Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.18.21

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Get ‘burned first: Here’s your AM review of the news driving Florida politics.

Good Wednesday morning.

We have our first poll of Marco Rubio vs. Val Demings and, well, both sides should be happy.

Rubio leads Demings, 48 to 46 percent, with 6 percent undecided in the race for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat. The poll was conducted for Florida Politics by St. Pete Polls.

Rubio, the incumbent, should be pleased that he is leading his Democratic challenger. Demings should be excited that she is within two points of Rubio.

The poll also have some interesting numbers on who would win a prospective 2024 race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@LarrySabato: You’d never know it from the TV coverage we’re watching, but President (Joe) Biden‘s address on #Afghanistan was effective because he stressed that America’s longest war must end, and there will never be a good time to do it. That connected with most people — 70% of whom want out now.

@TheRecount: WH Press Sec. Jen Psaki on @davidaxelrod calling her the “best press secretary,” but saying President Biden “needs to own that failure” of the Afghanistan pullout: “There’s a difference between being on the outside and speaking on television and being on the inside …”

@DrDenaGrayson: Red states now far surpass (Donald) Trump’s “s***hole countries” for #COVID19 cases per capita

Tweet, tweet:

@JNicholsonInDC: In the gubernatorial sweepstakes to champion monoclonal antibodies, (Greg) Abbott just outplayed (Ron) DeSantis with the “I’m also a client” card.

@RobertMaguie_: My favorite Chinese idiom is 脫褲子放屁 (“taking your pants off to fart”). It’s useful in describing things that are needlessly complicated, like a Governor offering a costly, experimental treatment for a disease that people can avoid by getting a cheap vaccine and wearing a mask

@NateMonroeTU: As soon as Richard Corcoran began speaking, a violent storm knocked out my power and internet. Last I heard was … “We have a surgeon general,” which is amusing because you’d never know that!

@DWSTweets: This anti-science decision needlessly endangers students, teachers and staff. @GovRonDeSantis & state education leaders must provide a safe learning environment, not promote reckless, quack COVID theories.

@BsFarrington: Waking up in the middle of the night to see death threats and hate messages from people about a story @GovRonDeSantis office said is factually true. For your sake, I hope government doesn’t threaten your safety. I’ll be fine. I hope. Freedom. Just Please don’t kill me.

@DJGroup: I look forward to reopening of Chuck’s Fish for lunch in downtown Tallahassee. We have to support them when they do.

— DAYS UNTIL —

St. Petersburg Primary Election — 6; Boise vs. UCF — 15; Disney’s ‘Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings’ premieres — 16; Notre Dame at FSU — 18; NFL regular season begins — 22; Bucs home opener — 22; California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recall election — 27; Broadway’s full-capacity reopening — 27; Alabama at UF — 31; Dolphins home opener — 32; Jaguars home opener — 32; 2022 Legislative Session interim committee meetings begin — 33; ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres (rescheduled) — 37; ‘Dune’ premieres — 44; Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary party starts — 44; MLB regular season ends — 46; ‘No Time to Die’ premieres (rescheduled) — 51; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 69; World Series Game 1 — 70; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 70; Georgia at UF — 73; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 76; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Primary — 76; Disney’s ‘Eternals’ premieres — 81; ‘Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ will debut — 82; Miami at FSU — 87; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ rescheduled premiere — 93; FSU vs. UF — 101; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 105; Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ premieres — 114; ‘Spider-Man Far From Home’ sequel premieres — 121; NFL season ends — 144; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 146; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 146; NFL playoffs begin — 147; Super Bowl LVI — 179; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 219; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 263; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 288; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 324; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 336; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 415; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 450.

— TOP STORY —

Sean Shaw, allies pivot to 2024 on amendments aimed at improving voter access” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — The reason for the two-year punt, Shaw said, was “confusion” surrounding a bill (SB 1890) DeSantis signed capping contributions to political committees collecting signatures to get proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot at $3,000. A federal judge struck down the new law July 1, ruling that it conflicted with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision protecting political contributions as free speech. But the damage has already been done to a joint effort to get the amendments on the ballot next year, Shaw said. He said People Over Profits, the ACLU of Florida and the Florida Alliance, a secretive group of high-value progressive donors, would resume fundraising for the Fair Election for Democracy Amendments next year.

A legal speed bump causes Sean Shaw to pivot to 2024.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

State reports 21,669 new cases as seven-day average reaches another record high” via David Schultz of the Orlando Sentinel — The seven-day average for new cases is 21,789 as of Tuesday, slightly higher than the previous record high of 21,783 set Aug. 13. The seven-day average for new deaths stands at 21. Since Sunday, Florida did not adjust its counts from previous days to reflect cases and deaths reported to the state.

Florida officials find two school districts violated Ron DeSantis’ mask mandate restrictions” via Derek Hawkins, Adela Suliman, Bryan Pietsch, Lateshia Beachum and Meryl Kornfield of The Washington Post — Florida education officials on Tuesday voted that two school districts violated state law by requiring students without medical exemptions to wear masks, escalating the fight between DeSantis and local educators. The decisions against districts in Broward and Alachua counties are the first since DeSantis threatened to withhold money from districts that require face coverings, saying that parents should decide whether their children wear masks at school. As the debate over public health mandates simmers across the country, new polling shows that nearly 2 in 3 Americans say they support their state or local government requiring masks in all public places to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Assignment editors — Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried will hold a conversation with Judi Hayes, a plaintiff in the federal lawsuit challenging Gov. DeSantis’ ban on school mask requirements, 3 p.m., Danahy and Dunnavant Law Office, 901 W. Swann Ave., Tampa. RSVP to [email protected]

Assignment editors — U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Charlie Crist, Ted Deutch, and Lois Frankel will host a virtual news conference to continue their calls to DeSantis to take strong precautionary health measures to prevent further spread of the COVID-19 delta variant, 11 a.m., Zoom link here.

