Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.21.20

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Commentary and links on Florida politics as crisp as your morning bacon.

It turns out, we will publish an edition of INFLUENCE Magazine later this month.

It will have feature some of the heroes of the pandemic while reporting on how leaders and lawmakers responded to the first phase of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Right now, we’re looking for answers to our Big Question section of the magazine.

We need smart, perhaps pithy, responses to the following question:

What is one thing you wish you could go back in time and tell yourself before this pandemic started?

Twenty-five to 50 words, please. 

We need your answer by Wednesday 5 p.m.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

Tweet, tweet:

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1285299379746811915?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

@DHS_Wolf: Attempted arson is not a peaceful protest. Physically attacking law enforcement is not freedom of speech. Destruction of property is not peaceful assembly. Criminals perpetrating these crimes are being arrested … not law-abiding protesters.

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@BenjySarlin: This whole test/isolate your entire workforce every day for weeks until you’re down to 0 cases and then keep testing them thing seems like a model that could apply to other workforces if we had the resources

@ShevrinJones: If we are friends, you can count on me to be by your side through ups and downs. Sending prayers to my friend @AndrewGillum as he continues his recovery journey.

@UncleLikeReal1: Just move All Florida high school sports back one month into September we do not have the same problem that other states have we are 75° year-round.

— DAYS UNTIL —

MLB starts — 2; WNBA starts — 4; PLL starts — 4; TED conference rescheduled — 5; Florida Bar exams begin in Tampa — 7; NBA season restart in Orlando — 10; NHL resumes — 11; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 28; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 29; “Mulan” premieres (rescheduled) — 31; Indy 500 rescheduled — 33; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 34; NBA draft lottery — 35; Rev. Al Sharpton’s D.C. March — 38; U.S. Open begins — 41; “A Quiet Place Part II” premieres — 45; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 46; Rescheduled date for French Open — 61; First presidential debate in Indiana — 70; “Wonder Woman” premieres — 73; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 74; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 77; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 83; Second presidential debate scheduled at Miami — 86; NBA draft — 87; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 87; NBA free agency — 90; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 93; 2020 General Election — 105; “Black Widow” premieres — 112; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 114; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 122; “No Time to Die” premieres — 122; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 133; “Top Gun: Maverick” premieres — 155; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 201; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 367; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 375; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 472; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 570; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 612; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 654; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 808.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Florida adds 10,347 new coronavirus cases, 90 deaths” via Tiffini Theisen and Paola Pérez of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida reported 10,347 new coronavirus cases and 90 new deaths on Monday. Statewide, there have now been 360,394 infected and 5,072 Florida residents killed. The overall toll, including 111 nonresidents, is 5,183. Two new nonresident deaths were reported Monday. Monday’s update comes on the heels of a new weekly record for cases, deaths and tests in Florida. Statewide, 740 virus deaths were reported from Sunday to Sunday. The previous record, 511 deaths, was set the week ending July 12. Polk County, due to nursing-home outbreaks, has the most coronavirus fatalities in Central Florida with 176, followed by 119 in Orange, 85 in Volusia, 50 in Brevard, 45 in Seminole, 38 in Osceola, 36 in Lake, and 21 in Sumter.

Hecklers, gaffes dog Ron DeSantis as coronavirus rages in Florida” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Faced with a bad and worsening outbreak, DeSantis has lost his coronavirus swagger. Throughout the pandemic, DeSantis has traveled the state holding televised press briefings to highlight numbers that put his administration’s response in a favorable light. The events had a confident DeSantis focusing on the positives and lashing out at those who mention the negatives. Near-daily briefings have turned into a national punchline. DeSantis keeps finding new ways to embarrass himself. The gaffes and worsening news have fed a national perception that Florida is consumed in chaos and leaderless as the virus rips unchecked. On Monday, DeSantis was interrupted by protesters who crashed the press briefing in Orlando. They screamed “shame on you” as police escorted them out.

Ron DeSantis gets heckled, again.

DeSantis raises concerns about impossible COVID-19 positives” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis said he has heard people are receiving positive COVID-19 test results in the mail despite never having submitted a sample, raising questions about the reliability of some labs’ reporting. At drive-thru testing sites people have reportedly signed up for diagnostic tests but left before receiving a test due to long lines. In some cases, people have reportedly received positive test results despite never submitting a sample. “If somebody’s just getting a test result without being swabbed, then what is that saying about some of the other stuff that’s going on?” DeSantis asked.

Industry executives say Florida’s nursing homes face ‘category 5 emergency’” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — As state officials focused their attention for the last three weeks on the rising COVID-19 case numbers among younger Floridians, the number of infected residents and staff at elder care facilities has more than doubled and on Monday, the trade association for nonprofit nursing homes unleashed a cry for help. “For months we have been sending out a warning to the federal government that this crisis is not over,’’ said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge which represents 5,000 nonprofit nursing homes and assisted living facilities, on a teleconference with reporters Monday. “We need real solutions now, not a patchwork of policies that allow the pandemic to grow more deadly and dangerous.”

Nursing homes say more money needed for COVID-19 fight” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — “We don’t know what comes next if the state-funded testing ends in September. What we do know is that our members estimate costs between $25,000 and $300,000 per month for ongoing staff testing,” said Steve Bahmer, president and CEO of LeadingAge Florida, as he called on U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to help craft legislation that could offset long-term care providers’ increased overhead costs associated with the pandemic. Bahmer, whose association represents nonprofit and community-based nursing homes, said if conditions don’t change, operating losses could total as high as $3 million a month for some long-term care facilities, and he likened the situation to a Category 5 hurricane.

‘Sleeping in a ball of sweat’: As COVID-19 stalks Florida’s inmates, so does another plague” via Shirsho Dasgupta and Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald — As temperatures in Florida soar into the 90s, accounts by inmates and their loved ones, shared with the Herald on condition of anonymity, provide a glimpse of the condition of inmates housed in overcrowded prisons without proper ventilation. Despite the state being among the hottest in the country, only 18 of its 50 prisons have air-conditioning. Every summer the sweltering and squalid heat increases health risks and raises tensions between officers and inmates. But this year inmates are fighting a battle on another front: COVID-19. As of Sunday, 3,647 inmates and 1,065 prison staffers had tested positive for COVID and 6,064 inmate tests were still pending. Thirty-two people in the system had died of the virus, all of them inmates.

MeanwhilePandemic could trim population growth” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — A panel of state economists released a report forecasting Florida’s population growth will slow in the coming years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That doesn’t mean the U-Hauls will stop trucking down: Florida is still expected to see population increases over the next five years that will be like adding a city slightly larger than St. Petersburg each year. But the report known as the Demographic Estimating Conference reduced estimates of population growth, with the population on April 1, 2025, projected to be 200,139 below what had been predicted before the pandemic. Also, the panel said the pandemic is having other effects, such as increased household sizes as people live together amid the economic storm.

— BACK TO SCHOOL? —

Florida teachers union sues DeSantis, Richard Corcoran over schools’ ‘reckless, unsafe reopening’” via Colleen Wright of the Miami Herald — Florida’s top teachers’ union, joined by local educators DeSantis and the state education commissioner Monday to stop the “reckless and unsafe reopening of schools” this fall amid Florida’s surging COVID-19 cases. The Florida Education Association was joined by plaintiffs who are educators in Miami-Dade, Broward and Orange counties, in the suit, filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. The Miami-Dade plaintiff, Mindy Grimes-Festge, is the secretary/treasurer of the United Teachers of Dade. She and her husband, Don, have been educators for 28 years. They have a son, who is a rising high school senior with a compromised immune system and unable to return to school during the pandemic. The lawsuit has gained traction, with the NAACP joining as a plaintiff in the suit. They named DeSantis and Education Commissioner Corcoran as defendants. Corcoran has ordered the public schools to reopen.

