Last Call for 8.4.20 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

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

First Shot

Prison bars don’t stop coronavirus.

As of Tuesday, the Florida Department of Corrections said 9,180 inmates and 1,810 employees have tested positive. There have 52 deaths among the prison population and yesterday, DOC reported the first prison worker death.

And the virus goes all the way to the top — on Friday, DOC announced Secretary Mark Inch and Deputy Secretary Ricky Dixon had tested positive for the virus. Inch is the highest-ranking state to have tested positive for the disease.

As the number of infections grows, the Florida Justice League is calling for better protections for inmates and employees alike.

“The foreseeable future for operations in the state prisons must change, and it can only change by eliminating the inability of social distancing as a chief reason why lessening or thinning the prison population is more than just a human rights advocates cry, but has become so critical in the need for flattening the curve, ending its ability to spread and maintaining prevention from spreading that ignoring these ravaging conditions no longer is acceptable. We must act, and we must act fast,” said Keith Harris, Florida Justice League’s director.

Advocates have been pushing for the release of certain offenders since the onset of the pandemic. In March, a coalition of criminal justice advocacy groups sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis urging him to consider retroactive sentencing reform and more proactive measures to stop the virus’ spread in correctional institutions.

Rep. Dianne Hart, a Tampa Democrat who is active in criminal justice reform, was among those plying the Governor months ago. She renewed the request Tuesday.

 “Since early in the year I have been calling on the Governor and Secretary Mark Inch to act and allow the release of the most vulnerable within our Florida prisons. Our lack of action has allowed for this virus to spread rapidly through our facilities causing the death of many inmates since March. I once again call for action on this urgent matter, we can’t afford to lose any more lives,” she said.

Coronavirus Numbers

Positive cases:

— 491,773 FL residents (+5,389 since Monday)

— 5,557 Non-FL residents (+57 since Monday)


— 3,776 Travel related

— 137,441 Contact with a confirmed case

— 3,830 Both

— 346,726 Under investigation


— 27,952 in FL


— 7,526 in FL

Unemployment numbers

As of Monday:

Total claims: 3,444,358

— Confirmed unique claims: 3,262,692

— Claim verification queue: 77,577

— Claims processed: 3,185,115

— Claims paid: 1,821,845 (+2 since Sunday)

Total paid out: $12.82 billion (+$60 million since Sunday)

Evening Reads

Florida’s vote-by-mail system has Donald Trump’s blessing” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

After Census Bureau announces early end to its count, fears of a skewed tally rise” via Michael Wines of The New York Times

Joe Biden debuts ad featuring Villages supporter as Trump launches two ads in key states” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel

There’s no national testing strategy for coronavirus. These states banded together to make one.” via Erin Cox of The Washington Post

White House negotiators say no coronavirus stimulus deal seen soon” via Kristina Peterson and Siobhan Hughes of The Wall Street Journal

The coronavirus is never going away” via Sarah Zhang of The Atlantic

‘Phony narrative’: Ron DeSantis says Trump does not dictate Florida’s virus response” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Gov. DeSantis teases allowing nursing home visitation” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Gov. DeSantis: Emergency room visits, not positivity rates, are the best COVID-19 metric” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

South Florida records another 63 COVID-19 deaths as region nears 220K cases overall” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Poll: Most Floridians think the pandemic’s worst is yet to come” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics

Poll shows Byron Donalds, ‘Dr. Fig’, Dane Eagle locked in tight CD 19 GOP primary” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

When college turns into a different existence: ‘It just doesn’t make sense to me’” via Isaac Morgan of Florida Phoenix

‘The kids will forget’: Custodians, housekeepers and other support staff brace for college reopenings” via Danielle Douglas-Gabriel of The Washington Post

Court backs state law on minor political parties” via Jim Saunders of News Service of Florida

Alex Andrade: ‘Defunding the police’ has no basis in reality” via Alex Andrade for Florida Politics

Osceola Commissioner Fred Hawkins Jr. suspended by Gov. DeSantis, says he will stay in House race” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel

Quote of the Day

“Any family member who has COVID antibodies should be allowed to visit the facilities. I would be comfortable saying that if you have those antibodies, you should be able to visit your family member.” — Gov. Ron DeSantis, on the nursing home visitation ban.

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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

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