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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.14.20

Coffee is for closers. So is Sunburn, your morning rundown of Florida politics.

Be sure to read my latest column — “The rising sun: Danny Perez is learning the lessons José Oliva never did.

Some lessons have to be learned the hard way: Rep. Daniel Perez and House Speaker José Oliva.

Please check out the latest episode of my “Hunkering Down” podcast. I talk watching Hamilton, school reopenings, and campaigning with lobbyist Richard Reeves, fundraiser Kirsten Borman Dougherty, and House candidate Michelle Salzman. Listen here.

Of course, the story burning its way through the Capital City is our scoop about how the lobbyist who tested positive at a House GOP fundraiser.

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A top of Sunburn shoutout to Samantha Blair, who is turning 30 today. Not only is she James’ much better half, she was also featured last year in INFLUENCE Magazine. Check out her profile here.

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La Fête Nationale. Joyeux Quatorze Juillet. More than 50 cities in the United States will celebrate France’s national holiday, Bastille Day. But there’s no such thing as Bastille Day in France. Why not? Because in France, July 14 is simply known as la fête du 14-Juillet (the July 14 holiday) or more officially, la fête Nationale (the National Holiday).

So if you happen to run into any French natives (while maintaining social distancing, of course) this year during your July 14 celebrations, don’t wish them a “Happy Bastille Day” — chances are you’ll be met with the same reaction as if someone wished you a “Happy Declaration of Independence Day” on July 4.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@RealDonaldTrump: I know many in business and politics that work out endlessly, in some cases to a point of exhaustion. It is their number one passion in life, but nobody complains. My ‘exercise’ is playing, almost never during the week, a quick round of golf. Obama played more and much longer rounds, no problem. When I play, Fake News CNN, and others, park themselves anywhere they can to get a picture, then scream ‘President [Donald] Trump is playing golf.’ Actually, I play VERY fast, get a lot of work done on the golf course, and also get a ‘tiny’ bit of exercise. Not bad!

@NYGovCuomo: Public health has to come first. Facts have to come first. Science has to come first.

@JerryIannnelli: Thesis: Years of mean-spirited, poor-shaming “Florida Man” stories greased the wheels for people blaming “Florida Man,” not state authorities, for a preventable COVID-19 outbreak

@BillGalvano: Could not disagree more with the @Fla_Pol article re: Oliva. He is a man of integrity and tested character. His is one of the most productive and successful speakerships in history.

@Chris_Minor: I’ve seen people shaming our friends & colleagues who have/may have been exposed How truly divided we’ve become. I want each & every person here to recover or have a clean bill of health I’ve had COVID. I wish it on no one. Especially these good people & their families

@SKeelerTimes: Booze, money, and influence. You could create the ultimate helmet logo.

Tweet, tweet:

— DAYS UNTIL —

Disney World Epcot and Hollywood Studios to reopen — 1; Federal taxes due — 1; MLB starts — 9; WNBA starts — 10; PLL starts — 11; TED conference rescheduled — 12; Florida Bar exams begin in Tampa — 14; NBA season restart in Orlando — 17; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” premieres (rescheduled) — 17; NHL resumes — 18; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 35; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 36; “Mulan” premieres (rescheduled) — 38; Indy 500 rescheduled — 40; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 41; NBA draft lottery — 42; Rev. Al Sharpton’s D.C. March — 45; U.S. Open begins — 48; “A Quiet Place Part II” premieres — 52; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 53; Rescheduled date for French Open — 68; First presidential debate in Indiana — 77; “Wonder Woman” premieres — 80; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 81; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 84; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 90; Second presidential debate scheduled at Miami — 93; NBA draft — 94; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 94; NBA free agency — 97; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 100; 2020 General Election — 112; “Black Widow” premieres — 117; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 121; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 129; “No Time to Die” premieres — 129; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 140; “Top Gun: Maverick” premieres — 162; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 208; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 374; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 382; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 479; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 577; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 619; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 661; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 815.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Despite soaring numbers, Ron DeSantis says coronavirus cases are starting to stabilize” via Gray Rohrer and Naseem S. Miller of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida’s exploding number of coronavirus cases has begun to stabilize, DeSantis said Monday at a news conference where a heckler accused him of “doing nothing” about the pandemic. “The percentage of people who are testing positive has finally started to decline,‘’ he said at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. “We’ll see if that’s a trend or whether that was something that was short-lived. Certainly, we can say the percentage of people who come in and test positive has stabilized.” Miami-Dade officials in the same room, however, sounded a more urgent tone. “Until we start to drive down the contagion level in Miami-Dade County we can’t get a handle on it,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez.

 

Ron DeSantis sees some good news in the latest coronavirus numbers.

‘Shame on you:’ Heckler interrupts DeSantis during Miami news conference” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — A heckler interrupted DeSantis Monday evening during a COVID-19 news conference with Giménez. Moments after the incident, Thomas Kennedy of United We Dream, an immigrant youth-led organization, claimed responsibility for the rant. “I just interrupted a news conference in Miami-Dade to let Gov. Ron DeSantis and Mayor Giménez know they are an embarrassment to FL and that their incompetence and lack of planning has resulted in the current public health crisis,” Kennedy said. “4,381 people have died so far in FL.” Kennedy interrupted DeSantis during his opening remarks. “Shame on you,” Kennedy yelled at the pair. “You are an embarrassment. We are getting record-breaking cases every day and you are doing nothing. You are falsifying information and misleading the public.”

After smashing coronavirus record, Florida’s day after also bleak” via John Kennedy of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Florida added another 12,624 coronavirus cases Monday, with the state’s second-highest 24-hour toll coming only a day after a record-smashing 15,300 cases were reported on Sunday. Another 35 lives were lost to the virus Monday, bringing Florida’s death toll to 4,277. Overall, cases hit 282,435 in the state. After testing had lagged through the first three months of the pandemic, the Florida Health Department said that 112,264 tests were conducted Sunday, one day after a record 142,972 were reported and yielded the state’s highest single-day case count.

Change approved to aid hospital capacity” via the News Service of Florida — Medicaid officials have agreed to waive regulations that require hospitals to obtain prior authorization before transferring patients into long-term care facilities. The Agency for Health Care Administration sent an alert announcing that it was “waiving service authorization requirements” hospitals were required to obtain before transferring patients out of their facilities. The change was made to “facilitate prompt hospital discharges and to ensure adequate inpatient hospital capacity in response to COVID-19.” The move came nearly a week after Dawn White, vice president of government and community relations for Baptist Health South Florida, asked the state to consider changing the policy, saying doing so could expedite transfers from hospitals to long-term care facilities by at least two or three days.

Appeal pursued in statewide beach closure case” via the News Service of Florida — Blasting DeSantis’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Northwest Florida attorney argued that an appeals court should clear the way for a lawsuit that, in part, seeks to require beaches to be closed statewide. Attorney Daniel Uhlfelder filed a 25-page brief asking the 1st District Court of Appeal to overturn a Leon County circuit judge’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit against DeSantis. Uhlfelder filed the lawsuit in March, arguing that DeSantis should be required to close beaches statewide and issue a “safer at home” order to prevent the spread of the virus. But Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll dismissed the case in April, saying the separation-of-powers clause of the Florida Constitution prevents him from requiring DeSantis to take such steps.

DeSantis falsely claims he was never asked about COVID-19” via Amy Sherman of PolitiFact — DeSantis said: “I would do press events in May, I would never be asked about coronavirus.” His spokespersons did not respond to multiple queries to figure out which events he had in mind. Our own review shows that he was asked about coronavirus issues at many news conferences. Questions related to unemployment, nursing homes, rules about reopening and how the state would handle spikes. We rate this claim False.

Ron DeSantis said he was ‘never asked about coronavirus’ in May. That is false. Image via AP.

‘That scenario is nonsense.’ No proof behind rumors about positive COVID results with no actual tests” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — As Florida reported the largest single-day increase in positive coronavirus cases anywhere in the United States since the beginning of the pandemic, social media began buzzing with people who claim they left a coronavirus test site because of a long line, but they still received a positive test result. The Florida Department of Health did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the issue. At least four companies who each operate multiple test sites in South Florida say this scenario is highly unlikely. “The paperwork is sent with the test to the lab. The lab wouldn’t have paperwork unless there is a test to go with it,” said Brooke Liddle, the spokesman for testing company American Medical Response.

Some phone carriers are flagging Florida contact tracing efforts as spam” via Karina Elwood of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The scam call you ignored or sent to voicemail might just be a contact tracer. The call will come from 833-917-2880. The person on the other end will identify themselves as a representative with the Florida Department of Health calling with important medical information. They’ll ask to confirm a last name and date of birth, then continue with the call. While some phone companies are automatically flagging the number as potential spam, the calls coming from 833-917-2880 is legitimate. They are from Maximus, a vendor hired by the state for contact tracing.

— BACK TO SCHOOL? —

Donald Trump’s demand that schools fully reopen spurned by big districts” via Nicole Gaudiano and Bianca Quilantan of POLITICO — Trump has spent the past two weeks demanding that American schools reopen this fall. But America’s biggest school systems are rejecting the President across the country, with one city and county after another opting for virtual education or just a few days a week in school. And the President has little power to do anything about it. Republicans have said for decades school decisions should be made at the local and state level, and have often held the U.S. Department of Education in disdain. So even as Trump and Betsy DeVos push kids to board buses and head back to school, they can’t force the issue.

