Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.29.20

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All the news that fits, and more: Your first look at Sunshine State politics and policy news.

Happy ninth engagement anniversary to my wonderful wife, Michelle.

When we were first dating, I knew she would be the love of my life because I kept thinking if I won the lottery, I’d want to spend the rest of my life with her.

Now I know she is the love of my life because I keep thinking if the pandemic continues indefinitely, there’s no one with whom I’d rather hunker down.

What’s really amazing to think about is what either of us would think if we went back in time and said to our past selves, in nine years, this will be your daughter … this will be your life.

 

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Welcome to the world:

 

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David Clark is resigning as the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff, effective Aug. 7.

Clark, who has been in the position for about a year, officially announced his resignation in a Tuesday letter to Chief of Staff Shane Strum.

“I am truly honored I was selected to serve on Gov. DeSantis’ executive team. It has been an incredible and humbling experience being part of a team that led Florida during several challenges, including the most recent global pandemic and state of emergency related to COVID-19,” Clark wrote.

Though brief, Clark’s tenure in Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration was productive.

Clark has been one of the most involved officials in furthering First Lady Casey DeSantis’ mental health initiatives, which in turn have been among the most widely praised actions through the first 18 months of the DeSantis administration.

“I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with First Lady Casey DeSantis and support her passionate vision for making a lasting and positive difference on issues such as substance abuse, mental health, and the overall well-being of Florida’s youth,” Clark wrote. “Witnessing the First Lady’s sincere heart and passion for youth is what challenged me as a father of two young children to focus on being the best father I can be.”

Clark’s exit adds to the number of DeSantis administration employees who have resigned in recent weeks, but his resignation letter shows no indications of behind-the-scenes friction, political or otherwise.

“Ultimately, the desire for me to focus on my two sons and spend more time with them is what compelled me to make the difficult decision to resign. This was not an easy decision; however, it is the right one for my family,” he wrote.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@BillKristol: It looks as if 100% business meal deductibility would cost the federal government about $4b. Which is exactly the price for helping states and localities ensure safe and secure elections in November, something the GOP bill omits. Democratic slogan: Safe voting not fancy eating.

Tweet, tweet:

 

@AnnaForFlorida: Advocacy works — after weeks of pushing DCF on the state’s decision to reinstate work search requirements for needy families they have just announced that the waiver has been put back into place until at least Aug 31. Much love to nonprofits for creating pressure around this.

—@Carlos_Film: Not a single Emmy nomination for Latino actors or Latino shows. In a year where they had ONE DAY AT A TIME, VIDA, and GENTEFIED to celebrate. Not even Rita Moreno, which pundits had highlighted as a strong contender. Shame.

Tweet, tweet:

 

@APStyleBook: PB&J is acceptable in all references to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

— DAYS UNTIL —

NBA season restart in Orlando — 1; Beyonce‘s “Black is King” visual album debuts — 2; NHL resumes — 3; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 20; Florida Bar exams begin online (rescheduled) — 21; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 21; Regal Cinemas reopen in U.S. — 23; Indy 500 rescheduled — 25; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 26; NBA draft lottery — 27; Rev. Al Sharpton’s D.C. March — 30; U.S. Open begins — 33; Christopher Nolan‘s “Temet” rescheduled premiere in U.S. — 36; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 38; Rescheduled date for French Open — 53; First presidential debate in Indiana — 62; “Wonder Woman” premieres — 65; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 66; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 69; Ashley Moody’s 2020 Human Trafficking Summit — 69; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 75; Second presidential debate scheduled at Miami — 78; NBA draft — 79; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 79 NBA free agency — 82; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 85; 2020 General Election — 97; “Black Widow” premieres — 101; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 103; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 114; “No Time to Die” premieres — 114; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 125; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 193; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 205; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 338; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 359; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 367; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 464; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 562; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 604; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 646; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 800.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Despite rising death toll, Ron DeSantis says COVID-19 trends are good” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The Department of Health has confirmed 130 deaths on average each of the past seven days and at least 6,117 Floridians have died. That accelerating death toll complicated DeSantis‘ assurances that the Sunshine State is on the mend. “These are tough things to see when you see fatalities come in,” DeSantis told reporters. According to independent data scientist and MIT graduate Youyang Gu, Florida has an implied infection fatality rate of 0.15%, the lowest of all states with more than 1,000 infections per day. Some, including Gu, have questioned whether Florida is reporting all of its cases, which DeSantis has called a conspiracy theory.

Ron DeSantis sees positive trends in the COVID-19 fatality stats.

— “Gov. DeSantis says record deaths are ‘tough things to see,’ but he contends coronavirus trends are improving” via Richard Tribou and Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel

— “Florida — and its nursing homes — hit grim new records” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida

New rapid-result tests may allow visitors in nursing homes — but most hardest-hit facilities haven’t gotten any” via Kate Santich and Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — As families beg to be allowed to see their loved ones at nursing homes, only one of the hardest-hit facilities in Central Florida is slated for the first round of new rapid-result test kits that could make visits possible. Across the state, 2,760 long-term care residents and workers have died of the virus, officials reported Tuesday, and there are well over 12,000 current cases in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Those include recent outbreaks in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake and Volusia counties that have infected scores of residents and facility staff. But only Orlando Health & Rehabilitation Center is among the first 2,000 facilities to be sent the rapid-results testing supplies.

Florida using new lab to process COVID-19 tests in hopes of getting results faster” via Masha Saedi of WFLA — Florida officials say they’re trying to get people their COVID-19 test results faster. That means one of the biggest names in testing is being asked to take a step back. At the Raymond James site, one of Hillsborough County’s largest, the state is switching vendors from Quest to a new lab called eTrueNorth. This is just one of the changes that state officials say they’re making to speed up turnaround times. “Quest Diagnostics is proud to have provided more COVID-19 testing to the people of Florida than any other laboratory provider. In recent weeks, soaring demand for COVID-19 testing is outpacing our testing capacity, slowing testing times,” the company said in a statement.

Once on New York’s COVID front line, nurses flock to Florida to provide reinforcement” via Mary Ellen Klas and Ben Wieder of the Miami Herald — In the last month as hospitals filled up and cases soared, the Florida Department of Emergency Management signed more than $379 million in purchase orders for “staff augmentation” services to provide reinforcements to hospital staff facing burnout, according to a Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times analysis. The deals, most of them no-bid arrangements, were for everything from nurses to conduct drive-up COVID tests, to respiratory therapists, ICU nurses and certified nursing assistants. By contrast, prior to June 15, only $38 million in purchase orders for staffing had been signed, for a total of about $418 million in commitments signed, the analysis showed.

