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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 5.28.20

Here’s the day that was — and will be — in Florida politics.

Florida could see a 40% increase in the total number of deaths throughout August in a second COVID-19 wave predicted by one model.

That model, produced by MIT graduate and independent data scientist Youyang Gu, suggests the state could reach 73 deaths per day by mid-August. On Tuesday, he updated the model to extend to Sept. 1 instead of Aug. 4, where it ended under previous iterations.

Currently, an estimated 30 people die per day in Florida, according to the model.

By Sept. 1, 7,744 people would die in Florida, according to the model.

One COVID-19 model shows an average of 30 deaths per day in Florida. Image via Twitter.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) model predicts 3,899 additional deaths in Florida but only goes out to Aug. 4. Gu’s model has 5,754 deaths by that date.

“Note that our projections are not set in stone,” Gu tweeted Tuesday. “My hope is that people will use our projections and take actions to actively reduce the spread of the virus.

As for daily infections, that peak could come in mid-July statewide, when an estimated 9,794 people, including those not tested, would be infected daily. Gu’s model estimates 4,965 people were infected Wednesday.

The number of new infections would put Florida below the nationwide average. Per million people, 531 people would be infected daily at the national peak while 471 people per million would be infected at the state’s peak.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aggregates Gu’s model as one of 16 models used in its national COVID-19 forecast.

But the model makes a series of assumptions, generalizing each state’s coronavirus response, which Gov. Ron DeSantis has derided about other models.

As of late, the model has been more or less accurate, even underpredicting the pandemic’s impact on Florida. On May 1, Gu’s model predicted 2,150 Floridians would be dead by Tuesday. According to the Department of Health, 2,259 residents had died by Tuesday morning.

— TOP STORIES —

U.S. death toll, highest in world, surpasses 100,000” via The New York Times — Just over four months after the government confirmed the first known case, more than 100,000 people who had the coronavirus have died in the United States. The death toll is far higher than in any other nation in the world. The toll exceeds the number of U.S. military combat fatalities in every conflict since the Korean War. It matches the toll in the United States of the 1968 flu pandemic, and it is approaching the 116,000 killed in another flu outbreak a decade before that. The pandemic is on track to be the country’s deadliest public health disaster since the 1918 flu pandemic, in which about 675,000 Americans died. Though the numbers of new cases and deaths have begun trending downward, health experts warn of a possible resurgence as lockdowns are lifted.

A sign advises people to minimize the spread of germs, along the Las Vegas Strip devoid of the usual crowds during the coronavirus outbreak. Image via AP.

Coronavirus deaths top 100,000 in United States. ‘Too big for us to comprehend’” via Dan Sweeney of the Miami Herald — Coronavirus has killed more than 100,000 people in the United States, Johns Hopkins University reported Wednesday. There have been 5.6 million confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus worldwide, with more than 353,000 deaths, according to the university. The United States leads the world in deaths, with the United Kingdom following at more than 37,000 deaths. But newspapers and television stations across the nation mostly focused on stories about people celebrating Memorial Day weekend and the easing of stay-home orders by crowding beaches, restaurants and bars. “I don’t think we’re taking this in,” said David Kessler, an author of six books on grief.

Stage set for Ron DeSantis-Nikki Fried showdown” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The Florida Cabinet is scheduled to meet Thursday for the first time in nearly four months, giving a stage to the political rivalry between Republican DeSantis and Agriculture Commissioner Fried, a Democrat who is on shortlists to challenge the Governor in 2022. The coronavirus is not on the Cabinet’s official agenda, but Fried will attempt to force the issue. She has accused the DeSantis administration of thwarting her efforts to get answers on infection data, state revenue and food programs. “As all of these requests have been ignored, she intends to address them when the Cabinet convenes,” Fried spokesperson Franco Ripple told POLITICO.

DeSantis, Cabinet move meeting to the phone” via the News Service of Florida — A meeting Thursday of DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet, their first in nearly four months, will be held over the phone as a precaution amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “Health and safety concerns as a result of COVID-19 led to the decision to conduct the Cabinet meeting via teleconference,” DeSantis spokeswoman Helen Aguirre Ferre said in an email. “For Gov. DeSantis, providing a safe and healthy workplace is of the utmost concern.” The meeting had initially been listed as occurring in the Cabinet meeting room on the lower level of the Capitol. “This meeting will be conducted via phone and streamed live on the Florida Channel,” said a notice posted on the Cabinet website.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@craigtimes: #Florida’s Republican leaders, including @GovRonDeSantis, @SenRickScott and @marcorubio and Rep. @mattgaetz would not comment to the @nytimes on @realDonaldTrump plugging a phony murder conspiracy to score political points.

@JimBridenstine: I know there’s a lot of disappointment about today’s #LaunchAmerica mission, but rest assured that we made the right decisions for @NASA, @SpaceX and our @Commercial_Crew program.

@Mike_Pence: President @realDonaldTrump and I will be back at @NASAKennedy this Saturday to watch History in the Making as we send American Astronauts back to Space on an American Rocket for the first time in nearly 10 years! #LaunchAmerica

Tweet, tweet:

@BobbyPowellJr: It seems that everything has been put on hold throughout this pandemic except the dehumanization of Black men. The stories become more disturbing day after day. This has to stop. We must do better. #AhmaudArbery #ChristianCooper #GeorgeFloyd

@jacobogles: I’m hearing we may see a Democrat filed in every state House and Senate district within the next 48 hours. So, if you are a Republican lawmaker who believes yourself to be unopposed this fall, double-check the Division of Elections site.

— DAYS UNTIL —

English Premier League soccer to restart — 4; Universal Orlando begins phased reopening — 8; PGA Tour resumes with Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth — 14; Last day of state candidate qualifying — 15; “Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre” by Max Brooks release — 19; Belmont Stakes rescheduled — 23; Father’s Day — 24; Apple to hold Developer Conference — 25; “The Outpost” with Orlando Bloom and Scott Eastwood premieres — 36; Disney World Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom to reopen — 44; Disney World Epcot and Hollywood Studios to reopen — 48; Federal taxes due — 48; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” premieres — 50; “Mulan” premieres — 57; TED conference rescheduled — 49; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 81; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 85; Indy 500 rescheduled — 95; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 88; “A Quiet Place Part II” premieres — 99; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 100; Rescheduled date for French Open — 114; First presidential debate in Indiana — 125; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 128; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 135; Second presidential debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 140; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 141; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 148; 2020 General Election — 159; “Black Widow” premieres — 162; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 173; “No Time to Die” premieres — 180; “Top Gun: Maverick” premieres — 229; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 255; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 421; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 430; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 526; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 624; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 656; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 709; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 862.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Second COVID-19 wave could raise Florida’s death toll to 8,000, modeling shows” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Florida could see a 40% increase in the total number of deaths throughout August in a second COVID-19 wave predicted by one model. That model, produced by MIT graduate and independent data scientist Gu, suggests the state could reach 76 deaths per day by mid-August. Currently, an estimated 36 people die per day in Florida, according to the model. One included breakout is Miami-Dade County, which suggests a 21% increase in deaths over the same period with seven to nine people dying daily.

On the other hand — “Modeling suggests Florida is past the coronavirus peak, facing 4K deaths by August” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Nearly 4,000 Floridians could die of COVID-19 by early August, according to one model referenced by state and federal officials. The model, produced by the University of Washington-affiliated Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), predicts 3,899 COVID-19 deaths by Aug. 4 as daily deaths decline rather than increase. That’s a revision downward since the model’s methodology was reworked earlier this month, when it showed 5,440 Floridians could die by that date. But the Tuesday update suggested deaths will dwindle from 45 on Saturday to single digits by August.

Florida’s school meals benefit program receives USDA’s OK” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The federal government has approved Florida’s program to automatically issue benefits to children without access to free and reduced-price meals during the COVID-19 pandemic. DeSantis announced the approval, handed down by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. P-EBT will automatically issue those benefits to the households of more than 2.1 million children temporarily without meal support while schools remain closed during the pandemic. DCF determines eligibility for the food assistance benefit program while FDACS oversees the National School Lunch Program in Florida. At the Governor’s direction, the agencies submitted a joint plan to USDA on May 6.

Ron DeSantis is announcing that the federal government approved an emergency school meal benefit program that will help more than 2.1 million children without meal support.

Ashley Moody busts pharmacy dealing unapproved at-home COVID-19 test kits” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Moody recovered thousands of dollars for consumers who were tricked into buying COVID-19 kits that were not approved for at-home use in the Tampa Bay area. Sunshine Community Rx of Sarasota, who operates under the name of PrecisionMed Pharmacy, is accused of sending approximately 1,000 text messages to consumers, advertising the unapproved at-home test kit for $85. In an agreement, PrecisionMed will now make full refunds of more than $9,000 to customers and pay $5,000 in civil penalties, Moody’s office announced. Moody credited the results to the Consumer Protection Team, a division within her office that pursues businesses and individuals who violate the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Hurricane season collides with coronavirus” via the News Service of Florida — With the six-month Atlantic hurricane season starting Monday, emergency-management officials have changed how Florida will respond to storms as they grapple with the coronavirus pandemic. Disaster managers, already working long days because of the pandemic, have modified hurricane plans on issues such as evacuations, shelters, and conditions for relief crews because of the virus. “You know it’s not usual that we’ve been in the (Emergency Operations Center) for three months doing planning before hurricane season, (but) that’s going to give us a leg up in a lot of ways because we’ve been thinking about it day in and day out here,” Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz said.