‘It’s beyond bizarre’: Norwegian Cruise CEO blasts Florida’s appeal of vaccine passport ruling” via WFLA — Norwegian set sail Sunday on its first cruise from Miami since the pandemic began with a ship of fully vaccinated guests and crew. This was made possible by a federal judge’s temporary ruling siding with the cruise line in its battle with Florida over requiring proof that passengers are vaccinated against COVID-19. Judge Kathleen Williams ruled Florida’s law banning businesses from requiring customers to be vaccinated unconstitutional on the grounds of free speech.

Amid new virus surge, Florida skeptics reconsider vaccines” via The Associated Press — The co-owner of the Westside Journal weekly newspaper used his voice as a columnist to widely share his doubts about the vaccine and his mistrust of the health experts in the U.S. who have been urging everyone to get it. “I do not trust the federal government,” West wrote recently. “I do not trust Dr. Anthony Fauci; I do not trust the medical profession, nor the pharmaceutical giants.” But something happened to change his mind: Two of West’s close friends became ill with the virus, and a third died. Rattled and stressed, he prayed for guidance. West drove to the Winn Dixie supermarket and rolled up his sleeve for the first of two injections of the Moderna vaccine. “All of a sudden, it hit real close to home,” he said.

Some of the vaccine-hesitant in Florida are getting the message. Image via AP.

What Christina Pushaw doesn’t want you to read — “DeSantis top donor invests in COVID drug governor promotes” via Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press — Citadel, a Chicago-based hedge fund, has $15.9 million in shares of Regeneron Pharmaceutical, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Citadel CEO Ken Griffin has donated $10.75 million to a political committee that supports DeSantis — $5.75 million in 2018 and $5 million last April.

— CORONA LOCAL —

Jacksonville, Northeast Florida become nation’s COVID-19 hot spots for hospitalizations” via Beth Reese Cravey of The Florida Times-Union — With one of every 813 residents hospitalized with COVID-19, Duval County is the nation’s hot spot at this moment in the pandemic that’s seen a summer surge of infections, hospitalizations and deaths. But Duval, averaging 123 COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 population, isn’t alone. Baker (117), Nassau (116), St. Johns (112), and Clay (108) counties are also among the country’s Top 10 counties with the most hospitalizations per capita. On Tuesday, Baptist Health reported 534 patients with the virus at its five Jacksonville area hospitals, including 125 in intensive care, spokeswoman Cindy Hamilton said. The new total was four fewer than Monday’s 538.

Jacksonville is the place to be — if you want COVID-19. Image via UF Health.

Hospitals in Broward County are almost out of beds” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — As the delta variant of COVID-19 sweeps through Florida, hospitals in Broward are almost out of beds, an unaudited report the county published Tuesday says. Hospitals across the county as of 11 a.m. reported that 98% of their acute care beds are now occupied, leaving just 70 of 3,270 such beds available with enough hospital staff available to treat patients properly. They are entirely out of child intensive care units, of which there are 74, and are at 99% capacity for adult ICUs, with just 3 of 491 open for use.

Palm Beach County declares state of emergency over COVID-19 pandemic, hospital bed shortage” via Matt Papaycik of WPTV — Palm Beach County leaders declared a local state of emergency to hopefully improve what officials call a “disturbing” shortage of hospital resources for COVID-19 patients. “We are in the most challenging point of COVID-19 from a public health perspective since the onset of this pandemic,” Mayor Dave Kerner said. Commissioner Melissa McKinlay proposed the emergency order after all 12 ICU beds at Lakeside Medical Center in Belle Glade quickly filled up, including 11 of them with COVID-19 patients. The shortage forced the hospital to transfer emergency room patients to medical centers in Miami and Orlando, among others.

Palm Beach County requires daily reports from hospitals” via Jane Musgrave of The Palm Beach Post — With hospitals straining under the unrelenting surge of COVID-19 cases, the Palm Beach County Commission unanimously required medical centers to disclose the impact the disease is having on their operations. The reinstatement of the state of emergency, which lapsed in June when the spread of the virus slowed, underscores the grim reality of the toll the disease is taking throughout the county.

Orange schools set another COVID-19 record” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — A day after setting a record for COVID-19 cases, the Orange County school district recorded more than double that number, with 238 new student cases documented Monday. The region’s largest school district had reported 259 cases last week, including 97 on Friday, surpassing the one-day total of 88 in mid-January. Monday’s total smashed Friday’s record. Orange County Public Schools also reported 159 more student quarantines Monday, along with 53 new COVID-19 cases in staff members.

—”Positive COVID-19 positive cases triple in Duval schools between Friday and Monday” via Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union

Broward school employees can receive a bonus if they get vaccinated by a certain date” via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald

8,400 Hillsborough students now quarantined or isolated for COVID-19, school district says” via Dale Greenstein of Bay News 9 — Just a day before an emergency COVID-19 policy meeting, Hillsborough County Public Schools officials revealed that 8,400 students, out of 213,491, are now in quarantine or isolation. On Monday, the district reported 5,599 students were impacted. Of the 23,596 employees of Hillsborough schools, 307 are currently quarantined or isolated. Isolation refers to individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, while quarantine refers to those who have had close contact with a positive case. School leaders plan to meet at 1 p.m. on Wednesday to discuss the district’s COVID-19 safety policies.