Visitors may soon be allowed back into Florida nursing homes” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Visitors may soon be allowed back in Florida’s long-term care facilities. DeSantis said the federal government is sending new point-of-care coronavirus diagnostic tests to nursing homes across Florida and the country. These tests could be used to allow family members to get tested upon arrival and receive results within 15 minutes. “This is a way to maintain safety and keep the virus out of a vulnerable area and have family members connect with their loved ones again. I look forward to those tests landing in nursing homes throughout the state,” DeSantis said.

COVID-19 cases increasing in juvenile justice system” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — As of Tuesday, 290 youths in the system had been infected with the respiratory disease, while 221 juvenile-justice workers also had tested positive. That was up from 188 youths and 179 workers on July 21. The Department of Juvenile Justice has taken a series of steps to try to prevent the spread of the virus, including suspending visitation at the facilities and screening staff members and contractors. “All staff that work at state-operated juvenile detention centers and residential commitment programs are screened daily and receive temperature checks on every shift prior to entering the facility,” the department said. “If a staff presents with symptoms, he or she is denied entry and instructed to contact their health care provider.”

’Small victory’: Florida waives work requirements for food stamp recipients for another month” via Allison Ross of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis directed the Florida Department of Children and Families to postpone the reinstatement of the work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — once known as food stamps — as a condition to get the aid through August. The Department of Children and Families administers the federal aid program, widely known as SNAP. The state initially announced in March that it would temporarily waive the work requirements. The state kept that waiver in place through June.

DeSantis remains tight-lipped on eviction moratorium extension” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — After hosting a nearly 40-minute roundtable discussion with doctors in Orlando, Gov. DeSantis had little to say when asked afterward if he would extend the state’s eviction moratorium. “We might,” DeSantis said. “We’ll have an announcement on that soon.” The state’s eviction moratorium, which prohibits landlords from foreclosing or evicting tenants for nonpayment, was first put into effect on April 2. If renewed again, it will be the moratorium’s fourth extension. The Governor’s brevity on the issue is not out-of-character. To the frustration of many, each extension has been announced late into the evening and with little time to spare. The current moratorium expires at 12:01 a.m. Aug. 1.

Disney World delays some resort hotel reopenings as Florida COVID-19 cases spike” via Curtis Tate of USA Today — Many Disney resort hotels reopened in June, but others remained closed as the theme park reopened on July 11. Disney has since changed the reopening dates for some resort hotels it previously announced. According to an update on Disney World’s website, the Polynesian Village Resort will reopen on Oct. 4, and the Art of Animation Resort will reopen on Nov. 1. Previously, both resorts were scheduled to reopen on Aug. 12. Disney’s Beach Club Resort and BoardWalk Inn, which were supposed to reopen on Aug. 24 and Oct. 1, respectively, are to remain closed until further notice.

Many Disney World resorts will remain closed due to coronavirus flare-ups.

Timeshares are doing their part in Florida’s economic recovery” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Tourism is Florida’s most important industry. Theme parks, hotels, car rentals and restaurants depend on it to keep afloat. But the coronavirus pandemic continues, so too does the gloomy outlook for Florida’s signature industry. Still, there are some signs of recovery. One source of hope: Timeshares. Despite a spate of negative headlines on case numbers and death records, there is still demand for accommodations that provide for social distancing and show a commitment to extraordinary cleaning and safety measures. Timeshares check both boxes. Many timeshare providers are offering generous cancellation policies. Such policies are not only pro-consumer, they are also pro-Florida. By offering such flexibility, timeshare companies are ensuring those tourists will arrive eventually, even if they don’t arrive immediately.

— BACK TO SCHOOL? —

Child hospitalizations from COVID-19 surge 23% in Florida as schools statewide must reopen” via CNN — On July 16, the state had a total of 23,170 children ages 17 and under who had tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Florida Department of Health. By July 24, that number jumped to 31,150. That’s a 34% increase in new cases among children in eight days. And more children in Florida are requiring hospitalization. As of July 16, 246 children had been hospitalized with coronavirus. By July 24, that number had jumped to 303. That’s a 23% increase in child COVID-19 hospitalizations in eight days.

FL educator: ‘I don’t want to die going back to the classroom’” via Danielle J. Brown of the Florida Phoenix — In a typical school year, Orlando high school teacher Keegan Schlake says he sees about “150 students cycle through my classroom door every day and thousands of kids shoulder-to-shoulder in the hallways.” The bottom line: “Schools are not designed for social distancing,” says Schlake. In fact, school faculty and educators dying from COVID-19 in Florida have already become a reality as the pandemic continues to spread infections and kill people. In Florida’s state capital, a Leon County school custodian only 19 years old died of complications from coronavirus.

Teachers refuse to be martyrs as school districts consider reopening.

Orange’s change in school start date frustrates many parents” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — The Orange County school district changed its calendar late Monday so that school starts in just two weeks — ensuring teachers get paid on time but setting off a firestorm from angry parents. The district said Monday that the 2020-21 school year would start Aug. 10, with online classes only, and then campuses would open Aug. 21 for those who opt for face-to-face lessons. That was a shift from its July 17 announcement that the school year likely would start on Aug. 21, for both online and in-person classes, instead of Aug. 10, the date long on the calendar as the start of the 2020-21 school year. When shared on Facebook, the announcement prompted more than 2,300 comments, many from angry parents.

60% of Pinellas parents responding chose online school, survey finds” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — With COVID-19 cases rising, and the spread accelerating among children, a majority of Pinellas County parents are signaling they’ll have their children learn from home when classes resume in August. Just over 60% of students said they would attend either MyPCS Online — live remote classes through their home school — or Pinellas Virtual School, in response to the district’s reopening choice survey. The other 40 percent indicated they would return to campus for their courses. That number does not include the plans of nearly 40,000 children whose parents did not answer the survey by the 5 p.m. Monday deadline. The system enrolls right around 100,000 students.

Pinellas County to delay start of school year” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — The Pinellas County School Board unanimously voted Tuesday evening to delay the start of the school year from Aug. 12 to Aug. 24. Teachers will now start Aug. 13. The school year was originally scheduled to end May 27, but will now end June 9, 2021. Parents had to make a selection by Monday evening among three schooling options: brick-and-mortar in-person schooling, MyPCS Online, or Pinellas County Virtual School. Of about 60,000 respondents, 60% opted for digital learning through either MyPCS or Pinellas Virtual.

‘This is it’: Leon County School Board bumps fall start date till Aug. 31 amid coronavirus spike” via Casey Chapter of the Tallahassee Democrat —School Board members voted to move back the start date by a week as more than 1,000 parents and teachers watched and commented on Facebook. This is the third time officials have bumped back the start date of students returning to in-person classrooms during the novel coronavirus pandemic. The vote came during the board’s first meeting back at the Aquilina Howell Center. The district has several key details still to iron out, including how the shift will affect the district’s master schedule and the administrative logistics of logging staff salaries.

