Last Call for 12.17.20 — 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

Borrowing a turn of phrase from one of his fellow physicians, Florida Medical Association President Mike Patete said the arrival of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine this week “is our magical Neil Armstrong moment.”

However, the moment will only be magical if Floridians step up and get the shot.

“The Florida Medical Association is grateful for the herculean work done by the scientists and researchers who developed a safe and effective vaccine in an incredibly short period of time but is mindful that a full recovery from this horrible pandemic will only be possible if the public takes advantage of the gift that science has provided,” Patete said.

“With the Moderna vaccine’s imminent approval and distribution next week, and with other vaccines likely available early next year, the FMA urges everyone who can safely receive a vaccine to do so at the appropriate time.”

Patete said the reality of limited supply means the appropriate time could be far off for some.

“There are far more health care providers and long-term care residents who qualify for the first round of the vaccine than there is vaccine available,” he said. “Manufacturing, distribution, and administration still pose challenges and will require an extraordinary level of cooperation in order to ensure that everyone who wants the vaccine receives the vaccine as soon as it becomes available.”

The FMA chief said the association has reached out to the Florida Department of Health “to advocate that all physicians in the high risk/high contact category be provided appropriate access to the vaccine.”

He also recognized that vaccines won’t quell the pandemic overnight.

“In the meantime, the FMA urges everyone to continue their efforts to combat the virus by wearing a mask, washing their hands, and avoiding large crowds in closed settings,” he concluded.


The Florida Health Care Association also struck a hopeful tone by way of a message from its executive director, Emmett Reed.

“On behalf of the long-term care community, we applaud the Governor for his continued leadership throughout this pandemic and providing this first sign of light at the end of the tunnel,” Reed said, a day after Gov. Ron DeSantis accelerated the timeline for long-term care residents to get vaccinated.

Nursing home vaccinations were originally scheduled to start Dec. 21, but DeSantis on Wednesday announced “strike teams” would start heading into facilities immediately, using vaccine doses delivered directly to the state.

“Residents, family members, and staff at our long-term care centers have borne the brunt of this pandemic, and we are elated at finally being able to take the first significant step toward normalcy. Florida’s elderly population is especially vulnerable, and the delivery of a safe and effective vaccine can’t come soon enough to help us save lives.

“Together with the Department of Health and local health departments, the Division of Emergency Management, Florida National Guard and our pharmacy partners — CVS and Walgreens — long-term care providers are working fervently to ensure that as many people as possible are vaccinated in our care centers. Our priority remains, as always, to keep our state’s frail elders and the heroes who care for them safe and protected from this virus,” Reed concluded.

Coronavirus Numbers

Positive cases:

— 1,149,126 FL residents (+13,102 since Wednesday)

— 19,357 Non-FL residents (+46 since Wednesday)


— 10,328 Travel related

— 440,204 Contact with a confirmed case

— 12,962 Both

— 685,632 Under investigation


— 59,291 in FL


— 20,594 in FL

Evening Reads

‘We’ll see’: Rick Scott can’t commit to challenging Joe Biden’s election” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Never-Trump movement splinters as its villain heads for the exit” via Lauren Barren-Lopez of POLITICO

How far did Ron DeSantis’s loyalty to Donald Trump go?” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post

Super PAC trolls ‘Little’ Marco Rubio as NRA’s secret Santa” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Hang on for three more months” via Zeynep Tufekci of The Atlantic

‘Significant and growing public health challenge,’ Twitter cracks down on COVID-19 vaccine misinformation” via Jessica Guynn of USA TODAY

Biden picks Michael Regan to lead EPA” via Timothy Puko and Eliza Collins of The Wall Street Journal

More hacking attacks found as officials warn of ‘grave risk’ to U.S. government” via David E. Sanger of The New York Times

Stimulus talks could spill into weekend as lawmakers scramble to complete deal” via Mike DeBonis, Jeff Stein and Seung Min Kim of The Washington Post

Congress faces ‘fork in the road’ on stimulus” via Burgess Everett of POLITICO

This was the year for Central Florida to make headway on affordable housing. Then the virus hit.” via Caroline Glenn and Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel

South Florida parties on: No mask, no distancing, no problem inside bars and clubs” via Arlene Borenstein-Zuluaga and Ben Crandall of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Florida reports 3rd most coronavirus cases ever in single day; resident deaths top 100 again” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel

Pinellas County posts staggering single-day COVID-19 death toll at 24” via Janelle Irwin of Florida Politics

Quote of the Day

“I have made personal attempts, which have been unsuccessful. I’ve asked people who have acted as emissaries. It hasn’t worked.” — Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, on getting a meeting with Gov. Ron DeSantis.

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