Florida lawmaker wants evictions delayed another month” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson wants DeSantis to extend the ban on foreclosures and evictions an additional month, suspending displacements until July. Earlier this month, the Governor extended a previous order that gave housing security to people facing economic hardship during the coronavirus pandemic through June 2, now a week away. “The conditions which precipitated this order are no less precarious today; in fact, in many ways, they have worsened,” she wrote in a letter to the Governor Wednesday that called for the moratorium to span until July 1.

$42M price tag for coronavirus testing in nursing homes, assisted living facilities” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — It will cost nearly $42.3 million to conduct COVID-19 testing in every Florida nursing home and assisted living facility. Organization leaders favor testing all staff and residents, but say it’s not a cost they can bear alone. “For months now, we have been advocating for expanded and priority testing in long-term care facilities to protect our residents and caregivers, but this is a significant undertaking and cost for them to shoulder on their own,” said Mark Parkinson, president and CEO for AHCA/NCAL. Florida has 701 nursing homes and 3,405 assisted living communities. Nursing homes still bear the bulk of costs because of the higher ratio of staff to residents.

Florida estimates a $42 million price tag for coronavirus testing in nursing homes across the state. Image via AP.

Florida doctors gearing up for more cases of children’s illness linked to coronavirus” via Cindy Krisher Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Florida’s summer camps and youth activities now have the green light to open, which leaves parents with a difficult decision as a coronavirus-related illness that attacks children and teens creeps through the state. The illness, in which multiple body parts can become inflamed, has cropped up children and young adults under the age of 21. New York City has reported 147 children with the condition. The syndrome, known as MIS-C, has made its way into Florida with seven confirmed cases and medical experts expect more. While the condition is rare, it can come on quickly, require hospitalization and become life-threatening if it affects organs such as the heart or kidneys.

OK, you found a job in Florida. So how do you stop unemployment benefits?” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — After weeks of anger and frustration trying to get unemployment benefits, some Floridians are now getting just as frustrated trying to stop getting them. “I have been back to work since May 5 and can’t for the life of me figure out how to stop the payments,” Sumter County resident Lynne Reichle wrote the Orlando Sentinel this week. “I have spoken to other people I work with, and they are in the dark as well.” But according to federal law, claimants are still required to return to the CONNECT system every two weeks to request their benefits or “claim their weeks,” said DEO spokeswoman Paige Landrum. Once a claimant doesn’t check-in, either because they found a new job or they just forgot, payment should stop.


— FLORIDA REOPENING —

Walt Disney World to reopen in July” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Walt Disney World plans to begin reopening its theme parks in mid-July. The plans, which also outline the company’s details to address coronavirus safety, call for a phased reopening, with the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom set to begin a phased reopening and EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios to reopen July 15. SeaWorld also offered its plans, projecting a more immediate reopening at the main theme park and its Discovery Cove and Aquatica water parks, “as soon as June 10,” according to its written request. Orlando’s other major tourist attraction, Universal Orlando, intends to reopen its theme parks, Universal Studios Orlando, and Islands of Adventure, to the general public on June 5.

Walt Disney World is shooting for a mid-July reopening. Image via Getty.

Disney wants to reopen Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom July 11. SeaWorld aims for June 11. Masks and temperature checks required.” via Stephen Hudak, Ryan Gillespie, Dewayne Bevil and Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — Walt Disney World plans to reopen its four theme parks in two phases in July, while SeaWorld is moving ahead with plans to open its doors in just three weeks, theme park officials said on Wednesday. If approved by DeSantis, the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom would open on July 11, followed by Epcot and Hollywood Studios on July 15. SeaWorld proposed reopening its three Orlando parks, including Discovery Cove and Aquatica, to the public on June 11. The two tourism giants presented plans to Orange County’s Economic Recovery Task Force, a panel of business and community leaders appointed by Mayor Jerry Demings. Less than two hours after the meeting ended, Demings sent letters endorsing the plans to DeSantis.

Why is Disney World reopening a month after Universal and SeaWorld?” via Gabrielle Russon and Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — SeaWorld and Universal will reopen one month ahead of Walt Disney World, the theme park juggernaut of the world. “My jaw dropped,” said freelance travel writer and Disney passholder Dani Meyering when she heard the news . So why is Disney the last to reopen? Some industry followers say it makes sense Disney is opening behind the other two, smaller parks. It highlights the different corporate philosophies and challenges facing Orlando’s biggest attractions. “They’re also the most-visited attraction, so they absolutely have to set the gold standard,” Meyering said.

What’s the wait time for reopening Florida’s theme parks?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Beginning in June, major parks announced plans to reopen to the public. SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment has not yet submitted a formal plan to appropriate jurisdictions in the Tampa area but is expected to submit one similar to that in place for Orlando area properties. Legoland Florida will open on June 1, ahead of all major Central Florida parks. While restaurants and some retail at ICON Park reopened beginning May 4, ride attractions including The Wheel at ICON Park remain closed at this time and no plan has been submitted for reopening. The Florida properties for SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment plan to open “as soon as” June 10 but don’t have a hard date set.

Tollbooth attendants returning in Orlando” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The Central Florida Expressway Authority announced the latest return to normalcy with news that it will repopulate the change-only toll lane booths along its toll roads throughout Orange and Osceola counties at 1 a.m. Monday. The agency, which operates 125 miles of toll roads, 17 mainline toll plazas, and 74 ramp toll plazas, had switched over to “Pay By Plate.” The agency also will resume full operation of its drive-up customer service “Reload Lanes,” located on State Road 408 at the Conway toll plaza, on State Road 417 at the John Young Parkway toll plaza, and on State Road 429, at the Forest Lake Main toll plaza. Those lanes will reopen at 8 a.m. Monday.

Reopening Jacksonville: CareerSource opens its doors to help get people back to work” via Anna Savo-Matthews of The Florida Times-Union — Amid mounting frustration with Florida’s unemployment benefits system, residents are turning to workforce planning agencies for help, as CareerSource begins to reopen its seven Northeast Florida offices. CareerSource, previously called WorkSource, is a publicly funded agency that provides work-related services in Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties. Its mission is to connect workers to jobs and businesses, offering education, training and career services. CareerSource closed its offices in mid-March in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Floridians who have recently found themselves out of work have often been battling a slow unemployment benefits process, as many report crashing websites and denied unemployment claims. While CareerSource is unable to assist with unemployment applications, it provides access to computers.

Reopening Jacksonville: Mayor announces plan to open summer camps, pools” via Christopher Hong of The Florida Time-Union — The city of Jacksonville will open five public pools in two weeks and open more later in the summer, Mayor Lenny Curry said Wednesday. Julius Guinyard, Oceanway, Woodland Acres, Charles Clark and Cecil Aquatic Center will open on June 8. Curry said the city is staggering the pool openings because of limited staff availability. He said the city will also offer an adjusted summer camp program, hosting full and half-day camps that will be reduced in size. Each of the three programs will be free and offer a summer lunch program. Counselors will wear masks and campers will be encouraged to do so as well.

Reopening Jacksonville: Nordstrom reopening Thursday at St. Johns Town Center” via Teresa Stepzinski of The Florida Times-Union — Shoppers will be welcomed back inside Nordstrom amid social-distancing restrictions and a 50% occupancy cap as the major retailer reopens Thursday at St. Johns Town Center. The upscale, full-line department store at 4835 Town Crossing Drive will be joined in reopening by nearby Nordstrom Rack, 4924 Big Island Drive at The Markets at Town Center. The company announced the reopenings Tuesday and posted an updated list of open stores on its website. “The past several months have been unlike anything we’ve ever experienced, and we’re working hard to evolve so we can continue to show up in a meaningful way for you, our employees and communities,” Pete and Erik Nordstrom said on the company website.

Alachua County building to open, by appointment only” via the Gainesville Sun — Alachua County government will open Monday to the public — by appointment only. According to an announcement, those who want to enter county buildings should schedule an appointment through the department they need to get to and must wear a mask (unless qualified for an exemption). Residents will be temperature-checked on the way in and must answer several screening questions about recent travel, any persistent cough, or respiratory issues, the announcement said.

Palm Beach Zoo announces reopening plan with coronavirus rules” via Larry Keller with The Palm Beach Post — Coming soon, one more option for outdoor family entertainment with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions: The Palm Beach Zoo is reopening next week. Meanwhile, Lion Country Safari already has reopened on a limited basis. The zoo, with more than 500 animals on 23 acres in West Palm Beach’s Dreher Park, closed March 18 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now it is having a member-only pre-opening week from Monday to June 4, and will be open to the entire public starting June 5. Like other businesses, post-pandemic, the zoo is initiating changes. They include limited capacity, and no tickets or memberships sold on-site during the member preview. Members will need to show their membership cards and a photo ID.

Palm Beach Zoo is planning its reopening to the public on June 5, with several new rules in place. Image via Twitter.