—“Bay County school board approves new enrollment option” via Tony Mixon of the Panama City News-Herald

Teachers may stage ‘safety strikes’ if forced into unsafe schools — union leader says” via Valerie Strauss of The Washington Post — Teachers could go on strike “as a last resort” if they are forced to return to unsafe schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten warned Tuesday. The executive council of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers approved a resolution Friday but not released until Tuesday giving AFT affiliates across the country authorization to stage strikes — even as President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos are pushing schools to fully reopen while school district leaders say they need massive federal funding to do so safely. Weingarten gave a blistering speech at the organization’s annual convention, being held virtually this year, saying Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic “has been chaotic and catastrophic.”

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said that many teachers ‘writing their wills’ in response to schools’ coronavirus guidelines. Image via Getty.

As public schools go all-virtual in fall, parents eye private schools that say they will open up their campuses” via Perry Stein of The Washington Post — While most of D.C.’s public school districts say their campuses will remain closed for the start of the fall semester, many private schools — which can charge more than $45,000 a year in tuition and fees — are still planning to bring students into classrooms for at least part of the week. It’s a situation that could exacerbate existing inequalities, with wealthier students attending classes in person at private schools, and everyone else using public schools’ distance learning, which left many students behind in their academics. The fact that these private schools may offer some in-class instruction has fueled an uptick in enrollment inquiries from families who can afford to make the switch.

Coronavirus means many school bus riders could be left with no seat” via Bianna Golodryga and Meridith Edwards of CNN — As arguments rage about whether it is safe to have children back in classrooms amid coronavirus, there is another major hurdle — how to get them there. More than 25 million students typically use buses to get to and from school, but with social distancing needs, there will just not be enough space. Houston’s interim superintendent Grenita Lathan announced that instruction will be entirely online for the first six weeks of the school year. But even when schools reopen, only a fraction of the district’s 60,000 regular riders will have a seat on the bus, to meet CDC guidelines created to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Assignment editors — A group of physicians from The Committee to Protect Medicare will host a video news conference to call on DeSantis and Trump to act immediately to ensure schools are adequately prepared to keep kids and staff as safe as possible before they reopen, 1 p.m. Zoom call, RSVP to Annika Doner at [email protected] for the link.

— CORONA LOCAL —

Lenny Curry ‘cautiously optimistic’ surge has peaked” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — Mayor Curry struck a note of guarded optimism Tuesday that a surge in coronavirus cases over the past month has leveled off and started to show signs of declining, but he still supports Trump’s decision to cancel the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville. Curry said the percentage of test results showing COVID-19 virus infections has been going down, and reports from the city’s hospitals show they have seen a stabilization in the number of patients suffering illnesses from the virus. “Those factors make us cautiously optimistic,” he said during a midday media briefing.

Lenny Curry is cautiously optimistic the worst of coronavirus has passed.

At Jacksonville’s beaches, COVID-19 shelves several planned projects while others move forward” via Teresa Stepzinski of The Florida Times-Union — The staccato of pounding hammers and screech of power saws still can be heard at Jacksonville’s three beach communities as construction workers build hotels, restaurants and retail shops. But the sound — signaling multimillion dollar development projects — isn’t as loud as it was before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, city and business leaders say, as some projects have been put on hold or dropped altogether. Among the high-profile projects developers have put the brakes on are Jacksonville Beach’s Angie’s Subs expansion and Neptune Beach’s Saltwater Row retail center. “Everybody’s taken a punch in the stomach financially, all the local businesses,” Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham said, noting that lenders are being very cautious right now.

Miami doctors feel helpless As COVID-19 devastates South Florida” via Zachary Fagenson of Reuters — As the coronavirus ravages Florida, health care workers in Miami hospitals are struggling to cope with the emotional and physical impact of treating a crushing wave of COVID-19 patients. After seeing 10,000 new cases a day become the norm across the state in July, many of those on the front lines are frustrated with the apparent inability of local, state and federal governments to coordinate an adequate response. They are equally aghast with what appears to be the reluctance or refusal of many Floridians to honor safety precautions to stop the spread of coronavirus.

A mobile COVID-19 testing facility, in Miami Beach. Miami doctors are feeling overwhelmed by the virus.

In rush to spend $474 million from CARES, Miami-Dade cuts money for city COVID relief” via Douglas Hanks and Aaron Leibowitz of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade cities may sue for a larger share of a $474 million pool of federal COVID relief dollars that county commissioners have been racing to allocate to charities, businesses and residents across the county. The administration of Mayor Carlos Gimenez this month slashed a planned $135 million allocation to cities to just $30 million, inflaming an already tense standoff over how much of the federal CARES Act should be spent at the municipal level and how much should be distributed by Miami-Dade. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez the county’s latest $30 million earmark for the county’s 34 cities “grossly unfair” and robbing municipalities of the ability to set spending priorities at the most local of levels.

— MORE LOCAL —

Attorney: Leon mask ordinance a legally defensible template for Walton County” via Jim Thompson of the Northwest Florida Daily News — If they choose to take it, Walton County commissioners have a legally defensible route to establishing a countywide ordinance requiring the wearing of face masks to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a memorandum from the assistant county attorney. In the face of some public pressure for a countywide mask ordinance, commissioners requested a report from Assistant County Attorney Heather Christman on the enforceability and other aspects of a potential countywide mask ordinance. More specifically, the memorandum, set for commission review and possible action at their 9 a.m. Tuesday meeting, suggests that the commission use a Leon County mask ordinance as a template for any local emergency ordinance they might want to enact.

Many North Florida counties are seeing the legal justification for face masks. Image via AP.

Florida State Hospital patient dies of COVID-19, medical examiner’s office says” via Nada Hassanein of the Tallahassee Democrat

— CORONA NATION —

What’s the backup plan if there’s no COVID-19 vaccine?” via Benjy Sarlin of NBC News — Americans struggling through the worsening coronavirus outbreak got some rare good news this week as researchers delivered encouraging updates about potential vaccines. Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, whose gloomy warnings have frustrated Trump, sounded consistently enthusiastic about the prospects. It’s a heartening thought that even as the country has failed to contain the virus or implement the kinds of public health measures experts have called for, there’s a deus ex machina coming to rescue us if we can just hold out long enough. But some experts are worried about Americans getting too used to the idea that a miracle vaccine or treatment is around the corner.

PolitiFact: Don’t fall for this video. Hydroxychloroquine is not a COVID-19 cure.” via Daniel Funke of the Tampa Bay Times — Millions of people, including the President, have seen or shared a video in which a doctor falsely claims there is a cure for the coronavirus, and it’s a medley starring hydroxychloroquine. “This virus has a cure. It is called hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and Zithromax,” Dr. Stella Immanuel, a Houston-based primary care physician and minister with a track record of making bizarre medical claims, says in the video. “I know you people want to talk about a mask. Hello? You don’t need a mask. There is a cure.” No. There is no known cure for COVID-19 and health officials advise everyone to wear masks in public because the virus spreads through respiratory droplets.