—”Sarasota schools approach ‘breaking point’; mandatory masking vote looms” via Ryan McKinnon of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

‘Crisis level’: Seminole fire chief asks public to limit 911 use amid flood of COVID-19 calls” via Grace Toohey of the Orlando Sentinel — High call volumes and medical transports in Seminole County due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases has put ambulance availability “below acceptable levels” in recent months, pushing the county fire chief to ask residents to limit 9-1-1 calls to emergencies only. “The pandemic is having a pretty drastic effect on, not only the hospitals, … but it’s having a severe effect on the [Emergency Medical Services] system,” Seminole Fire Department Chief Otto Drozd III said Monday. “At certain times of the day, we are at that crisis level.”

—“Cape Coral chef Shannon Yates, owner of Nevermind eatery, dies after battling COVID-19” via Annabelle Tometich of the Fort Myers News-Press

—”West Palm Beach police officer, 47, dies of COVID-19” via Chris Perkins of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

—”Ambulances backing up outside Lakeland Regional as EMS crews are ‘critically stretched.’” via The Ledger

— “Monroe County has a new ‘mask mandate’ in schools. Parents can opt their children out” via Gwen Filosa of the Miami Herald

—“Affected by COVID-19 and job vacancies, Lake EMS struggles with ‘unprecedented’ call volume” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel

COVID-19 Regeneron monoclonal antibody treatment site opens on Merritt Island” via Rick Neale of Florida Today — A Regeneron monoclonal antibody treatment site opened Tuesday morning on Merritt Island for people with COVID-19, those who have been exposed to the coronavirus, and those considered high-risk if infected. The state-run facility will operate daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Kiwanis Island Park, with the capacity to serve more than 300 people per day. “What do you do upon getting a positive test of COVID-19? Basically, early treatment with these monoclonal antibodies has proved to radically reduce the chance that somebody ends up being hospitalized, “DeSantis said during a Monday news conference at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.

The Regeneron antibody cocktail is getting popular. Image via Reuters.

Why are 15,000 Miami teachers getting $100 gift cards? They beat a pandemic deadline” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — Teachers who met the deadline should have received an email from Giftogram this month containing their “token of appreciation” from the school district, United Teachers of Dade said in a newsletter to its members. Teachers can select one vendor for the entire $100 gift card or select multiple cards for a total of $100. Gift cards began arriving at inboxes on Aug. 9, nearly two months after the Office of the Inspector General of Miami-Dade County Public Schools concluded its investigation into the $1.57 million donation solicited by Miami-Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho from for-profit company K12. K12 donated $1.57 million for the gift cards last year to the foundation while its contract was still pending.

— STATEWIDE —

Florida National Guard boss to troops on Afghanistan: ‘You will go down as the heroes of this story’” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — The Florida National Guard’s top-ranking general performed a delicate balancing act Tuesday, reaffirming Florida’s troops as heroes of America’s longest war while also validating some wondering if their sacrifice proved fruitless. In a written address to Guardsmen, Maj. Gen. James Eifert described the fall of Afghanistan as “gut-wrenching” and recognized the mixed feelings troops may share. Those feelings, he wrote, are natural. “You sweated under the summer sun there and shivered under the winter moon,” Eifert wrote. Indeed, the Taliban emerged Sunday as the benefactors of America’s 20-year occupation.

Peak of hurricane season spinning just around the corner” via Joe Mario Pedersen of the Orlando Sentinel — Between mid-August and mid-October, meteorologists prepare for a flurry of storms during the period known as the “peak of season,” with this particular season lush for an above-average amount of storms. Historical data shows that Atlantic conditions yield favorable tropical development near the Cape Verde Islands, not just for more frequent storms, but also more powerful storms. System-killing factors such as dry or upper atmosphere wind shear are less in play, said Spectrum News 13 meteorologist Maureen McCann. Meteorologists observe Sept. 10 as the statistical average of “peak” hurricane season and usually the time of year the tropics sees large hurricane activity.

Hurricane season is reaching its peak. Image via AP.

Economists say lawmakers will have billions more to spend in next budget — State economists upwardly revised state revenue projections over the next two years by $2.6 billion, Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida reports. The new projections are higher than economists expected before the coronavirus pandemic and are in addition to the unspent portion of federal COVID-19 relief lawmakers set aside this year. In total, the projections estimate lawmakers will have about $7.3 billion more to spend next fiscal year. Senate President Wilton Simpson said, “We’re very pleased with how the numbers came out.”

Florida’s outdoor workers could lose billions as climate change makes it too hot to work” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — Under scenarios where the world doesn’t quickly cut fossil fuel emissions, there could be a full month of the year where it’s too hot to safely work a normal day outside in Florida. Right now, Florida experiences an average of five days like that a year. Florida, the third-most populous state, has the third-largest population of outdoor workers. Those 2 million workers account for nearly a quarter of the state’s workforce and earn $56 billion a year. By the Union of Concerned Scientists’ calculations, Florida outdoor workers could lose up to $8.4 billion of those earnings by midcentury if no action is done to slow climate change.

The NCAA made a statement on transgender athletes. What does it mean for Florida?” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — On Aug. 3, the National Collegiate Athletic Association made a statement that could have major ramifications for Florida, one of at least nine states to have banned transgender females from participating in women’s and girls’ scholastic sports. The NCAA board of governors asked hosts of future collegiate championships to “reaffirm their commitment to ensure a nondiscriminatory and safe environment for all college athletes.” When asked about the NCAA’s statement, state Rep. Chris Latvala said he believes the organization is bluffing. ‘I think the NCAA was just trying to be woke, and just trying to placate the liberal folks,’ Latvala said. ‘But I doubt very seriously that they’re going to pull the championships out of Florida.’”