— “Florida teachers sue as DeSantis distances himself from school openings” via Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO 

Florida Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics sends letter to DeSantis” via Leslie Acosta of WEAR-TV — A letter was sent to DeSantis asking him to reconsider the order requiring brick and mortar schools to reopen in August. The letter was sent by the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics Thursday. The FCAAP represents the 2,600 pediatricians in the state. In the letter, FCAAP President D. Paul Robinson writes DeSantis and Corcoran quote the AAP’s statement “children do best when they are in school” as the reasoning for the reopening. He says the AAP meant that statement “only in situations in which children can safely go to school.”

Millions of kids may lose out on free meals as they return to school” via Helena Bottemiller Evich and Juan Perez of POLITICO — During the spring and summer, as the coronavirus health crisis exploded, the government allowed most families to pick up free meals from whichever school was closest or most convenient without proving they were low-income. But that effort is on the verge of expiring as states prepare for children to return to school, and as school systems are pushing the federal government to continue the free meals program through the fall. So far, Trump’s Agriculture Department isn’t on board with an extension. School leaders are now asking Congress to force the government’s hand as lawmakers buckle down to work on the next coronavirus aid package. “It’s impossible. It’s insane,” said Katie Wilson, executive director of the Urban School Food Alliance.

A worker reaches for sandwiches to pack into lunches at Prairie Queen elementary school as lunches and instructional packets are distributed. Image via AP.

As more children test positive for coronavirus parents face tough decision about school” via Liz Freeman of the Naples Daily News — Nearly 1 in 3 children under 18 have tested positive for the disease and there no signs the steady uptick will slow down. That’s not helping to ease anxiety as all families face tough decisions soon about sending their children to school next month or enrolling them in virtual classes. Most children get infected through someone in their household, experts say. Lee County has the seventh-highest positivity rate among children in the state, at 46.3%. The positivity rate is based on the number of positive tests against the total number tested. Collier County is 12th with a 42.7% positivity rate, according to the state Department of Health data.

Florida schools are working to reopen, but what happens if there’s a real Code Red?” via Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union — Across Florida — and beyond — school districts are devising plans to deal with how to enforce social distancing and mask-wearing in classrooms as well as what to do if someone gets sick. But one glaring question that remains unanswered: What happens if there’s a Code Red? As it turns out, the Florida Department of Education — which issued an executive order this month telling schools to return to five-days-a-week of in-person schooling — hasn’t gotten that far yet.

Northwest Florida schools still full steam ahead on reopening in early August” via Rebekah Castor of WEAR=TV — As some school districts across the country are pushing back their re-openings and altering plans — including in nearby Mobile — Northwest Florida schools are still set for an Aug. 10 reopening start date amid the COVID-19 pandemic. School districts in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties all announced their reopening plans. They are giving parents multiple learning options — traditional, remote, virtual — which they must decide upon for their students by Monday. But as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to surge, many wonder if reopening schools in just a few weeks is a safe option.

Central Florida parents face deadline on schooling decision; 2nd lawsuit emerges to stop reopening” via Dana Cassidy of the Orlando Sentinel — Central Florida parents are facing a Friday deadline to decide how they want their children to learn in the fall as a second lawsuit seeks to delay the reopening of public schools. On Monday morning, Florida’s teachers’ union filed the suit against Ron DeSantis, the Florida Department of Education and other officials, calling to stop the “reckless and unsafe reopening” of Florida public schools. The virus is surging out of control and the governor needs to accept the reality of how dangerous starting schools in-person again could be, said Fedrick Ingram, president of the Florida Education Association. “Everyone wants schools to reopen, but we don’t want to begin in-person teaching, face an explosion of cases and sickness, then be forced to return to distance learning,” Ingram said in a release on Monday.

Lee superintendent proposes delay of school start to Aug. 24 or Aug. 31” via Pamela McCabe of the Naples Daily News — Lee County schools superintendent Greg Adkins wants to bump back the first day of school by two or three weeks due to rising COVID-19 cases in Florida. But he needs the school board to sign off on it first. District staff said the authority to change the school calendar does not rest with the superintendent but requires board approval because the 2020-21 calendar was approved by the elected officials in November 2019. Adkins outlined his recommendation to push back the start of school in a Monday afternoon memo to school board members. An emergency school board meeting has been planned for 2 p.m. Thursday, where officials will review how the new school year calendar will look with a start date of either Aug. 24 or Aug. 31.

Over 10,000 St. Johns County students sign up for school-based distance learning” via News4Jax — 10,323 students enrolled in school-based distance learning, about 24% of the nearly 44,000 public school students in the county. With the deadline to register set for 6 p.m. on Friday, that number could rise. About 630 students have already enrolled at St. Johns Virtual School with another 800 applications still to be considered, the district said. Last year there were just 151 students at the school. A district spokesman said there is no limit on the number of students that can be accepted to St. Johns Virtual School.

Jiselle Hill, a second-grade student at Timberlin Creek Elementary School in St. Johns County, works on schoolwork in her bedroom. Image via News$Jax.

St. Johns County School District buys $1.6 million worth of PPE” via Christen Kelley of The Florida Times-Union — Masks, thermometers and plastic desk shields will become a regular part of the school day under the St. Johns County School District’s coronavirus precautions. The district spent more than $1.6 million on supplies to get schools ready for the return of students next month, although the first day of school could be pushed back. “We’re looking at everything from temperature checks to masks and then trying to make sure students stay distanced as possible with signage,” Associate Superintendent Wayne King said. “You’ll see the lunchroom spread out a little bit more.” According to the district’s reopening plans, students will be required to wear masks on buses, in hallways and even in classrooms “where social distancing isn’t possible.”

—“Is it safe for Santa Rosa County students to return to school? Parents, teachers not sure” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal

As debate rages on reopening schools, Tampa Bay districts and nonprofit group plan how to feed children” via Christopher O’Donnell — When the threat of the coronavirus forced schools to switch to online learning in March, local districts set up grab-and-go, drive-through food pantries on school campuses for children who relied on free school breakfasts and lunches. Gaps in the service were plugged by local food banks. The reopening of schools next month will throw up a whole new set of challenges. With many students expected to stay home and learn online, school districts will have to feed students both at school and at home.

Game on: FHSAA Board of Directors votes to start fall sports July 27 despite pandemic” via The Tallahassee Democrat — As California and Georgia voted Monday to at least delay the start of high school sports amid the coronavirus pandemic, Florida is sticking to its original fall calendar with a little bit of wiggle room for teams that can’t start their seasons on time. The Florida High School Athletic Association Board of Directors voted to buck a growing trend among state high school sports governing bodies around the country and will allow fall practices to begin July 27.