Despite what Donald Trump thinks, Dr. Stella Immanuel does NOT have a treatment for COVID-19.

Donald Trump’s new favorite COVID doctor believes in alien DNA, demon sperm, and hydroxychloroquine” via Will Sommer of the Daily Beast — A Houston doctor who praises hydroxychloroquine and says that face masks aren’t necessary to stop transmission of the highly contagious coronavirus has become a star on the right-wing internet, garnering tens of millions of views on Facebook on Monday alone. Before Trump and his supporters embrace Stella Immanuel’s medical expertise, though, they should consider other medical claims Immanuel has made — including those about alien DNA and the physical effects of having sex with witches and demons in your dreams. She alleges alien DNA is currently used in medical treatments, and that scientists are cooking up a vaccine to prevent people from being religious. And she has said that the government is run in part not by humans but by “reptilians.”

—“White House is recommending Tennessee close all bars. Gov. Bill Lee says no.” via Brett Kelman of the Nashville Tennessean

—“’Deeply committed’ doctor, head of ICU at Baltimore hospital dies of coronavirus” via Jordan Culver of USA Today

— CORONA ECONOMICS — 

’It’s a mess’: Republican Senators deride key proposals in GOP virus package” via Andrew Desiderio, Marianne LeVine and Heather Caygle of POLITICO — The jockeying on Capitol Hill underscores how far apart both parties remain — and the treacherous path Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell faces as he confronts internal GOP divisions and kicks off negotiations with Democrats. “It seems to me that Sen. McConnell really doesn’t want to get an agreement,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said after an hourlong meeting in her office with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. The group will meet again tomorrow but Pelosi didn’t sound optimistic about reaching a deal anytime soon. “What we’re doing now is really airing our differences — this discovery and understanding where there might be opportunity or not,” Pelosi added.

GOP’s jobless benefit plan could mean delays, states warn” via Geoff Mulvihill of the Associated Press — Older computer systems that took weeks to set up for the initial federal unemployment enhancement would need to be reprogrammed again twice under the GOP plan. In Florida, state Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat from Orlando, said the state has not even gotten the original supplemental benefit to everyone entitled to it. ‘So the idea of changing the current process that has taken us months to put into place, that is still not even perfect, is a scary thought,’ she said.”

What Marco Rubio is reading — “More than 3 million Florida jobs saved by PPP loans, analysis finds” via Kelsey Sunderland of WFLA News Channel 8 — More than $32 billion from the Paycheck Protection Program has been distributed in hopes of saving businesses and jobs across Florida, and a new analysis says millions of jobs in the Sunshine State have been saved by the federal loans. Using data from the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department, Business.org analyzed how each state was affected by the PPP loans given to their small businesses. Florida had the fourth-highest amount granted and the third-highest number of jobs saved through the PPP loans as the state’s tourism industry essentially shuttered during peak season.

US consumer confidence tumbles in July as COVID-19 spreads” via Martin Crutsinger of The Associated Press — U.S. consumer confidence tumbled in July to a reading of 92.6 as coronavirus infections spread in many parts of the country. The Conference Board, a New York research organization, reported Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index fell from a June reading of 98.3. The weakness came from a drop in the expectations index, which measures consumer views about the short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions. The index is closely watched for signals on future consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of economic activity. The Conference Board said that the large decline in the expectations index reflected big drops in sentiment in Michigan, Florida, Texas and California, all states that have seen a resurgence in coronavirus cases.’

COVID-19 is causing consumer confidence to plummet. Image via AP.

2020 is the summer of booming home sales — and evictions” via Heather Long of The Washington Post — The coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating inequities across America, especially in housing. This summer is one of the best times for homebuyers and worst for many renters. Americans with money in the bank are buying bigger homes, while renters increasingly worry about eviction. Homes sold nationwide in April, May and June at an annualized rate of 15 million. Meanwhile, 12.6 million renters say they were unable to pay rent last month, according to the U.S. Census. The worst downturn since the Great Depression has hit low-income workers — who are typically renters — the hardest. Sixty percent of renter households have had at least one person in the home suffer a job or pay cut versus 45 percent of homeowner households.

— MORE CORONA — 

Europe scrambles to avoid a second coronavirus wave, as infections rise” via Loveday Morris, Michael Birnbaum and Fiona Weber Steinhaus of The Washington Post — Countries across Europe that had brought their coronavirus outbreaks under control are now seeing a worrying rise in cases, as health officials warn that lax public attitudes are putting the continent on a dangerous trajectory. A spike in infections is leading Belgium to ramp up restrictions on social contact, while Spain has closed gyms and nightclubs in Barcelona. Meanwhile, German health officials have called a rise in infections in the past two weeks deeply concerning. “People are being infected everywhere,” said Ute Rexroth, head of surveillance at Germany’s Robert Koch Institute, which sounded the alarm on rising numbers.

Health workers collect samples at a coronavirus testing station in Mamming, Germany. After an outbreak at a local cucumber farm, state authorities have quarantined the entire farm and its workers. Image via AP.

Hygiene theater is a huge waste of time” via Derek Thompson of The Atlantic — COVID-19 has reawakened America’s spirit of misdirected anxiety, inspiring businesses and families to obsess over risk-reduction rituals that make us feel safer but don’t actually do much to reduce risk — even as more dangerous activities are still allowed. This is hygiene theater. Scientists still don’t have a perfect grip on COVID-19 — they don’t know where exactly it came from, how exactly to treat it, or how long immunity lasts. But scientists have converged on a theory of how this disease travels: via air. Surface transmission — from touching doorknobs, mail, food-delivery packages, and subways poles — seems quite rare. (Quite rare isn’t the same as impossible: The scientists I spoke with constantly repeated the phrase “people should still wash their hands.”)

Andrew Cuomo offers every MLB team a home in New York” via Bill Mahoney of POLITICO — “New York state could host any Major League Baseball game that any teams want to play and they could play those games in our stadiums,” the Governor said in a briefing. “New York state has one of the lowest infection rates in the United States. New York state has a full Department of Health protocol system in place. We have a testing system in place. I offer to Major League Baseball, if you’re having problems playing in other states, come play here.” The baseball season started last week, but quickly ran into a stumbling block when more than a dozen players and coaches with the Miami Marlins tested positive in recent days after a road trip in Philadelphia.

Goodbye, jeans. The pandemic is ushering in an era of comfort.” via Abha Bhattarai of The Washington Post — Alexa Muñoz’ time in quarantine sparked an epiphany: She hates jeans. She has dozens of pairs — skinny, high-waisted, ripped — but after months of soft fabrics and elastic waistbands, she’s swearing off denim for good. “I haven’t worn a single pair of jeans since the pandemic started,” said Muñoz, 46, a translator in Manhattan. “They’re looking at me sadly from the closet, but it’s like, ‘You know what? I’m not wearing those anymore.’ Why was I punishing myself?” Once the ultimate in comfort and casual wear, jeans have been usurped by more comfortable — and stretchier — options.