Betsy DeVos’ call for students to return to school is falling on deaf ears. Image via AP.

Education secretary won’t say if schools should listen to CDC guidelines on reopening” via Devan Cole of CNN — DeVos on Sunday refused to say whether schools should follow guidelines from the CDC on reopening, saying those guidelines are meant to be “flexible.” “The CDC guidelines are just that, meant to be flexible and meant to be applied as appropriate for the situation,” DeVos said. The CDC guidelines for schools to reopen contain steps to keep children safe, including keeping desks placed 6 feet apart and for children to use cloth face coverings. The CDC suggests the closing of communal areas like dining rooms and playgrounds and the installation of physical barriers like sneeze guards where necessary. Pressed repeatedly on whether schools should implement remote learning in the event that there is a flare-up of coronavirus cases in their district, DeVos said: “I think the go-to needs to be kids in school, in person, in the classroom.”

Schools can open safely this fall” via Scott Gottlieb for The Wall Street Journal — Schools should open in the fall. It’s critical for meeting the educational and social needs of children. But local officials should have the discretion to take tailored actions to help keep children safe. One thing about COVID-19 is clear: We don’t fully understand its severity and transmission. At various turns, we’ve both underestimated and overestimated the virus. The debate over schools has been swept up in a political maelstrom. Reopening schools will draw more controversy if people believe their school district was forced into opening. I’ve talked to Republican and Democratic governors about their strategies. The commitment to reopening is universal. Their approach is appropriately varied to local conditions. The main risk is transmission inside school buildings, but there are ways to reduce the chance of a big outbreak.

Do Florida school buildings have to be open in August?” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — The language of the Department of Education’s emergency order on school reopening uses the phrase just once. “Upon reopening in August,” it states, districts and charters must make bricks and mortar buildings available five days a week for all students to receive all services. But are the schools mandated to open in August? Or is that just a desire? The question came up a couple of times at Gov. Ron DeSantis’ weekend press conference in Bradenton, and the answer never completely materialized.

Union says push to reopen schools is rushed” via the News Service of Florida — American Federation of State Florida President Vicki Hall said in a statement the state lacks a comprehensive plan to ensure students and employees will be safe when they return to school campuses amid the coronavirus pandemic. State Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran last week issued an order requiring school districts to come up with individual reopening plans by the end of the month. The order also said districts must offer students the option to return to in-person instruction at school five days a week. Hall said thousands of janitors, bus drivers, food service workers and other school workers, represented by AFSCME, are concerned about coming back to work as Florida emerges as the nation’s “epicenter” of coronavirus cases.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools releases 2020-2021 reopening of schools plan” via Daisy Gonzalez-Diego of the Miami-Dade Public Schools — The Miami-Dade School Board approved a tentative plan for the proposed reopening of schools for the 2020-2021 academic year. The reopening approach is comprehensive in nature and is informed by what is happening internationally, as well as following national and state guidance, and local decisions. Parents will be provided with choices and flexibility, based on their preferences and comfort level with in-school education versus a distance learning experience for their children. The fourth guiding principle relates to the likely expenses that will come with operating under social distancing guidelines, the funding needed.

School Board chair: Where’s Palm Beach County’s school reopening plan?” via Andrew Marra of The Palm Beach Post — The chairman of the Palm Beach County School Board criticized school district leaders Sunday for failing to release their school-reopening plan with only three days left before it is set to be adopted. Board Chairman Frank Barbieri said he was troubled that neither board members nor the public have had a chance to see details of the district’s proposal for how schools will operate when classes resume online next month amid the coronavirus pandemic. The reopening plan is sure to be among the most scrutinized proposals in the school board’s history. Schools Superintendent Donald Fennoy has promised to deliver a reopening plan for board members to consider Wednesday, but he has not released details and has given little indication of what he plans to recommend.

Parents protest at school district HQ, demand return to classrooms” via Sonja Isger of The Palm Beach Post — Dozens of people gathered in front of the Palm Beach County School District’s headquarters Monday evening to protest a pending decision to bar roughly 174,000 students from public campuses and deliver classes online instead when school begins next month. Among the protesters were parents whose children are disabled, or simply struggling to grasp lessons via computer, or are in emotional anguish under prolonged isolation. Also in the mix were parents who face impossible choices between working to pay bills and staying home to care for youngsters not in school. Wearing face masks and holding signs that demanded “Give us a choice,” “We want options” and “Prevent child abuse and poverty OPEN schools,” roughly 50 children and adults held the protest.

Parents are protesting both sides of the coronavirus issue. Some say return kids to school; others say no.

Youngest students will return first when PBC schools reopen, schools chief says” via Andrew Marra of The Palm Beach Post — Palm Beach County’s public schools should remain online-only until the pandemic improves significantly, then let the youngest students return first when campuses begin to reopen, the school district’s chief executive recommended Monday. Schools Superintendent Fennoy’s plan for the new school year calls for students to learn in person only when the county enters the second phase of the state’s reopening plan — a step that likely requires sustained drops in hospitalizations and the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19. When the county does enter Phase 2, the youngest students at each school would be the first to return — kindergartners and first graders at the elementary level, sixth graders at middle schools, and freshman at high schools. Alternative schools would reopen completely.

Duval Schools Superintendent Diana Greene gives hints for back-to-school plan ahead of Tuesday’s meeting” via Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union — Green said she thinks the school district will be presenting its final back-to-school plan on Tuesday. “So far every week there’s been a major change and our plans have had to adapt,” Greene said. “We’ve been using the word ‘pivot’ quite a bit.” Greene was the Jacksonville Meninak Club’s featured speaker Monday at noon for the group’s weekly meeting, which was hosted on Zoom. The superintendent presented a condensed version of the district’s back-to-school plans, some of which will be publicized tomorrow following a school board workshop meeting. Greene avoided some specifics, saying she didn’t want to catch school board members off guard.

Leon County cancels all summer athletic training, practices” via Wayne McGahee III of the Tallahassee Democrat — Leon County Schools announced Monday that all athletic practices and training have been canceled for the remainder of the summer. “We have had students and coaches across multiple sports test positive for COVID-19 over the past few weeks and we feel this is in the best interest of all involved,” the official Leon County Schools Twitter posted in a follow-up tweet. This is the second time school-sanctioned athletic events have been canceled this year. Athletic events were canceled in March due to the first wave of the coronavirus outbreak. Leon County resumed sanctioned offseason workouts for fall sports June 15 but will be ending all sanctioned workouts starting Tuesday. The football workouts were limited to 15 players and coaches at a time and were done without a football.

— CORONA LOCAL —

South Florida leaders urge state to improve testing, contact tracing” via Spencer Fordin of Florida Politics — Debbie Mucarsel-Powell led a delegation of South Florida leaders Monday urging coordinated action from DeSantis and state officials to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Mucarsel-Powell, who represents Florida’s 26th Congressional District, is a member of the bipartisan Congressional Coronavirus Task Force. “As I’ve said before, Florida is breaking all the wrong records,” said Mucarsel-Powell. “Yesterday, Florida reported the highest number of new cases any state has seen in a single day. … Another 12,624 today alone. Yesterday, Miami-Dade set their own single-day record with 3,576 new cases.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is urging the state of Florida to increase testing. Image via Twitter.

Palm Beach Co. State Attorney Dave Aronberg tests positive for coronavirus” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Aronberg has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Aronberg confirmed the diagnosis in a letter to his staff. “Please take this pandemic seriously, as it continues to spread like wildfire,” Aronberg wrote. “I know this personally because I just tested positive for COVID-19. I am one of the fortunate ones, as I have relatively mild symptoms and can continue to work a normal schedule from home while quarantined. The 49-year-old Aronberg, who has served in the role since elected in 2012, said the office’s management team is reaching out to those who have been around him recently. “Although I have tried to be vigilant about wearing a mask, social distancing and hand-washing, I am often out in public and I live in a building with shared elevators,” Aronberg’s letter continued.

Palm Beach County property appraiser tests positive for coronavirus” via Hannah Morse of The Palm Beach Post — Dorothy Jacks, Palm Beach County’s property appraiser, tested positive for the coronavirus, her office announced Monday. Jacks said she was tested Thursday after “experiencing minor symptoms” and received the results on Monday. It began with what she thought was a mild head cold right before the July Fourth holiday weekend, “which was nothing out of the ordinary for me,” Jacks said. Then feeling better, though fatigued, Jacks noticed her sense of smell was gone. “I knew that was unusual,” she said. She got tested the same day. Because Jacks tested positive, the administration department of the property appraiser’s office has been temporarily closed. Jacks said she has worked from home since being tested.

More coronavirus antibody test results in gated communities show those residents are being safe” via Mike Diamond of The Palm Beach Post — Additional antibody testing at gated communities in the western area of the coastal part of Palm Beach County continues to show that residents may have avoided COVID-19 infections by hunkering down weeks before they were told to do so by county and state officials. Nearly 4,000 tests have been done at a dozen developments, most of them retirement communities. The positivity rate has stayed at about 1%, much less than the overall countywide and statewide rate of 4%. Nearly 500 tests were done at three developments — Ibis, Leisureville and Lakes at Delray. Not one person tested positive.