— CORONA LOCAL —

Mayor in Miami-Dade: ‘It’s a breaking point’” via Hannah Knowles of The Washington Post — “It’s a breaking point,” Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernández said on CNN’s “New Day,” recounting late-night conversations with officials at hospitals in his city. Florida’s current hospitalizations peaked at 9,363 on Sunday. Early this month, Miami-Dade County imposed a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew intended to limit interactions that could spread the coronavirus. Announcing the measure, the mayor of Miami-Dade said he was also closing some businesses again: movie theaters, arcades, bowling alleys and more. Soon, most restaurants had to nix indoor dining again, too. But Hernández said that with fewer restrictions in neighboring Broward County, people in Miami-Dade can just head over there when curfew sets in.

Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernández is at the breaking point. Image via the Miami Herald

This ZIP code had the highest poverty rate in Miami-Dade County. Then came COVID-19” via Adriana Brasileiro, Yadira Lopez, Lautaro Grinspan and Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald — Approximately 23,000 people live within the 33034 ZIP code, which stretches for nearly 280 miles across parts of Florida City, Homestead and unincorporated Miami-Dade. The ZIP is home to 4,894 households, with a median of 4.1 persons per household. But only 35% of the residents are married, an indication that more than one family often live under the same roof in order to pay the rent. According to census data, the ZIP code has the highest poverty rate in the county — 40% — even though the median household income is $36,363, which is higher than many other ZIP codes in Miami-Dade. But the per capita income is $10,608, the lowest of any ZIP code in the county.

Miami-Dade cancels summer camps at parks” via Miami-Dade County — With the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, and in an abundance of caution, the county will be closing it is General and Nature camps at the end of this week’s session Friday, July 17. Registrations will not be accepted for the following weeks, and if needed, refunds will be issued for any pre-registrations or advance payments made. Miami-Dade County Parks Department will continue to offer a range of virtual experiences for parents and caregivers this summer that include free and unique fitness, arts, education, history, and nature science experiences.

South Florida airports say state stopped screening Tri-state flights for quarantine” via David Smiley and Taylor Dolven of the Miami Herald — South Florida’s largest commercial airports say the Florida Department of Health has stopped enforcing DeSantis’’ order requiring travelers from Connecticut, New Jersey and New York to quarantine for 14 days after arriving in the state. The order, first put in place on March 23, when the Northeast was the epicenter of the pandemic, was meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 by isolating people coming into Florida from known virus hot spots. The Florida National Guard and Florida Department of Health staff members began boarding and greeting arriving flights at South Florida airports to collect contact information from travelers and hand out forms with instructions to quarantine. Travelers who did not quarantine were threatened with jail time.

South Florida airports are no longer screening passengers from the New York Tri-State region. Image via Palm Beach Post.

This small business bet on locals with cabin fever to survive COVID-19. It’s working.” via Taylor Dolven of the Miami Herald — When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, vacation van rental company Ondevan saw its clientele evaporate overnight. Used to fielding bookings from mostly international customers, Ondevan owners Omar Bendezú, and Haley Kirk, of Hallandale Beach, had to pivot to focus on South Floridians in mid-March, hoping they might want a #VanLife getaway amid hotel closures and restaurant shutdowns. And they did. Across the company’s fleet of 11 camper vans, occupancy has increased from 10% in mid-April to around 50% today, fueled by locals with cabin fever. Since April 1, South Floridians have booked 60 trips with Ondevan. And the company is seeing even more bookings for July and August.

— MORE LOCAL —

Disney updates face mask policy” via Kathleen Christiansen of the Orlando Sentinel — Walt Disney World has updated its face mask policy: Guests can no longer eat and drink while perusing the parks, strolling through Disney Springs or exploring the resorts. A policy requiring face masks has been in place since Disney Springs reopened on May 20. According to the amended requirements on Disney World’s website, “You may remove your face covering while actively eating or drinking, but you should be stationary and maintain appropriate physical distancing.” This applies to anywhere on Disney property. Disney requires all visitors ages 2 and older as well as cast members to wear face coverings, which must be worn at all times, except while dining or swimming.

Disney is tweaking its mask policy.

“‘If it’s here, it’s here’: America’s retirees confront the virus in Florida” via Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura of The New York Times — For months, many of the residents at one of America’s biggest retirement communities went about their lives as if the coronavirus barely existed. They played bridge. They held dances. They went to house parties in souped-up golf carts that looked like miniature Jaguars and Rolls-Royces. And for months they appeared to have avoided the worst of the pandemic. From March through mid-June, there were fewer than 100 cases in the Villages. But now as cases spike across Florida, the virus appears to have caught up with the residents.

Collier commissioner calls for emergency meeting to discuss masks; mandate may pass” via Patrick Riley of the Naples Daily News — Last week, on a record day of reported coronavirus cases in Collier County, commissioners narrowly rejected a proposal that would have required masks to be worn in businesses and government buildings. Now, the polarizing issue is scheduled to come back before county leaders Tuesday and could have the necessary votes to pass. If so, the measure would be the first of its kind in Collier with Marco Island and Naples not currently requiring masks. A couple of Southwest Florida municipalities have passed similar rules. Commissioner Penny Taylor, who last week voted against the measure, called Monday for an emergency meeting Tuesday morning to reconsider the item.

Franklin County left In the lurch after inmate labor reduced to stop spread of COVID-19” via Robbie Gaffney of WFSU — For the rural community of Franklin County, not having inmate labor is putting a strain on resources. Due to the Coronavirus, the Florida Department of Corrections is limiting how many inmates can join work squads. Before COVID-19, the Florida Department of Corrections says 77 inmates were assigned to work in Franklin County mowing grass, sorting through recyclables, maintaining parks, and more. Now, to stop the spread of the virus, fewer work squads are sent out and county officials are short on labor. “It’s been very stressful,” says Fonda Davis, head of Franklin County’s solid waste, animal control, and parks and recreation departments. Davis says employees are shifting around to different departments to make sure the most pressing work gets done.

Hillsborough transit hit by double blow of coronavirus, stalled sales tax” via Caitlin Johnston of the Tampa Bay Times — Hillsborough transit authority board members listened to grim presentations from staff Monday about declining ridership, proposed service cuts and budget shortfalls. Underlying the bad news are two unknowns: the future of a 2018 sales tax that would nearly double the agency’s budget and a national search to find a new chief executive to steer the agency through uncertain times. The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority has watched expenses climb while reserves have largely declined since 2014. “The bottom line here is, again, expenses are exceeding our revenues year after year,” transit authority chief financial officer Cyndy Stiglich told the board. “Since (2014) through this fiscal year, that equates to almost a $26 million deficit.”

Hillsborough again extends face mask rule” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — The seven-day rolling average of positive test results is 14.5%, “again a steady decrease,” said Dr. Douglas Holt, director of the state Health Department for Hillsborough County. Last week, the 14-day average stood at 16.16% after reaching a previous high of 20%. In comments to the Hillsborough Emergency Policy Group, Holt repeated his prior observations that “community-based transmission is widespread and very active” and “we need our public to continue acceptable practices that we’ve asked.” Toward that goal, the policy group voted to extend the county’s face-mask rule for another seven days.

Dr. Douglas Holt is director of the USF Health Division of Infectious Disease and medical director of the Hillsborough County Health Department. Image via USF.