— SMOLDERING —

Joe Biden unveils economic plan focused on racial equity” via Thomas Kaplan and Katie Glueck of The New York Times — Biden unveiled the capstone to his comprehensive economic recovery plan on Tuesday with a speech that outlines his vision to “advance racial equity in our economy.” Biden delivered his address in Wilmington, Delaware, when he pledged that fighting systemic racism is integral to an array of his economic proposals, from housing to infrastructure to supporting small businesses. The moment offered Biden a chance to detail a clear, positive message on racial justice, and to cut another sharp contrast with his opponent, Trump, who has repeatedly taken incendiary actions on that issue at a moment of national reckoning over racism and police violence.

When Black Lives Matter came to white, rural America” via Hannah Natanson of The Washington Post — Bridgette Craighead had almost reached the top of the hill when she stopped, teetering on leopard-print boots, to stare at the white-marble soldier in a Confederate uniform. He stood atop a granite obelisk, dedicated in engraved letters to “THE CONFEDERATE DEAD,” that dominated the grassy square outside the Franklin County Courthouse. Craighead, 29, looked down at her own hands. She readjusted her grip on the megaphone she’d swathed in leopard-print tape, to match her boots and the “Black Lives Matter” logo on her T-shirt. She shook back her Afro and told herself she was a warrior.

The Mayors of Portland, Oregon, and five other major U.S. cities are appealing to Congress to make it illegal for the federal government to deploy militarized agents. Image via AP.

— “Driver accused of trying to run over 15-year-old Black Publix employee” via WFLA

St. Pete Police actually had to remind everyone that it’s illegal to run over protesters with a car” via Colin Wolf of Creative Loafing Tampa Bay — While the Tampa Police Department has yet to charge two drivers who plowed through a June protest (that resulted in the arrest of the injured demonstrators), the St. Petersburg Police Department is reminding everyone that intentionally running over people with an automobile is, in fact, insanely illegal. In a tweet sent Monday morning, the department actually felt compelled to clarify to the public that intentionally running over a protester will result in charges. “#stpetepd does not condone anyone driving into a crowd of protesters or promoting violence against protesters,” said SPPD in the tweet. “Anyone who intentionally drives into a protester will be charged according[ly].”

Pinellas officials will not prosecute 35 demonstrators arrested in June protests” via Kathryn Varn of the Tampa Bay Times — Prosecutors have dropped charges against several dozen demonstrators who were arrested in the first days of the ongoing protests against racism and police brutality. The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office filed noticed on July 17 indicating it would not pursue misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly against 35 protesters arrested from June 1-5 outside St. Petersburg Police Department headquarters. St. Petersburg police officers and Pinellas deputies wrote in arrest reports that the gatherings got out of hand and that demonstrators ignored commands to leave the area. But many protesters have said it was a small group of outsiders who set off fireworks and threw objects at officers, and that police didn’t give them enough time or space to disperse.

Pasco deputy under investigation after Instagram post about killing ‘Marxist terrorists’” via Jack Evans of the Tampa Bay Times — The posts were made on an Instagram account under the name Chino Wen. A reader said it belonged to Deputy Jesse Francis. A background check shows that Francis’ middle name is Wen. Francis, 41, doesn’t identify himself on either page, but his Facebook page contains several posts about the death of his father, James Blake Francis. An obituary for the elder Francis identifies Jesse Francis as one of his children. A text post on the Instagram page urged readers to be prepared to take up arms: “When President Trump gets reelected, be prepared to defend him and the Republic against anarchist/Marxist terrorists who are determined to destroy this country.”

Demonstrators call for Orange to reject sheriff budget increase, declare racism a public health crisis” via Grace Toohey of the Orlando Sentinel — A group of demonstrators on Tuesday demanded that Orange County leaders declare racism a public health crisis and reject a $15 million budget increase to the Sheriff’s Office, following almost two months of Central Florida protests against police brutality and systemic racism. More than 25 residents requested that Mayor Jerry Demings and county commissioners reallocate the proposed $15 million to community resources, like affordable housing or mental health counseling. The proposed increase would raise the agency’s operating budget to $281 million. The residents spoke, mostly in person, Tuesday morning during the public comment portion of an Orange County Commission meeting, then chanted inside the commission chambers and outside the government building. Demings and the commissioners attended the meeting virtually.


— D.C. MATTERS —

Rick Scott, Marco Rubio fear TikTok could tip November election” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Scott and Rubio, along with Republican Sens. Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, Kevin Cramer and Joni Ernst, wrote the Director of National Intelligence, the FBI head, and the head of Homeland Security with grave concerns. The letter says they are “greatly concerned the Chinese Communist Party could use its control over TikTok to distort or manipulate conversations to sow discord among Americans and to achieve its preferred political outcomes. Beijing exploits the openness of Western democracies and social media platforms to propagate the party’s preferred narratives. Chinese government officials increasingly use Western social media companies, including those banned in China, to flood global social media with propaganda and misinformation.”

Can TikTok sway an election?

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell sets off Twitter fight after comparing Portland protests to Venezuela” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — During a House Judiciary Committee hearing Mucarsel-Powell set off a Twitter war when she criticized Attorney General William Barr’s handling of ongoing protests in Portland and compared the actions to violent crackdowns in Nicolás Maduro’s Venezuela. Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart quickly responded. “I am shocked that she is unable to distinguish between the actions of the honorable men and women in law enforcement who risk their lives to defend the rule of law, and Maduro’s thugs who oppress, torture, and kill … ” “Um, actually Mario Diaz-Balart, it was your colleague Jim Jordan who found it hard to distinguish between Trump’s America and Latin America,” Mucarsel-Powell tweeted. “And that was the point. Troll elsewhere.”

— STATEWIDE —

Not a time to worry, but we are in the cone for the first time this storm season” via Kimberly Miller of The Palm Beach Post — Tropical storm warnings were issued Tuesday for several Caribbean islands including Puerto Rico as hurricane center forecasters grew more confident a sprawling swirl east of the Leeward Islands would muscle to cyclone strength this week. While Florida for the first time this hurricane season found itself in the cone of uncertainty for the far away disturbance, experts warned it is too early to say how or if the Sunshine State will feel any effects of the burgeoning system. The next name on the 2020 tropical cyclone list is Isaias. Many things can change, but as of now, it would come ashore near Boca.

Oh, boy: Five-day cone projection by the National Hurricane Center.

State allocates $5.2M for Lake O study aimed at reducing algal blooms” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — DeSantis says the state will spend $5.2 million to study water quality in Lake Okeechobee, with the intent to cut down on harmful algal blooms. That money will be shipped to the South Florida Water Management District and Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. “The two grant recipients will be using the funding to implement enhanced nutrient removal technologies, water quality monitoring and data sharing and work to improve the relationship between environmental conditions and nutrient dynamics in Lake Okeechobee,” a Tuesday release from the Governor’s office read. The funding recommendation comes from the Department of Environmental Protection’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force.