You won’t need a mask in Palm Beach County government buildings” via Austen Erblat of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — When you go to check out a book or get a building permit, you won’t be required to wear a mask, have your temperature taken or follow social distancing rules. The public is free to come and go without restrictions, although employees and contractors must wear masks and have their temperature monitored. “As far as the public goes, that’s not something — we really can’t — consent is involved and everything, and that’s not something that our current program was prepared to handle,” said Scott Marting, the county’s director of risk management. “I think there’s underlying issues when you start to test members of the public.”

Familiar complaints arrive as Okaloosa beaches reopen” via Tom McLaughlin of the NWF Daily News — It’s been just over a week since DeSantis allowed the county to embrace a full-blown onslaught of tourists by letting short-term rental properties welcome visitors from just about everywhere. Since then, a much-maligned $10 fee to park at Destin’s HarborWalk Village has been reinstated and complaints have been lodged about illegal parking and the punishments being doled out for it. Beach issues primarily consist, at this time, of littering and access to a stretch at the foot of the Marler Bridge that the military has closed off to the public. The $10 charge to park at HarborWalk Village was initiated in 2018. It raised the hackles of residents and visitors not only because they weren’t used to being charged to occupy spaces there, but also because fee collection backed up traffic onto busy U.S. Highway 98.

Happening today — State University System Board of Governors Chancellor Marshall Criser will present reopening guidelines during an online meeting; committee meetings start at 1 p.m., with full board scheduled at 2:15 p.m. primetime.bluejeans.com. Call-in number — 1-415-466-7000. Code — 9476486.

— CORONA LOCAL —

COVID-19 testing done at disabilities facility” via the News Service of Florida — The results are in of more than 1,000 novel coronavirus tests at Sunland Center in Marianna, with 22 staff members and 16 residents testing positive at the facility for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, according to the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities. The agency moved this month to conduct the tests after two residents were found to be positive for COVID-19. Numbers reported by the agency and the health department have a slight discrepancy, with the agency document indicating that 22 staff members tested positive for the virus, while the Department of Health data show 18 workers have tested positive.

Miami restaurants take creative safety measures as they reopen” via Sanela Sabovic and Christina Vazquez of Local10.com — Restaurants in Miami, Miami Beach and Hialeah have been planning for this day for weeks. They were finally able to reopen their dining areas for the first time since shutting amid the coronavirus outbreak. Restaurants in those three large Miami-Dade cities are now allowed to open their dining areas at a 50% capacity. Face coverings are required upon entry, though not while you’re seated at your table. Parties are limited to four diners unless they’re members of the same household, in which case it’s six. Restaurant bars are closed, and reservations are recommended because of the reduced capacities.

Restaurants in Miami are slowly reopening under the ‘new normal.’

Some Miami bars were planning to reopen by serving food. The city says not so fast” via Carlos Frias and Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Customers won’t be bellying up to a bar just yet in the City of Miami. The City Manager signed an order that went into effect Wednesday at 5 a.m., drawing a clear distinction between restaurants and bars that may also have food service licenses from the state of Florida. That means that bars and breweries within Miami city limits can’t open inside seating during this phase of reopening, while spots in unincorporated Miami-Dade County and other South Florida cities can. That caught venues like Taurus Whiskey Bar off guard as they prepared to reopen Wednesday afternoon but were stopped by a fire department official three hours before serving diners.

Ball & Chain was set to open, and then the rules changed” via Christina Vazquez of Local10.com — Bill Fuller, who owns the popular Ball & Chain in Little Havana, says he spent money to restock food and brought his staff back for reopening of on-site dining in Miami. He says he then learned early this morning that his business wouldn’t be allowed to reopen because the City of Miami amended its order a day earlier to exclude bars, taverns and other “alcohol service establishments.” Ball & Chain operates on a tavern license. Fuller said he planned to open with a capacity “way more restrictive” than the 50% capacity the county order requires. Cities, however, are allowed to set forth more stringent restrictions, which Miami did in this case.

‘It’s a great joy’ — Miami Catholic churches reopen after two months of coronavirus closure” via Maya Lora, Bianca Padró Ocasio and David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — Miami Catholic churches reopened to larger-than-expected crowds, the first day of in-person Masses since the Archdiocese of Miami suspended services in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Father Roberto Cid, the pastor at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Miami Beach, said he had slightly more participants than a pre-coronavirus weekday. Father Richard Vigoa of St. Augustine Church in Coral Gables said they had more than expected and came 20 seats short of meeting the church’s new reduced capacity. The Archdiocese of Miami suspended in-person Masses on March 18. Masses at the five Catholic churches in the Florida Keys resumed over the Memorial Day weekend starting with Saturday night vigils.

Miami Dolphins announce program to provide jobs, feed 1,000 families each weekday for a year” via David Dwork of Local10.com — Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and the Miami Dolphins Foundation have found a way to feed South Florida families while at the same time providing jobs to many who need them. Starting on June 1, and for up to 12 months, the Miami Dolphins Foundation Food Relief Program will provide a minimum of 1,000 meals every weekday out of Hard Rock Stadium. Ross and the organization have committed $2 million to the program, and Ross will also be matching all donations in an attempt to raise an additional $2 million for the cause. The meals will be prepared by Centerplate, the team’s food, beverage and retail partner. Every Sunday the Dolphins will team up with area churches, community groups and local leadership to order food from various local restaurants.

Gardens couple hosts bake sale to support health care workers” via Jodie Wagner of The Palm Beach Post — Stuck at home with little to do after temporarily closing their West Palm Beach-based staffing agency amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, Lindsey and Max Spanier turned to their KitchenAid mixer to fill their time. The couple began whipping up a variety of baked goods, including cookies, brownies, breads and Rice Krispie treats. Determined to give back to the community amid the current health crisis, they decided to host a bake sale to benefit local health care providers. The Spaniers, along with Lindsey’s mom, Kristi Todd and best friend, Danielle Pociluyko, began baking in shifts for a drive-by, noncontact bake sale. More than 25 people stopped by the May 9 bake sale on the Spaniers’ front lawn, and many others who weren’t able to visit in person made donations the following day.

Ultra fans file class-action suit over no-refund policy after COVID-19 cancellation” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Ultra Music Festival faces a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of ticket holders who paid hundreds of dollars to attend the event but did not receive refunds after this year’s festival was effectively canceled as the COVID-19 pandemic began to disrupt life in South Florida. The Miami city government’s agreement with the electronic dance music festival allowed organizers to stage the three-day event at Bayfront Park in March. When the fears over the spread of the novel coronavirus caused local governments to cancel large events and eventually shut down the local economy, Ultra was among the first events taken off the calendar. Organizers and the city insisted the festival had not been canceled, simply “postponed” for a full year, and organizers refused to issue refunds.

Fans of Miami’s Ultra Music Festival are dissatisfied with its ‘no-refunds’ policy.

Commission wants county to offer summer camps, despite coronavirus concerns of parks staff” via Dave Berman of Florida Today — Brevard County Commissioners want to offer some type of summer camp program this year — after the county’s Parks and Recreation Department earlier had said it would not do so as a safety precaution because of the coronavirus pandemic. County commissioners at their May 19 meeting told Parks and Recreation Director Mary Ellen Donner that they disagreed with the decision by her department to not offer camp programs this summer. They directed her to find a way to offer such programs and will discuss the issue more at their meeting that begins at 5 p.m. Thursday, including a series of options and recommendations from parks officials.

Brevard Emergency Management Director Kimberly Prosser resigns” via Dave Berman of Florida Today — Brevard County Emergency Management Director Prosser submitted her resignation, which will take effect June 5. Prosser said she is leaving the position she has held since 2012 to take a job in the private sector. The resignation comes amid the coronavirus pandemic, and at the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through Nov. 30. In her letter of resignation to County Manager Frank Abbate and other county officials, Prosser wrote: “I appreciate the opportunities for professional development that I have been provided over the past 15 years, including the fortuity to be mentored by and follow in the footsteps of the legendary Bob Lay,” her predecessor as emergency management director.

County Commission reduces role of Policy Group during state of emergency” via Dave Berman of Florida Today — The County Commission has decided to reduce the power of a separate 10-member Brevard County Policy Group, which is called into action when there is a declared county state of emergency. The Policy Group until now has been a decision-making board when there is a hurricane — or, currently, when there is a coronavirus pandemic. But, through the County Commission’s 4-1 vote on Tuesday to amend Brevard’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, the Policy Group has been downgraded to having an advisory role to the commissioners, with the County Commission managing all emergency responses.

Victory gambling ship to resume sailing Thursday from Port Canaveral after coronavirus gap” via Dave Berman of Florida Today — The Port Canaveral-based Victory 1 gambling ship is scheduled to begin sailing again Thursday, after being idled since March 15 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Passengers will be required to wear face masks and to undergo temperature checks when boarding. “We are so looking forward to sailing again,” Victory Casino Cruises Marketing Manager Shirley Buchanan said, adding that the company wants its customers to both have fun and be safe on their gambling cruise. The gambling ship — which offers twice-a-day sailings — does not fall under the continuing federal ban affecting multiday cruise ships, such as those operated by Carnival, Disney, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean out of Port Canaveral.