— DATELINE TALLY —

Keeping DeSantis, family, others safe cost Florida taxpayers nearly $5 million” via James Call of the USA TODAY Capital Bureau — FDLE spent more than $537,000 to provide round-the-clock security at the Governor’s Mansion last fiscal year. And the agency said the payroll and expenses for the details accompanying DeSantis totaled more than $3.8 million. Security for First Lady Casey DeSantis cost more than $393,699, and the agency spent another $69,789 for the entire first family. More precisely, the total cost of transporting and protecting DeSantis and his family and guarding the mansion in Tallahassee was $4.81 million last fiscal year, compared to $4.78 million the year before that. In August 2019, the same FDLE report showed travel and protection costs were a little over $3 million, up from $2.5 million for Rick Scott the year before that.

Keeping Ron DeSantis safe is a pretty expensive endeavor.

Magic City Casino sues Dept. of Interior over Gaming Compact — Miami’s Magic City Casino sued the U.S. Department of Interior on Monday for not taking action for or against the new Gaming Compact between the state and Seminole Tribe of Florida. As reported by Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida, Magic City Casino says the Department should have nixed the deal because the tribe plans to offer sports betting through an online app, a provision the Magic City says violates Indian gaming laws regarding wagering outside of tribal lands. Neither the Seminole Tribe nor the Department of Interior has commented on the lawsuit.

Happening today — The Lee County legislative delegation holds a public hearing before the 2022 Legislative Session: Sens. Ben Albritton, Kathleen Passidomo and Ray Rodrigues; Reps. Spencer Roach, Jenna Persons-Mulicka, Mike Giallombardo and Adam Botana, 9 a.m., Florida SouthWestern State College, Nursing Building, 8099 College Parkway, Fort Myers.

—”Lobbying compensation: Gray Robinson posts another Top 5 earnings report” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

—“Lobbying compensation: Rubin Turnbull & Associates earns $2.1M in Q2” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

—”Lobbying compensation: Smith Bryan & Myers tops $1.3M in Q2 pay” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

—”Lobbying compensation: Metz Husband & Daughton nets $1.25M during second quarter of 2021” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Ron Book: Gate301 Miami, Kendall Associates I

Donovan Brown, Suskey Consulting: Ocean Conservancy, Syntech Systems

David Clark, Allegiant Strategies Group: Peraton

Christopher Finkbeiner, Rubin Turnbull & Associates: Independent Living Systems

Jason Unger, GrayRobinson: Public Consulting Group

— 2022 —

Ad targets Marco Rubio for taking PAC money, opposing HR 1” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — A progressive group is launching a digital ad opposing U.S. Sen. Rubio for accepting money from big donors and prioritizing their interests in his bid for reelection. The 15-second ad from End Citizens United/Let America Vote Action Fund, which started running the ads Tuesday as part of a $250,000 ad buy, highlights $3.2 million the Republican has taken from “corporate PACs” since stepping into federal politics. The ad also targets him for opposing the For the People Act, which includes campaign finance law changes. “Marco Rubio won’t bite the hand that feeds him. He’s taken millions in contributions from corporate interests and voted against getting dark money out of politics,” according to the ad.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

—”Nikki Fried slams DeSantis’ governing to the ‘radical right’ as part of COVID-19 response” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics

DeSantis may have already delivered the House to Republicans in 2022” via Mark Joseph Stern of Slate — Conservative justices have essentially abolished the doctrine of stare decisis, or respect for precedent, so it can ignore or overrule those earlier decisions. Moreover, DeSantis has suggested that he appointed justices who will trash their predecessors’ liberal legacy and toe the line on gerrymandering. Like the GOP, Federalist Society judges tend to despise judicial intervention in redistricting, seeing it as an affront to state legislatures’ constitutional authority. DeSantis seems to have done everything in his power to ensure that the Florida Supreme Court’s far-right bloc shares this view. If his justices are as biased as he hopes, their court may let Florida Republicans draw as many gerrymandered districts as it takes to seize the House.

New donations to Fried, Charlie Crist linked to dark money group in election fraud investigation” via Samantha J. Gross and Bianca Padró Ocasio — A dark-money donor at the center of a public corruption investigation into the 2020 election cycle helped back three groups that recently contributed to 2022 Democratic candidates for Governor, including Fried and Crist. Urban Action Fund, Democratic Action Network PC, and Democratic Services Network received a total of $85,500 from Grow United Inc. last October. Grow United, which doesn’t disclose its money sources, paid for more than half a million dollars in misleading mailers targeting Democrats in three key Senate races in 2020. The group, whose address is a post office box in Denver and is registered in Delaware, is a crucial piece of evidence in the Miami-Dade state attorney’s high-profile investigation into a GOP-led vote siphoning scheme in SD 37.

Anna Paulina Luna addresses troops, Amanda Makki calls for Joe Biden resignation in response to Afghanistan crisis” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Makki and Luna are responding to the fall of Kabul to Taliban control after American troops were pulled from Afghanistan. The candidates, who are currently the only Republicans on the ballot for the hotly-contested district, both condemned Biden‘s handling of the international crisis, with Makki calling for his resignation. Luna, however, took a different approach in her response, addressing veterans in an open letter about the situation.

Happening tonight:

With $275K added in July, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s reelection war chest grows to $4.17M” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Suarez last month increased his already gargantuan fundraising lead ahead of the city’s November election, stacking another $275,000 from a variety of wealthy donors. His campaign war chest now stands at $4.17 million. Barring an unforeseen political catastrophe or unlikely last-minute entry by a well-financed, big-name opponent, Suarez, the son of former Miami Mayor and Miami-Dade Commissioner Xavier Suarez, is an easy favorite to win in November.

