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Last Call for 5.21.20 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

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

First Shot

Restaurants, retailers and barbershops may be reopening, but school is still virtual.

That means commencement ceremonies for high school seniors are on hold until social distancing guidelines are relaxed. Online celebrations are still a go, however, and Step Up For Students held one for its 4,445 scholarship seniors this afternoon.

“High school graduation is a time to celebrate the achievement of Florida’s young men and women and the current pandemic won’t stop us from recognizing the achievements of these special students,” Step Up President Doug Tuthill said.

Lawmakers also joined in on the festivities, including Senate Education Chair Manny Diaz and Tampa Rep. Susan Valdes, who was a longtime Hillsborough School Board member before she was elected to the Legislature.

Two students also got behind the virtual lectern to address their peers.

Florida Tax Credit scholar Gabriella Bueno of Boca Christian School credited her scholarship with helping her get the education she needed to get her on a path to become a pharmacist.

Ryan Sleboda followed. The recipient of a Gardiner Scholarship, a program for special-needs students, Sleboda graduated as Pace Brantley School’s class valedictorian.

“Who would have imagined this is the way our senior year would end,” he said. “Class of 2020, let’s go forth and resume this incredible journey!”

Coronavirus Numbers

Positive cases:

— 47,381 FL residents (+1,184 since Wednesday)

— 1,294 Non-FL residents (+20 since Wednesday)


— 2,060 Travel related

— 21,560 Contact with a confirmed case

— 1,931 Both

— 21,830 Under investigation


— 8,946 in FL


— 2,144 in FL

Unemployment numbers

As of Wednesday:

Total claims: 2,091,087

— Confirmed unique claims: 1,719,452

— Claim verification queue: 211,985

— Claims processed: 1,507,467

— Claims paid: 985,957 (+6,070 since Tuesday)

Total paid out: $2.71 billion (+$30 million since Tuesday)

Evening Reads

Coronavirus case count tops five million worldwide” via Jennifer Calfas and Matthew Dalton of The Wall Street Journal

Rick Scott declares ‘new Cold War’ with Communist China” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

As predicted, Florida media doubles down on conspiracy theory over firing of Rebekah Jones” via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist

Why Florida cannot get it story straight on COVID numbers” via Kent Sepkowitz of CNN

Florida Democrats: ‘This Governor is dangerous to our health’” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Florida made $283 million in deals because it feared COVID-19” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

As Florida releases new COVID-19 death data, one medical examiner defies state’s secrecy” via the Miami Herald

Searching for a Panacea amid a pandemic: ‘We’ve been in continuous operation for 56 years — until the coronavirus’” via Craig Pittman of Florida Phoenix

A numberless death in a Florida ICU during the COVID pandemic” via A.J. Campbell for Florida Politics

26 counties cleared for vacation rentals after DBPR approves 10 more plans” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

After Margaret Good stumble, House reminds staff not to campaign on state time” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Former Democratic Rep. Kelly Skidmore to enter HD 81 contest” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Oscar Braynon II won’t run for Miami Gardens Mayor” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

NOAA predicts another busy hurricane season” via The Florida Times-Union

Quote of the Day

“This is a new Cold War. Communist China is an adversary.” — U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, on sanctioning China.

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