package. Singles earning up to $75,000 a year receive a payment of $1,200. Married couples earning up to $150,000 a year receive a payment of $2,400. Parents receive an additional $500 for each child under 17. Early evidence indicates Americans are using the money to buy the basics, including food and gas.
“Tax change in coronavirus package overwhelmingly benefits millionaires, congressional body finds” via Jeff Stein of The Washington Post — More than 80% of the benefits of a tax change tucked into the coronavirus relief package Congress passed last month will go to those who earn more than $1 million annually. The provision, inserted into the legislation by Senate Republicans, temporarily suspends a limitation on how much owners of businesses formed as “pass-through” entities can deduct against their nonbusiness income, such as capital gains, to reduce their tax liability. The limitation was created as part of the 2017 Republican tax law to offset other tax cuts to firms in that legislation. Suspending the limitation will cost taxpayers about $90 billion in 2020 alone, part of a set of tax changes that will add close to $170 billion to the national deficit over the next 10 years.
“Large hotel, restaurant companies getting small-business loans want to spend less of the money paying workers” via Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel — The Pennsylvania investment firm that owns the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove in Miami has applied for as many as 48 taxpayer-backed loans under an emergency program meant to help the nation’s smallest businesses. A Maryland hotel company that did more than $1.5 billion in revenue last year applied for more than 50 loans — and been approved for about 10. And Winter Park’s Ruth Chris Hospitality Group — which made $42 million in profits last year and spent $39 million buying back stock and paying dividends to shareholders — revealed it received $20 million through two small business loans.
“Big business has its own plan to reopen economy” via Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin of The Washington Post — Pressed by swiftly falling revenue amid the coronavirus pandemic, corporate America has begun looking for ways to enable U.S. workers to return to factory floors, warehouses and offices. Trump has created an “opening our country” task force with the goal of restarting the economy by May 1. And while many question the timing, everyone from small manufacturers to major brands such as Whirlpool and retailing giant Amazon are taking steps to get their workers back on the job. Mostly that involves testing on a scale that is, for now, out of reach.
“‘Uniquely disastrous’: Orlando, Vegas take harder financial hit than most of America” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Two new reports paint a devastating picture of Orlando’s economy. The first is the annual wage survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It shows that, once again, Central Florida ranks dead last — 50th among the 50 largest metros in America — when it comes to median wages. The second report comes from the Brookings Institution, which scoured the country to see which cities will suffer the most job losses from the coronavirus pandemic. Two major cities stood out: Las Vegas and Orlando. Together, these two reports illustrate a stark, two-part reality: A) Even when our economy is churning at full strength, many workers struggle to get by. B) That already precarious economy and those struggling workers are about to get devastated.
“Disney enters $5 billion credit agreement” via Shariq Khan of Reuters — The Walt Disney Co. has entered an unsecured credit agreement for $5 billion, at a time when companies across industries are scrambling to bolster their liquidity to weather the fallout from the coronavirus crisis. Disney’s theme parks business has taken a particularly severe hit as lockdowns have restricted people’s movement and gatherings to curb the spread of COVID-19. The company said in a filing the credit agreement, which has terms similar to another one it entered March 6, will mature April 9, 2021, adding that the fund could be used for day to day operations. The agreement can be extended for another year at the time of maturity if the lenders agree.
“Furloughs and pay cuts hit The Los Angeles Times” via Marc Tracy of the New York Times — The parent company of The Los Angeles Times is furloughing 40 employees and cutting the pay of senior managers in an effort to make up for losses brought on by a pandemic-related decline in advertising revenue. … The Times has lost more than one-third of its advertising revenue and expects to lose more than half of its advertising revenue in the coming months.
— MORE CORONA —
“ESPN asking top talent to take 15% pay cut” via John Ourand of Sports Business Daily — ESPN has asked its 100 most highly paid commentators to take voluntary 15% pay cuts over the next three months, as the network deals with the financial implications from the sports world shutting down due to the coronavirus pandemic, SBJ has learned. ESPN executives, including Connor Schell, Norby Williamson and Stephanie Druley, spent the morning calling the network’s commentators and their agents to ask them to take what is being described as voluntary pay cuts. It is not known yet how many of the 100 commentators have agreed to the salary reductions, which ESPN has said would be in place for the next three months.
