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Last Call for 7.7.20 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

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

First Shot

The Republican National Committee is moving forward as planned, though a couple of senior U.S. Senators won’t be making the trip to Jacksonville.

Iowa U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley and Tennessee U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander are the dropouts. Both men are octogenarians — public health officials have warned since the onset of the pandemic that older people and those with underlying health conditions are especially vulnerable to developing severe complications if they contract the new coronavirus.

Grassley said as much: “I’m not going to go, and I’m not going to go because of the virus situation.”

The 2020 RNC will be the first Grassley skips since his election to the U.S. Senate in 1980.

Alexander tiptoed in a statement attributed to his spokesperson: “Sen. Alexander is an honorary chair of the Tennessee Trump campaign, but he will not be attending the convention because he believes the delegate spots should be reserved for those who have not had that privilege before as he has had.”

Their decisions come as coronavirus infections surge in Florida, crossing 200,000 over the weekend with no signs of slowing down.

If the curve doesn’t flatten, Grassley and Alexander may not be the only no-shows — a half-dozen other GOP senators are in their eighties and 20-plus are over 65, the line for severe risk according to public health officials.

Jacksonville has reported nearly 10,000 cases thus far, with the seven-day rolling average positivity rate of 15%.

The city has taken a significant step toward mitigating the spread by issuing a mask mandate, which was something Mayor Lenny Curry had been hesitant to do, instead stressing voluntary mask usage.

The RNC has said it will comply with the mask mandate and any other local policies if they’re still in place when the convention comes to town. Critics such as Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, however, have speculated the mask order could be lifted ahead of the convention.

Speaking to Fried’s point further, a senior Curry staffer said last week that the “recent adoption” of masks had no bearing on the RNC, “months away.”

Coronavirus Numbers

Positive cases:

— 210,594 FL residents (+7,218 since Monday)

— 3,200 Non-FL residents (+129 since Monday)

Origin:

— 2,703 Travel related

— 63,486 Contact with a confirmed case

— 2,611 Both

— 141,794 Under investigation

Hospitalizations:

— 16,425 in FL

Deaths:

— 3,841 in FL

Unemployment numbers

As of Monday:

Total claims: 2,886,216

— Confirmed unique claims: 2,667,221

— Claim verification queue: 177,128

— Claims processed: 2,490,093

— Claims paid: 1,649,412 (+20,194 since Sunday)

Total paid out: $8.88 billion (+$80 million since Sunday)

Evening Reads

Coronavirus has infected nearly 1 out of 100 people in Florida; 63 new deaths takes toll to 3,841” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel

Florida sees worrying spike in coronavirus cases, potential to ‘overwhelm our hospitals’ after reopening” via Jim Waymer and Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon of Florida Today

South Florida adds more than 3K new COVID-19 cases as Palm Beach death rate rises” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

‘Sickness and death are piling up at the feet of Ron DeSantis.’ South Florida Democrats call for statewide mask mandate” via Skyler Swisher of the Sun-Sentinel

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry quarantined after contact with COVID-19 case” via Steve Patterson of the Florida Times-Union

DeSantis sends 100 nurses to Miami’s Jackson Health as it struggles with Covid-19” via David Flesher of the Sun-Sentinel

Can DeSantis force Florida schools to reopen in a pandemic? Some school leaders seem doubtful” via Andrew Marra of the Palm Beach Post

Orange teachers protest reopening schools, as school board discusses coming academic year” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel

A high-risk Florida teen who died from covid-19 attended a huge church party, then was given hydroxychloroquine by her parents, report says” via Washington Post

While the media blame DeSantis for the COVID spike, the evidence proving it was due to protests keeps mounting” via Brad Slager of Red State

Protective gear for medical workers begins to run low again” via Geoff Mulvihill and Camille Fassett of The Associated Press

Treasury, SBA data show small-business loans went to private-equity backed chains, members of Congress” via Jonathan O’ConnellAaron GreggSteven RichAnu Narayanswamy and Peter Whoriskey of The Washington Post

Questions raised over how Florida Democratic Party scored Paycheck Protection Program funds” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Companies connected to Southwest Florida pols banked PPP funds” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Money troubles for RNC: Fundraising not ‘easy,’ COVID-19 to blame” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Set to become Florida House Speaker, Miami’s Daniel Perez still draws GOP primary” via David Smiley and Bianca Padro Ocasio of the Miami Herald

Quote of the Day

“Gov. DeSantis closed the state down too slowly and reopened it too quickly. And now he is downplaying one of the most explosive coronavirus outbreaks we’ve witnessed in America, one where Florida accounted for one-quarter of all new cases nationwide on July Fourth amid a volatile outbreak across the south and west. Just yesterday, after a two-week streak of record-setting case counts, the Governor told us the surge is stabilized.” — U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, on the state response to the pandemic.

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