Last Call for 12.24.20 — 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

It’s an unusually cold Christmas in some parts of the state, and many Floridians have noticed that their seldom-used fireplaces aren’t just for decoration.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who doubles as the State Fire Marshal, has a tip for anyone tossing on some logs tonight: don’t forget to put it out.

The advice is evergreen, but it is doubly important on Christmas Eve — nobody wants to wake up to smoldering presents, or worse, a singed Santa cap.

“Tonight is the night many of us have been waiting for all year, as Santa Claus makes his stop in the Sunshine State. In addition to putting out the milk and cookies, it is critical that we prepare for his visit by extinguishing all fireplaces before you go to sleep so he can come down the chimney safely,” Patronis said.

Patronis added, “Also, don’t forget to use the NORAD Santa Tracker to view his progress as he makes his way around the world. Always remember the spirit of the season and enjoy this special time of year. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!”

Keeping the chimney clear for Santa is a priority, of course, but Floridians should also remember to water their Christmas trees and unplug the lights before bed.

As Patronis demonstrated last week, a dry Christmas tree can quickly turn into an inferno.

Coronavirus Numbers


Positive cases:

— 1,226,530 FL residents (+12,770 since Wednesday)

— 21,016 Non-FL residents (+377 since Wednesday)


— 10,724 Travel related

— 470,197 Contact with a confirmed case

— 13,502 Both

— 732,107 Under investigation


— 61,100 in FL


— 21,295

Evening Reads

Nurses fear what’s to come: ‘Walk down our unit for a day’via Stefanie Dazio of The Associated Press

How many died of COVID from Thanksgiving gatherings? In Florida, you won’t know until after New Year’s” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Florida business in bankruptcy can’t get PPP loan, appeal court rules” via The News Service of Florida

House efforts to alter coronavirus package fail, leaving aid in limbo” via Lindsay Wise and Andrew Restuccia of The Wall Street Journal

Hospital workers start to ‘turn against each other’ to get vaccine” via Joseph Goldstein of The New York Times

Medicaid cuts may still loom in Florida amid COVID-19 health care crisis” via John Kennedy for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Florida’s assisted living facilities to Gov. Ron DeSantis: What about our vaccines?” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times

USPS and civil rights groups reach deal to fast-track ballots in Georgia runoff elections” via Jacob Bogage of The Washington Post

The man behind the machines” via Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi of the Tampa Bay Times

Greyhound racing in Florida ends next week, but what will happen to the dogs?” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times

EPA boss plays Santa for Florida developers” via Craig Pittman of the Florida Phoenix

Coronavirus dampens Christmas joy in Bethlehem and elsewhere” via The Associated Press

Family dinners, community aid, tamales: Orlando leaders’ pandemic Christmas” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Silence of Christmas is perfect antidote to the past weeks” via Mary Ann Lindley of the Tallahassee Democrat

Florida may allow counties to investigate, fine landlords who lash out at tenants” via Caroline Glenn of the Orlando Sentinel

Quote of the Day

“Look at my district and amount of deaths. If people knew just how devastating this virus is impacting Floridians they would take it more seriously. Right now they have no reason to take it as seriously. This is dangerous.” — U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, on the state’s lag in reporting COVID-19 deaths.

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