Florida warns of ‘doom’ in Apalachicola water battle” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Florida filed a 30-page brief as it asks the Supreme Court for an order requiring more water to flow into the Apalachicola River and Apalachicola Bay in a three-river system shared by the states. The battle focuses on whether Georgia is siphoning too much water upstream, ultimately damaging Apalachicola Bay’s signature oyster fishery. A special master sided last year with Georgia, but justices will have final say about whether to grant Florida’s request for an “equitable apportionment” of water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system, which stretches from northern Georgia to Apalachicola Bay in Franklin County. Florida lawyers wrote in Monday’s brief that “Georgia argues that Florida, and Apalachicola, must stand by helpless as Georgia’s consumption grows and grows.”

What Shannon Shepp is reading — “Exotic Australian fruit may help save Florida’s citrus industry” via NPR — Researchers are developing tools to help control citrus greening, a disease that has killed thousands of acres of orange and grapefruit trees. One of the most promising treatments was recently developed in a fruit most people have never heard of, the Australian finger lime. The finger lime, native to rainforests in Australia, looks a little like a pickle. It’s just a couple inches long, grows on small trees and is gaining popularity as an exotic fruit. Researcher Hailing Jin became interested in the fruit because it is related to oranges, but it isn’t affected by citrus greening.

Foreign seeds part of ‘brushing’ scam” via the News Service of Florida — More than 600 Floridians have reported being part of what the U.S. Department of Agriculture is calling a “brushing” scam in which they received un-ordered seed packages. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried raised concerns about unsolicited packages of seeds bearing Chinese characters and the name China Post that people are receiving in the mail. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service advised that the packages appear to be part of a ploy to draw false customer reviews and boost online sales. The federal agency is also testing the seeds to evaluate their content and determine if they pose a risk to agriculture or the environment.

Ex-guardian Rebecca Fierle may not stand trial in ward’s death until 2021, attorney says” via Monivette Cordeiro of the Orlando Sentinel — Fierle, the former Orlando guardian accused of abusing and neglecting an incapacitated client whose death sparked a statewide scandal in Florida’s guardianship system, may not stand trial until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, her attorney said Tuesday. And a lawsuit filed against Fierle by the family of her dead ward, Steven Stryker, will be delayed even longer after a judge granted her request to put the civil trial on hold until her criminal case is resolved. During a hearing Tuesday conducted by conference call, attorney Barry Postman argued Fierle would lose her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself in the criminal case if she was forced to first defend herself against the same accusations in civil court.

Former professional guardian Rebecca Fierleas won’t stand trial until next year. Image via WTSP.

‘Murdered on live TV.’ Family mourns slain Miami UPS driver, questions police tactics” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — Seven months after UPS driver Frank Ordóñez was carjacked and later shot in the middle of a chaotic police firefight, relatives mourned him Monday night on what would have been his 28th birthday. But as relatives and supporters honored Ordóñez at the Miramar intersection where he died, his brother called for more oversight on how police officers use force. “His life was taken away by the reckless actions of the police, by them not following protocol and putting everyone’s lives in danger,” Ray Ordóñez said. The memorial was held where Ordóñez and motorist Rick Cutshaw were shot and killed as a swarm of officers engaged in a gunbattle with two armed robbers who had been holding the UPS driver hostage.

— LOBBY REGS —

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Keith Arnold, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: MUNIRevs

Greg Black, Waypoint Strategies: M-3 Information

Wilbur Brewton, Brewton Plante: Prison Rehabilitative Industry & Diversified Enterprises

Eric De Campos: Medicaid Done Right

Jeffrey Sharkey, Capitol Alliance Group: Alternative Claims Management

Derek Silver, Becker & Poliakoff: Ran Wireless

— 2020 —

How local COVID deaths are affecting vote choice” via Lynn Vavreck and Christopher Warshaw of The New York Times — On March 18, Trump declared himself a wartime President against “the invisible enemy” of coronavirus. Now he’s facing a downside of presiding over a war: American casualties. In the days since that pronouncement, COVID-19 has taken the lives of almost 150,000 Americans, many more than have died in recent wars combined. Data from over 328,692 interviews in 3,025 counties across the nation suggest that coronavirus-related deaths are hurting the President’s approval rating and may cost him and his party votes. The gap between stated voting support for Trump and Biden grows by about 2.5 percentage points in Biden’s favor when a county has high levels of coronavirus-related deaths relative to when it has low levels.

Areas with high numbers of COVID-19 deaths are troublesome for the President’s reelection chances. Image via AP. 

Trump spends 9-in-10 advertising dollars defending states he won” via Gregory Korte of Bloomberg — Trump is spending nearly all of his advertising money to keep states he won in 2016, playing a game of defense in areas a Republican incumbent should be able to count on. More than 92% of his state-based spending in the month of July is in states he won in 2016, according to a Bloomberg analysis of television advertising data compiled by Advertising Analytics. Biden, leading in all national polls, is spending in seven key states that Trump won in 2016, too, banking on at least some of them swinging Democratic with widespread voter dissatisfaction over Trump’s handling of the coronavirus and the accompanying economic crash.

—“Trump needs Florida. Does Florida still want Trump?” via Tessa Berenson of The New York Times

New EDF ad accuses Trump of ignoring military warnings on climate change” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The 30-second ad “Listen” drops in the Tampa cable and broadcast TV market from the Environmental Defense Fund’s political committee. It makes the argument that climate change concerns aren’t just for scientists and liberals, they’re just not for Trump. The new commercial is part of a $1.7 million, Tampa-based campaign from EDF Action Votes, the political arm of the Environmental Defense Fund. “Trump insists he knows better than his own military,” the narrator says. The video then shows Trump saying, in 2015, “All of this with the global warming, a lot of it’s a hoax. It’s a hoax.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Biden’s notes: ‘Do not hold grudges’ against Kamala Harris” via Bill Barrow and Andrew Harnik of the Associated Press —Biden was uncharacteristically tight-lipped Tuesday about the final stretch of his search for a vice president. But the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee seemed prepared to talk about at least one leading contender: California Sen. Harris. As he took questions from reporters on Tuesday, Biden held notes that were captured by an Associated Press photographer. Harris’ name was scrawled across the top, followed by five talking points. “Do not hold grudges.” “Campaigned with me & Jill.” “Talented.” “Great help to campaign.” “Great respect for her.”

Susan Rice wants to run for office. will her first campaign be for V.P.?” via Alexander Burns of The New York Times — Rice was watching from afar as Justice Brett Kavanaugh moved steadily toward confirmation. Sen. Susan Collins, the Maine Republican, announced her support for Kavanaugh, effectively sealing his victory. When a former White House colleague tweeted plaintively, asking who might take down Collins in the 2020 election, Rice fired off a two-letter reply: “Me.” It startled friends and puzzled Democratic leaders, most of whom were she had any interest in electoral politics. Rice announced later she had decided against running and most Democrats concluded she had never given it real consideration. They were wrong.