José Javier Rodríguez, Daniella Levine cava to host food distribution in Homestead” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The distribution will take place at St. Martin de Porres Church in Homestead at 9 a.m. That church is located at 14881 SW 288 St. The two Miami-Dade lawmakers are partnering with Farm Share, the Miami-Dade Police Department, Temple Israel of Greater Miami, and the Archdiocese of Miami for the event. Farm Share is a nonprofit organization aimed at providing food to those in need. Though the economy is beginning to open back up, thousands of families are still impacted by the slowdown caused by social distancing restrictions instituted in response to the novel coronavirus.

— MORE LOCAL —

Owners of Cocoa Village pub disappointed Governor didn’t OK reopening of bars Tuesday” via Suzy Fleming Leonard of Florida Today — Rebecca and Jason Estes listened anxiously as DeSantis announced the appointment of two new state Supreme Court Justices. Not to discount the importance of those positions, but they were listening for something else. The owners of the Village Idiot Pub in Cocoa Village had hoped the Governor would announce Florida could enter Phase 2 of reopening after COVID-19-related closures. “We’re devastated, obviously,” Jason Estes said when DeSantis ended the news conference without making an announcement that would have given the green light for bars to reopen. The pub closed 10 weeks ago, at 5 p.m. March 17. In recent weeks, the couple has watched as restaurants, hair salons and retail shops have reopened. They hoped Tuesday would be their day.

Owners of the Village Idiot Pub in Cocoa Village are not quite thrilled with Ron DeSantis’ reopening plans.

The party has started: Tampa Bay bars are open, just not all of themvia Christopher Spata of the Tampa Bay Times — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many aren’t comfortable returning to bars or restaurants. Some are. Meanwhile, owners of bars that don’t serve food are wondering why they can’t reopen with the same precautions and limited capacity. DeSantis phased plan for reopening allowed restaurants and bars that make less than 50% of their money from alcohol to reopen May 4. Bar owner Peg Wesselink, of the still-closed Room 901 in St. Petersburg, said the 50% alcohol sales rule seems like an arbitrary line. The order could have considered more specific risk factors, she said, such as whether bars have outdoor seating.

Seminole to launch small business grant program on Monday” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Seminole County on Wednesday announced more details of a grant program designed to aid small businesses struggling amid the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Under the program, which launches Monday, small businesses in Seminole can receive up to $5,000 in aid through the county. To be eligible, a business must have — not counting the owner — at least one employee and not more than 25 employees. The average wage for workers must be $19.59 an hour or less. “This is going to be able to help many of our small businesses that truly need it,” said Commissioner Lee Constantine at a news conference to announce details of the program.

Port St. Lucie City Council formally allocates funding for coronavirus mortgage, rent relief” via Lindsey Leake of TC Palm — The Port St. Lucie City Council unanimously voted to allocate select sums of money to its COVID-19 Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance Program, engineered to provide eligible homeowners and renters up to $3,000 each for housing expenses. The resolution decrees cash from the city’s 128 Fund, an affordable housing coffer, may contribute to the rental and mortgage assistance program. A 2016 resolution had outlined various uses for the fund. The Port St. Lucie City Council noted the governor’s mandate postpones housing payments for residents financially upended by the coronavirus but does not provide relief.

Businesses in Downtown Fort Pierce to close off-street parking, expand outside on weekends” via Catie Wegman of TCPalm — Some businesses in Downtown Fort Pierce will begin to close off streetside parking outside their respective storefronts on the weekends to expand capacity limits as part of the city’s reopening and recovery plan to stimulate the economy. “Parklets” will allow restaurants to set up outdoor seating and retailers to move merchandise racks outside, providing more pedestrian space and room to adhere to social distancing guidelines. The city will provide barricades and trash cans, but businesses are responsible for providing properly distanced tables and chairs, as well as umbrellas and tents.

— CORONA NATION —

Half of Americans would get a COVID-19 vaccine” via Lauran Neergaard and Hannah Fingerhut of The Associated Press — Only about half of Americans say they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if the scientists working furiously to create one succeed, a number that’s surprisingly low considering the effort going into the global race for a vaccine. The new poll found 31% simply weren’t sure if they’d get vaccinated. Another 1 in 5 said they’d refuse. Health experts already worry about the whiplash if vaccine promises like Trump’s goal of a 300 million-dose stockpile by January fail. Among Americans who say they wouldn’t get vaccinated, 7 in 10 worry about safety. About 7 in 10 of those who would get vaccinated say life won’t go back to normal without a vaccine.

Is there a difference between a nasal swab or saliva sample to test for COVID-19?” via Catie Wegman of TCPalm — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends health care providers use a probe to collect a sample of the upper respiratory tract for initial diagnoses, but many patients have begun opting for the less irritating saliva sample. A study found results of saliva tests taken by swabbing the inside of the cheek are just as accurate as the nasopharyngeal swab. In fact, saliva provided greater detection sensitivity, identifying milder cases of COVID-19, the study says. That’s because the “viral load,” or the number of viruses detected in a given amount of fluid, is found at high levels on the tongue.

The CDC recommends a nasal swab to test for coronavirus, others prefer the less-irritating saliva sample.

What U.S. states can learn from COVID-19 transition planning in Europe” via Holly Jarman, Sarah Rozenbum and Scott L. Greer of The Palm Beach Post — Two months after implementing some form of physical distancing, European governments are planning to reopen their economies. What can we learn from Europe’s example? They are relaxing physical distancing in stages; they are tracking the spread of the disease better through improved testing and contact tracing; they are managing health systems; and they are putting in place social and economic policies to support the transition. Everyday life in Europe will not return to normal anytime soon. Relaxing measures are intentionally slow and replete with requirements for individuals and businesses.

A third of Americans now show signs of clinical anxiety or depression, Census Bureau finds amid coronavirus pandemic” via Melissa Fowers and William Wan of The Washington Post — When asked questions normally used to screen patients for mental health problems, 24 percent showed clinically significant symptoms of major depressive disorder and 30 percent showed symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. The findings suggest a huge jump from before the pandemic. For example, on one question about depressed mood, the percentage reporting such symptoms was double that found in a 2014 national survey. Those results reflect a deepening of existing trends: rising depression, stress and suicide among young adults. The toll has also hit the poor much harder, according to the Census Bureau data — throwing into even sharper relief mental health disparities that have long existed.

Rick Scott, Andrew Cuomo continue bailout funding feud” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — New York Gov. Cuomo didn’t hold back from denouncing Scott. And the Senator gave back in kind. The Democrat, who had a productive meeting with Trump about federally-funded infrastructure projects, was stinging about Scott‘s recurrent assertions that New York was looking to get paid on the backs of Florida taxpayers during the coronacrisis. Scott and others, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, “are lying,” Cuomo told reporters at the National Press Club a couple of blocks from Capitol Hill. “They know that they take more money … They make it personal to New York and they’re lying.”

— CORONA ECONOMICS —

Sharp drop in state tax collections threatens pay raises, programs” via John Kennedy of the Tallahassee Democrat — A new report shows state tax collections falling almost $900 million short in April. And May is likely to be worse. DeSantis has not yet acted on a $93.2 billion budget proposal approved by the Legislature in March. But the spending plan is expected to need dramatic retooling, even if helped by federal aid, state reserves and the Governor’s anticipated vetoing of hundreds of millions of dollars in programs and projects to reduce costs. Included in the $93.2 billion budget which DeSantis will soon review are pay raises for teachers and state workers, affordable housing dollars and environmental spending that Democrats will defend.

Miami plans to freeze hiring, postpone projects to weather COVID-19 budget crunch” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Miami’s city government is proposing a nearly citywide hiring freeze, postponing asphalt repairs at the Miami Marine Stadium and trimming budgets across all municipal departments to address a projected $19 million shortfall. Miami’s plan to fill about $17 million of the gap avoids the kinds of layoffs or furloughs facing public servants in other local governments. For now. Proposed adjustments included deferring $106,000 in repairs to asphalt at the Miami Marine Stadium, $300,000 to update air conditioning units at police facilities and a quarter-million-dollar upgrade to the city’s information technology systems.

More than a quarter of unemployed Floridians live in the Tampa Bay region” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The Tampa Bay region fares about the same compared to the state as a whole in unemployment. The number of overall workers displaced represents a large share of the state’s job losses. An analysis of data from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity found the regional unemployment rate at 13.34% while the state rate was just one-tenth of a percentage point lower. 29% of all unemployed Florida workers live in the Tampa Bay region. That number is high considering it represents more than a quarter of job losses as one of the state’s four major metropolitan areas. Jacksonville’s unemployment rate was the lowest in the state at 11.21% while Orlando’s was the highest at 16.21%. South Florida’s unemployment rate, where the brunt of the virus has stricken, was 13.24%.

The Tampa Bay region is home to nearly one-quarter of unemployed Floridians. Image via AP.

Boeing cuts 12,000 jobs, resumes production of grounded jet” via David Koenig of Local10.com — Boeing is cutting more than 12,000 U.S. jobs through layoffs and buyouts as the coronavirus pandemic seizes the travel industry. And the aircraft maker says more cuts are coming. Shortly after disclosing the job cuts, Boeing announced it has resumed production of the grounded 737 Max jetliner. Two deadly crashes of Max jets pushed Boeing into a financial crisis months before the coronavirus squeezed global air travel to a trickle. The company had said it would cut 10% of a workforce that numbered about 160,000. Nearly 10,000 of the layoffs and buyouts are concentrated in the Seattle area, home to Boeing’s commercial-airplanes business. Chicago-based Boeing has reduced production rates on several airplane models in response to falling demand.