“Coronavirus is hurting the Caribbean’s tourism economies. Why no one is offering a bailout” via Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald — Caribbean leaders say a financial bailout offered to some of the world’s poorest countries this week by the International Monetary Fund to help cushion the economic blow of the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t go far enough — and stressed that they, too, are in desperate need of a rescue. On Monday, the International Monetary Fund announced that it was canceling six months of debt payments, totaling $215 million, from 25 nations. Haiti, which gets to keep about $4.8 million, was the only Caribbean nation to make the cut. The World Bank, in a report released on Sunday, said the pandemic could send economies across Latin America and the Caribbean plunging by 4.6% this year.
“Tiny house community shares giant message of love, one roll of toilet paper at a time” via Kelly A. Stefani of the Tampa Bay Times — At a time when emotions are running high, people are living in fear and the shelves are bare, the tiny home community has banded together to send a message of love and sharing. They collaborated to produce the short YouTube video “Pass it on: One roll of toilet paper at a time.” Living in quarters without a lot of room to hoard, United Tiny House Association founders John and Fin Kernohan came up with the idea of a film to ease the urge to hoard toilet paper. Filmed in Australia, Belgium, Japan, New Zealand, Thailand and the United States, the short film features more than 30 television celebrities, bestselling authors and other tiny home residents.
“You are not alone. Salvation Army launches hotline to help calm your coronavirus fears” via Carli Teproff of the Miami Herald — Have fears over the coronavirus pandemic left you stressed and confused? Are you worried about paying rent or feeding your family? Do you just need someone to talk to? The Salvation Army USA launched a nationwide support hotline for people to get emotional and spiritual help from pastors and emotional-care personnel. This is just one of the additional measures the social services organization — which has a presence in almost every ZIP code in the United States — has taken to help “meet the overwhelming need caused by COVID-19,” the organization said.
“Winn-Dixie parent company pays for groceries of health care workers and first responders” via Gabrielle Calise of the Tampa Bay Times — Jonathan Neveu and his girlfriend Katie Schulte have made it a habit to go to the Hyde Park Winn-Dixie for their weekly grocery store run. It just feels safer to shop with fewer people around, especially since Neveu and Schulte have both already been exposed to the coronavirus at work. He transports patients via helicopter and ambulance, and she’s a nurse on the pediatric floor at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa. On Monday night, they loaded their cart with steak, chicken and other ingredients to meal-prep their way through another week of long shifts. When the couple made it to the checkout, a store employee told Neveu to put away his wallet. The $313 bill had been taken care of.
“MDW Communications wins three Pollie awards for 2019 work, now preparing for coronavirus impact” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Michael Worley of MDW Communications says he has plenty to celebrate after nabbing three Pollie awards for his firm’s work in 2019. Worley’s firm won a gold and silver for its work in two separate Miami Beach Commission races in 2019. Both of those winning ad campaigns were in the direct mail format. MDW Communications won gold in the Local/Municipal/Regional category. They won a second gold for setting up a website last year for Daniella Levine Cava’s Miami-Dade County mayoral campaign. With the novel coronavirus threatening to change the shape of the 2020 election, Worley says he’s interested to see how Florida and other states adapt.
— THE HUMAN TOLL —
“New York’s Italian Americans, now at U.S. epicenter, relive the heartache felt as virus ravaged families overseas” via Richard Morgan of The Washington Post — Joseph “Papa Joe” Migliucci was the fourth-generation owner of Mario’s, a 101-year-old red-sauce restaurant on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. Moe Albanese was known affectionately throughout Manhattan’s Little Italy as “Moe the Butcher.” Both men — ages 81 and 95, respectively — were among the more than 2,000 New Yorkers who died citywide last week from the coronavirus pandemic. Statistically speaking, their deaths are insignificant. But try telling that to the city’s tightly-knit Italian American community, the nation’s largest.
“After tornadoes batter the South, residents question how to rebuild amid coronavirus threat” via David Montgomery, Richard A. Webster, Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Frances Stead Sellers of The Washington Post — Bill Dye was about to sit down for Easter supper with his family when a weather alert blared from their phones. The children were herded into a closet until the tornadoes had passed, then Dye and his sons grabbed chain saws and drove to a hard-hit town nearby. More than 100 volunteers had gathered to help clean up, he said. But there was no hugging. People tried desperately not to touch each other. Even amid the devastating wreckage, the rules of social distancing loomed in this parish, where nearly 400 coronavirus infections have been reported — five fatal.