With COVID-19 results delays, Volusia officials urge express lanes” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Volusia County Commission Chair Ed Kelley and the mayors of all 16 municipalities in the county united Monday in urging DeSantis to open COVID-19 testing express lanes there dedicated to people suffering coronavirus symptoms. The request comes as Volusia officials, like many others throughout the state, hear complaints from citizens who say they don’t get test results back for many, many days, even weeks, forcing people into extended quarantines, sometimes for no reason, and essentially negating the purposes of the tests. That begins with Holly Hill Mayor Chris Via and his wife Amber Via, as prime but not unique examples. The Vias have been waiting 13 days. But they’ve heard nothing on their test results, even though they keep checking the app that they downloaded to track their tests.

Walton County sets mask requirements for some county offices” via Jim Thompson of NWF Daily News — One day after Walton County commissioners opted to delay any decision on a countywide masking requirement to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the county’s deputy administrator sent out an email announcing that employees and visitors at a number of county offices will be required to wear masks if they cannot maintain social distancing while working in or visiting any affected office. Additionally, visitors and employees to the covered offices will be required to undergo a temperature check, according to the Wednesday email from Walton County Deputy Administrator Dede Hinote.

— CORONA NATION —

New polling makes clear what Donald Trump refuses to see: His pandemic response has been a political disaster” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — Since May, Washington Post polling shows his approval rating on the economy is about the same. Since March, though, approval of his handling of the pandemic has dropped 13 points with 1 in 5 Republicans now disapproving of the job he’s doing. While he and former Vice President Joe Biden were separated by only two points four months ago, the gap has widened to 15 points. A Fox poll shows how confidence in the government’s approach to the crisis has collapsed since earlier in the year. In March and April, most Americans said they approved of Trump’s handling of the pandemic.

Donald Trump refuses to acknowledge his coronavirus response was a political disaster. Image via AP.

Trump says he’ll bring back his televised White House coronavirus briefings” via Max Cohen of POLITICO — Trump on Monday said he would resume holding coronavirus briefings this week after a nearly three-month hiatus. Trump’s once-frequent coronavirus briefings stretched for hours and provided the public with updates on the administration’s pandemic response while also offering the president a chance to replicate his campaign rallies. A constant presence during the spring, the briefings were curtailed in late April following Trump’s unfounded speculation that injecting disinfectants could ward off the virus. “I think it’s a great way to get information out to the public as to where we are with the vaccines, with the therapeutics, and generally speaking, where we are,” Trump said.

U.S. lab giant warns of new Covid-19 testing crunch in autumn” via David Crow of The Financial Times —The largest laboratory company in the U.S. warned it will be impossible to increase coronavirus testing capacity to cope with demand during the autumn flu season, in a sign that crippling delays will continue to hamper the US response to the pandemic. James Davis, executive vice-president of general diagnostics at Quest Diagnostics, said “other solutions need to be found” to detect positive patients in addition to the nasal swab tests currently in use. The comments come as testing companies including Quest and its main rival LabCorp are already struggling to keep up with demand.

No bleach and dirty rags: How some janitors are asked to keep you virus-free” via Jodi Kantor of The New York Times — As the coronavirus continues to rage and businesses and workplaces weigh the risks of reopening, janitors have a warning about the current state of cleaning in the United States. Many say they have not been given enough resources to fight the pathogen, or, in a few cases, even hot water to wash their hands. They are often not told if someone has tested positive where they are working, many said in interviews, making it difficult to protect themselves and others. Workers in office buildings and supermarkets say they lack the time and training to do the job right. And though airlines have tried to win back customers by raising sanitation standards, pilots, flight attendants and cabin cleaners report that the efforts are still inadequate. As the country navigates whether and how to report to work, shop, eat out, travel and educate children, it is often impossible to tell how frequently or thoroughly anything is cleaned.

Social media health influencers continue to be resource during COVID-19 pandemic” via Peter Suciu of Forbes — Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic earlier this year people have been warned to social distance, to remain home as much as possible and to avoid crowds. While it remains very much clear that a huge segment of the population hasn’t heeded such advice and in many cases has blatantly ignored government guidelines and even state/city orders, the calls to stay home have impacted many by convincing people not to go to the doctor even when it is necessary. For less urgent medical issues as well as general health-related matters health influencers have continued to play a crucial role. According to the 2020 Social Influencer Report, health influencers continue to impact the lives of many people — and 44% of people with health conditions said they valued the opinion or advice of a health influencer for information or support related to their health.

— CORONA ECONOMICS — 

The GOP bill is likely to total $1 trillion in aid” via The New York Times — People familiar with the deliberations said Senate Republican leaders and Trump administration officials had coalesced around a $1 trillion total price tag for the bill, which Sen. Mitch McConnell hopes to release this week, but that its final contents were still very much in flux. Ideas set to be presented to senators during Republican lunches on Tuesday break the $1 trillion package into three buckets. One would appropriate additional aid to small businesses. A second would give money to schools and hospitals. The third would include an estimated $400 billion for a new round of stimulus checks to individuals, a scaled-back extension of expanded unemployment benefits, tax breaks for small businesses, and some version of the payroll tax holiday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is about to submit a coronavirus relief bill that tops $1 trillion. Image via AP.

‘Less optimistic’ and ‘more cautious’: Top CEOs fret as virus cases rise” via David Gelles of The New York Times — With coronavirus cases around the country on the rise and states rolling back their reopening plans, many of the nation’s top business leaders are steeling themselves for a period of prolonged economic disruption and the prospect of a slow, halting recovery. While retail sales have mostly rebounded to precrisis levels and the stock markets remain buoyant, business leaders and economists still see serious cause for concern. Tens of millions of Americans are out of work. Important parts of the economy remain largely shuttered. Business districts are still primarily empty as people continue working from home. And as the virus spreads, new lockdowns could cause further economic disruptions. Already, there are signs the recovery is losing momentum.

Profits rise in pandemic for Florida billionaires” via Spencer Fordin of Florida PoliticsA new report by Americans for Tax Fairness and Health Care for America Now indicates Florida’s 56 billionaires saw their wealth increase by $15.5 billion between March 18 and June 17. That increase — an 8.5% maturation in their portfolios — represents almost twice the $8 billion revenue shortfall for Florida projected by Moody’s Analytics. Americans for Tax Fairness found the trend of billionaire wealth growing in inverse proportion to state revenue in nearly half the states. The start date of the study — March 18 — is roughly where federal and state economic restrictions began to be put in place.

U.S. airlines face end of business travel as they knew it” via Mary Schlangenstein, Esha Dey, and Brian Eckhouse of Bloomberg — U.S. airlines hammered by the catastrophic loss of passengers during the pandemic are confronting a once-unthinkable scenario: that this crisis will obliterate much of the corporate flying they’ve relied on for decades to prop up profits. “It is likely that business travel will never return to pre-COVID-19 levels,” said Adam Pilarski, senior vice president at Avitas, an aviation consultant. “It is one of those unfortunate cases where the industry will be permanently impaired and what we lost now is gone, never to come back.” At stake is the most lucrative part of the airline industry, driven by businesses that accepted the need to plop down a few thousand dollars for a last-minute ticket across the U.S. or over an ocean. That’s under threat in the wake of an unprecedented collapse in passengers that started four months ago.

Two COVID Americas: One struggles, while the other saves and spends” via Jessica Menton of The St. Augustine Record — Congress is set to reconvene this week at a critical juncture following a two-week recess as the $600 weekly unemployment benefits under the CARES Act are set to expire at the end of the month. Policymakers will debate whether more emergency stimulus checks and extra unemployment payments are needed to keep jobless people afloat as workers and businesses continue to grapple with the economic fallout of the pandemic. More than two-thirds of Americans say they still need a second stimulus check from the government to help make ends meet, according to recent data from tax preparer Jackson Hewitt. And about a third of that group said the $1,200 checks needed to be more than the previous round. Only about a quarter of them say they wouldn’t need another emergency payment.