Five Glades officials endorse Michelle McGovern in Palm Beach County Commission race” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Five elected officials from communities in the Glades area say they’re backing Michelle Oyola McGovern in the race for the District 6 seat on the Palm Beach County Commission. Mayor Steve Wilson, Vice Mayor Mary Ross Wilkerson and Commissioner Kenny Berry of Belle Glade all endorse McGovern’s bid. Pahokee Mayor Keith Babb and South Bay Mayor Joe Kyles are also getting behind McGovern’s bid. “Supporting Michelle for County Commission is an easy decision to make,” Babb said. McGovern has raised the most cash in the contest since entering the race in April. But she trails Rep. Matt Willhite in current cash on hand.

— CORONA NATION —

American hospitals buckle under delta, with ICU’s filling up” via Albert Sun and Giulia Heyward of The New York Times — The summer surge in coronavirus cases in the United States, led by the domination of the more contagious Delta variant, is well into its second month, and the number of those hospitalized with COVID-19 has reached heights last seen during the overwhelming winter wave. The number of those patients who are critically ill, requiring treatment in an intensive care unit, has risen, too. Data from the Department of Health and Human Services shows that the number of hospitals with very full ICUs doubled in recent weeks. Now, one in five ICUs have reached or exceeded 95% of beds occupied, a level experts say makes it difficult or impossible for health professionals to maintain standards of care for the very sick.

COVID-19 is filling ICUs across the country, with the South leading the way. Image via The New York Times.

—”Alabama has ‘negative’ ICU beds free as U.S. hospitals struggle with surge of cases” via Bryan Pietsch of The Washington Post

—“Georgia to boost hospital funding to fight new coronavirus surge” via Greg Bluestein of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

—“Louisiana’s health care system nearing ‘major failure’ under COVID-19 surge, says Gov. John Bel Edwards” via Blake Paterson of The Advocate

U.S. plans to extend transportation mask mandate through Jan. 18, sources say” via David Shepardson of Reuters — Biden‘s administration plans to extend requirements for travelers to wear masks on airplanes, trains and buses and at airports and train stations through Jan. 18 to address ongoing COVID-19 risks. Major U.S. airlines were informed of the planned extension on a call with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and CDC on Tuesday, the three people briefed on the matter said. The current TSA transportation mask order runs through Sept 13. The current CDC order, which has been in place since soon after Biden took office in January, requires the use of face masks on nearly all forms of public transportation.

—“Greg Abbott tests positive for COVID-19” via Ivana Saric of Axios

—”Texas requests five mortuary trailers in anticipation of COVID-19 deaths” via Jonathan Allen and Laura Strickler of NBC News

As Delta surges, COVID-19 breakthrough cases remain uncommon” via Robbie Whelan and Jared S. Hopkins of The Wall Street Journal — The Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus appears to be breaking through the protection vaccines provide at a higher rate than previous strains, though infections among the fully inoculated remain a tiny fraction of overall cases, and symptoms tend to be milder. U.S. states counted at least 193,204 so-called breakthrough cases among vaccinated people between Jan. 1 and early August, according to data that health departments in 44 states and Washington, D.C., provided to the Journal. The figure represents 0.1% of the more than 136 million fully vaccinated people in those states and the capital.

Poll shows strong support for mask mandates in schools and elsewhere” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — A new poll shows widespread support for state and local mask mandates, including requiring them in schools. The findings by the latest Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index released Tuesday come as DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have faced backlash from school districts trying to impose mandatory mask rules, which both leaders have forbidden in classrooms. But the poll also shows major partisan and localized differences, with Democrats and urbanites in favor of mandates and Republicans and rural residents against them. In the poll of 1,041 adults, conducted Aug. 13 to 16, 64% of respondents supported their state or local government requiring masks in public places.

— CORONA ECONOMICS —

Jerome Powell says it’s unclear what COVID-19 surge means for economy” via Michael S. Derby of The Wall Street Journal — Federal Reserve Chairman Powell said it remains to be seen how the U.S. economy will weather the recent COVID-19 surge, in comments that offered no views on the outlook for monetary policy. “It’s not yet clear whether the delta strain will have important effects on the economy; we’ll have to see about that,” Powell told students and teachers Tuesday during a virtual event held by the central bank. Powell also said the recovery isn’t complete. “The COVID pandemic is still casting a shadow on economic activity. It is still very much with us. We can’t, you know, we can’t declare victory yet on that,” he said.

Jerome Powell says it’s tough to know how the delta variant will affect the economy. Image via AP.

Americans spent less in July as COVID-19 cases surged” via Joseph Pisani of The Associated Press — Americans cut back on their spending last month as a surge in COVID-19 cases kept people away from stores. Retail sales fell a seasonal adjusted 1.1% in July from the month before, the U.S. Commerce Department said. It was a much larger drop than the 0.3% decline Wall Street analysts had expected. The report offers the first solid glimpse of how the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19 may have changed the spending habits of Americans. At the end of July, the CDC began recommending that even vaccinated people start wearing masks indoors in public places.

U.S. factory output rose by most in four months, lifted by autos” via Vince Golle of Bloomberg — Production at U.S. factories strengthened in July by the most in four months, rebounding above pre-pandemic levels and indicating manufacturers are coping with snarled supply chains and shortages. The 1.4% increase followed a revised 0.3% drop in June, Federal Reserve data showed Tuesday. Total industrial production, which also includes mining and utility output, rose 0.9% in July. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 0.7% monthly increase in factory production and a 0.5% gain in industrial output. While the results included a jump in vehicle production, output gains during the month were fairly broad.

Auto sales are the spearhead of the U.S. economic output. Image via Bloomberg.