Don’t throw away your junk mail. It might be your stimulus money on a debit card” via Mitchell Willetts of the Miami Herald — The Internal Revenue Service is mailing debit cards loaded with coronavirus stimulus funds to millions of Americans, but some are confusing them for junk mail and scams. About 4 million Economic Impact Payment cards are being sent instead of checks to people who don’t have bank account info shared with the IRS, McClatchy News reported. Some who have received them say the nondescript envelope and the Visa card bearing the name of an unfamiliar bank immediately struck them as junk, outlets report. The envelopes are from Money Network Cardholder Services, according to the IRS. On the back of the card will be the logo for MetaBank, the issuing bank chosen by the IRS.

— MORE CORONA —

Vacation rentals are back, but hosts and guests are hesitant to book” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — A new survey conducted by IPX1031 found nearly half of Airbnb hosts don’t feel safe renting out their properties as the coronavirus pandemic lingers while one in five hosts aren’t sure if they’ll ever return to the vacation rental business. On the other side of the business, seven in 10 renters say they are fearful to stay at an Airbnb. About a quarter say they’ll feel better about the prospect sometime this summer. The rest are fragmented — 12% say the fall, 9% say winter, 9% say spring 2021 and 10% say summer 2021. About one in six say they won’t feel at ease until public health experts say social distancing is no longer needed. The same number are waiting for a vaccine.

ICE admits to transferring detainees with COVID-19, says it can’t test everybody” via Monique O. Madan of the Miami Herald — U.S. immigration officials admitted during a federal court hearing Wednesday that they are not conducting COVID-19 testing on every detainee who gets transferred from one detention center to another, saying they don’t have enough tests to do so. Instead, ICE said it is only testing people who have symptoms — a protocol that has led the agency to transfer detainees who are asymptomatic but still carry the virus. “If the individual is actively ill, if the individual has tested positive or showing symptoms, they are not cleared for travel and they will not be transferred until those issues are resolved,” said Dexter Lee, an assistant U.S. attorney representing ICE. “The problem is that there are individuals who are asymptomatic and they may be positive for coronavirus.”

Cheyenne Frontier Days canceled for first time in 124 years” via Mead Gruver and Pat Graham of The Associated Press — Cheyenne Frontier Days, billed as the world’s largest outdoor rodeo, has been canceled for the first time in its 124-year history due to the coronavirus. Event organizers decided the risk of spreading the virus was too great for the more than 140,000 people who visit the city for Frontier Days over the last two weeks in July. Frontier Days carried on through both world wars and the Great Depression when tough finances prompted it to become a mostly volunteer-run event. To this day, a small army of local volunteers runs the Western heritage festival of rodeo, music concerts, carnival rides, parades and downtown pancake breakfasts that feed thousands of people at a time. Bars all over Cheyenne are typically standing-room-only during Frontier Days as people try line dancing and mechanical bull-riding.

For the first time in nearly 125 years, organizers canceled Cheyenne Frontier Days. Image via AP.

Motley Crue/Def Leppard concert still on — for now” via Tom Szaroleta of The Florida Times-Union — Just about every concert scheduled for Jacksonville or St. Augustine has been canceled, postponed or rescheduled. Take a look at the concert calendar for Northeast Florida and there is one show that leaps right out at you. The June 18 Stadium Tour show at TIAA Bank Field featuring Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Poison and Joan Jett is still on the books. Don’t count on it happening, though. Fans holding tickets to the tour’s stops in Cincinnati and Chicago have reportedly been told that those shows are postponed, and the band is expected to make a statement about the rest of the tour on Monday.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Appeals court ruling suggests little legal traction for Donald Trump’s anti-Twitter campaign” via Josh Gerstein of POLITICO — A ruling that emerged from a powerful federal appeals court in Washington on Wednesday morning is strong evidence that the courts are unlikely to be receptive to Trump’s claims that he and his political supporters are being silenced by social media platforms like Twitter. The D.C. Circuit resoundingly rejected a lawsuit the conservative legal organization Freedom Watch and right-wing provocateur Laura Loomer filed in 2018 against four major technology companies: Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple. The unanimous court decision from a three-judge panel runs to only four pages, but is dismissive of a wide range of legal claims some conservatives and liberals have leveled at social media firms in recent months.

Early court decisions suggest Donald Trump will not gain much traction in a legal war against Twitter. Image via Getty.

Betsy DeVos demands public schools share pandemic aid with private institutions” via Erica L. Green of The New York Times — DeVos, defiant amid criticism that she is using the coronavirus to pursue a long-sought agenda, said she would force public school districts to spend a large portion of federal rescue funding on private school students, regardless of income. A range of education officials say DeVos’s guidance would divert millions of dollars from disadvantaged students and force districts starved of tax revenues during an economic crisis to support even the wealthiest private schools. Private school leaders​​​, who serve about 5.7 million of the nation’s children, say they, too, are in crisis. Enrollment and tuition revenues are plunging along with philanthropic donations and church collections that help some religious schools operate. Many of those schools serve low-income students whose parents have fled failing public schools.

’There’s no stigma attached to wearing a mask’: Mitch McConnell makes plea in favor of face masks” via Caitlin Oprysko of POLITICO — “There’s no stigma attached to wearing a mask. There’s no stigma attached to staying six feet apart,” the Kentucky Republican said at an event back in his home state, referencing social distancing guidelines recommended to stem the transmission of the coronavirus. McConnell directed his pitch mostly at younger Americans, explaining that “you have an obligation to others” in case they might be asymptomatic carriers of the virus. In doing so, McConnell waded into what has emerged as the latest coronavirus culture war, aligning himself with federal health agencies who recommend cloth face coverings while drawing a contrast with the conduct of top White House officials, including Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Marco Rubio zeros in on Russia — not Barack Obama” via Andrew Desiderio of POLITICO — Trump’s allies on Capitol Hill are pushing aggressive new investigations targeting the president’s political opponents. Rubio isn’t joining the fray. As Rubio assumes the acting chairmanship of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he is distancing himself from a GOP-led probe targeting Hunter Biden. He has declined to embrace Trump’s “Obamagate” claims. And he is warning the Republicans spearheading the Biden investigation not to promote Russian disinformation in the process. Rubio said: “I will say to you that I think it’s pretty clear that the Russians are constantly pursuing narratives that they believe will drive conflict in our politics and divide us against each other.”

Scott says every Chinese citizen is a Communist spy” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — In the New Cold War with China, every mainland citizen is a Communist spy, Scott claimed. The comments, made on the Fox Business Network during an interview with Stuart Varney, included Scott asserting that “every citizen of Communist China by law has to spy on behalf of their country.” Scott was discussing legislation he filed requiring “thorough vetting” of students from China who claim they are coming to the United States to help with COVID-19 vaccine research. When host Varney asked if such a bill would put Chinese students under suspicion, the Senator was blunt, saying “that’s the way it should be.”

House casts first-ever remote vote as Republicans wage constitutional challenge” via Mike DeBonis of The Washington Post — The new system of voting by proxy was pushed forward by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and fellow Democratic leaders this month as a temporary measure that would allow lawmakers’ full participation during the global coronavirus pandemic. House members designated a colleague to cast floor votes on their behalf during the pandemic. One by one, several Democrats, most wearing masks, stood at the microphones Wednesday afternoon and announced how the absent members were voting. During the floor debate, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer pushed back against Republican criticism of the remote voting. “You have magnified form over substance,” Hoyer said. “Our constituents voted for us to vote their interests. And there are many ways we can do that.”

Charlie Crist says he’s losing confidence in Florida’s COVID-19 data, calls for more transparency” via Margie Manning of the St. Pete Catalyst — U.S. Rep. Crist is calling on Florida officials to provide more information about how public health data is being reported among the COVID-19 crisis. The St. Petersburg Democrat said the data is key to being able to get the economy back on track, while also keeping people safe from infection. “My confidence level [in the state data] is fading,” Crist told the St. Pete Catalyst in a May 26 interview. “I share the concerns of Floridians about the state’s lack of transparency about COVID figures.” The Catalyst reached out to Crist and other local officials after finding irregularities in ZIP code data reported by the state, including data regarding the 33744 ZIP code in Pinellas County.

Charlie Crist has little faith in Florida’s COVID-19 numbers.

Crist, Bill Posey bill would extend existing space launch tax incentives” via Samantha-Jo Roth of Bay News 9 — Two members of Congress are teaming up to encourage more U.S. companies to invest and launch future space missions from American soil. Crist and Posey introduced The American Space Commerce Act, which would extend existing space launch tax incentives for an additional 10 years. “American companies can get a tax deduction whenever it is that we launch from American soil with American astronauts for an American mission,” Rep. Crist. As NASA prepares to go back to the moon and eventually to Mars, members of Congress want to keep private companies investing in innovation in the U.S. In the past, Posey said some companies have taken their operations to France and other foreign countries.