“It was a regular poker game among eight friends. Within weeks, coronavirus killed three and infected all.” via Andrew Boryga of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Eight retirees convened every Sunday to Thursday for raucous games over pots less than $100. They all played together for the last time March 12. In a matter of weeks, coronavirus claimed the lives of three members of that poker family and debilitated the other five. All of them said they believe the virus might have spread amid hugs, banter and the exchanging of cards, cash and chips. In the month since the last poker game, family members of the deceased have little clarity on how everyone became infected.
— ONE GOOD THING —
During this time of stress, anxiety and isolation, simple acts of kindness from health workers could help offer comfort to both patients and families.
A phone call set up by a St. Louis-area nurse let Erin Muth talk to her dad, Steve Blaha, for the first time in six days — hours after doctors revived him after his heart stopped beating.
“Dad had basically died, and we hadn’t had a chance to say anything to him,” Muth, a nurse herself in Iowa, told The Associated Press. “Thanks for everything you’ve done for me, rooting for me and cheering me on. I’m cheering you on now, Dad.”
Blaha turned 65 the following day, March 28. Though he remained sedated, Muth and her mom wished him a happy birthday in a video call arranged by a nurse.
Muth is convinced those calls gave Blaha strength. Days later, doctors removed the ventilator and let Blaha breathe on his own. He’s weak but recovering.
Most people recover from the novel coronavirus. But for older adults and those with underlying health problems, it can be life-threatening. Many hospitals treating COVID-19 patients have strict no-visitor policies, and patients’ only human contact is with medical workers wearing masks and gloves.
“I’m afraid it might feel a little bit dehumanizing,” Dr. Elizabeth Paulk, an attending physician at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, told the AP. “So much of our interaction with patients is nonverbal, and I think a lot of the warmth and humanity of the interaction is lost when you can’t see someone’s smile or their face.”
It’s the reason Paulk has her team make personal introductions, with simple paper printouts showing their names, color photos, and greetings in English and Spanish. Paulk’s photo shows her with her two kids.
“We are complete people,” she said, “and we see them as complete people.”
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Stephanie Murphy surveying constituents on unemployment system” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Murphy now is surveying Central Floridians about the state’s unemployment system. Murphy says she’s following up on a flood of calls to her office from frustrated Floridians by setting up an online survey that asks if people have applied for unemployment and how that went. “My office has been flooded with calls from constituents who are having problems trying to get the unemployment insurance benefits they so desperately need in this COVID-19 crisis. Their frustration, and often desperation, is evident and heartbreaking,” she wrote.
“Charlie Crist nominates fired Navy captain for Profile in Courage Award” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Crist is nominating Captain Brett Crozier for the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, citing the Navy captain’s courageous leadership alerting military leaders to COVID-19 health concerns on a ship he captained with sick seamen and women aboard. That courageous leadership got Crozier fired from his position in the Navy after he sent a letter, which was later leaked, criticizing the military for failing to respond to health concerns on the ship. “As our country and world face an unparalleled crisis, we need leaders to be courageous, brave and truthful. Captain Crozier displayed leadership of the highest order in his efforts to protect the health and safety of the sailors under his command,” Crist said.
— STATEWIDE —
“Analysis warns of state budget woes” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — A new analysis predicts that Florida might have to make deep budget cuts because of the economic collapse brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Numbers released by Moody’s Analytics run contrary to cautious optimism expressed by legislative leaders who have contended that Florida has reserves large enough to help weather the financial blow brought on by the pandemic. Moody’s concluded that a combination of tax revenue losses and increased Medicaid spending will wipe out the reserves of many states, including Florida. If that were to happen, it would require legislators to return to Tallahassee and adjust the $93.2 billion spending plan they adopted for the upcoming 2020-2021 fiscal year.