15% of Paycheck Protection Program loans could be fraudulent, study shows” via by Stacy Cowley of The New York Times — When the Paycheck Protection Program began last year to help small businesses that were struggling during the pandemic, the federal government was determined to get the relief money out fast, so it waived much of the vetting lenders traditionally do on business loans. The absence of those safeguards meant that fraud was highly likely. The researchers concluded that around 1.8 million of the program’s 11.8 million loans, more than 15%, totaling $76 billion, had at least one indication of potential fraud.

Delta variant threatens small businesses as it slows return-to-office plans” via Peter Grant of The Wall Street Journal — Before the full force of the delta variant hit the U.S., infection rates were declining as more people become vaccinated. With the health risk seemingly easing and more schools planning for in-person learning in September, many companies decided the conditions were right to call back their workforces. By last month, signs were emerging that more employees were heading back to their office desks. About 35% of the workforce had returned to traditional office space, as of July 21, in the 10 major cities monitored by Kastle Systems. That was up from about 23% in the middle of January. More recently, though, momentum has stalled. As of Aug. 8, the average return-to-office rate had fallen to 33%, Kastle said.

— MORE CORONA —

Raging wildfires linked to thousands of COVID-19 cases and hundreds of deaths in 2020, study says” via Adrianna Rodriguez of USA Today — The record-setting 2020 wildfire season scorched millions of acres, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people and costing billions of dollars in insured losses. But the damage didn’t stop there. A study, published Friday in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, says thousands of COVID-19 cases and hundreds of deaths in California, Oregon and Washington state from March to December 2020 may be linked to wildfire smoke. Researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health used a statistical model to measure the connection between high levels of fine particulate air pollution, or PM2.5, produced by the wildfires and the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in 92 counties.

Thousands of extra COVID-19 cases and deaths ‘caused by smoke from wildfires.’

—“Tennessee’s Governor allows parents to opt out of mask mandates at school.” via Azi Paybarah and Dan Levin of The New York Times

Chicago pharmacist charged with selling vaccine cards on eBay” via Matt Zapotosky and Dan Diamond of The Washington Post — The Justice Department on Tuesday charged a Chicago pharmacist with selling vaccine cards online. Tangtang Zhao, 34, was charged with stealing authentic cards and listing them on eBay for around $10 a card. He had 11 different buyers, the Justice Department alleged, and sold a total of 125 cards. Most of the buyers purchased between eight and 10 cards each, spending nearly $100 or more. Anyone living in the United States can get vaccinated — and thus receive protection from the coronavirus and a card to prove it — free. Health and law enforcement authorities have worried the sale of cards to those who do not get vaccinated could undermine efforts to protect the population from the coronavirus.

— PRESIDENTIAL —

Democrats offer some harsh reviews of Biden on Afghanistan” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — Democrats as a whole have largely hued to the Biden administration’s key talking point — on the rightness of the withdrawal. But that’s not really what the current debate is about; it’s about whether a long-planned withdrawal with long-standing bipartisan support was executed appropriately. And some Democrats are speaking out about the latter issue — including three key Senate committee chairmen and some military veterans in the House. “The rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan reveals a failure to prepare for a scenario where the Afghan government and military would refuse to fight the Taliban’s advances when put to the test,” Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona said flatly in the hours after Biden’s speech.

Joe Biden gets heat from both Republicans and Democrats. Image via AP.

Fears over rising illness and death from the delta variant fuel Biden administration push for boosters” via Tyler Pager, Laurie McGinley, Dan Diamond and Lena H. Sun of The Washington Post — Data from an array of sources shows immunity from the vaccines declines over time and suggests that greater protection may be needed to fight off the highly contagious variant, according to several senior officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The Biden administration is expected to outline a plan Wednesday during a White House COVID-19 briefing, in which health officials are poised to tell Americans they should get a booster shot eight months after being inoculated. Biden is expected to speak on the effort after the briefing, White House press secretary Psaki said Tuesday.

Biden keeps many Donald Trump tariffs in place, confounding businesses hoping for reprieve” via David J. Lynch of The Washington Post — Biden aides say the stakes are too high to rush into a new stance or to lock in specific elements of the trade approach they inherited from Trump, such as the tariff waivers. The White House also wants to make sure it enjoys allied support before unveiling any bold new plan. The administration has cultivated labor union support by promising a “worker-centered” trade policy. But business groups complain that officials have yet to articulate their plans for the trade deal Trump signed with China in early 2020, as well as the unresolved issues leftover from that bargain, such as China’s massive state subsidies.

— EPILOGUE: TRUMP —

Even some Trump hotels are requiring masks again as COVID-19 cases spread” via Kate Gibson of CBS News — As President, Trump discouraged those around him from wearing face masks. But some of the hotels bearing his name are taking a more nuanced stance as the contagious delta variant fuels a spike in COVID-19 cases. Perhaps in line with ever-changing guidance, calls to Trump properties yielded differing information on rules regarding masks. At the Trump International Hotel in Waikiki, workers are required to wear face masks on the property and … guests are required to wear masks in public areas, including the hotel’s elevators. It’s a dramatically different story in Florida, where DeSantis has banned mask mandates. While the executive order is generally viewed as not impacting private businesses, its spirit is reflected at Miami’s Trump International Beach Resort.

Donald Trump hotels are requiring masks, again. Image via AP.