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 — Criticized as a hypocrite, former Miami Congressman Rivera claims his $50 million consulting contract with an oil company owned by Venezuela’s government wasn’t meant to defend embattled President Maduro but rather to remove him from power. Rivera used some of his income from that contract to pay millions of dollars to a wealthy Venezuelan businessman closely connected to Maduro in an effort to prevent U.S. sanctions against his socialist regime. Rivera received $15 million from his 2017 contract with the U.S. subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-run oil company before the lobbying agreement was cut off.

Trump press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has voted by mail 11 times in 10 yearsvia Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — For a week, White House press secretary McEnany has defended Trump’s assault on vote-by-mail, insisting, like her boss, that it invites election fraud. But, also like her boss, McEnany has taken advantage of its convenience time and time again. In fact, the Tampa native has voted by mail in every Florida election she has participated in since 2010. “Absentee voting has the word absent in it for a reason. It means you’re absent from the jurisdiction or unable to vote in person,” McEnany said. However, Florida does not have absentee voting. Anyone can vote by mail here without a reason.

— STATEWIDE —

Bertha downgraded to tropical depression; relentless rain to continue in saturated South Florida” via Lois Solomon, Victoria Ballard, Rafael Olmeda and Wayne Roustan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Bertha formed off the coast of South Carolina at about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. It made landfall as a tropical storm about 9:30 a.m. east of Charleston with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph and moving north at 15 mph. It later weakened to a tropical depression and prompted flash flood warnings in parts of the Carolinas and Virginia, according to the 2 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center. Meanwhile, the relentless rain drenching South Florida continued for a fourth consecutive day. The National Weather Service is predicting rainfall amounts up to 2 inches, leading to possible significant flooding.

Tropical depression Bertha has been downgraded but is still a substantial rainmaker. Image via NOAA.

DeSantis to continue filling appellate bench” via the News Service of Florida — After appointing two Florida Supreme Court justices, DeSantis will have a chance to fill seats on district courts of appeal. Judge Samuel Salario, who has served on the 2nd District Court of Appeal since February 2015, will resign on June 4. Also this month, Judge Vance Salter, who has served on the 3rd District Court of Appeal since 2007, announced his retirement from the court. Nominating commissions will consider applicants for the posts and submit names of finalists to DeSantis, who will choose successors for Salario and Salter.

Hurricane 2020: Seven things to know about a hurricane season like no other” via Jamal Thalji of the Tampa Bay Times — 1. Plan, plan, plan. 2. No place like home. During the pandemic, the best hurricane shelter might be your home. 3. Safety in numbers. If you can ride out the storm at home, if your family is isolating and in good health, if you have extra room, consider extending your good fortune. 4. Everyone needs masks. 5. Sheltering during a pandemic. Hurricane shelters will be especially vulnerable to a virus transmitted through airborne droplets and remain viable on hard surfaces. Emergency officials recognize this danger and are producing strategies. 6. New ways, new shelters. Emergency officials are looking for new ways to house people. 7. Recovery will be harder.

Lawmakers deregulated parts of FL’s beauty industry. Should clients, and the Governor, be concerned?” via Danielle J. Brown of Florida Phoenix — As salons and barbers get back into the workforce with stricter sanitation practices than before, a bill passed by the Florida House and Senate will work to deregulate the licensing processes for these professions. Now it’s up to Ron DeSantis to decide on the legislation. Should he sign it, the licensing process for various professions and occupations in Florida will require fewer education and training hours. Some practices will no longer require licenses at all. The bill requires barbers to complete only 900 education-hours, as opposed to the current standards of 1,200 education hours. The bill also entirely removes the license requirement for hair braiding and hair wrapping.

Judge fires back on ‘Protection Court’ allegations” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — The controversy surrounding Judge Carroll Kelly, who presides over the county’s domestic-violence division, stems from her involvement in a television show called “Protection Court.” An investigative panel of the state Judicial Qualifications Commission on May 6 filed formal charges against Kelly, alleging her participation in the show was improper. But in a response filed with the Florida Supreme Court, Kelly’s lawyers said the charges violated an agreement between the judge and the JQC in which the panel agreed not to pursue sanctions if she withdrew from the show. Kelly stopped participating in “Protection Court” in September 2019, after reaching a settlement with the commission, which investigates potential wrongdoing by judges, according to court documents.

Watchdog group pushes ‘E-Fairness’, Seminole gaming compact amid state revenue loss” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — A government watchdog group is calling on the Florida Legislature to establish a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe and to collect tax on internet sales after a report showed Florida revenue collections down $878 million for April. The move comes after Florida got a grim glimpse at the pandemic’s impact on state revenue. According to Florida TaxWatch, the cost to Florida governments of not collecting a tax on internet sales from vendors such as Amazon is more than $700 million in lost revenue. The watchdog group argues the lack of ‘E-Fairness’ costs retailers millions in brick-and-mortar taxes, placing them at a disadvantage.

Appointed Grant Conyers as the Liberty County Supervisor of Elections.

Happening today — The Florida Supreme Court expects to release weekly opinions, 11 a.m.

Happening today — Miami Republican Rep. Vance Aloupis, who serves as CEO of the Children’s Movement of Florida, is the featured guest at a webinar from the Florida Chamber Foundation Business Alliance for Early Learning to discuss the effects of COVID-19 on child care facilities, 1 p.m. Registration with The Chamber.

Jacksonville Mayor says he’ll sign LGBT anti-discrimination legislation if passed” via The Florida Times-Union — Curry said Wednesday he’ll sign legislation that would replace a 2017 law banning discrimination against gay and transgender people that was recently struck down by a Florida appeals court, the strongest statement of support he’s made on the divisive issue that has unexpectedly resurfaced at City Hall. When the City Council debated the 2017 legislation that added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes in the city’s human rights ordinance, Curry avoided taking a position and allowed it to become law without his signature after the council passed it.

Federal judge rejects Riverkeeper’s bid to halt St. Johns River deepening” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — A federal judge ruled against the St. Johns Riverkeeper’s attempt to halt deepening of the St. Johns River, saying the nonprofit did not meet the high burden of showing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to assess the environmental impacts of dredging the river for bigger cargo container ships. St. Johns Riverkeeper, which advocates for the river’s natural health, filed the lawsuit in April 2017 and expanded the legal challenge after Hurricane Irma caused massive flooding in September 2017. Riverkeeper contended deepening the river would result in even worse flooding that the Corps should have evaluated to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act.

Miami police chief: No training teaches ‘deeply disturbing’ action in George Floyd’s death” via Andrea Torres of Local10.com — Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina told police officers that there was no training teaching the “deeply disturbing” tactic a Minneapolis officer used before Floyd died on Monday. Colina said he stands by Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo for taking swift action after he learned about the “deeply disturbing” video. He said Floyd’s death prompted him to meet with the Miami Police executive staff and to warn officers. “We need to put the value of life significantly higher than any crime that would have occurred there,” Colina said. “Someone in that scene should have gone over to that officers and stopped that action and had the courage to do the right thing.”

Monorail proposal loses support after ethics report on insider access on Asia trip” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — The monorail proposal by Genting and partners lost a key supporter Wednesday when a county commissioner asked to kill a review of the plan, pointing to an “alarming” ethics report about the project’s role in a May 2018 trip to Asia led by Mayor Carlos Giménez. Eileen Higgins, one of two commissioners whose districts include the proposed four-mile monorail route over Biscayne Bay, released a memo asking the board to reconsider its May 19 vote allowing the Gimenez administration to review the $770 million tax-funded project to use a Canadian monorail company to complete the long-delayed “Baylink” line between Miami and Miami Beach.

Mental health facility cleared in Parkland lawsuit” via the News Service of Florida — A state appeals court Wednesday said a mental-health facility that provided services to accused shooter Nikolas Cruz cannot be held liable. A three-judge panel upheld a lower-court decision to dismiss allegations against Henderson Behavioral Health, Inc., which periodically provided mental-health services to Cruz from 2009 to 2016. Andrew Pollack and Shara Kaplan, the parents of slain student Meadow Pollack, alleged the mental-health facility was negligent for failing to prevent Cruz from being mainstreamed into the public school system and for failing to warn about dangers posed.

Officer shoots suspect after alleged stabbing; TPD reviewing video vowing police standoff” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — A woman was shot and killed by Tallahassee police after she allegedly stabbed a man to death and later pointed a gun at an officer as she tried to escape. The bizarre chain of events marked the third fatal officer-involved shooting in just under two months involving the Tallahassee Police Department. While details on what led to the stabbing remained sketchy, information continued to emerge, including videos purportedly of the woman before she was shot. One video showed a savage attack by a group of men on another person believed to be the woman who was shot by police. In another video, purportedly posted by the woman live on Facebook, she vowed to get revenge on her attackers and said it would end in a “standoff” with police.

Collier Commissioners approve $2 million beach renourishment in Naples to begin in November” via Brittany Carloni of the Naples Daily News — Collier County commissioners Tuesday unanimously approved a $2 million truck haul and beach renourishment project for a stretch of Naples Beach from Doctors Pass to the north of Lowdermilk Park. The truck haul, which will bring 35,000 cubic yards of sand to the beach, is scheduled for November 2020. The county hopes to begin work Nov. 1 and finish the project by Thanksgiving, Coastal Zone Manager Gary McAlpin told the Tourist Development Council. No beach closures are expected during the renourishment project. The sand placement should renourish the section of the beach until the next time Doctors Pass is dredged and that sand can be placed south of the pass.