“Immigration crackdown expands following ‘sanctuary cities’ ban” via Ana Ceballos of the News Service of Florida — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) now has formal agreements with 49 Florida sheriffs. Probation officers are notifying federal deportation officers about offenders. And a North Florida prison is poised to deputize corrections workers to perform some functions of immigration officers. The wave of cooperation skyrocketed after DeSantis last summer signed a bill that requires local officials to use “best efforts to support federal immigration law.” The law is known as a ban on so-called “sanctuary” cities, which DeSantis vowed to outlaw during his 2018 campaign for Governor. Republican backers touted the controversial measure as a requirement to follow federal law. The statute requires local governments to “use their best efforts to support the enforcement of federal immigration law.”
“Florida’s new online ordering with food stamps to start April 21” via Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida’s pilot program allowing food stamp recipients to order groceries online will be accessible statewide starting April 21, officials announced. The program for the first time permits people receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits — better known as food stamps — to order through Walmart or Amazon, although delivery charges are not covered. People can pick up curbside, when available, at no charge. The change is aimed at helping recipients to limit their exposure to COVID-19 in hopes of slowing the spread of the virus. The Florida Department of Children and Families, which administers SNAP benefits, will work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Florida Retail Federation to add other grocers to the network, DCF officials said in a news release.
“Justices reject appeal in toddler murder case” via the News Service of Florida — The Florida Supreme Court refused to take up an appeal filed by a Marion County woman convicted of first-degree murder in the 2008 death of one of her six adopted children. Justices, as is common, did not explain their reasons for declining to hear the appeal by Violet Ray, who was challenging a decision last year by the 5th District Court of Appeal that upheld her conviction. Ray was convicted of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and child neglect in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Faith. Prosecutors alleged that Ray caused fatal head injuries to the child.
“Fraternity death dispute goes to Supreme Court” via the News Service of Florida — A former Florida State University fraternity president and two other men have gone to the state Supreme Court in a dispute about whether they should face felony hazing charges in the 2017 death of a pledge who drank heavily at an off-campus party. Former Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity chapter President Anthony Petagine and fraternity members Luke Kluttz and Anthony Oppenheimer last week filed notices of taking their cases to the Supreme Court. The moves came after a divided panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal in January ruled that the men could face felony charges in the death of Andrew Coffey, 20, a pledge from Broward County who died in November 2017.
“Doctor scores win in medical marijuana conflict of interest case” via News Service of Florida — An administrative law judge Tuesday sided with a physician who was accused by the state of having improper ties to a medical-marijuana dispensary and not adequately evaluating an undercover investigator who sought approval to use marijuana. Judge Garnett Chisenhall issued a 28-page recommended order that called for state health officials to dismiss the allegations against Gainesville-area physician Justin C.K. Davis. The case involves allegations that Davis had improper economic ties to Trulieve, the state’s largest medical-marijuana dispensing company. Davis sublet office space from a Trulieve dispensary in Lady Lake. Still, Chisenhall concluded that the arrangement did not violate a legal prohibition on doctors having a “direct or indirect economic interest” in medical-marijuana firms.
“Court denies Jeffrey Epstein victim’s appeal over rights violation” via Curt Anderson of The Associated Press — A federal appeals court Tuesday denied an effort by one of deceased wealthy financier Epstein’s alleged underage sexual abuse victims to revive a lawsuit claiming Florida federal prosecutors failed to consult victims when reaching a secret plea deal with Epstein over a decade ago. A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals expressed sympathy for alleged victims, such as Courtney Wild, but determined the law required that her appeal be rejected. “It’s not a result we like, but it’s the result we think the law requires,” U.S. Circuit Judge Kevin Newsome said.
“Endangered Florida panthers filmed fighting for the first time” via Douglas Main of National Geographic — For the first time, two Florida panthers have been filmed fighting, sparring over territory in South Florida. On a turkey hunt with his son, Andres Pis was holed up in a blind when he saw movement to his right. Sure enough, it was a young male Florida panther. Just as he began filming with his smartphone, an older male “came out of nowhere and hit him like a freight train,” Pis recalls. What ensued was a vicious battle, with the older male gaining the upper hand. After grappling for nearly a minute, the young male ran off, though Pis thinks it’s likely that the older male later killed the youngster.
“What happened to Trump Plaza’s street-level signs?” via Alexandra Clough of The Palm Beach Post — First, the Trump Plaza signs atop the West Palm Beach condominium came down. On Monday, the signs at the base of the Flagler Drive complex were stripped, too. But sources say the street-level signs are gone only temporarily: Plans are to install new ones soon at the condo complex, where units sell for millions of dollars. At least one resident expressed a desire to see Trump Plaza stay incognito and sign-less: “People were starting to refer to the building as 529,” the resident said. Observers speculated the signs’ removal was a nod to the controversy surrounding Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. But sources said that’s not the case: The signs were crumbling and needed replacement as part of routine building maintenance.