Ex-defense secretary: Trump’s push to get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan possibly ‘undermined’ deal with Taliban” via Paul LeBlanc of CNN — Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday that he was concerned that then-President Trump “undermined” the U.S.’ 2020 agreement with the Taliban by pushing for US forces to leave Afghanistan without the Taliban meeting the conditions of the deal. The Trump administration’s “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan” outlined a series of commitments from the U.S. and the Taliban related to troop levels, counterterrorism and intra-Afghan dialogue aimed at bringing about “a permanent and comprehensive cease-fire.” But, Esper told CNN, “my concern was that President Trump, by continuing to want to withdraw American forces out of Afghanistan, undermined the agreement, which is why in the fall when he was calling for a return of US forces by Christmas …”

Biden officials: Trump left bare cupboard on Afghanistan” via Hans Nichols of Axios — Senior national security officials presiding over a historic foreign policy collapse are privately expressing deep frustrations about the thin Afghanistan withdrawal plans left behind by Trump. Many experienced operatives in both parties are aghast that Biden and his team didn’t ready better preparations over nearly seven months since taking office. But two Biden officials who spoke with Axios on Monday on condition of anonymity bristled at the criticism coming from Trump and his administration in the wake of the Taliban’s rapid sweep across Afghanistan and capture of Kabul. “There was no plan to evacuate our diplomats to the airport,” a senior national security official said. “None of this was on the shelf, so to speak.”

— CRISIS —

A short-lived Trump campaign staffer is now at the head of the far right’s Jan. 6 counternarrative” via Sarah Mims of BuzzFeed — Matt Braynard, who worked for Trump for five months on the 2016 campaign before he was let go, has been Forrest Gumping his way through the postelection Trump universe. In December, he testified alongside Rudy Giuliani alleging mass voter fraud in Arizona. A week later, he told legislators in Georgia that he’d found 21,000 illegal ballots in the state. Now, he’s trying to position himself at the head of the Jan. 6 counternarrative, and he says he’s raising a lot of money doing it. Braynard has cast the Trump supporters who mobbed the Capitol as “political prisoners” and has spent months building up a protest movement that he hopes will culminate in a rally that he says he’ll host on Sept. 18 at the Capitol, “right where it started.”

Matt Braynard is the Forrest Gump of Trumpworld.

Instagram posts help FBI nab Trump-loving romance novel model who beat Capitol cops” via Ryan J. Reilly of HuffPost — When Trump sent a tweet early this year promoting Jan. 6 as a “Historic day,” a conspiracy-minded former bodybuilder from Michigan let the President know he had his back. “I’ll be there,” Logan Barnhart replied to @realDonaldTrump on Twitter. Now, seven months after the man online sleuths dubbed #CatSweat was photographed dragging a police officer down a set of stairs during the attack on the U.S. Capitol, he has been arrested by the FBI. An official confirmed the arrest to HuffPost Tuesday morning. Barnhart was charged as part of a superseding indictment returned by a grand jury on Aug. 4 and unsealed on Tuesday.

D.C. tunnel story site flagged suspicious activity before Capitol insurrection” via CNBC — The founder and administrator of an obscure website about underground infrastructure in Washington, D.C., saw a sudden and suspicious spike in traffic in the days before the U.S. Capitol insurrection. The sharp increase in web visitors alarmed the site’s operator so much that he contacted the FBI. Elliot Carter, who operates the site, worried people were covertly seeking escape routes or entry points to the Capitol ahead of the Electoral College count in January. That concern about web traffic to WashingtonTunnels.com eventually made its way to leaders of the U.S. Capitol Police. Carter said a deeper review of analytics from his site revealed many of the clicks were coming from hyperlinks shared on anonymous message boards, sites and forums named after militias, firearms or Trump.

Two former police officers reject plea offers in Jan. 6 case” via Sarah N. Lynch of Reuters — Thomas Robertson and Jacob Fracker, former police officers from Virginia, are both charged with obstructing an official proceeding, as well as lesser charges including violent entry and disorderly conduct. In a status hearing on Tuesday, federal prosecutor Elizabeth Aloi said both defendants had rejected initial offers to settle the case, though an attorney for Fracker said his client would be open to negotiating a separate deal not tied to Robertson’s alleged conduct. Last month, U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper ordered Robertson to be detained in jail pending trial after prosecutors said the FBI had discovered that Robertson was still buying firearms and ammunition online since his arrest. Fracker, meanwhile, remains out of custody on his own personal recognizance.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Democratic lawmakers and health advocates push plan to bypass DeSantis and Republicans who won’t expand Medicaid” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Elected Democrats, along with health and left-leaning policy advocates, want to bypass DeSantis and state Republicans, who are unwilling to accept federal money to expand the Medicaid program to provide health coverage for low-income, uninsured Floridians. U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch said Tuesday that Florida’s failure to expand Medicaid “has led to illness and death because Floridians cannot access health care.” Without adequate health coverage, many people can’t access preventive care and delay getting care as soon as problems develop, exacerbating serious problems like COVID-19.

For Ted Deutch, Florida’s refusal to expand Medicaid has led to illness and death.

Florida Dems want $5 billion for Everglades restoration in $3.5 trillion spending bill” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — As Democrats in Congress begin a legislative high-wire act to pass a $3.5 trillion spending plan without Republican support, Florida’s 10 House Democrats are urging their party’s leaders to include $5 billion for Everglades restoration in the bill. The spending plan, which is still facing procedural hurdles as moderate and progressive Democrats debate the best path forward, is a massive expansion of the federal government that, among other things, will include a national paid family and medical leave program, fund universal preschool, provide free community college and expand Medicare to cover hearing, vision and dental care. It’s also a grab-bag for potential legislation, like Everglades funding, in a bill that must pass by the end of 2021 under congressional budgetary rules.

Val Demings pushes bill to stop evictions, foreclosures during future disasters” via Desiree Stennett of the Orlando Sentinel — U.S. Rep. Demings has introduced new legislation that would automatically trigger a temporary stop on all evictions and foreclosures for homeowners with federally-backed mortgages when a disaster is declared. The bill, named the Federal Disaster Housing Stability Act of 2021, comes after an eviction moratorium issued by the CDC during the COVID-19 pandemic was repeatedly challenged in court. In July, a U.S. Supreme Court opinion said the CDC overstepped its role when it created the moratorium and, if lawmakers wanted an eviction ban in place, Congress would need to pass legislation.