Following public backlash, Winn-Dixie says face masks will now be required” via Colin Wolf of Creative Loafing Tampa Bay — After initially announcing that it won’t force customers to wear masks at its stores, Winn-Dixie’s parent company is now reversing course. In a statement, Southeastern Grocers, Inc. said that beginning next week, all Winn-Dixie and Harvey grocery stores will require face masks. “The majority of our stores are under either a local or state government mandate, and given the continued rise of positive COVID cases in our communities across the Southeast, beginning Monday, July 27, we will be requiring masks to be worn by customers to help reduce the spread of the disease,” said Joe Caldwell, Director of Corporate Communications and Government Affairs. Last week, the company’s decision to “strongly encourage” masks were met with intense public backlash.

— MORE CORONA — 

Wearing a mask ‘reduces deadly power of virus’” via The TimesMasks do help to protect the wearer, as well as people they meet, according to research by infectious disease experts. A team at the University of California, San Francisco, says masks can reduce the amount of virus that gets into someone’s system, meaning they do not get as badly sick. In England, face coverings are mandatory on public transport and will become so in shops and supermarkets from July 24. The requirement appears to have strong public support, with only 19% of Britons opposing compulsory wearing of masks in shops, according to a survey last week by the research company ORB International.

U.K. coronavirus vaccine prompts immune response in early test” via Maria Cheng of The Associated Press — Scientists at Oxford University say their experimental coronavirus vaccine has been shown in an early trial to prompt a protective immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot. British researchers first began testing the vaccine in April in about 1,000 people, half of whom got the experimental vaccine. Such early trials are designed to evaluate safety and see what kind of immune response was provoked, but can’t tell if the vaccine truly protects. In research published Monday in the journal Lancet, scientists said that they found their experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55 that lasted at least two months after they were immunized. “We are seeing good immune response in almost everybody,” said Dr. Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University. “What this vaccine does particularly well is trigger both arms of the immune system,” he said.

Scientists at Oxford University say their experimental coronavirus vaccine has been shown in an early trial to prompt a protective immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot. Image via AP.

New treatment for COVID-19 shows promise, but scientists urge caution” via Benjamin Mueller of The New York Times — A British drug company said Monday that an inhaled form of a commonly used medicine could slash the odds of COVID-19 patients becoming severely ill, a sliver of good news in the race to find treatments that was met by scientists with equal measures of caution and cheer. The drug, based on interferon beta, a protein naturally produced by the body to orchestrate its response to viruses, has become the focus of intensifying efforts in Britain, China, and the United States to treat COVID-19 patients. But giving patients interferon without eliciting serious side effects has proved challenging. The symptoms of seasonal flu, for example, are largely produced by the mobilization of the body’s interferon response, scientists said.

The rich are looking to buy access to COVID safe havens” via Berber Jin of Bloomberg — The next time the world’s rich are forced into lockdown, they would like to have an escape ready to a remote and sunny beach. Or perhaps to New Zealand, one of the few countries that has eliminated COVID-19. They are willing to pay for the privilege, of course. They can turn to programs that guarantee citizenship or residency in exchange for investment in the host country, using specialty firms such as Henley & Partners, the world’s biggest citizenship and residency advisory firm. With the persistent threat of viral infections and sudden lockdowns, the company is helping those with deep pockets buy access to a safe haven. New inquiries jumped 49% in the first four months of this year, compared with the same period in 2019, according to the company. There was a 22% increase in those wanting to proceed with an application for new citizenship or residency rights.

Bermuda pitches island life as escape from pandemic madness” via Ezra Fieser of Bloomberg — For anyone tired of dodging coronavirus, sick of arguments over masks or just fed up with the home office grind, Bermuda has an offer: a year at the beach. The British Overseas Territory of 64,000, known for its pink-sand shorelines and balmy climate, is offering one-year, renewable residency certificates for remote workers and postsecondary students. It’s pitching itself as a refuge as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in other countries and upend rules about where people can work. “The world is changing, and we want people we consider long-term visitors to come to Bermuda,” Premier David Burt said in a telephone interview. Burt said life on the islands will appeal to foreigners because Bermuda managed to contain the spread of COVID-19 through rigorous testing, quarantine-monitoring bracelets, and rules on social distancing and mask-wearing.

The inflatable pool is the official symbol of America’s lost summer” via Maura Judkins of The Washington Post — If this summer has a theme, it’s “better than nothing,” and if “better than nothing” has a symbol, it’s the backyard inflatable pool. It represents an attempt to claim a seasonal entitlement during a time of interminable austerity. We may not have baseball, concerts, or parties, but we will find our way into a pool, even if it’s janky and filled with hose water. People with enough property and cash went upmarket. But many of those prospective buyers soon learned that an in-ground pool is an expensive project that can take as many as nine months just for the permitting, and they want a pool now.

Blowing out candles is basically spitting on your friends’ cake. Will we ever do it again?” via Caitlin Gibson of The Washington Post — In 2017, a widely circulated study, unappetizingly titled “Bacterial Transfer Associated With Blowing Out Candles on a Birthday Cake,” revealed that “blowing out the candles over the icing surface resulted in 1400% more bacteria compared to icing not blown on” meaning that any microorganisms dwelling in the candle-blower’s respiratory tract would probably make their way onto your plate. Candle industry experts aren’t worried about the future of this tradition. Kathy LaVanier, president of the National Candle Association, says she’s talked to wholesalers and retailers who report no sign of waning sales, in fact, “they’re seeing exponential growth in the baking category as a whole, and birthday candles haven’t slowed down at all,” she says.

— SMOLDERING —

Majority of voters say U.S. society is racist as support grows for black lives matter” via Sabrina Saddiqui of The Wall Street Journal — Voters in growing numbers believe that Black and Hispanic Americans are discriminated against, and a majority of 56% holds the view that American society is racist, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds. The poll finds that Americans of all races and age groups share significant concerns about discrimination nearly two months after George Floyd, a Black man, was killed in police custody in Minneapolis. Nearly three-quarters of Americans, 71%, believe that race relations are either very or fairly bad.

More than 100 arrested during George Floyd protests in Orlando; nearly 80 have had charges droppedvia Cristobal Reyes of the Orlando SentinelKira Calvaresi was arrested June 2 while leaving a protest at Orlando City Hall, moments after the scene turned chaotic and police officers launched tear gas into a crowd that stayed past the 10 p.m. curfew. More than 100 people were booked, most for misdemeanors or ordinance violations, over six days of Orlando demonstrations that began May 30 in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer.

Thousands chanted George Floyd’s name on the streets of downtown Orlando during the massive protest. Image vis Spectrum 13.

Orlando to test sending therapists, social workers along with police for mental health calls” via Lisa Maria Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel — Orlando Police Department officers responding to people who are in mental health crises could soon be joined by a social worker, counselor or therapist, as part of a pilot program announced Monday among other proposals to revamp the agency’s practices. The Orlando City Council heard a proposal for the “co-responder” program during a budget workshop. If approved, the program is expected to cost $750,000 in the 2021 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Mayor Buddy Dyer said one of the goals for the upcoming budget is to “refocus funding on our police department and expand our efforts to create racial equity.”