— 2020 —
“Priorities USA invests $70 million slamming Trump on coronavirus failures” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Priorities USA Action will spend $70 million reserving ad time in swing states, including Florida, to blast the message that Trump ignored concerns of professionals in the early days of a pandemic. One of the group’s first spots, entitled “Front Lines,” highlights some of the most dismissive statements made by Trump about face masks and ventilators. Clips get juxtaposed to doctors and nurses, explaining the dire need for more personal protection equipment and lifesaving devices. The major ad buy comes after Priorities USA already invested $7.5 million on prior TV and digital advertising related to Trump’s response to the coronavirus threat.
To view one of the Priorities USA videos, click on the image below:
“‘Texting is the new handshake’ for Joe Biden, Trump and other campaigns during the pandemic ” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Campaigns are trying to reach prospective voters on their phones. Trump and Biden are no exception, pinging the pockets of would-be supporters several times a week. Sometimes it’s to ask a favor or share a message. More often, they want money. Text message is one of the only ways candidates and campaigns can still reach voters, which elevates its prominence in the playbook of winning elections. Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale recently said the president’s reelection team would send 1 billion text messages through Nov. 3. Biden’s campaign wouldn’t provide an estimate.
“Biden’s endorsement rollout has one goal: To show him as the leader of a newly unified party” via Sean Sullivan, Annie Linskey and Michael Scherer of The Washington Post — Biden’s weeklong rollout of endorsements from a series of boldfaced political names is intended to emphatically place him as the leader of a Democratic Party whose factions are newly allied against a common opponent: Trump. Biden won the public embrace of his most significant supporter yet: former President Barack Obama. Obama’s support, complete with criticism of his successor, came a day after U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, endorsed Biden. Other party leaders are expected to join them soon. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, another former rival, plans to throw her support to Biden soon, according to a person with knowledge of her plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity
“Biden’s Biden: How the former VP is approaching his running mate search” via Mike Memoli and Marianna Sotomayor of NBC News — The apparent Democratic presidential nominee has made many of the moves others in his position have avoided in the past. He has narrowed the field substantially in a nationally televised debate by pledging to pick a woman running mate; talked about the process in great detail at his now-virtual fundraisers; interviewed one likely candidate on his podcast; and routinely offers typically candid updates in TV interviews. Biden’s experience as Obama’s second in command shapes his thinking as he approaches the task. Put simply, Biden appears to be looking for his own Biden, especially now in a moment of a public health crisis.
“Reddit makes political ads more transparent ahead of 2020 election” via Cristiano Lima of POLITICO — Reddit will begin publicly disclosing its political advertisers, and how much money they shell out in a new transparency hub, the company said Monday, offering the most in-depth look to date into how political actors are targeting the social media platform’s users ahead of the 2020 election. The company announced in a blog post it will now maintain a new Reddit channel where it lists all political ad campaigns that run on the platform dating back to January 2019. The first-of-its-kind subreddit will display information on individual advertisers, how they target users, and how much they spend on each campaign.
— MORE FROM THE TRAIL —
“Donna Deegan outraised John Rutherford for second straight quarter” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Rutherford maintains his cash on hand advantage over likely Democratic challenger Deegan. Rutherford raised nearly $150,000 between Jan. 1 and March 31 of this year, pushing his total on hand over $597,000. Cash on hand increased by almost $100,000 since the end of 2019 report. Deegan raised $220,305.36 for Q1, giving her a total raised of $425,901 through the first two quarters. More than 3400 individual donors contributed. Rutherford raised $123,850, less than Deegan, a former broadcaster and cancer survivor, who raised $204,000 in her first quarter in the race.
“Amanda Makki nears $750K raised in bid to unseat Charlie Crist” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Makki has now raised $747,000 in her campaign to flip Florida’s 13th Congressional District. A finance report filed with the Federal Elections Commission this week shows $209,000 flowed to her campaign in the first quarter, topping her $120,000 effort to close out 2019 and coming within arm’s reach of her $220,000 report for the second quarter of last year.