Biden VP finalist Val Demings says a medical issue six years ago forced her to drop out of a race. But she’s never said what the issue was, and staffers say she quit because she was losing.” via Kayla Epstein, Elvina Nawaguna, and Darren Samuelsohn of Business Insider — In 2014, she abruptly quit a mayoral race in Orange County. Pundits speculated that Demings, who had served as Orlando’s first female and first Black police chief, had kneecapped her own political career just as it was about to take off. Fast forward to 2015; she told the Orlando Sentinel that a health problem had actually been the reason she left. “I had to pull out of the race because I had a medical issue that I tried to control through medication to get me to the finish line,” she said. “It didn’t work. I ended up having to get out and going to the hospital to have a procedure done.”

Six Florida Republicans to represent state at GOP Convention in Charlotte” via Mitch Perry of Spectrum News 13 — Republican Party of Florida Chairman Joe Gruters was surprised to learn Trump had abruptly decided to cancel the Jacksonville portion of the Republican National Convention. But he had a premonition when the president conceded earlier the coronavirus pandemic will probably “get worse before it gets better.” The Republican National Committee now says a “few hundred delegates” will be in Charlotte, North Carolina on Aug. 24 for convention business. Florida will be represented by six delegates: Gruters, RPOF Vice Chair Christian Ziegler, Florida Republican National Committeeman Peter Feaman, Florida RNC Committeewoman Kathleen King, RPOF Secretary Kristy Banks, and RPOF Assistant Treasurer Jeremy Evans.

— MORE FROM THE TRAIL — 

Nearly 700,000 mail-in ballots cast in Florida primary elections” via the News Service of Florida — Nearly 700,000 ballots had been cast as of Monday for the Aug. 18 primary elections from more than 3.8 million vote-by-mail ballots sent to Floridians. Democrats had completed 320,157 ballots, as their party has stressed the importance this year of people voting by mail. Republicans, who historically have had an advantage in vote-by-mail balloting in Florida, had submitted 260,206 ballots. Ballots are being returned as Trump has repeatedly warned about mail-in voting leading to fraud. The Republican Party of Florida has sent out mailers imploring voters to request an “absentee ballot,” with part of the copy including recent tweets by Trump, such as a June 28 tweet that said “absentee ballots are fine.”

Ranking Florida’s congressional delegation for vulnerability this election year” via Louis Jacobson of the Tampa Bay Times — As the Aug. 18 primary approaches, the outlook for Florida’s congressional races hasn’t changed all that much. In Miami’s expensive media market, Donna Shalala has raised significantly less money than fellow Democrat Mucarsel-Powell in the nearby 26th District and may end up needing some help from allied Democratic groups. If there’s any Republican who can ride out a Democratic headwind, it’s Vern Buchanan, thanks to his deep pockets, and Margaret Good will have to run a near-perfect campaign to win. Regarding Mike Waltz, without a notable recruit in 2020, Democrats have essentially given up on the seat.

Congressional candidate Margaret Good needs to run a ‘near-perfect’ campaign to beat Vern Buchanan.

Republican George Buck doesn’t want foreign-born citizens in Congress … like his opponent” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Buck tweeted that if elected he would propose a law or Constitutional amendment allowing only natural-born citizens to serve in Congress. Such a restriction would mean Amanda Makki, an Iranian-born immigrant who has lived in the United States nearly all of her life, couldn’t represent Florida’s 13th Congressional District, the same office that she and Buck are seeking. The most recent polling in the race shows Makki, who has significant support from national Republicans, ahead of Buck. She tops him in fundraising, too. The sentiment wasn’t directed at Makki, Buck said in an email, but added: “Now that you mention it, Makki was born in Iran so this would apply to her once my law is passed.”

— “Environmental PAC backs Charlie Crist in CD 13 reelection” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics

Ross Spano friend who lent $110K received PPP funding” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Cary Carreno, Spano’s longtime friend, received between $150,000 and $350,000 for Alternative Energy Applications, the company he heads as CEO. There’s nothing immediately untoward about the loan. PPP loans are available to small businesses to help shoulder ongoing operational costs amid the COVID-19 economic slowdown. The funds can be forgiven if companies meet certain criteria, including retaining staff during the eight-week period covered under the program. But it does raise eyebrows. Carreno lent Spano $110,000 in 2018, which Spano used to then loan his own campaign, a clear violation of campaign contribution limits. Spano is under federal investigation over the misstep.

—“EMILY’s List endorses Tina Polsky in SD 29, Kelly Skidmore in HD 81” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

—“Meet Rodney Long, a Democrat running for House District 20” via Jason Delgado Florida Politics

—“Meet Crissy Stile, a Democrat running for House District 31” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics

—“Florida doctors endorse Randy Fine HD 53” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

—“Jennifer Webb grows cash lead, plans socially distance ‘pop-by’ rally” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics

—“Jenna Persons hopes to lead HD 78 to ‘backside of this pandemic’” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

— DOWN BALLOT —

John Legend hosting big-ticket fundraiser for Monique Worrell” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — International superstar Legend will perform a private, online concert Saturday night as part of a fundraiser for Democrat Worrell‘s run for Orlando State Attorney, with tickets being offered for as high as $10,000 apiece. Worrell’s campaign is distributing tickets for donations ranging from $250 to $1,000. Her independent political committee, Fighting for Justice, is soliciting donations in the range of $1,000 to $10,000 for its batch of tickets. Legend’s entry into the campaign (he offered his endorsement earlier this month) is just one of many from national figures weighing in with Worrell in the State Attorney’s race for Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit.

John Legend is adding some star power to Monique Worrell’s bid for state attorney. Image via AP.


— TOP OPINION —

Let’s throw the kitchen sink at COVID-19 and get back to normal by October” via The Washington Post editorial board — Any day now, the United States will cross another grim threshold of death from the coronavirus: 150,000 people lost. By contrast, South Korea has lost 299 people, Germany 9,125. Per million population, the United States has lost 423.6, Germany 110 and South Korea 5.8. Behind these statistics lies the epic failure of President Donald Trump and his administration to mount a national response in the face of catastrophe. It doesn’t have to be this way. The United States could tamp down the wildfires of virus in two months.

— OPINIONS —

Mask mandates won’t work — unless they are enforced” via Francis Suarez and Vin Gupta in The Washington Post — We are at war with a silent and ruthless enemy, and mask mandates are among our best weapons to win the fight. But they have to have teeth to work. Facing a global pandemic with flu season on the near horizon, our nation’s governors and mayors must quickly align common sense with the common good. That means balancing personal liberty with the clear and present public health danger presented by the spread of COVID-19. We can no longer afford to be confused by false choices and false information. In short, warnings to anyone not wearing a mask need to be backed up with the threat of fines and, for chronic offenders, even arrest.