Davie police chief retires after facing scrutiny over alleged remarks” via Eileen Kelley of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Davie’s police chief, on leave, has announced his retirement — after he came under investigation over remarks that officers say he made about the COVID-19 death of an openly gay sheriff’s deputy. Dale Engle sent a letter to the town of Davie last week informing town officials that he will retire on Sept 3. Three months ago, Engle was placed on paid administrative leave shortly after the state’s Fraternal Order of Police filed a complaint against him. He will continue to collect a paycheck, though won’t be working until his retirement date. Engle was accused of saying a South Florida law enforcement officer died because of his lifestyle. Engle told the Sun-Sentinel on Monday that he made no such remark.

Pensacola attorneys say there are no legal grounds to stop Confederate monument removal” via Kevin Robinson of the Pensacola News Journal —The Sons of Confederate Veterans, Save Southern Heritage and other groups obtained an emergency temporary restraining order to prevent the city from removing the controversial monument. They argued taking down the monument would violate Pensacola’s own historic preservation and archaeological review ordinances, as well Florida statutes against disturbing tombs with “possible historical human remains.” Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson said city attorney Susan Woolf thoroughly reviewed applicable laws before the City Council voted to remove the monument last week. “We don’t have any remains of any soldiers that were buried there,” Robinson said.

USF launches half-million dollar program to fight racism in Tampa Bay” via Lauren Coffey of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The University of South Florida is launching a half-million-dollar fund to find solutions to fight racism within the region. The university announced Monday a $500,000 fund was formed by the Office of the Provost and USF Research and Innovation. The fund will invest in yearlong projects from USF researchers, delving into the various factors that contribute to economic disparity, police violence, social injustices and more. Researchers will submit their proposals to the task force, which will look for plans that include community-based projects and programs and could also potentially receive grant funding from external sources like federal agencies or private sector foundations.

St. Louis couple who aimed guns at protesters charged with felony weapons count” via Tom Jackson of The Washington Post — Lawyers Mark and Patricia McCloskey have said they were merely defending their home on a private street in an upscale neighborhood from a crowd that was marching to Mayor Lyda Krewson’s house to protest racial injustice. Video and photographs showing Mark McCloskey wielding a rifle and Patricia McCloskey aiming a pistol at the marchers created a firestorm of controversy between those who felt the couple was legally defending their home and those who felt they were menacing peaceful protesters.

Why we will lowercase white” via John Daniszewski of The Associated Press — There was a clear desire and reason to capitalize Black. Most notably, people who are Black have strong historical and cultural commonalities, even if they are from different parts of the world and even if they now live in different parts of the world. That includes the shared experience of discrimination due solely to the color of one’s skin. There is, at this time, less support for capitalizing white. We are a global news organization and in much of the world, there is considerable disagreement, ambiguity and confusion about whom the term includes. We agree that white people’s skin color plays into systemic inequalities and injustices, and we want our journalism to robustly explore those problems. But capitalizing the term white, as is done by white supremacists, risks subtly conveying legitimacy to such beliefs.

— D.C. MATTERS —

South Florida leaders call on Senate to approve HEROES Act” via Spencer Fordin of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell convened a group of Miami-Dade political leaders and residents on a conference call Monday in an effort to persuade Senators to pass the HEROES Act. Mucarsel-Powell, who represents Florida’s 26th Congressional District, said 22% of the workforce in Miami-Dade County is relying on unemployment benefits. Federal assistance is set to run out at the end of July, and Mucarsel-Powell wants the Senate to pass some form of relief. “We need to extend federal support for those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own during this crisis,” she said. “Five months into this pandemic, we’re still seeing unemployment levels that are comparable to the Great Depression.

— STATEWIDE —

How Gov. DeSantis’ veto hurt Florida online higher education” via Jessica Rowland Williams — The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled higher education faculty in Florida to move their instruction online with little to no preparation or guidance, and it remains highly uncertain when the majority of campuses will be able to reopen safely at full capacity for in-person instruction. This is why states should be reevaluating their budgets to shift more resources into online learning. Yet Gov. Ron DeSantis just vetoed the state’s entire budget of nearly $30 million for the Complete Florida Plus Program, eliminating critical online academic support services for colleges and universities and threatening the online library database used by more than 100 students, faculty and staff.

Florida CFO formally requests FDLE investigate Twitter security breach” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Less than 72 hours after Twitter suffered a high-profile security breach, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis has formally requested the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to begin an investigation into the incident. In a letter sent Monday to FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen, Patronis cited his “fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers” and the state’s need to understand potential economic threats as his motivations for the request. “The attack represents a threat beyond that to all users’ privacy and data security, though those are credible threats given that Florida is experiencing an ongoing fraud epidemic,” Patronis said. “This coordinated attack threatens the underpinnings of how the State of Florida shares important information about elections, disasters and other emergencies, and consumer services. One tweet could cause conflicts or send our state’s economy into a tailspin.”

Jimmy Patronis is asking the state of Florida to investigate the Twitter security breach.

‘The journey I am on’: Andrew Gillum reemerges after self-imposed exile from public life” via Jeffrey Schweers of USA Today — Gillum was back in public view Monday, taking to Instagram with an 11-minute video message for supporters that touched on his struggle with alcohol addiction and depression. “I am thankful to so many of you who have wished me well during this especially challenging time,” he also wrote in a post. “I wanted to provide a personal update on how I have been doing. Take good care of yourselves during this season and I will see you on the other side. Warmest, Andrew.” Gillum, also a former Tallahassee mayor, said he went into rehab shortly after it was reported that Miami Beach police found him in a hotel room in March too intoxicated to speak coherently when they responded to a call about an apparent drug overdose of another person in the room.

Osceola County Commissioner posts bond after being charged with impersonating officer” via Adam Poulisse of WFTV — Commissioner Fred Hawkins has posted bond at Osceola County Jail after being charged with impersonating a law enforcement officer. A now-former community security guard was arrested in November for allegedly shoving Hawkins. Charges against Ailyn DePena were later dropped. Community members have raised questions about whether Hawkins was within his rights to display a badge given to him as an Osceola County Sheriff’s Office special deputy during the incident.

Sebastian man accused of pouring ‘Stink Bait’ on clothes belonging to juveniles” via Andy Hodges of Sebastian Daily — A man was arrested Thursday after he allegedly poured urine on clothes belonging to juveniles who were swimming at the watering hole near Stonecrop Street in Sebastian. The juveniles contacted the Sebastian Police Department and said the man poured something on their items and then walked across the street to his residence, the affidavit said. When questioned, the man told the youths he didn’t do anything before walking away. Upon checking their clothing, the juveniles smelled a strong odor similar to urine. “Officers conducted a check of the area where the youth’s property was and detected a very strong pungent odor similar to urine,” according to the affidavit.

— 2020 —

Trump campaign shake-up continues with three senior staff hires” via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO — Trump’s newly appointed campaign manager is making more changes to the reelection effort as it barrels toward Election Day. Bill Stepien announced Monday that Justin Clark would be serving as deputy campaign manager, Nick Trainer as director of battleground strategy, and Matt Morgan as campaign counsel. The moves are aimed at tightening the leadership structure of a massive Trump political apparatus that stretches across 13 departments. Stepien, Clark, and Trainer have long been close. Clark, who is moving into the position Stepien held before his promotion, served with Stepien on the 2016 campaign and in the White House. Trainer also worked under Stepien in the administration.