“Day jobs take precedence for HD 76 candidates dealing with pandemic” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Sanibel City Councilman Jason Maughan has spent a lot of time off the island this year. He’s been busy building regional name recognition while running in House District 76. But as the COVID-19 global pandemic gripped the region, he’s turned his focus back to City Hall. “When you hold elected office, your first responsibility is to protect the people you serve.” With that in mind, he collected just $250 in March for the campaign. That brings his total to $134,205 raised for the campaign. Minus expenses, he started April with $103,772 in cash on hand. Maughn’s committee, Friends of Jason Maughan, also raised $11,500, totaling $36,500 since its launch in February.
“After Miami Beach meltdown, Andrew Gillum’s political committee drops almost $125K in legal fees” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Gillum‘s political committee, Forward Florida, ran through nearly $125,000 in legal fees in March, shortly after police found Gillum “inebriated” inside a Miami Beach hotel room when responding to a call for an apparent crystal meth overdose. Reports filed with the Division of Elections show the committee doled out just under $105,000 to the Perkins Coie law firm. The committee also sent more than $19,000 to Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler. Both expenditures were classified as “legal services.” Gillum relied on Forward Florida during his 2018 gubernatorial run. The Democratic candidate was edged out by Republican Ron DeSantis while Forward Florida sat on more than $3 million.
— TOP OPINION —
“Joe Henderson: trustworthy leaders will tell people the truth, even if it hurts” via Florida Politics — We’re all worn out from the pandemic, either emotionally or physically. Unemployment numbers have spiked to unimaginable levels, and that won’t improve any time soon. Workers face layoffs, pay cuts, furloughs, and small business owners face possible catastrophe. So, yeah, everyone — especially the heroic health care professionals and first responders — could use some good news. More importantly, though, they could use the truth. And the truth is that Florida shouldn’t be open for business any time soon. But most businesses in the state need to stay in hibernation until we’re sure this virus is under control. Wishing won’t make this go away, though. If a leader pretends it can and takes rash and foolhardy action, many more people could die.
— OPINIONS —
“Can we reopen before there’s a cure or a vaccine? It won’t be easy.” via The Washington Post editorial board — Expectations are running high that reopening the United States will mean returning to offices, factories and schools, kick-starting the economy and rediscovering life before the novel coronavirus pandemic. At best, these alluring goals are likely to be achieved haltingly, partially, more slowly than we would like. We should plan for the possibility that neither vaccine nor cure emerges for 18 months or longer. In that world, getting people back to work safely, without fits and starts, will take leadership and planning, with the involvement of all levels of government, the private sector and the population. It won’t be quick or easy.
“What if Adam Putnam or Gwen Graham were the ‘virus governor’?” via Randy Schultz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — DeSantis won because Trump endorsed him over the establishment’s preferred candidate, Putnam. That backing and a promise to clean the state’s waters carried DeSantis by 20 points over Putnam, who went through the financial crisis as a member of Congress. A self-professed small-government conservative, he heard then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson explain the need for a massive federal bailout to avoid disaster and voted for it. ON the Democratic side, there was Graham. Women run the countries that have responded best to the virus. New Zealand isn’t flattening the curve but “squishing” it. Germany’s death rate is so low that professional soccer teams have resumed practice.
“Florida deems WWE ‘essential’ and shows the danger of unchecked government during COVID-19” via Mark Miller of the Pacific Legal Foundation — The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the ingenuity and innovative power of the free market: Car manufacturers are making ventilators, liquor distilleries are making hand sanitizers, and fashion designers are making face masks. But the COVID-19 pandemic has also shown the (sometimes deadly) danger of slow, haphazard, and unpredictable government regulation. Governors have closed businesses, shut down public spaces, and instituted quasi-police states to try to slow the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve. But many of those same governors have allowed primary elections to go forward unabated and have given special favors to connected companies and friends. WWE wrestling is no more “essential” to Floridians than the closed-down restaurants in their neighborhoods or the shuttered small businesses they support.