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Diligence to make Pensacola its home port” via James Thompson of the Pensacola News Journal — A 210-foot U.S. Coast Guard cutter commissioned in 1964 is headed to its new home port of Pensacola from Wilmington, North Carolina, where it has been stationed for nearly 30 years. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Murray with the 7th District public affairs office could not comment in detail on what the Diligence will be doing as it makes its way to Pensacola. Once in Pensacola, Diligence will be part of the 8th Coast Guard District, which covers the Florida Panhandle and 25 other states, including the Gulf of Mexico coastline all the way to Mexico, along with the inland waterways of the Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois and Tennessee River systems.

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Diligence will now have its home port in Pensacola.

‘Maximizing student potential’: Indian River superintendent has big plans, goals for the district” via Sommer Brugal of TC Palm — By 2025, Superintendent David Moore believes all district schools will be deemed an A-rated school. Eight out of the district’s 25 schools including charter schools have an A-rating, which were last determined for the 2018-19 school year. The goal is one of several Moore presented to the Board as part of the ongoing development of the district’s strategic plan. Other goals such as 95% of students graduating on time, 95% of students graduating with a college acceleration course or CAPE Industry Certification and all students feeling accepted within the district’s school community are also included in the plan.

Motorola helps public safety agencies prepare for busy hurricane season” via Florida Politics — As hurricane season approaches, Motorola Solutions is helping public safety agencies prepare for what experts predict could be a particularly severe year of storms. The communications company plays a significant role in making sure all types of first responders, stay connected even if high winds or flooding knock out cell service. Kelly Mark, Motorola Solutions’ executive vice president of software and services, said: “The start of hurricane season is an important reminder to revisit disaster management plans and ensure readiness, from inventorying backup radios and testing generators, to updating software and coordinating with technology providers for the support that may be needed before, during and after a storm.”

— 2020 —

Trump’s 2016 campaign brass warns he’s in trouble in 2020” via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO — David Bossie and Corey Lewandowski, two key allies and former political advisers to Trump, went to the White House last week to issue him a warning: The President was slipping badly in swing states, and he needed to do something to fix it. Bossie and Lewandowski complained to the President about his political operation. Trump’s campaign team, in response, decided to rush their Arizona and Florida representatives onto airplanes for a meeting with the President. The sequence offered the latest snapshot of Trump’s angst about his battleground state standing. With just five months until the election, the president has been privately expressing concern about his poll numbers and senior Republicans are openly sounding alarms about his swing state prospects.

David Bossie (left) and Corey Lewandowski, both key Donald Trump allies, met with the president in the White House last week. Image via AP.

Trump wants to know ‘within a week’ whether North Carolina can hold August convention amid pandemic” via Annie Linskey of The Washington Post — Trump said he needs a guarantee from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper “within a week” that the state can hold a large in-person convention amid the coronavirus pandemic or he will move the gathering elsewhere. “We have a Governor that doesn’t want to open up the state and we have a date of … the end of August,” Trump told reporters a day after tweeting his threat to pull the convention. “And we have to know before we spend millions and millions of dollars on an arena to make it magnificent for the convention … If the Governor can’t tell us very soon, unfortunately, we’ll have no choice.”

North Carolina throws convention threat back at Trump and GOP” via Maya King of Politico — After Trump threatened to pull the Republican National Convention out of North Carolina if state officials don’t roll out the red carpet soon, those officials put the onus on national Republicans to show they can pull off a 50,000-person event safely. In a letter to Marcia Kelly, the president and CEO of the convention, North Carolina secretary of Health and Human Services Mandy Cohen acknowledged the president’s warning and requested a public health plan for the event. “The status of COVID-19 infections in our state and in the Charlotte area continues to rapidly evolve [so] it will be important to have several scenarios planned that can be deployed depending on the public health situation,” she wrote. “[M]easured and careful planning efforts are important not only to convention-goers but also to the North Carolinians who rely on us to protect the public’s health.”

NextGen Florida formally backing Joe Biden for president” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — NextGen Florida will formally endorse Biden, and with that promised to invest millions flipping Florida blue. With its endorsement, NextGen America, a political action committee founded by billionaire Tom Steyer, committed to leveraging $5.5 million in Florida. The money will go to registering 55,000 additional young voters. It’s all in the hopes of taking Florida’s 29 electoral college votes into the Democratic column. Trump narrowly won Florida in 2016. Moreover, every winning presidential candidate from 1996 to present has taken the Sunshine State. Leaders at NextGen see Biden reaching out to young voters in ways that could make a difference. That includes speaking to them on gun safety, climate science, education and the economy.

Amid VP buzz, Val Demings to fundraise with Jill Biden” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Demings is billed for a “Women for Biden” virtual event Friday. Demings, an Orlando Democrat, will appear as a “special guest,” along with state Sen. Annette Taddeo, a Democrat from Miami-Dade. Hosting the event is Dr. Biden, the wife of presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, a known quantity to Florida Democrats as she has been deployed heavily in the state. The major interest in Friday’s event, however, is in Demings’ possible future on the ticket. Many Floridians have pushed for her consideration as a potential Vice President for Biden.

— MORE FROM THE TRAIL —

Kat Cammack announces more endorsements, coalition support in CD 3” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Republican congressional candidate Cammack announced another coalition has formed to back her campaign for Florida’s 3rd Congressional District. The “Good Governance Coalition” includes Keystone Heights City Councilman Tony Brown, Alachua Mayor Gib Coerper, Crescent City Commissioner Lisa Kane Devitto, Clay County Commission Chair Gayward Hendry, Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe, Brooker Mayor Gene Melvin, Newberry City Commissioner Paul Norfleet and Crescent City Mayor Brett Peterson. The campaign added another endorsement from former Hampton Mayor James Mitzel. “We Build the Wall” founder Brian Kolfage and Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul are also endorsing the campaign.

BusinessForce backing Bob Cortes’ bid in HD 30” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Cortez, of Altamonte Springs, was defeated for reelection in 2018 by Democratic Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil. He now is seeking a rematch this fall for the district covering south-central Seminole County and north-central Orange County. BusinessForce, a leading business advocacy group in Central Florida, seeks to promote pro-business candidates on a nonpartisan basis. In past elections, it has offered credence to candidates from both parties wishing to declare they are pro-business. “We look forward to supporting Rep. Cortes during this election cycle as he continues to promote free enterprise and economic growth in our region,” said Jose Boscan, chairman of the BusinessForce Board of Directors.

Bob Cortes gets a big endorsement in his bid to return to Tallahassee.

Linda Chaney picks up key legislative Republican endorsements in race against Jennifer Webb” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Speaker Designate Chris Sprowls, the upcoming cycle’s top House Republican and Sen. Jeff Brandes and Reps. Nick NiCeglie, Chris Latvala and James Grant endorsed Chaney in a district Webb flipped in 2018. Chaney is a manager with AdventHealth Mobile Mammography. She will face Webb in the November general election as no other candidates are running for force a primary for either party. Chaney has a long track record of community service. She worked with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office to help found a nonprofit to help women escape prostitution and drug addiction through life training.

Brian Johnson nabs two local endorsements in HD 101 contest” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Hollywood Commissioner Dick Blattner and former Hollywood Mayor Peter Bober are endorsing Johnson. “Especially during times of crisis, what our community needs is someone who is going to fight tooth and nail to make sure that government is working for them,” Bober said. “With over 30 years of experience in this district, Vice Mayor Johnson has proved that he will be ready to hit the ground running on Day One.” Johnson has is leading the race in overall money raised, pulling in nearly $85,000 in outside money and adding $2,500 in self-loans to his campaign. He trails former Miami-Dade County Public Administrator Marie Woodson in cash on hand, however. Woodson sits on more than $66,000, while Johnson retains about $41,000.

Prosecutor’s election suit moves forward” via Cindy Swirko of the Gainesville Sun — The lawsuit by prosecutor Brian Kramer seeking to have his opponent in the race for state attorney ruled unqualified will go on after a judge in Leon County would not dismiss the case. Gainesville attorney Beverly McCallum filed the motion, contending that voters should decide who will replace Bill Cervone as the Eighth Circuit state attorney. “Were (Kramer) to succeed, he would be certified as unopposed and automatically become the top, state-level law-enforcement official in the Eighth Circuit without a single voter’s casting of a ballot,” the motion states, adding that the “the body of law stands for the proposition that even close questions should be decided in favor of widening — not narrowing, the field of candidates on the ballot.

Former Clerk Howard Forman drops out of court clerk’s race against ex-wife” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The grudge match between the exes is off. Former Broward Clerk of Courts Forman is withdrawing his comeback bid against his ex-wife and political successor, Brenda Forman. Forman, 74, said he made the decision after consulting with his family. “Over the last several months and especially during this tumultuous time due to the Corona19 virus, I realized how important family and friends are during these days of isolation,” he said in a written statement. “We as a family decided that rather [than] run for office, the public good would be better served with other forms of community service.” Forman’s withdrawal leaves three candidates remaining in the Democratic primary for Broward clerk: Brenda Forman, former Broward Circuit Judge Paul Backman, and former Broward teacher Christopher Hugley.