Donald Trump shakes up his campaign staff. Image via AP.

Trump’s law-and-order message flops” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — Trump has attempted to make this his calling card in the race against former Vice President Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee. He has tweeted those words more than a dozen times in recent weeks, and he seems to be trying to replicate President Richard Nixon’s strategy from 1968. The problem is that it hasn’t taken hold, according to multiple recent polls. Quite the opposite, in fact. The most recent poll, which showed Biden leading by 15 points overall, asked people which candidate they trust more on the issue of “crime and safety.” Registered voters picked Biden by a nine-point margin, 50 percent to 41 percent.

Joe Biden wants to be ‘simpatico’ with his running mate. Some fear that rules out most Black women.” via Vanessa Williams and Sean Sullivan of The Washington Post — Ask Biden what he’s looking for in a vice president and he fondly describes his tenure as second-in-command to former President Barack Obama. Their eight-year relationship was one of trust, candor and respect, he says, a bond forged as fellow senators and presidential campaign rivals-turned-friends. As Biden told supporters recently, he wants someone who is “simpatico with me, both in terms of personality as well as substance.” It is in many ways a conventional standard recited by generations of presidential candidates before him, with a premium usually placed on deep Washington experience, particularly membership in the Senate or leadership in the House, or executive experience at the state level. Putting aside the old standards could prove especially challenging for Biden, whose long Washington career means many of his deepest political alliances are with people of similar backgrounds, mainly white men.

— CONVENTION COUNTDOWN —

More than 1,000 businesses register as vendors for RNC in Jacksonville” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — Despite reduced crowd sizes and some shaky concerns about security at the Republican National Convention scheduled to be held in Jacksonville, the host committee is pointing out a flood of local businesses have registered to service the event. More than 1,000 First Coast businesses have now registered to be vendors connected to the RNC set to take place between Aug. 24-27 in Jacksonville. The 2020 Host Committee actively solicited local businesses to seek vendor agreements and registration procedures shortly after the Republican Party announced in June the majority of convention events would be moved from Charlotte, N.C. to Jacksonville.

‘I don’t have what I need to keep our community safe’ during RNC, says Jacksonville Sheriff Williams” via Dan Scanlan and Andrew Pantazi of The Florida Times-Union — The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office will be unable to keep the Republican National Convention safe when it comes to the city next month, Sheriff Mike Williams said in a frank interview with local news outlets Monday afternoon. Right now, he says they only have “bits and pieces” of a plan to handle the event. He said he’d been in touch with Mayor Lenny Curry, a former Republican Party of Florida chairman who has been a vocal advocate for bringing the convention here even as other cities’ leaders expressed concerns about the scale of a major political convention that brings thousands of law enforcement, protesters, delegates and dignitaries.

Jacksonville Sheriff Michael Williams believes he cannot provide security for the RNC. Image via News4Jax.

RNC to hawk Donald Trump Jr.’s new book” via Alex Isenstadt of Politico —Trump has a new book coming out next month, and he’ll have a powerful ally helping him sell it: the Republican National Committee. The RNC is buying copies of the first son’s forthcoming “Liberal Privilege,” which it will offer to donors who contribute at least $75. The committee orchestrated a similar fundraising campaign last year around Trump’s previous book, “Triggered” — a move that led to accusations that the RNC was boosting sales to land him in the coveted top slot of The New York Times bestseller list.

— MORE FROM THE TRAIL — 

Judson Sapp amends financial disclosures to show source of campaign loans” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Sapp had come under scrutiny after campaign reports showed he’d lent a quarter-million dollars to his own campaign in March, while his personal financial disclosures didn’t list any assets to show he had that sort of money, to begin with. Since that report, a new set of campaign finance reports show Sapp had made a second $250,000 personal loan to his campaign, bringing his total contribution to $500,000. The amendment shows an asset with the W.J. Sapp Trust, valued between $250,000-$500,000. The amendment also discloses that he received between $100,000 and $1 million in income from that asset in the period between Jan. 1, 2019, and May 15, 2020.

Judson Sapp filed an amended financial disclosure form showing that he did loan money to his campaign.

Six Democrats seek up-for-grabs Senate seat in jam-packed South Florida primary” via Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald — When voters in Senate District 35, which encompasses parts of northern Miami-Dade and southern Broward counties fill out a mail ballot or head to the polls on August 18, they will see a slate of familiar candidates. The Democratic primary race to replace term-limited Sen. Oscar Braynon has attracted no less than four Tallahassee veterans. They all have established platforms, a base of voters, and experience on the campaign trail. Whoever wins the primary will receive what is all but a golden ticket to winning the general election come November. The voters in District 35 are split essentially evenly between the two counties. But of the six primary candidates, four are in Miami-Dade, while state Rep. Shevrin Jones, is the lone Broward candidate who has been active on the campaign trail.

— “Meet Phillip Snyder, an NPA candidate running for Senate District 17” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics

— “Former Lt. Governor nominee Chris King endorses Shevrin Jones in SD 35” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

— “South Florida Police Benevolent Association backs Ana Maria Rodriguez in SD 39” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Five candidates head toward primaries in a crowded race to replace Ana Maria Rodriguez” via Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald — District 105’s registered voters are nearly evenly split: about 32% Democrat, 32% Republican, and 35% No Party Affiliation, according to state records. The race has attracted two previously unsuccessful state representative candidates who ran in 2018: leasing agent Javier Estevez, a Democrat who nearly won the seat the last time around, and Doral attorney Bibiana Potestad, a Republican who ran in House District 119 and lost in the Republican primary to Juan Fernandez-Barquin. She now lives in District 105. Also running in the Democratic primary is immigration attorney Maureen Porras. The Republican primary will include Potestad, Sweetwater Commissioner David Borrero and mental health counselor Pedro Barrios.

— “Florida doctors backing Michelle Salzman for House District 1” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics 

— “Allison Tant spends $60K in latest report, raising the bar for HD 9” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

— “Kayser Enneking leads Chuck Clemons in HD 21 fundraising” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

— “Bob Cortes touts straw poll wins in HD 30” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

— “House District 47: Republicans Jeremy Sisson, Kevin Morenski seek party’s bid to take on Anna Eskamani” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel

— “Andrew Learned dominates fundraising in HD 59” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics

— “Ray Rodrigues endorses Mike Giallombardo in HD 77” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Police Benevolent Association revokes Michael Weinstein endorsement in HD 81 race” via Wendy Rhodes of The Palm Beach Post — On Friday, the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association revoked its endorsement of Weinstein in the Democratic primary for Florida House District 81. The move followed comments Weinstein made to the Sun-Sentinel in a questionnaire published online June 26, said Palm Beach County PBA President John Kazanjian. The problem? Weinstein’s written response to a question about what changes are needed to laws that govern criminal justice in Florida in light of the Floyd protests.

— “Rick Kozell adds more than $10K, maintains hefty cash lead in HD 82” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

— “Florida doctors backing Adam Botana for state House” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

— “Kelly Skidmore edges Michael Weinstein in latest HD 81 fundraising reports” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

— DOWN BALLOT —

Daniella Levine Cava promises ‘reform’ in new Miami-Dade mayoral race TV spot” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Levine Cava is releasing her sixth TV ad in her run for Miami-Dade County Mayor, titled “Reform.” The $260,000 ad buy highlights several recent endorsements from various labor groups. “Daniella Levine Cava, an ethical leader with the vision to deliver results,” the ad’s narrator begins in a 15-second version. “Our doctors, nurses and working families endorsed Daniella because she will reform county government.” Levine Cava then closes out the ad. “My fight for a better future has always been about you and your families,” she says. A 30-second version of the spot is also running and will air on broadcast and cable networks in the county.