“Big secrets about coronavirus in Florida nursing homes” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — No one is at greater risk in the COVID-19 pandemic than the residents of nursing homes and other elder-care facilities. They and their families have a sacred right to know which of these places have had positive tests for the coronavirus. Ron DeSantis and his staff refuse to identify the facilities where 962 residents have been infected statewide. Across the state, local authorities have been announcing nursing home coronavirus cases, not the state. Sheriffs, school superintendents, hospital officials, EMS departments, grocery stores, and other public officials are being transparent about the number of people who have contracted the virus and where they worked.
“Sadowski Trust housing funds will help Florida’s ‘most vulnerable’ now more than ever” via Jamie Ross for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The full appropriation of Sadowski Trust funds for housing could not have come at a better time. All 67 counties and large cities in Florida have local housing programs, known as the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP), which are funded from the dedicated revenue source for affordable housing created in the 1992 Sadowski Act. It is highly accountable and is amply flexible to meet local housing needs. And right now, the SHIP program is working in response to the COVID-19 crisis. When DeSantis earned the mantle of housing champion, it was before anyone had heard of coronavirus. Using the housing trust funds solely for housing was first and foremost to address the housing crisis that already existed.
— TODAY’S SUNRISE —
Florida’s Department of Health reports 21,628 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 571 fatalities. Seventy-two of your fellow Floridians died over the past 24 hours.
Also, on today’s Sunrise:
— The teacher’s union is asking Gov. DeSantis NOT to reopen schools in May, saying the potential damage to families and entire communities from an outbreak of COVID-19 far outweighs the inconvenience of continuing distance learning for the rest of the school year.
— There are more than 1,100 confirmed cases of coronavirus at Florida nursing homes and adult living facilities. The Agency for Health Care Administration is still refusing to disclose the names of those homes, but the Department of Veterans Affairs has confirmed 12 cases of COVID 19 — and one fatality — at a state-run nursing home for veterans in Pembroke Pines.
— Attorneys for the state ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reject a special master’s report that says Florida never proved its case in the water war with Georgia. They say it could be the death knell for the Apalachicola River and the oyster industry in Apalachicola Bay.
— For the first time ever, the Florida Supreme Court will hold oral arguments using video teleconferencing technology. Instead of gathering at their ornate courtroom across the street from The Capitol, the justices and the lawyers will connect through Zoom, the teleconferencing software that has replaced face-to-face meetings during the COVID 19 pandemic. Craig Waters, the Supreme Court’s public information officer, will discuss the new developments.
— Checking in with Florida Man, who is apparently a wrasslin’ fan.
To listen, click on the image below:
— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —
View this post on Instagram
@RoyalCaribbean #BrillianceoftheSeas sails under Sunshine Skyway #Bridge on April 13, 2020 on way to Tampa Western Anchorage. There was tremendous amount of moisture in the air. So much so, looked cloudy. #StPete #StPeteBeach #Tampa #tampabay #Florida #visitfl #visitflorida #lovefl #loveflorida #floridaphotography #floridaphotographer #travel #tourism #travelblogger #travelphotography #cruiselife #tlpicks #vacation #cruiselifestyle #cruiseship #cruising #bridge #bridgesofinstagram #civilengineering
— ALOE —
“Disney+ edited ‘Splash’ by covering Daryl Hannah’s butt with long hair” via Frank Pallotta of CNN — Disney+ has a deep vault of content that includes everything from “Star Wars” to Disney animated classics to Marvel. One thing that the streaming service doesn’t have is Daryl Hannah’s butt. A viewer on Twitter pointed out this week that 1984’s “Splash” has a scene in which Hannah’s rear end is covered by what appears to be long computer-generated hair. The PG-rated film, which is a romantic comedy about a New Yorker who falls in love with a mermaid, stars Hannah and Tom Hanks in one of his first film roles.
“Verizon is launching a tool to help you troubleshoot tech issues remotely” via Jay Peters of The Verge — Verizon is launching a new tool to help customers troubleshoot issues remotely. The tool should allow Verizon to support customers without requiring a field technician to step inside their home. The tool is intended to be used for service calls that need to be completed in your home, such as troubleshooting your router. To use it, Verizon will send you a text with a link, and you’ll have to tap that to open the tool in a web browser. From there, you’ll be able to share pictures or live video with a Verizon technician who will remain outside your house during the call so they can see the issue you’re trying to fix and give you recommendations.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Best wishes to Celeste Camm, Director of Operations for Rubin, Turnbull & Associates.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, A.G. Gancarski, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.