Last Call for 5.27.20 — 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

It’s no longer months or weeks away. Hurricane season starts Monday.

Forecasters predict an especially active season, and there’s already some evidence backing them up. Today — five days before the season officially begins — the second named storm of the year, Tropical Storm Bertha, made landfall in South Carolina.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management is taking the threat seriously as well, retooling its protocols on shelters and evacuations to consider the dual-threat of cyclone alongside the coronavirus pandemic.

Personal preparation and family plans are still key, however, and DEM cannot pack hurricane kits for every Floridian. That’s on the individual.

Still, the state will help a little bit by not charging sales tax on essential supplies for hurricane kits: batteries, flashlights, radios, candles, gas cans, tarps, tie-down kits, ice and generators, among other things.

The tax-free period starts Friday and runs through June 4.

On Wednesday, Florida TaxWatch urged Floridians to take advantage and stock up before a storm comes. Doing so could also help local brick-and-mortars stay afloat.

“As Florida families and businesses continue to recover from COVID-19, and get ready for the June 1 start of hurricane season, this year’s Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday provides a great opportunity to get prepared and help fuel our economy by shopping locally,” said Dominic Calabro, president and CEO of FTW.

“Of course, shoppers should remain mindful of COVID-19 related health precautions and remember that many stores are offering curbside or contactless pickup so be sure to check online to see what’s available in your area. Florida TaxWatch wants to again thank the Florida Legislature for continuing to offer these important savings back to our families and urges every Floridian to take advantage of the great deals on needed hurricane supplies in the coming days.”

Coronavirus Numbers

Positive cases:

— 51,283 FL residents (+367 since Tuesday)

— 1,351 Non-FL residents (+12 since Tuesday)


— 2,103 Travel related

— 23,842 Contact with a confirmed case

— 1,983 Both

— 23,355 Under investigation


— 9,639 in FL


— 2,319 in FL

Unemployment numbers

As of Tuesday:

Total claims: 2,178,129

— Confirmed unique claims: 1,927,344

— Claim verification queue: 323,578

— Claims processed: 1,603,766

— Claims paid: 1,018,296 (+8,932 since Sunday)

Total paid out: $3.53 billion (+$30.27 million since Sunday)

Evening Reads

The 5%: Joe Biden and Donald Trump chase shrinking pool of undecided voters” via David Catanese of the Miami Herald

An ‘avalanche of evictions’ could be bearing down on America’s renters” via Sarah Mervosh of The New York Times

The risks of normalizing the coronavirus” via Clayton Dalton of The New Yorker

Trump embraces space launch as a MAGA moment” via Bryan Bender and Jacqueline Feldscher of POLITICO

Rick Scott says every Chinese citizen is a communist spy” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Mike Pompeo declares Hong Kong no longer autonomous from China” via Carol Morello of The Washington Post

Trump press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has voted by mail 11 times in 10 years” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times

Ex-Congressman David Rivera paid millions to Venezuelan businessman close to Nicolás Maduro regime” via Jay Weaver and Antonio Maria Delgado of the Miami Herald

Second COVID-19 wave could raise Florida’s death toll to 8,000, modeling shows” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

Beach towns are next to take the hit” via Russell Berman of The Atlantic

Back to school? 1 in 5 teachers are unlikely to return to reopened classrooms this fall, poll says” via Susan Page of USA Today

Nikki Fried warns of ‘threat’ from Gov. Ron DeSantis ‘lack of transparency’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

OK, you found a job in Florida. So how do you stop unemployment benefits?” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel

Lawmakers deregulated parts of FL’s beauty industry. Should clients, and the Governor, be concerned?” via Danielle J. Brown of the Florida Phoenix

“$42M price tag for coronavirus testing in nursing homes, assisted living facilities” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Walt Disney World to reopen in July” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Why is Disney World reopening a month after Universal and SeaWorld?” via Gabrielle Russon and Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel

Jacksonville uses Frozen II to lure fans back to baseball stadium” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics

Quote of the Day

“I think the COVID-19 crisis is one in which you’ve seen efforts to promote false narratives that drive some of the friction in this country.” — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, on coronavirus misinformation propagated online.

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Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

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