Last Call for 8.3.21 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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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

Gov. Ron DeSantis is telling parents not to worry about sending their kids back to school amid reports that Florida’s pediatric hospitals are admitting more COVID-19-infected patients than ever.

As the highly transmissible delta variant spreads rapidly among unvaccinated individuals in Florida, data is showing Florida’s children, who have the lowest rate of vaccination in the state, are at-risk.

Children under 12 aren’t eligible for the vaccine, and 38% of children aged 12 to 19 are vaccinated, according to the Florida Department of Health.

But DeSantis, speaking to reporters Tuesday, said most kids who get COVID-19 are “very low-risk” because they don’t have severe symptoms.

“There is no data to suggest this is different in terms of severity on kids,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis’ comments come after a Tampa Bay Times report Monday pointed out Florida has the highest rate of kids hospitalized with COVID-19 in the country. The state had 32 pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations per day between July 24 and 30, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which amounts to 0.76 kids hospitalized per 100,000 residents.

The state was averaging 1,540 new cases per day among children under 12 between July 23 and 29, according to the Florida Department of Health.

But DeSantis said he’s “confident things will go well” when schools open up for in-person, maskless lessons starting as early as next week for some school districts.

DeSantis said Florida’s recent spike in cases, which accounts for a quarter of all new COVID-19 infections in the country, is due to seasonality like what is seen in other viral cycles. For example, influenza peaks during winter because that virus likes colder temperatures.

Florida’s COVID-19 infection rates last summer showed a peak in late July and started to taper off at the beginning of August. The latest COVID-19 data still shows infections in Florida growing every day.

But DeSantis maintained the state is “right on schedule.”

“As school gets going, you know, hopefully, we’ll be on the other side of the wave and, and I think people will feel a lot better about it that time,” DeSantis said.

Evening Reads

Americans suffer pandemic whiplash as leaders struggle with changing virus” via Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Michael D. Shear of The New York Times

Simone Biles redefines balance” via Robin Givhan of The Washington Post

The secret Japanese gym where Biles trained for her Olympic comeback” via Miho Inada, Andrew Beaton and Louise Radnofsky of The Wall Street Journal

Watch the U.K. to understand delta” via Sarah Zhang of The Atlantic

Can we save the planet by shrinking the economy?” via Kelsey Piper of Vox

What does it mean to ‘blame’ the unvaccinated who get COVID-19?” via Joshua Stein of Slate

France cracked down on Google’s ad tech. What’s next?” via Matt Burgess of WIRED

Lusia Harris scored the first Olympic basket in 1976. The sport would never be the same.” via Bria Felicien of FiveThirtyEight

Only 37% of FL 8th graders passed a crucial statewide math exam” via Danielle J. Brown of the Florida Phoenix

The Afghan who saved my life may make it out. What about everyone else?” via Kimberly Dozier of TIME

Is Scarlett Johansson the face of a new showbiz revolution? Not quite” via Andrew Wallenstein of Variety

Quote of the Day

“If Disney, Walmart, and our military can do it, our state government can as well.” — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, calling on the Governor to mandate state employees to get vaccinated or submit to wearing a mask and weekly testing.

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