After spending $500,000 on hotel rooms, Fort Lauderdale tells homeless they can stay for now” via Susannah Bryan and Phillip Valys of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The hotel rooms for the homeless, paid for on the city dime, aren’t going away — but the free ride may end this week. Fort Lauderdale needs an infusion of money to keep the program going. The city has already spent more than $500,000 on hotel vouchers for the homeless, a program that got underway in May to help curb the spread of COVID-19. But the money has run out. The state’s Emergency Management czar Jared Moskowitz, who earlier promised an infusion of state money, is now directing city officials to seek help from the county. Broward officials have agreed to pay the bill for extending the hotel stay just two more days, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said late Monday.

At the ‘epicenter’ of the COVID pandemic, Miami-Dade Mayor resists more closures” via Douglas Hanks and Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade Mayor Giménez wants to see if existing restaurant restrictions, an ongoing 10 p.m. curfew and a countywide mask order help stabilize the county’s alarming COVID numbers before forcing more businesses to close. Gimenez is under pressure on both sides, with cities and restaurant groups criticizing last week’s ban on indoor dining and Miami-Dade seeing much more coronavirus spread and hospitalizations than when the county Mayor ordered all nonessential businesses to close in March. “We’re not there yet. But everything is on the table. I don’t think anyone on this call wants to take that drastic step,” Gimenez said. “ … Right now, I don’t have any intention of going further.”

This iconic Miami Beach hotel recently reopened. Coronavirus is making it close again.” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — After a reopening that lasted just three weeks, the iconic Clevelander South Beach Hotel and Bar has closed its doors again because of Florida’s rising number of COVID-19 cases. “Due to public health concerns caused by COVID-19, we must regretfully inform you that we will be closed until further notice,” reads a message on the hotel’s website. “Given current conditions, we simply cannot ensure the safety and health of the people most important to us; our customers and our employees. We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.” The hotel, located at 1020 Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, made a post on Facebook last month announcing it had reopened with new COVID-19 safety measures in place.

The iconic Cleavlander Hotel on Miami Beach has closed once again.

After wave of younger COVID patients, older patients return to Miami’s public hospitals” via Ben Conarck and Daniel Chang of the Miami Herald — At Miami-Dade County’s public hospitals, weeks of relative quiet in the COVID-19 units reversed course in mid-June, giving way to younger-trending patients in a resurgence of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Over the last week, it became apparent throughout Jackson Health System that the increase in community spread had reached those most vulnerable to the virus, people over the age of 80. As of Monday, the hospital network had 65 such patients, compared to 46 the previous Monday, and 34 on the one before that.

eMerge Americas, Miami’s premier tech conference, postponed to 2021” via Rob Wile of the Miami Herald — eMerge Americas, South Florida’s marquee annual tech conference, has been postponed to April 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 conference had originally been slated for November. In an announcement late Friday, organizers said uncertainty around the coronavirus made canceling the 2020 event unavoidable. “We are not taking a casual approach to the acute risk that our global event may present,” said Felice Gorordo, CEO of eMerge Americas, in a statement. “Although this is not the outcome we hoped to confront, we remain wholeheartedly steadfast in our commitment to the health and well-being of our community.”

Assignment editors — Rep. Tina Polsky will join CDR Maguire, GENETWORx Lab, and the City of South Bay to host a free COVID-19 walk-up testing site for residents over 18 years old, seniors only from 9 a.m.-noon, general public until noon-4 p.m., Old Firehouse Bay, South Bay City Hall, 335 SW. Second Avenue, South Bay. All participants must wear masks at the site and observe social distancing guidelines. Tests are on a first-come-first-served basis.

The Keys report a record number of new COVID-19 cases. It’s not as bad as it seems, health official says” via Howard Cohen and David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — The Florida Health Department in the Keys reported 74 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday, which is the highest ever reported in the island chain. But the number is not quite as bad as it appears, according to Monroe County’s top health official. The numbers reflect cases confirmed both Thursday and Friday, Robert Eadie said. The reason all the cases weren’t reported Friday from Thursday is Eadie, the administrator and health officer, gave the department’s epidemiologist the day off. Still, he said he is concerned by the number of people testing positive. The number of cases has recently been climbing at a greater pace than they had been exhibiting in the Keys when single-day cases would tend toward single-digit growth and the death rate would hold steady for days at a time.

Key West issues a stricter mandatory mask law as COVID-19 cases rise” via Gwen Filosa of the Miami Herald — The city of Key West on Monday ordered everyone over age 6 to wear face coverings whenever they leave their homes, even if they are able to maintain social distancing outside. Violating the directive could lead to a misdemeanor charge and possible jail time, city spokeswoman Alyson Crean said. The order comes in response to the dramatic rise of reported COVID-19 cases in the Florida Keys over the past several days, including a record daily number over the weekend. People, however, do not have to wear masks while in their cars or on their boats, according to an exception in the new order.

Key West could ban big cruise ships” via Cruise Industry News — Megaships could be a distant memory in Key West, Florida, come 2021 as a referendum has been added to the November ballot that would limit the size of ships calling. Three proposed amendments on the ballot would restrict the size of ship, limit the number of guests disembarking on a daily basis, and prioritize ships with “better” environmental and public health records. The new rules would limit the number of guests coming off ships to 1,500 a day. Ships with more than 1,300 guests would not be allowed to disembark passengers in Key West.

— MORE LOCAL —

High testing effort yields high virus confirmations in Central Florida” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Another large batch of COVID-19 test results returned Sunday yielded another large number of newly-confirmed COVID-19 cases throughout Central Florida Monday. Orange County logged another 936 COVID-19 cases in the latest report from the Florida Department of Health compared with the report issued 24 hours earlier. Osceola County tallied 275 new case; Seminole County, 237 new cases; and Volusia County, 167. For each of those, and for Brevard and Lake Counties, which logged 141 and 128 new cases respectively, the Monday report represented the highest totals of new coronavirus cases reported on any Monday, a day which normally provides results from a light return of tests, and, consequently, usually the lowest totals of new virus cases recorded on any weekday.

Health care workers screen people at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing. Image via AP.

Rate of coronavirus cases in Orange drops below 11%” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — The rate of positive coronavirus tests in Orange County dipped below 11% on Monday for the second day in a row, offering a glimmer of hope that the latest surge in new cases could be starting to wane as officials said they continue to monitor hospital staffing as the number of patients with COVID-19 rises. The Florida Department of Health reported a rate of positive tests for Sunday and Monday of 10% and 10.7%, respectively. Those rates mean a downward trend in the percent of tests coming back positive is holding steady for now in Orange County, where Walt Disney World just reopened, an MLS tournament is underway and the NBA is about to resume playing games.

Orlando center only one in Florida to participate in COVID-19 vaccine study” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — The Orlando Immunology Center, best known for its treatment of HIV, hepatitis and other viral illnesses, is the only infectious disease practice in Florida selected by the National Institutes of Health to participate in a COVID-19 vaccine study. Sponsored by Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, the vaccine study aims to evaluate about 30,000 subjects — about half those in the U.S. — at high risk for COVID infection, including health care workers. Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Pfizer also have COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials underway. The immunology center is among 33 sites in the United States that will participate in the studies.

After 11 minutes, Orange County closes CARES Act portal for COVID-19 financial aid” via Joe Mario Pedersen of the Orlando Sentinel — The county began accepting applications Monday at 8 a.m. for a one-time $1,000 grant to assist residents affected by COVID-19, but only to the first 10,000 applicants. By 8:11 a.m. the online application was closed. The program, as provided by the CARES Act, allows Orange County to invest $72.9 million into social services, community and residential needs. “The application portal for the Individual and Family Assistance Program has reached it 10,000-user capacity. Applications are closed for July 13, in order to process submitted applications,” Orange County tweeted eight minutes after the portal’s closure.

City of Jacksonville opens 1st of 3 new coronavirus testing sites” via Ashley Harding, Emily Boyer and Jim Piggot of News4Jax — The city of Jacksonville opened a new COVID-19 testing site and plans to open two additional sites by the end of the week. And the city’s longest-running and largest testing site, Lot J of TIAA Bank Field, will close on Tuesday and reopen Wednesday at Regency Square. The new location that opened Monday was inside Ed Austin Regional Park in East Arlington. The next sites will open at the beach and Mandarin. The operations will be a good boost for Jacksonville’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Mayor Lenny Curry. With the added capacity from city-operated testing, as many as 5,000 people can be tested for COVID-19 in Jacksonville every day.

Hillsborough emergency group votes to extend mask order” via C.T. Bowen and Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times — Hillsborough County extended its mask-wearing requirement Monday. “I think it’s imperative upon us to keep going until we see these numbers go down and we know that people are safe in our community,‘’ said Commissioner Sandy Murman. The 5-3 vote, the same as the previous two weeks, came after the state reported Monday morning that Hillsborough County’s caseload grew to 19,828, an increase of 678. The dissenters were Sheriff Chad Chronister, School Board chair Melissa Snively and the representative from Plant City, Vice Mayor Nathan Kilton. People age 15 to 34 account for 44% of the aggregate case total in Hillsborough County, but that age group showed a slight downward trend in positive test results over the past seven days.