Pinellas Supervisor of Elections joins other officials encouraging voters to mail-in ballots” via Trevor Pettiford of Bay News 9 — In Pinellas County, the pandemic has forced nearly two dozen polling places to relocate out of nursing homes, senior centers and retirement communities. In light of that, new Pinellas Supervisor of Elections Julie Marcus wants Pinellas voters to take every precaution. “We’re really asking the community to do their part,” said Marcus. “Stay safe, vote at home so that those who have to go to the polling places to vote in person can do so in a safe environment.” To make it even more convenient, both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties are paying the postage on mail-in ballots. All the changes this year will cost Pinellas County about $600,000.

Candidate for Lee County’s District 5 seat uses racial slur in an email” via Claire Lavezzorio of NBC-2 — “Should I have slung the ‘n’ word out even though they said it? Does it make it right that I said it? Obviously, I apologize to the African American people for that,” said Sonny Haas, a candidate for Lee County’s District 5 seat. In the email, which later ended up being forwarded to current Lee County Commissioners, Haas responded to a Lehigh Acres resident about why he should win the seat. “Now I’m seeing the results of the new census. 60 percent Latin. 20 percent black. 20 percent white. The Cubans are colonizing Lehigh. Lehigh is 40 percent grown. Almost 110 thousand residents now. Funny thing. It won’t be a n***** quarters after all,” wrote Haas.

Joe Carollo loses court appeal involving recall effort against him. Expect more lawsuits.” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — The effort to recall Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo scored another legal victory Wednesday when an appeals court ruled the city must submit a batch of petitions to the Miami-Dade County Elections Department. The city clerk had refused to accept the petitions in March, saying the recall campaign had missed the deadline, so they were never given to the elections department. The recall committee then sued the city to compel the clerk to forward the signatures to the supervisor of elections. Days before city elected officials entered isolation and the COVID-19 pandemic prompted emergency orders, a Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge ruled the city needed to give a batch of signed petitions to the elections supervisor, whose office verifies the signatures. Wednesday the appellate court upheld that ruling.

— TOP OPINION —

A ‘Florida Man’ primary in 2024? Rubio, DeSantis, Scott & Matt Gaetz all have ambitions” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — America has a lot going on these days. Yet even with a presidential election and pandemic going full-bore in 2020, some power-hungry politicians are already eyeing 2024. That includes several genuine Florida Men. In fact, POLITICO now suggests at least four Florida Republicans are already dreaming about moving into the Oval Office in four years. Yeah, sorry, Pence. You may think you have dibs. But not if DeSantis, Rubio, Scott and maybe even gas-mask wearer Gaetz have their way. Now, some people might find this talk ridiculous. With all due respect, those people don’t understand modern American politics … where anything is now possible.

— OPINIONS —

A presidential smear” via The Wall Street Journal editorial board — Trump’s latest accusation against MSNBC host Joe Scarborough is ugly even for him. Trump has been tweeting the suggestion that Scarborough might have had something to do with the death in 2001 of a young woman who worked in his Florida office when Scarborough was a GOP Congressman. He kept it going with new tweets: “The opening of a Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough was not a Donald Trump original thought … So many unanswered & obvious questions, but I won’t bring them up now! Law enforcement eventually will?” Nasty stuff, and from the Oval Office. Trump is debasing his office, and he’s hurting the country in doing so.

Coronavirus investigation: DeSantis’ ‘whack-a-mole’ approach fails the frail in nursing homes” via Florida Today — As coronavirus deaths increased exponentially in eldercare centers, DeSantis took a victory lap. Along with fawning state officials and industry leaders, he touted at a May 13 news conference that his actions prevented a catastrophe at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The Republican Governor said he always knew and acted decisively at the beginning to protect “the most vulnerable population,” who he calls “the tip of the spear” for the pandemic in Florida. But DeSantis’ “whack-a-mole” approach to long-term care facilities in the pandemic — as the AARP calls it — has failed. Despite the proclamations, DeSantis didn’t promptly identify outbreaks in elder care facilities and is now scrambling to stem the tide of cases and deaths.

Joe Henderson: Freedom doesn’t mean you don’t have to wear a mask in public” via Florida Politics — When the founding fathers laid out the principles to guide this nation, freedom was the top of the list. I guess they ran out of ink before the part about wearing protective masks in public during a pandemic. Over Memorial Day weekend, we all saw footage of mass gatherings at beaches and other places. Medical experts say masks help stop the spread of COVID-19. There are universal recommendations that no one should venture out in public without one. We’ve all seen those louts scream FREEDOM BABY when asked about that. Consideration for others never seems to be part of the equation. Of all the stupid hills on which to plant the flag of freedom, these people pick protective masks.

Decision to reopen or close condo amenities should not be taken lightly” via Steven J. Adamczyk for TCPalm — Many condominiums have a significant portion of residents over the age of 65 and are concerned about opening amenities. The Florida Condominium Act provides that the board has emergency powers, and those powers include the right to deem certain portions of the condominium property closed. The board could limit use to only residents or it could limit use to residents and family, or it could close the amenities altogether. Some counties are allowing pools to open under certain conditions, while other counties never had a restriction at all. Condominium management should consider the liability of opening too soon or opening without appropriate protocols.

— TODAY’S SUNRISE —

Gov. DeSantis blew off his usual coronavirus update so he could attend the launch of the SpaceX Dragon at the Kennedy Space Center, but they scrubbed the launch just 17 minutes before liftoff because of weather. They’ll try again Saturday.

 Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— There’s still plenty going on with COVID-19. On Wednesday, the death toll increased by 62. And there’s a new forecast model predicting a second wave will hit Florida in August, increasing fatalities by 40% to almost 8,000 by September 1.

— The Florida Department of Health reports a huge drop in the number of kids getting routine vaccinations during the pandemic. The Governor’s personal pediatrician is urging parents to make sure their children are up to date.

— Disney and SeaWorld have presented plans to reopen to the public. SeaWorld wants to hold an employee appreciation night on June 10, then open to the public the next day. Disney’s starting dates are mid-July. Universal has already received clearance to reopen on June 5.

— Another consumer warning from Attorney General Moody. She’s urging Floridians to beware of scammers who claim to be working for the state Department of Law Enforcement.

— And not one, but two Florida Man stories: one featuring the skunk ape, the other is with a hungry, hungry hooker.

To listen, click on the image below:

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

NASA and SpaceX delay their historic astronaut launch to Saturday afternoon due to bad weather” via Chabeli Carrazana of the Orlando Sentinel — Gloomy weather, incessant rain and even a tornado warning in the area earlier in the day were eventually too much for the teams at SpaceX and NASA, which chose to postpone the return of American astronauts to space for the weekend. The mission plans to take astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station, the first time in nine years that an American crew has taken off from American soil since the end of the space shuttle program nine years ago. They were strapped and ready to go by 4 p.m. Wednesday, with the teams tracking no issues with the rocket. It was the tumultuous weather situation outside that wasn’t going to calm down in time for the mission.

Bad weather scuttled Wednesday’s SpaceX launch. Image via NASA.

Miami Dolphins to use Hard Rock Stadium as drive-in theater” via Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post — The Dolphins announced plans to allow up to 230 cars to drive onto the field at Hard Rock Stadium for events, including movies. Miami also plans to stage some events outside the stadium. The open-air and drive-in theaters will feature matchups from the team’s 54-year history, classic motion picture films, commencement ceremonies and other events. The announcement did not specify when the events might take place. The Dolphins asked interested fans to sign up for ticket information at its website.

Cheez-It Bowl: Orlando game gets new sponsor to replace Camping World” via Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel — Cheez-It is the new title sponsor for one of the two college football bowl games held annually at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. The Cheez-It Bowl will replace the Camping World Bowl during the upcoming football season. Cheez-It previously was the title sponsor for a bowl game held at Chase Field in Phoenix from 2018-19. Cheez-Its are cheese crackers that have been produced by the Kellogg’s Company for close to a century. “I’m obviously excited, especially in this environment,” Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan said. “Where you get a brand as huge as Kellogg’s and really what Cheez-It has been able to do in the space of college football, partnering with the College Football Playoff. … They’re all in.”

Friends create Disney wedding for Fort Pierce couple after ceremony canceled by COVID-19” via Catie Wegman of TCPalm — Gabi Herczeg and Carter Fartuch have been waiting three years to get married at Walt Disney World. The Fort Pierce couple wanted a fairy-tale ceremony at the “Happiest Place on Earth.” But when Disney canceled Herczeg’s bachelorette party as the coronavirus began to spread, she figured her dream wedding at the Grand Floridian Resort would be canceled too. But their friends surprised them with a Disney celebration they’ll never forget. John and Emily Renschler threw a party on May 9 complete with a faux monorail, theme park snacks and makeshift rides on three classic Disney attractions. “We never expected anybody to do anything at all for us,” said Fartuch. “The whole night was so incredible.”

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today are U.S. Sen. Rubio, state Rep. Mel PonderTom DeMintRichard DeNapoliTammy Perdue of Sunshine Health, our good friend Scott Ross of Capital City Consulting, good guy Clark Smith of The Southern Group, top attorney Alicia Taylor, and Craig Waters, communications director of the Florida Supreme Court.

___

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, A.G. Gancarski, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson. 

Written By

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
Email: Peter@FloridaPolitics.com
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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