Daniella Levine Cava vows to bring reform to Miami-Dade.

Elaine Bryant, Jack Porter appear locked in close contest for City Commission Seat 1” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — The contest for City Commission Seat 1 has become one of the most closely watched in town, with the top candidates turning up the heat on their campaigns at the same time mail-in voting has begun in the August primary. Neither of the top two candidates, City Commissioner Bryant and Porter, are major household names, necessarily. And neither have appeared on ballots before. With myriad coronavirus-related uncertainties in the mix, it’s anyone’s guess who might pull off the win. “There are a lot of ‘X’ factors that could change this by a couple of percentage points — and that could be the difference,” said Matt Isbell, owner of MCI maps and a Democratic consultant. “I think it’s going to be close.”

— TOP OPINION —

Why has the Florida Legislature given up its duties?” via Ben Diamond for the Tampa Bay Times — Is it possible to be unsurprised yet shocked at the same time? As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, that’s how I felt when DeSantis decided this month that he could unilaterally spend public funds without legislative authorization. The unsurprising part was the Governor’s position, which is entirely consistent with the Trump successor audition he has been performing since COVID-19 began. What’s shocking to me is the fact that the Speaker of the Florida House, the President of the Senate, and other Republican legislators acquiesced to this usurpation of legislative authority.

— OPINIONS —

Biden’s economic plan cedes too much to Trump” via the editorial board of Bloomberg — Biden has been laying out additions to the economic plan he’ll offer to the country in November. One set of proposals looks at new public spending, jobs and manufacturing with a focus on “Made in America.” This includes some smart measures and, so far, the fiscal arithmetic looks measured and responsible. The encompassing economic message, though, is wrong. In effect, Biden is surrendering to the man he wants to replace. His pitch tells voters Trump’s “America First” economic populism is sound in principle, only lacking in execution. Perhaps this approach has political appeal, but that doesn’t make it right. The U.S. economy doesn’t need a more effective Trump. It needs a forthright anti-Trump.

You have no constitutional right to go mask-free in a pandemic” via Steve Geller for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — I keep hearing people say that they have a constitutional right not to wear a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re wrong. For reasons ranging from partisan politics to obstinacy, many people nonetheless refuse to wear masks. They claim a fictitious constitutional right not to wear masks. People have indicated that the Constitution guarantees the right to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Wrong document. That’s the Declaration of Independence. Governments have extremely broad “police powers” to protect the public, especially during pandemics. As the U.S. Supreme Court said in Jacobson v Massachusetts, “[A] community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members.”

NFL should delay start of season until league — and country — gets better handle on COVID-19” via Kent Somers of USA Today — The NFL’s preferred management style is to never make a decision before it has to. But with the scheduled openings of training camps upon us, that time has arrived. Does it make sense to try to start a football season with cases of COVID-19 surging in the United States, including in NFL cities such as Miami, Houston, Los Angeles, and until the last week or so, Phoenix? To me, the answer is clear. No. Delay the start a month or so. Wait to see if Americans heed encouragement and directives to wear masks, which the head of the CDC said could allow us to get the virus under control in four to eight weeks. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that the NFL isn’t ready to open camps in a way that’s safe for players, coaches, team employees and their families.

— TODAY’S SUNRISE —

Florida is now facing a lawsuit over the reopening of public schools.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— The Florida Education Association says no one should be forced to return to schools until the COVID-19 crisis is under control. And it’s not. The state reported 92 new fatalities Monday, as well as more than 10,000 newly confirmed cases of coronavirus.

— Gov. DeSantis travels to Orlando to ask COVID-19 survivors to donate blood that can be used to treat other victims. Once again, protesters confronted the Governor and interrupted his spiel.

— If you listen closely, you can hear the protesters say, “shame on you” and “you’re lying to the public.” This is the second time in eight days protesters heckled DeSantis at a news conference — and both happened on a Monday.

— A group representing nursing homes and senior care facilities says the COVID-19 crisis has them hurtling toward a financial cliff; they’re calling on Congress for a bailout.

— An in-depth look at the settlement between the state and a coalition of liberal voting-rights groups trying to force Florida to make it easier to vote-by-mail during the COVID-19 crisis.

— Also, a Florida Man went to jail for stealing $2 million from a small school district in Texas.

To listen, click on the image below:

 

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

Anthony Fauci to throw out first pitch at Washington Nationals’ Opening Day” via Rashaan Ayesh of Axios — The Washington Nationals announced Monday that Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day on July 23. Fauci, who the team called a “Nats superfan,” is the nation’s top infectious diseases expert and has been one of the most trusted voices in America during the coronavirus pandemic. He has recently faced attacks from members of the Trump administration who have sought to discredit him.

A self-described ‘superfan,’ Dr. Anthony Fauci will throw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals opening home game.

The only story that mattersChristopher Nolan film pulled from Warner Bros release calendar indefinitely” via Jacob Stolworthy of the Independent — Warner Bros has delayed the release of Tenet indefinitely meaning it is now unclear when the film will be released. The new Nolan film had originally kept its release date of 17 July, despite being unclear whether cinemas would reopen in time. As lockdown guidelines were eased, though, it seemed that Tenet would be the first new film released in cinemas following the pandemic. However, due to health and safety concerns, the film was pushed back by a fortnight, and then a further two weeks to 12 August. It has now been pulled from Warner Bros’ schedule altogether, with the studio hinting that the film will be released on different days around the world before the year is out.

Streaming app that brings in local TV channels without cable, satellite or antenna debuting in South Florida” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Ready to cut the cord but not willing to hassle with an antenna to bring in dozens of available over-the-air TV channels from transmitters in either Miami or West Palm Beach? Locast, a streaming app, might be the solution for you. The nonprofit service will be live in South Florida on Tuesday morning. Users will be able to access livestreams of channels serving their respective Miami or West Palm Beach media markets on smartphones, tablets, or any TV connected to the internet. All viewers will get local affiliates of all four broadcast networks — NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox — plus PBS. While Locast touts its “free” service, it will actually cost you $5 a month to get uninterrupted viewing.

Chick-fil-A Kickoff doing everything it can to keep FSU-West Virginia on docket” via Curt Weiler of the Naples Daily News — It remains uncertain how and when the upcoming college football season will be played. Concerns over the coronavirus pandemic have caused some conferences to move to conference-only schedules, while a growing number of FCS and lower-division conferences have canceled their fall sports seasons. One of the casualties should the entirety of college football go to a limited schedule in some capacity this season could be the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games and other neutral-site season openers. Florida State is set to open its 2020 season in the first of three Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games over a week’s time Sept. 5 vs West Virginia at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today are Sen. Gayle Harrell and Thomas Hobbs.

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

Peter Schorsch

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.


One comment

  • S.B. Anthony

    July 21, 2020 at 8:22 am

    “What is one thing you wish you could go back in time and tell yourself before this pandemic started?”

    I’d tell myself to pack up, get the hell out of America, and not come back until Biden is sworn in.

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