BayCare to pause some non-urgent surgeries in Hillsborough, Polk counties” via Daisy Ruth of News Channel 8 — BayCare Health System announced it will begin reducing the number of non-urgent surgeries performed in hospitals in Hillsborough and Polk counties due to the rising number of severely ill coronavirus patients. The temporary change will be effective as of Thursday at 5 p.m. The change impacts all six of BayCare’s Hillsborough hospitals and applies to three hospitals in Polk County. All surgeries for life-threatening situations will continue. BayCare’s effort will still allow many non-urgent surgeries and procedures to continue.

Tampa restaurant Ducky’s under fire after videos of unmasked partygoers surface online” via Ray Roa of Creative Loafing — Popular downtown Tampa sports bar and restaurant Ducky’s is in the crosshairs of social media users, after a video shows crowds of unmasked patrons dancing to the sounds of Joey Franchize on Sunday. Some of the videos reshared on Franchize’s own Instagram story show unmasked folks straight up doing the electric slide on the dance floor at Ducky’s. Hillsborough businesses no longer face criminal sanctions if their patrons don’t wear face masks so as long as the businesses make “reasonable efforts” to enforce the county’s mandatory indoor face mask policy. The Ducky’s videos also arrive as bars that aren’t restaurants are barred from providing on-premises consumption as part of DeSantis’ efforts to curb the latest uptick in coronavirus cases.

A party at Ducky’s Tampa shows a definite lack of coronavirus safety. Image via papipage/Instagram.

Raymond James Stadium to receive $10.4 million for pandemic-related upgrades” via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times — Fans and event staff may feel safer attending USF and Bucs games at Raymond James Stadium this fall. Approximately $10.4 million in federal funding has been approved for upgrades to protect against the spread of the coronavirus. More than 40 modifications, everything from touch-free toilets and sinks, hand-sanitizing stations and removable seat bottoms to assure social distancing, for use by the Tampa Sports Authority are awaiting a vote by the Hillsborough County Commission on Wednesday. The first of three phases should be completed by Oct. 31. Some NFL teams already have announced that they plan to play with some fans in their stadiums.

Collier physicians petition for mandatory mask ordinance due to high community spread” via Liz Freeman of the Naples Daily News — Physicians are calling on the Collier County Commission to enact a mandatory face-covering ordinance Tuesday due to high community spread of COVID-19. The Collier County Medical Society is circulating a petition among its 650 members to support a face-covering ordinance in indoor buildings that are open to the public. Physicians weighing in on a mandatory mask policy adds a new wrinkle to the contentious debate on the heels of the county’s Tourist Development Council voting 4-3 last week to also ask the commission to look at the issue again. The commission last debated a mask ordinance June 30 when it voted to close beaches ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.

Surge in coronavirus hospitalizations taking toll on Manatee County EMS” via Allyson Henning of WFLA — Over the last several weeks, hospitals in Manatee County have experienced an increase in COVID-19 patients coming through their doors. That surge in hospitalizations is taking a toll on other emergency services throughout the county. Manatee County EMS Chief James Crutchfield says the increase in hospitalizations has had an impact on the time it takes to offload patients or move them from ambulances to ERs. “For the most part, we are able to meet that except for the last couple of months with COVID. We are continuously creeping up. We are going to 25 to 30 minutes,” said Chief Crutchfield.

St. Lucie County makes wearing face masks mandatory in public” via Keona Gardner of the TC Palm — Citing a growing number of cases of the novel coronavirus, County Administrator Howard Tipton Monday ordered individuals to wear face coverings in public, when not social distancing, to slow the spread of the virus. “The cloth covering may not protect the wearer, but it may protect the wearer from spreading the disease,” Tipton said. “We can’t tell who is infected. We can’t look in a crowd and say, ‘That person should be wearing a mask.’” The order goes into effect 8 a.m. Wednesday and will remain in effect for 30 days, county spokesman Erick Gill said.

St. Lucie County Administrator Howard Tipton is mandating masks in public.

New trial using antibodies to attack coronavirus launches at Sarasota Memorial Hospital” via Kerry Sheridan of WUSF — Sarasota Memorial is the first hospital in Florida to begin a scientific trial using an experimental antibody treatment to attack coronavirus. Doctors hope the treatment, called REGN-COV2 and made by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, will offer a new way to treat and possibly prevent COVID-19. SMH infectious disease doctor Manuel Gordillo said he is “very excited” about the trial, which began at Sarasota Memorial Hospital as part of a wider multinational study. It is first being tested in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and who need oxygen. Regeneron’s antibody treatment is grown in a lab, so its supply doesn’t rely on human donations, like convalescent plasma, which doctors say is running critically low.

Windermere grilled cheese bar visited by state agents during weekend rally against mask mandate” via Lisa Maria Garza and Austin Fuller of the Orlando Sentinel — Patrons of a Windermere grilled cheese bar chanted “don’t shut her down” as state agents investigated possible violations of the state’s coronavirus restrictions during a “freedom rally” held there Saturday. Video of the tense scene — recorded by anti-mask mandate activists who compared the scene to Nazi Germany — attracted national attention, the second time 33 & Melt had caused an uproar on social media in recent months. The event was billed by organizers as being held in a “mask free zone.” Owner Carrie Hudson said about 30 patrons were inside the restaurant Saturday when two agents from the state’s division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco arrived.

— CORONA NATION —

Trump’s attacks on Anthony Fauci and other experts reinforce that he’d rather Americans be confused than concerned” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — What’s unusual about the White House’s efforts to undermine Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leading voice on the novel coronavirus pandemic, is that the only way in which Fauci has undercut the President is by being honest about the moment. What Fauci has done is make obvious both that the pandemic is as bad as it seems and that there are ways in which it can be addressed, which at times conflict with what Trump would like to see. White House officials now want to rein in Fauci by cherry-picking instances in which they can take Fauci out of context to use the uncertainties of the pandemic against him.

Donald Trump’s attacks on Anthony Fauci sows confusion among Americans.

Trump administration to recommend National Guard as option to help hospitals report coronavirus data” via Lena H. Sun and Amy Goldstein of The Washington Post — The Trump administration is poised to ask governors to consider sending in the National Guard to hospitals to help improve data collection about novel coronavirus patients, supplies and capacity, according to draft letters, internal emails and hospital industry officials familiar with the plans. A letter, to be sent to governors imminently, backs away from earlier drafts as recently as Friday that had directed state leaders to deploy the National Guard to help hospitals with daily data submissions. It now includes the National Guard among states’ options for improving the data flow.

Coronavirus is coming for rural America” via Adam Minter of MSN Money — Of the 10 U.S. counties with the highest number of recent COVID-19 cases per resident, nine are nonmetropolitan areas with populations under 50,000. There are several factors behind that surge, including the prevalence of older populations, meat-processing plants and communal living among immigrant labor forces. But what it adds up to is a quietly growing crisis. For many of these rural communities, confronting the coronavirus pandemic will require a lot more than issuing stay-at-home orders and there won’t be much help from Washington or anywhere else. Community-based solutions to COVID-19 outbreaks are going to be increasingly important.

Time to tell America’s dogs this arrangement won’t last forever” via Arianne Cohen of Bloomberg — America’s pets are luxuriating in dreamy, continual proximity to their owners. Well, not all. “Cats are annoyed,” says William Berloni, who trains animals for the stage and screen. Dogs are becoming “overly bonded,” which means they’re intensely reliant on our presence to stay calm. Dogs signal this when they can no longer self-soothe and panic after an owner leaves a room or, God forbid, the house. Incrementally reestablish your office workday schedule, including when you’d walk, feed, play with, and be apart from your dog to help your pet adjust to being alone again.

Bottleneck for U.S. coronavirus response: The fax machine” via Sarah Kliff and Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times — As hard as the United States works to control coronavirus, it keeps running into problems caused by its fragmented health system, a jumble of old and new technology, and data standards that don’t meet epidemiologists’ needs. Public health officials and private laboratories have managed to expand testing to more than half a million performed daily, but they do not have a system that can smoothly handle that avalanche of results. A frequently used method is the fax machine, a technology retained because it complies with digital privacy standards for health information. These reports often come in duplicate, go to the wrong health department, or are missing crucial information such as a patient’s phone number or address. The torrent of paper data led at least one health department to request additional forces.

— CORONA ECONOMICS — 

U.S. budget deficit hits all-time high of $864 billion in June” via Martin Crutsinger of The Associated Press — The federal government incurred the biggest monthly budget deficit in history in June as spending on programs to combat the coronavirus recession exploded while millions of job losses cut into tax revenues. The Treasury Department reported that the deficit hit $864 billion last month, an amount of red ink that surpasses most annual deficits in the nation’s history and is above the previous monthly deficit record of $738 billion in April. That amount was also tied to the trillions of dollars Congress has provided to cushion the impact of the widespread shutdowns that occurred in an effort to limit the spread of the viral pandemic.

The federal government incurred the biggest monthly budget deficit in history in June 2020 as spending on programs to combat the coronavirus recession exploded while millions of job losses cut into tax revenues. Image via AP.