Public safety, not individual privacy, should be paramount in COVID-19 policy” via Frank Cerabino of The Palm Beach Post — Worrying about patient confidentiality when it comes to COVID-19 is ridiculous and counterproductive. I understand that HIPAA laws afford individuals the right to have their medical records kept private. HIPAA’s privacy rule protects “all individually identifiable health information held or transmitted by a covered entity or its business associate, in any form or media, whether electronic, paper or oral.” But it’s not absolute. The Florida Administrative Code cites three exceptions for making public otherwise confidential medical records. They all sound like exceptions that were written for the current coronavirus outbreak. The public needs to know who is infected to prevent the further spread of the highly contagious virus.

Gov. DeSantis’s new Supreme Court pick hasn’t been a lawyer long enough to serve. So he’s being sued” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — When it comes to judicial appointments, it’s not unusual to witness debates over whether nominees are truly qualified. But with DeSantis’ latest pick for the Florida Supreme Court, there is no debate: She’s not qualified. It’s not a matter of opinion. Renatha Francis literally does not meet the state’s constitutional guidelines for having been a member of the Florida Bar for at least 10 years. She was four months shy when DeSantis announced her appointment in May. So what does Francis have going for her? Membership in The Federalist Society — a group described by Politico as “deliberately, diligently shifting the country’s judiciary to the right.” With DeSantis in office, the group has a near-monopoly on judicial appointments in Florida.

John Legg: Will K-12 education experience a Blockbuster failure or a ‘Netflix revolution?’” via Florida Politics — Blockbuster touted a customized experience, including all genres of DVDs as well as the most popular video games. What happened? Well, the same thing is happening in education today — an educational “Netflix” revolution is occurring. Over 40% of all students in Florida’s K-12 system are choosing online streaming for education. Families are demanding educational streaming services that are customized to their unique situation. Does the K-12 system think this is just a passing fad and that the vast majority of our students will simply return to the pre-2020 environment? If so, the established K-12 education system is positioned to be the latest Blockbuster failure.

— TODAY’S SUNRISE —

Florida sets another record for COVID-19 fatalities, with 191 additional deaths Tuesday — 186 were residents of Florida. Five were from out-of-state. The disease has now claimed at least 6,240 lives in Florida.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— Two hours after those numbers were released, Gov. DeSantis held a roundtable discussion with doctors in Orlando to talk about what a great job everyone is doing in fighting the disease. This time, the Governor actually acknowledged the rising death toll.

— But DeSantis doesn’t like to dwell on death; he spent most of the time at this roundtable prompting the doctors to say good things about where we are now. They talked about stabilizing, plateauing and increased survivability.

— The Governor also talked about his finding some way to allow family to visit residents of nursing homes, closed to the public since mid-March. He was also asked about extending the moratorium on evictions, which is due to expire at the end of the month.

— Just what we need during a pandemic — a tropical system brewing in the eastern Caribbean. The first forecast tracks from the National Hurricane Center show it hitting south Florida as a tropical storm on Sunday.

— Florida’s premier NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer is filing suit against four people over nasty emails sent to her after the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

— Checking in with the Department of Economic Opportunity, best known as the agency that “screwed the pooch” on unemployment during the COVID-19 crisis. They’ve got $80 million from the feds to help communities deal with coronavirus. Let’s hope they do a better job than they did with unemployment checks.

— And the latest with Florida Man: The clueless doctor edition.

To listen, click on the image below:

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

‘Watchmen’ leads charge for Emmy nominations relevance” via Lynn Elber of The Associated Press — “Watchmen,” cloaked in superhero mythology and grounded in real-world racism, received a leading 26 nominations Tuesday for the prime-time Emmy Awards. The HBO series, which captured America’s deep unease as it faces racial and political clashes amid a pandemic, was nominated as best limited series and received bids for cast members including Regina King and Jeremy Irons. King was part of a vanguard of actors of color indicating that TV academy voters took heed of the social climate. “Zendaya!” exclaimed Emmy announcement host Leslie Jones, her gleeful reaction to the “Euphoria” star’s nomination as best actress in a drama. “This is a great day,” Jones said.

Regina King in a scene from ‘Watchmen.’ The series was nominated for an Emmy Award for outstanding limited series. King was also nominated for outstanding lead actress in a limited series or movie. Image via AP.

AMC Theatres, Universal reach deal to bring new movies to homes earlier” via Lisa Richwine of Reuters — AMC Theatres and Comcast Corp’s Universal Pictures agreed to a major shift that will allow the studio’s movies to be made available to U.S. audiences at home after just three weekends in cinemas, the companies announced on Tuesday. AMC, the world’s largest movie theater chain, will receive a portion of the revenue that Universal generates from “premium video-on-demand” sales during the first weeks a film is offered to at-home viewers. Financial details were not disclosed. Studios have been pushing to make their movies available in living rooms sooner than the typical timeline of roughly 90 days. Theaters have long resisted that idea, and the standoff had prompted AMC to say earlier this year it would no longer show Universal films.

Virgin Galactic unveils a spaceship cabin fit for the very rich” via Justin Bachman of Bloomberg — When you’re in the space-tourism business, spacious windows are essential. As are ample “astronaut float zones” coupled with a bevy of cameras to supply one’s social media accounts — the better to impress friends. Virgin Galactic Holdings has all these covered in the cabin of its VSS Unity, which it unveiled Tuesday in a virtual media tour. Virgin Galactic calls its spacecraft cabin the “centerpiece” of the experience it’s selling for those able to afford tickets that cost upward of $250,000. The interior space offers customers “safety without distraction, quietly absorbing periods of sensory intensity and offering each astronaut a level of intimacy required for personal discovery and transformation.” The company intends to fly its first customers into space this year.

At Medieval Times, knights are back, but by royal decree, they must wear masks” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — The jousting knights tumble in the sand, masked men in the middle of a high-cardio workout. This is Medieval Times in the Pandemic Times, one of the few places to see live entertainment in Central Florida right now. Yet even with the doors open again, the Kissimmee castle that is Medieval Times faces considerable financial challenges ahead like many other smaller attractions in Central Florida’s tourism industry. The dinner theater cannot allow full crowds at the same time it gets hit with new expenses for safety precautions. All the knights now perform with face coverings. Even the faithful pooper-scooper following behind the horses. The queen, who is out of the fray, rules mask-free unless interacting with crowds.

—“How Roy Jones Jr. plans to spoil ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson’s boxing return” via Eric J. Wallace of the Pensacola News Journal

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Best wishes to former Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, INFLUENCE 100’er Tre Evers, Rich Reidy, former Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, and Sarah Busk Suskey.

___

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.



#FlaPol

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 @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Aimee Sachs, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704




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