Fed, Treasury disagreements slowed start of Main Street Lending Program” via Nick Timiraos and Kate Davidson of The Wall Street Journal — Disagreements between leaders at the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department in recent months slowed the start of their flagship lending initiative for small and mid-size businesses, according to current and former government officials. The differences centered on how to craft the loan terms of their $600 billion Main Street Lending Program to help support businesses through the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. Fed officials generally favored easier terms that would increase the risk of the government losing money, while Treasury officials preferred a more conservative approach, people familiar with the process said. Treasury, which has put up $75 billion to cover losses, resisted recent changes to relax loan terms.

New Republican push for paid family leave in coronavirus stimulus package” via Francesca Chambers of the Miami Herald — Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy said he will repackage his paid family leave proposal as a five-year pilot program in the hopes that it will pass Congress this month as part of the coronavirus stimulus legislation. Cassidy said parents have been strained during the pandemic and that the paid family leave proposal could help ease some of their burdens. The five-year pilot program is intended to help with the cost of day care and other expenses and replace wages for new parents who take a leave of absence from their jobs. The proposal would provide $5,000 in advance on new parents’ child tax credits and reduce families’ tax credits by $500 a year for 10 years, if they choose to participate.

Workers are pushed to the brink as they continue to wait for delayed unemployment payments” via Eli Rosenberg of The Washington Post — Four months into the worst recession since the Great Depression, tens of thousands of workers across the country have filed for jobless claims but have yet to receive payments. Many are now in dire financial straits. The issue has spilled back into public view in recent weeks, as thousands of frustrated workers awaiting payments have camped out, sometimes overnight, in front of unemployment offices. A flood of new jobless applications has overwhelmed state unemployment offices over the past four months. The agencies themselves are hampered by years of neglect.

Tampa’s Straz Center lays off 34 employees, furloughs 32 more” via Jay Cridlin of the Tampa Bay Times — The David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts laid off 34 employees at the end of June, and put another 32 on furlough. The reductions follow 28 furloughs that took place in March, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. At least one more layoff will take place in July. The Straz had informed the state in May that a certain number of staff cuts were to be expected as programming ceased throughout the summer. Officials now hope to reopen in late 2020 or January, with its Broadway subscription series tentatively launching in February.

— MORE CORONA — 

WHO head: There will be no return to the “old normal” in near future” via Marisa Fernandez of Axios — World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned Monday that “there will be no return to the ‘old normal’ for the foreseeable future,” but that there is a “road map” for struggling countries to get the virus under control. A record of 230,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported to the WHO on Sunday, as total infections approach 13 million worldwide. About 80% of the new cases were reported from 10 countries, while 50% came from the U.S. and Brazil, the two worst-hit countries in the world.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says we will not be going back to the ‘old normal’ anytime soon.

Two weeks then gone? Not even close, say doctors about lingering effects of COVID-19” via Wendy Rhodes of The Palm Beach Post — As the virus persists and researchers collect and analyze data, theories are confirmed and denied, and “facts” are ever-changing. But one thing on which medical experts worldwide now agree is that long-term effects from COVID-19 on the liver, kidneys, brain, lungs, heart, gastrointestinal tract and psyche could be very real for people of all ages. Blood clots triggered by the virus can cause fingers to turn black and “die,” patients can suffer extended bouts of debilitating exhaustion, and immune system disorders can lead to organ failure or death after the virus has left the body.

Scientists hoped summer temperatures would tamp down COVID-19 cases. What happened?” via Sarah Toy of The Wall Street Journal — Studies have shown simulated sunlight can inactivate the virus on surfaces and in the air, and one study found the virus deteriorates much more quickly in warmer temperatures than in cool temperatures. Some of the other coronaviruses that have long circulated in the population tend to peak in colder months and wane in the summer months, and some thought that summer heat and humidity could work to slow the spread of COVID-19. After running their model under several different scenarios, the researchers found that seasonal changes in climate became an important factor in limiting viral spread only after a large part of the population became immune to the virus.

A race is on to make enough small glass vials to deliver coronavirus vaccine around the world” via Christopher Rowland of The Washington Post — As scientists race to test coronavirus vaccines in humans, a parallel scramble is underway to produce billions of medical-grade vials and syringes that will be needed to inoculate the world’s population. The job of delivering vaccine to a majority of humans is so vast that global production of pharmaceutical vials needs to be ramped up by 5% to 10% within two years, a job the industry says requires immediate preparation and increases in production but is not an insurmountable challenge. Governments and drug companies around the world are placing huge orders worth hundreds of millions of dollars and pushing the makers of vials and syringes to add manufacturing capacity.

Amid surging cases, California imposes a sweeping rollback of its reopening plans.” via The New York Times — With coronavirus cases surging in California, Gavin Newsom announced one of the most sweeping rollbacks of any state’s reopening plans, saying Monday that he would move to close indoor operations statewide for restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, zoos and card rooms. Bars would be forced to close all operations. The governor said that in at least 30 of the hardest-hit counties, businesses would be forced to close indoor operations for fitness centers, places of worship, noncritical offices, hair salons and barbershops, and malls.

Apple pessimistic on full 2020 return to U.S. offices, pushes retail to work remote” via Mark Gurman of Bloomberg — Apple Inc. is readjusting operations as COVID-19 cases continue to spike in the U.S. and some other parts of the world. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is pushing retail staff to work remotely as the virus forces the company to shut some of its stores again, according to a video message sent to employees. It is also shipping COVID-19 test kits to employees’ homes, and told staff in a memo that a full return to U.S. offices won’t occur before the end of the year. In March, Apple launched a program to let retail workers switch to online roles while most of Apple’s stores were shut across the world. Of Apple’s 271 U.S. retail locations, more than 90 have had to close again due to COVID-19 spikes.

Entertainers promised to see us through the quarantine. Even they are running out of steam.” via Geoff Edgers of The Washington Post — In-person, live entertainment remains mostly mothballed until at least 2021. That first, crushing wave of cancellations, in March, spawned an informal network of free-streamers, from museum curators and ballet dancers to Jeff Tweedy doing birthday requests from his living room. They promised, through sometimes blurry feeds, that they would be doing this “until we were back.” And then we weren’t, as the curve carried on and talk turned to superspreaders and bleach. Suddenly, what had seemed like a whim, a relief, a coping stopgap had become a never-ending Zoom appointment.

Hong Kong Disneyland to close again on July 15 due to ‘third wave’ of coronavirus cases” via WFLA — Hong Kong Disneyland announced it will close its theme park on July 15 due to coronavirus concerns. “As required by the government and health authorities in line with prevention efforts taking place across Hong Kong, Hong Kong Disneyland park will temporarily close from July 15,” Disney said in a statement on Monday. The theme park closed back in January and reopened to limited crowds on June 18. On Monday, 41 out of 52 coronavirus infections reported in Hong Kong were locally-transmitted cases. Since July 6, Hong Kong has reported 250 new cases, with Monday’s tally being the highest since March. Hong Kong recently banned public gatherings of more than four and required face coverings on public transport as the city battles an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Due to another outbreak, Hong Kong Disneyland will be closing a second time.

No, really, your boss wants you to take vacation — now” via Matt Grossman of The Wall Street Journal — After several challenging months on the job during the coronavirus pandemic, businesses want workers to use their paid time off to stave off burnout and avoid a year-end vacation crunch. But with travel disruptions scuttling many summer trips, not to mention employees’ stress about working from home for the first time, fewer workers appear to be claiming vacation time this year. Many companies’ vacation-time policies amount to “use it or lose it,” so workers choosing not to take time off are essentially working for free. Unused vacation time is logged as an accounting liability on corporate balance sheets, so companies notice when it adds up.

— SMOLDERING —

Majority of Americans say race discrimination is a big problem in the U.S.” via Eugene Scott of The Washington Post — More than 65% of the public says racial and ethnic discrimination is a big problem in the United States. In many ways, this moment appears to be one of the most revealing about how Americans are responding to racism in recent history. And to many Americans, if activists are to be given credit for helping Americans recognize the breadth of this country’s racism problem, Trump is responsible for making matters worse. Most Americans, 62%, say the President’s handling of the protests in response to the country’s racial issues has made situations worse.

Confederate symbolism in the military stretches far beyond flags, base names” via Michael R. Gordon of The Wall Street Journal — From National Guard battle streamers to the names of ships and streets on military bases, tributes to the Confederacy are common. While many are decades old, some have turned up in more recent U.S. wars, including patches worn by National Guard soldiers in Afghanistan that commemorate an Alabama regiment that fought against Union forces in the Civil War. “All of this Confederate heraldry and nomenclature needs a close look,” said Sean MacFarland, a retired three-star Army general. After the Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee last month approved a measure that would strip the names of Confederate commanders from the bases, Trump vowed to veto the legislation.

Confederate names are prevalent throughout the military, beyond bases and flags.

CDC employees call out agency’s ‘toxic culture of racial aggressions’” via Selena Simmons-Duffin of NPR — More than 1,000 current employees at the CDC have signed a letter calling for the federal agency to address “ongoing and recurring acts of racism and discrimination” against Black employees. In the letter, addressed to CDC Director Robert Redfield and dated June 30, the authors put their call for change in the context of the coronavirus pandemic’s disproportionate impact on Black people. The letter offers a rare glimpse inside a famously opaque federal agency, where career staff often work for decades and information is carefully filtered to the public through the press office.

LeBron James won’t wear social justice message on Lakers jersey” via Greg Beacham of The Associated Press — James says his thoughts on social justice can’t be contained on the back of a basketball jersey. The Los Angeles Lakers superstar won’t wear one of the NBA-approved social justice messages on the back of his jersey when the NBA resumes competition later this month in the Orlando bubble. The 35-year-old superstar has a long history of social involvement and advocacy for progressive causes. James speaks frequently of what he feels is a responsibility to campaign for positive social change from his powerful position in sports and pop culture.

Atlanta Braves not changing name, looking at ‘chop’ celebration” via ESPN — The Atlanta Braves said in an email to season-ticket holders Sunday that they will not be changing their nickname but will take a further look at the future of the tomahawk chop. The email was shared on Twitter by Paul Lukas, a journalist who runs the Uni Watch blog. He received it from a Braves season-ticket holder. The Braves confirmed the contents of the email when contacted by ESPN. “The Atlanta Braves honors, respects and values the Native American community,” the letter says in part. “As an organization, we have always drawn strength from our diversity and respect for everyone. That will never change. The Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians are among the highest-profile teams considering a name change.

Florida lawyers organization wants mural showing KKK removed from Baker County Courthouse” via Teresa Stepzinski of The Florida Times-Union — The Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is calling for the immediate removal of a mural containing a depiction of Ku Klux Klan riders from the Baker County Courthouse in Macclenny. The statewide organization with 1,200-plus members says the Baker County Courthouse mural, which depicts KKK riders, is “a reprehensible reminder of an unjust and racist past in our area.” The association is calling on Chief Judge James P. Nilon of the 8th Judicial Circuit — which includes Baker County — to order the immediate removal of the entire 135-square foot mural. The mural, located prominently inside the courthouse in Macclenny, was painted 19 years ago with the intention of illustrating significant events in the history of the small, rural county.

Clearwater is latest local city to discuss adopting body cameras for police” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — The Clearwater City Council is revisiting the question of whether to adopt police body cameras, with a work session discussion scheduled for Monday, and if the program is advanced, a vote on Thursday. Ahead of their first discussion on the topic, the five council members are split on their support for body cameras, while weighing the potential for more accountability with the cost and public records burden. Council member Mark Bunker has been a vocal proponent of adopting the system, arguing it can protect officers from false complaints and also provide a way to hold officers who act unlawfully accountable.

Council member felt threatened by message from St. Petersburg police union chief” via Josh Solomon of the Tampa Bay Times — On the eighth day of protests in St. Petersburg, police officer and union President Jonathan Vazquez sent a text message to council members. Officers and executive staff, he wrote, “ALL wanted to let the elected officials and stakeholders in the city know they see who is standing with and supporting the police and those who are NOT supporting the police. Actions speak louder then (sic) words.” Vazquez said they all supported those peacefully protesting. Most Council members who responded to the text message did so positively, replying with words of encouragement.

— D.C. MATTERS —

China sanctions Marco Rubio for criticism” via The Associated Press — China said it will impose sanctions on three U.S. lawmakers and one ambassador in response to similar actions taken by the U.S. last week against Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses against Muslims in the Xinjiang region. U.S. Senators Rubio and Ted Cruz, Rep. Chris Smith and Ambassador for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback were targeted, as was the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. The four have been critical of the ruling Communist Party’s policies toward minority groups and people of faith. The U.S. prohibited any property transactions by Americans with four senior Chinese officials and barred three of them from entering the U.S. There was no indication that any of the sanctioned Americans had plans to travel to China.

Rubio says surge from ‘people behaving like people’” via the News Service of Florida — Rubio, said Congress is close to a relief package aimed at small businesses while pointing to “negative news” about the pandemic affecting travel to areas moving toward reopening. Rubio also anecdotally attributed the increase in COVID-19 cases to a natural desire of people to interact with others. “I don’t think there’s any evidence that restaurants or Disney World, which is an outdoor setting, or beaches or parks, are the cause of this surge. I think the surge is coming from people behaving like people. And that’s what makes a virus like this so problematic. It asks us not to do what comes natural to us, and that is [to] interact with other human beings.”

Marco Rubio said the spread of COVID-19 is based on people acting naturally.

Officials look to bolster supplier of COVID-19 drug” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Rubio said he had received reports from several Florida hospitals in the previous 24 hours about a potential shortage of a key drug that has been used to help patients battling COVID-19. “I am in contact with federal officials in hopes of addressing this matter immediately,” Rubio said in a statement posted on Twitter. Rubio’s remarks came as DeSantis told reporters at a Miami news conference that a supply of remdesivir had been sent to several hospitals across the state. DeSantis did not specify where the supply came from, though New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was sending a shipment to Florida.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz pitches new spending panel on equity, justice, diversity” via Caitlin Emma of POLITICO Florida — Wasserman Schultz unveiled a plan to create a spending advisory panel on equity and justice as she vies for the leadership of the House Appropriations Committee, saying she wants to “help address a long-standing crisis that has been given new urgency: systemic racism, bigotry, and injustice.” She said House appropriators are faced with “a rare window“ to tackle reforms as demonstrations roil nationwide against police brutality and racial injustice. The program would review federal programs and presidential budget requests to “identify ongoing inequities in communities of color and historically marginalized communities,” she wrote.

— STATEWIDE —

DeSantis’ Supreme Court pick draws legal challenge — Democratic Rep. Geraldine Thompson is challenging DeSantis’ appointment of Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Renatha Francis to the Florida Supreme Court, Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida reports. In a lawsuit, Thompson says the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission exceeded its authority in nominating Francis. DeSantis appointed Francis to the high court in May, but it will not go into effect until Sept. 24 due to the constitutional requirement that requires justices to have been members of the Florida Bar for 10 years.

Ron DeSantis’ choice of Renatha Francis to the state Supreme Court is drawing a legal challenge.

Happening today — The 1st District Court of Appeal will hear video oral arguments in a challenge to the 2011 state law that would impose tough penalties if city and county officials approve gun regulations. The state is asking the appeals court to overturn a circuit judge’s ruling that parts of the law were unconstitutional, 9 a.m., 1dca.org/Oral-Arguments/Live-Video-Oral-Arguments.

’Marsy’s Law,’ public records law clash in police case” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — The city of Tallahassee and media organizations tried to persuade a circuit judge that a 2018 constitutional amendment aimed at protecting victims’ rights does not allow police officers involved in use-of-force incidents to keep their identities secret. The arguments came in a lawsuit filed by the Florida Police Benevolent Association asserting that the constitutional amendment known as “Marsy’s Law” applies to Tallahassee police officers “John Doe 1” and “John Doe 2.” While the case was filed on behalf of the two officers against the city, it has exposed a broader conflict between two Florida constitutional amendments: Marsy’s Law and a decades-old government-in-the-sunshine amendment that established one of the nation’s broadest public-records laws.

Five years in, Gardiner Scholarship Program still growing” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — The state scholarship program for special needs students has experienced steady growth over the past several academic years, according to a new report from scholarship administrating organization Step Up For Students. The brainchild of former Senate President Andy Gardiner, the Gardiner Scholarship Program was rolled out ahead of the 2014-15 academic year. The Florida Legislature created the program to give families of students with physical or cognitive disabilities the resources to design an educational curriculum tailored to their needs. In its first year, the program provided about 1,500 scholarships. A small but noticeable trend over the program’s lifetime: the percentage of scholarship recipients who are home-schooled has climbed from just under 30% in year one to 34% today.

Lawmaker denies using anti-gay slur during radio call” via Ryan Nichol of Florida PoliticsRep. Al Jacquet is denying using an anti-gay slur directed at Commissioner Omari Hardy after Hardy accused him of using the language last week. Hardy made the allegations last Thursday. “A Haitian-American supporter called me this morning and informed me that he heard my ad on Haitian radio yesterday, and that Rep. Jacquet called the radio station after my ad was played and told listeners to disregard my radio spot because it was a ‘gay’ spot,” Hardy said. Jacquet did not respond to comment when reached by Florida Politics. Now, he is citing a letter from Sak Pase FM denying making the remarks.

Daphne Campbell falsely says she’s ‘never’ been a party to a civil lawsuit” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Campbell recently told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel she had “never” been a party to a civil lawsuit. A simple search of the Miami-Dade County Courts website shows that’s not true. Campbell made the claim as part of a candidate questionnaire series she completed as she runs in the Senate District 35 contest. As part of that late June questionnaire, Campbell was asked, “Have you ever been a plaintiff or a defendant in a civil action, including bankruptcy or foreclosure, or had a restraining order issued against you? If so, please explain.” Campbell replied, “Never.” The Miami-Dade County Courts website lists 10 different cases where Campbell was a named party. In nine of those 10 cases, Campbell was listed as the defendant, meaning she was the one being sued.

Broward teachers union changes mind on endorsing former Sheriff Scott Israel” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Broward Teachers Union rescinded its recommendation that members vote to reinstate Israel as county sheriff after he was removed from office for failures in the Parkland school shooting that killed 17. Union leaders decided not to endorse in the sheriff’s race after hearing complaints about Israel, especially from Parkland area teachers who were angered by his department’s response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “This was not intended to have people upset,” union President Anna Fusco said Monday. “We heard our members speak up and we will continue to make sure we start schools safe Aug. 19 and not have social media screams about the sheriff’s race. BTU is too busy for that.”

Edward Waters College to become a university following budget windfall” via Anna Savo-Matthews of The Florida Times-Union — Edward Waters College, the first historically Black college in Florida, is on its way to becoming a university. President A. Zachary Faison Jr., who declined interview requests, recently announced at a news conference with DeSantis that the college has received much more in state funding than expected. The 2020-2021 state legislative budget allocated an additional $3.5 million to Edward Waters for a $6.4 million total. “This is truly transformative,” Faison said at the time. The college has announced it intends to expand its program offerings and ultimately become a university with the creation of its first graduate-level program, a master’s degree in business administration.

Edward Waters College is getting an upgrade to university.

NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer to face ethics commission hearing” via Dani Christensen of Florida Bulldog — Hammer faces a probable cause hearing next week before the Florida Commission on Ethics regarding her failure to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments from the National Rifle Association. State Sen. Perry Thurston, filed sworn complaints about Hammer with the Florida Senate and the ethics commission in May 2019. State law says the fine for late reports is “$50 per day per report for each late day up to a maximum of $5,000 per late report.” Hammer, however, wasn’t fined or otherwise disciplined. Instead, the lawyer told her to amend only four years of lobbyist registration records to show that she was employed by the “lobbying firm” Unified Sportsmen of Florida to represent the NRA before the Legislature. Hammer, who complied, is Unified Sportsmen’s $110,000-a-year executive director.

JEA executive Herschel Vinyard and eight other executives terminated without cause” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — JEA announced it terminated the employment of chief administrative officer Vinyard and eight other executives, but they will receive 20 weeks of severance pay because their dismissals are without cause. Vinyard, who joined JEA in 2019 after working in private law practice and serving as secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection, had a central role in the failed attempt last year to line up a buyer for the utility. An attorney for Vinyard said in May that Vinyard refused a demand that he resign, which would have forfeited his severance pay.

‘She kept us safe’: Requiem for Margo Lawson, guardian angel to Miami opioid users” via Romina Ruiz-Goiriena of the Miami Herald — Lawson died clean. She was 48 years old. After living on the streets of Overtown for more than a decade, she had beaten impossible odds; stopped using drugs, moved from a shelter into an apartment with another sober friend and kept a job. She was weeks away from her dream coming true: being hired by UM Jackson to work as a peer advocate at the first legal needle exchange in the American South. Then, she suffered a massive heart attack and was taken off life support on June 19. “For a lot of people, all they need is a head start. It’s that first step,” Lawson said in an interview with the Miami Herald early last month.

— 2020 —

Trump’s reelection operation hires 1,500 field staffers” via Zeke Miller of The Associated Press — The Republican National Committee and Trump’s campaign say they have now hired 1,500 field staffers, aiming to convert their financial advantage over Democrats into votes in November. Trump Victory, the joint field effort of the two organizations, announced the hiring of an additional 300 staffers set to hit 20 target states by Wednesday in the largest field operation ever mounted by a Republican. The goal is to turn out votes on behalf of Republicans up and down the ticket this fall. The Trump team says it is on pace to eclipse the 2.2 million volunteer total that helped reelect President Barack Obama in 2012.

Why Joe Biden has his eye on Karen Bass” via Edward-Isaac Dovere of The Atlantic — Now, much to Bass’s surprise, Biden’s team is taking her seriously as a potential vice-presidential running mate. One theory is that she’s being vetted to help Biden win favor with the Congressional Black Caucus, which she chairs. Another is that Biden is trying to use the process to elevate as many Black women as he can. Yet another is that he’s looking to distract people from speculating about some of the more likely choices. Bass has a low-key manner in place of Kamala Harris’s searing speeches, and pointy glasses in place of Val Demings’s dress blues, but she was the one House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put in charge when it came to actually write the police-reform bill.

Joe Biden is giving Kern Bass a serious look as VP.

Biden builds 5-point lead over Trump in red Texas as some voters sour on handling of virus” via Robert T. Garrett of The Dallas Morning News — Biden has built a five-point lead over Trump in Texas as unease over Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic mounts. Biden had 46% support to Trump’s 41%. If the general election were held today, the outcome could depend on the 14% of voters who were undecided or named someone else. The story behind Biden’s slight bulge is the softening of the Republican incumbent’s support among independents and “weak partisans.”

Biden makes sharp pivot toward Latino vote” via Marc Caputo of Politico — Biden is conducting a massive turnaround campaign, hiring a rash of Hispanic operatives, spending $1 million in Spanish-language outreach and signing one of the nation’s top pollsters in the field, Latino Decisions. He’s already leading among Hispanic voters. But if Biden can get the same level of support and turnout as Hillary Clinton did in 2016 — while continuing to do better than she did among black and white voters — he’s all but guaranteed to win the crucial battlegrounds of Florida and Arizona.

Florida Republican mail fliers push mail-in ballots, even as Trump bashes them” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — Despite Trump’s continued railing against voting by mail, his fellow Republicans in Florida are continuing to encourage GOP and no party affiliation voters to request mail ballots. Fliers from the Republican Party of Florida started showing up in mailboxes last week, showing a tweet from Trump stating that “Absentee ballots are fine. A person has to go through a process to get and use them.” The flier urges voters to request a vote-by-mail ballot, but it blurs the rest of the tweet. The blurred part states, “Mail-In Voting, on the other hand, will lead to the most corrupt Election is USA history. Bad things happen with Mail-Ins. Just look at Special Election in Patterson, New Jersey 19% of Ballots a FRAUD!”

Florida Democrats embrace vote-by-mail while Republicans, led by Trump, shy away” via Erin Doherty of the Miami Herald — With Trump continuing his attacks on voting by mail, tweeting last week just before his visit to Miami that voting by mail is a “formula for RIGGING an Election,” a new CBS poll and data from the Florida Division of Elections indicate fewer Republicans than Democrats in the President’s home state are planning to cast their ballots from home. The state elections office data shows Democrats with a more than 400,000-voter advantage over Republicans in vote-by-mail enrollment in the state. Republicans, who had all but perfected the art of sending in mail votes after the state created no-excuse mail voting in 2002, are increasingly shifting back toward Election Day voting.

Ready or not: Election costs soar in prep for virus voting” via Andrew Taylor and Christina A. Cassidy of The Associated Press — The pandemic has sent state and local officials scrambling to prepare for an election like few others, an extraordinary endeavor during a presidential contest, as virus cases rise across much of the U.S. long-promised federal aid to help cash-starved states cope is stalled on Capitol Hill. The money would help pay for transforming the age-old voting process into a pandemic-ready system. Central to that is the costs for printing mail-in ballots and postage. There are also costs to ensure in-person voting is safe with personal protective equipment, or PPE, for poll workers, who tend to be older and more at risk of getting sick from the virus, and training for new workers. Pricey machines are needed to quickly count the vote.

Happening today Jill Biden, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Biden, joins U.S. Rep. Mucarsel-Powell for an online event to discuss issues affecting the Latino community, 6:30 p.m. Members of the public can register at mobilize.us/joebiden/event. Members of the media may register at docs.google.com.

— CONVENTION COUNTDOWN —

Republican Party officials still plan to attend their convention in Florida, an epicenter of the virus.” via The New York Times — More than a dozen Republican National Committee members from across the country said in interviews that they were still planning to attend the party’s convention next month in Florida, despite the surge in cases. Several of the RNC members interviewed are planning to first go to Charlotte, where the party’s delegates will conduct much of their official business, before relocating to Jacksonville for the big party so desired by Trump. While a handful of Republican senators who are occasionally skeptical of Trump have announced they won’t go to Jacksonville, there is very little appetite among party regulars to slim the festivities to less than the planned three nights or switch to a virtual convention.

Headed to the Convention? Not I, more Republicans are saying” via The New York Times — Senators Roy Blunt of Missouri and Pat Roberts of Kansas are planning to skip the Republican National Convention next month as the host state of Florida deals with the biggest outbreak of coronavirus cases in the nation. Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart and Francis Rooney of Florida are sticking with their plans not to attend, even though the convention is now in their home state. Marco Rubio, Florida’s senior senator, has not committed to attending. Neither has John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranking Senate Republican, or Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking House Republican.

— MORE FROM THE TRAIL — 

John Rutherford’s reelection hopes backed up by $700K on hand” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — In fundraising through the end of June, the second-term Republican was able to claim $701,000 on hand, after raising nearly $191,000 through 2020s second quarter. Rutherford represents Florida’s 4th Congressional District, which centers around Jacksonville, including Nassau County and parts of Duval and St. Johns counties. Of note, the Congressman has a fundraiser later this week that apparently is still going ahead, despite people at a fundraiser last week for Florida House candidates in Ponte Vedra having been exposed to a COVID-19 positive patient. The Congressman does face a primary election. Dr. Erick Aguilar, as of this writing, has yet to file data for the second quarter of 2020.

Ryan Chamberlin shows some ‘fire’ in his first TV ad” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Chamberlin, a Marion County Republican, launched his first ad titled “Fire.” The 30-second spot pushes back on media criticism of Trump and those who support him. “Aren’t you tired of the arrogant self-righteousness? The media calls us idiots for supporting President Trump. Racists for saying all lives matter. Bigots for securing the border. And they think every one of us is carrying a gun. Can’t imagine why,” Chamberlin says as his wife brings him his gun. “I’m Ryan Chamberlin, and I approve this message because I’m tired of Congress being run by America-hating socialists. Let’s fire Nancy Pelosi. And keep America great. One nation under God,” he concludes.

To watch, click on the image below:

New Scott Franklin ad hammers Ross Spano for ‘criminal’ investigations — Republican Franklin is releasing a new ad that attacks incumbent Spano, also a Republican, for several ongoing ethics investigations over questionable campaign financing. Franklin is primarying Spano in Florida’s 15th Congressional District. In the 60-second “Spano Incompetent Corrupt,” a narrator asks: “Why is Ross Spano under criminal investigation by the Department of Justice?” Following that is Spano trying to explain (and stammering) how he “took a loan from friends” which was then lent to his campaign. “That’s a federal crime,” the narrator responds. “Spano engineered an illegal contribution … to win an election.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Dane Eagle’s first TV ad draws contrast to untested self-funders” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Eagle suggests Southwest Florida avoid electing someone based solely on slick television ads. He makes the point in a new video reaching Fox News viewers. The TV spot stresses the Congressional candidate’s current role as House Majority Leader in the Florida Legislature. And he does so with footage of Trump dropping the title at the Israeli American Council National Summit. The ad also closes with Trump saying “Thank you, Dane.” The bulk of the ad stresses the need for an experienced policymaker representing Florida’s 19th Congressional District. “I’m running for Congress because experience matters,” Eagle says in the ad.

— “Meet Jessica Harrington, a Democrat running for House District 64” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics

Fiona McFarland unrolls new ad, Charles Hines endorsement” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Sarasota Republican McFarland rolled out a new television ad and an endorsement from County Commissioner Hines. McFarland’s ad, part of a major air buy ahead of the Aug. 18 primary, describes McFarland as “fresh, bold, Republican leadership.” The area newcomer is stressing her candidacy as a new face for local politics. She’s running against Sarasota County Charter Review Board member Donna Barcomb and attorney Jason Miller, who also ran in 2018, in the Republican primary for House District 72. The video hits on current events like police issues and economic recovery.

To watch, click on the image below:

Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony clashes with Scott Israel, his ousted predecessor, in candidate forum” via Skyler Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Tony traded blows with his predecessor over powerful unions Black Lives Matter protesters say have blocked much-needed reforms and protected bad cops. The two Democratic front-runners faced off in a candidate forum held by the League of Women Voters of Broward County and the American Civil Liberties Union ahead of the Aug. 18 primary election. Six other candidates in the crowded field jostled to break through the pack.

— COMING TO A TV NEAR YOU —

— Republican HD 27 candidate Webster Barnaby made a $1,890 buy to put his ads on A&E, AMC, the Food Network, Fox News, The History Channel and TLC in front of AT&T TV customers in Volusia County. A second buy, ringing in at $6,363, adds in the Golf Channel, Hallmark Channel and TV Land. Both flights run from July 11-17 and combine to 637 airings.

— Republican HD 59 candidate Michael Owen shelled out $15,846 for ad time on Fox News on Spectrum in east Hillsborough. It covers 99 spots and runs July 10-23.

— Republican HD 120 candidate Rhonda Rebman Lopez dropped $23,232 for up to 352 ad spots to air on Fox Business, Fox News and HGTV in the Homestead and Key West Markets. The buy covers July 10 through Aug. 18.

— TOP OPINION —

DeSantis should lead or get out of the way on coronavirus” via the Editorial Board of the Orlando Sentinel — If Coronavirus were a hurricane, it seemed to reach Category 5 status over the weekend. More than ever, Florida needs decisive, resolute guidance to get through this storm. Instead, Ron DeSantis continues to muddle and spin his way through. For every good move, there have been too many missteps. That’s not the sole reason Florida has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. We don’t need panic, but we do need an appropriate sense of urgency. DeSantis instead continues to rationalize, pass the buck to local officials, personalize criticism, send mixed messages and generally fail to convey the gravity of the situation.

— OPINIONS —

Biden is the wrong choice to lead the West through Cold War 2.0” via Hugh Hewitt of The Washington Post — The central issue of the current campaign ought to be the nature and ambitions of the Chinese Communist Party, its reckless disregard for the world in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak, its repression of Hong Kong, what may be genocidal treatment of the Uighurs and its plans to dominate not just the South China Sea but the international order for decades to come. The left has long liked to attack conservatives for a supposed lack of intelligence and sophistication, along with alleged warmongering and other crimes. Former secretary of defense Robert Gates famously wrote in 2014 that Biden “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”

Mom and dad, send your kids to school. Dr. DeSantis knows best” via Carl Hiaasen of the Tampa Bay Times — In many places where the virus is thriving, school administrators have been working on hybrid plans for restarting with a mix of online studies and socially distanced attendance. Last week Trump trotted out seldom-seen Education Secretary DeVos for a conference call to pressure governors, saying hybrid systems developed for the pandemic don’t work and are unacceptable. The administration of DeSantis ordered that all brick-and-mortar public and charter schools be operating five days a week in August. While the decree sounds firm, local districts have the power to override it.

Why Fauci should quit” via Joel Mathis of The Week — It is time for Fauci to quit the government. Indeed, resigning might be the best thing he can do for the country’s public health, not to mention his own dignity. Fauci’s presence on the coronavirus task force and, often, at the podium in the White House press room offered reassurance to Americans that Trump was taking expert advice. The President has evidently given up on battling the pandemic, choosing instead to declare victory even as cases and deaths surge across the country. Trump and his allies have chosen to discredit Fauci instead of listen to him, sending a list of his errors to journalists and publicly criticizing him. Fauci said that he had not briefed Trump for two months. The White House has also reportedly prevented him from making appearances on TV.

— TODAY’S SUNRISE —

Florida’s Department of Health reports 12,624 new cases of coronavirus, with 35 more fatalities — and Gov. DeSantis faced his first heckler at a coronavirus news conference.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— If you listened to Monday’s show, you heard the Gov. say it’s safe to reopen schools because he “thinks” kids don’t spread coronavirus. Perhaps he should think again. Sunrise talks to an actual doctor who says that’s just plain wrong.

— Officials in South Florida are getting anxious; who can blame them? Florida has become the new epicenter of COVID-19 and Miami-Dade is the epicenter of Florida. And many of them blame DeSantis.

— As Florida’s record-setting COVID-19 spike continues, the Governor’s team is resisting any suggestion to roll back the reopening or go into another lockdown. But a new study out of Harvard suggests most of Florida should be shutting down again.

—And in the race to replace Republican Rep. Frances Rooney in Florida’s 19th Congressional District, Jacob Ogles — who is covering the race in Southwest Florida — shares some insights.

— Finally, the latest with Florida Man, who said he was on “a mission” when he rammed a church with a minivan and tried to burn it down.

To listen, click on the image below:

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

 

View this post on Instagram

 

It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my beautiful wife Kelly has lost her two-year battle with breast cancer. She fought a courageous fight with the love and support of so many. My family and I will forever be grateful to her doctors and nurses at MD Anderson Cancer Center, all the medical centers that have helped, as well as her many friends and loved ones who have been by her side. Kelly’s love and life will always be remembered. I will be taking some time to be there for my children who have lost their mother, so forgive me in advance if you don’t hear from us for a while. But please know that I will feel your outpouring of love in the weeks and months ahead as we heal. All my love, JT

A post shared by John Travolta (@johntravolta) on

— ALOE —

ZooTampa animals, staff to be featured on Nat Geo Wild series” via Adria Iraheta of Bay News 9 — ZooTampa will be featured on Nat Geo WILD’s Secrets of the Zoo series Sunday evening. After shutting down for several months due to COVID-19, the animals are happy to see new faces, especially with the renewed interest. “Secrets of the Zoo: Tampa” will shine a spotlight on the animals and the staff working tirelessly to keep them safe. “It takes you behind the scenes, anywhere from births to emergency medical care to general and the relationships that we build [with the animals],” said animal care manager Roni Burgess.

ZooTampa animals are so glad to see visitors again, they will be featured on Nat Geo WILD’s Secrets of the Zoo. Image via ZooTampa.

Disney Store `will not reopen’ at St. Johns Town Center” via Teresa Stepzinski of The Florida Times-Union — The Disney store at St. Johns Town Center apparently is no longer part of the entertainment giant’s retail business kingdom. A sign on the front door Monday stated: “This Disney store location will not reopen,” reported WJCT News, a Times-Union news partner. But it’s still listed on the mall’s directory and on the company’s website, though the photo is from another location. And the store’s telephone voicemail message Monday instructed people to call back later, or shop online. It doesn’t mention the closure. Opened in 2014, the Disney store is the most closure at the regional shopping center. Microsoft announced June 25 it was closing its storefronts companywide including the one at 4791 River City Drive in Town Center.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday to Melanie Bostick of Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, Justin Homburg, Holly Tomlin, and Mike Vasilinda.

___

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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