— LOCAL NOTES —

South Florida movie producer defrauded investors by lying about success, SEC suit says” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A complaint filed Aug. 13 by the Securities and Exchange Commission accuses a Fort Lauderdale-based movie producer of duping investors by creating an illusion that they were helping to finance a busy studio with multiple films in production, a deep library of existing films with well-known stars and a large South Florida production facility. Scott Gordon Venters, president and CEO of The Movie Studio, misrepresented his company, The Movie Studio, as a successful company with a bright future when it raised $1.2 million from about 70 investors, then spent the money on his “lavish lifestyle” and to pay a “paramour” he hired as a “consultant,” the complaint states.

Judge rejects defense bid to close court hearings in Parkland school massacre case” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — Court hearings for Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz will remain open to the public before his trial, a Broward judge ruled on Tuesday. Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer ruled one week after his defense team requested the hearings be closed to the public and media, arguing more publicity could taint future jurors and derail a fair and impartial trial for Cruz. The Broward Public Defender’s Office made the request even though its own expert did not recommend closing all hearings. In the past, the Broward Public Defender’s Office has said Cruz would immediately plead guilty in exchange for life in prison. The Broward State Attorney’s Office has pressed ahead in seeking death.

The trial of Nikolas Cruz will remain public. Image via AP.

Most Commissioners mum, Jeremy Matlow fundraising off Jack Campbell’s ‘evil men’ comments at Chamber conference” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Most City Commissioners are staying out of the political fight between their colleague Commissioner Jeremy Matlow and Tallahassee’s top law enforcement official, who launched an early salvo in the 2022 local elections Sunday during the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce’s annual conference. In response to State Attorney Campbell’s assertion at the podium that Matlow needed to be “out of office” and that no mind should be paid to the “pizza maker” or “12 trolls on Twitter” looking to influence criminal justice policy, the one-term Commissioner took to fundraising for next year’s Commission race.

New settlement details reveal Duval Schools to pay teacher with Black Lives Matter flag” via Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union — The Duval County School Board will pay a former high school teacher who displayed a Black Lives Matter flag over her classroom door $300,000 to settle a lawsuit from earlier this year. Amy Donofrio, a former Riverside High School (then Lee High) teacher, said she was unfairly removed from her teaching position in March. She made national news, saying administrators told her to take down the Black Lives Matter flag hanging over her doorway. After she refused, the district temporarily reassigned her to warehouse operations and said she was being investigated for “several matters.”

From lake to prairie: Limited-time, options to deal with Lake Jackson’s disappearing water” via James Call of USA Today Network — Lake Jackson has drained down, or dried up, at least a dozen times since 1837. Native Americans called it Okeeheepkee, or “disappearing waters.” Hernando DeSoto’s scribes did not mention it when the conquistadors wintered in present-day Tallahassee in 1539, but archaeologists and historical accounts place a village on its western shore 1,000 years ago. “Now comes the tricky part,” chuckled Michael Hill, about the puzzle a disappearing lake presents to scientists responsible for keeping it healthy, that is, maintaining its ecosystems and biological diversity. It’s tricky because no one knows how long Porter Sink will remain unplugged.

What Rick Baker is readingCouncilman Matt Carlucci wants Jacksonville’s Northbank to look more like St. Petersburg” via Erik Avanier of News4Jax.com — If Carlucci gets his way, the riverwalk near Metropolitan Park and areas along Bay Street may someday become just as vibrant as Vinoy Park and downtown St. Petersburg. Carlucci recently took a trip to the St. Petersburg area to meet with former Mayor Baker, credited with turning that city’s downtown area close to the bay into a destination hot spot. And he says he learned a lot from the former mayor. “You value your waterfront for your people. Not for business interest but for the people. When that happens, it enhances business opportunities,” said Carlucci, who is running to become the next mayor of Jacksonville in 2023.

Matt Carlucci has some St. Pete envy.

Jacksonville City Council committees back $120 million football complex for Jaguars” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — A rendering shows an aerial view of the “football performance center” the Jaguars want to build in partnership with the city. The Jaguars moved the chains Tuesday on gaining approval for a new $120 million football complex whose cost would be split 50-50 between team owner Shad Khan and the city. The City Council’s Finance Committee voted 7-0, and the Rules Committee likewise voted 7-0 in favor of the deal, giving it more than enough support to pass when the full 19-member council votes Tuesday.

Tampa judge urges man who accosted Black teen to watch Netflix’s 13th” via Dan Sullivan of the Tampa Bay Times — A judge sentenced a man who accosted a Black teenager last summer in a Seffner neighborhood to a year of probation and 25 hours of community service, some of which he can complete by watching the Netflix documentary 13th. As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, Luis Orlando Santos Santiago was also ordered to complete anger management and implicit bias classes. He pleaded guilty last month to a single charge of assault with prejudice, a lesser offense than the false imprisonment accusation he originally faced.

Osceola deputy who slammed teen at Liberty High School will not be charged, state attorney says” via Christóbal Reyes of the Orlando Sentinel — The Osceola County deputy who was recorded slamming a 16-year-old Liberty High School student onto concrete will not be charged in the incident, Orange-Osceola State Attorney Monique Worrell told reporters on Tuesday. In a 20-minute news conference in front of the county courthouse, Worrell said the incident was provoked as two teens approached each other to fight. Worrell said Deputy Ethan Fournier’s “controlled takedown” of the teen, performed after she freed her arm from his grasp, was part of his training and “did not violate any laws in the State of Florida.”

— TOP OPINION —

We lost the war in Afghanistan long ago” via Freed Zakaria of CNN — As we watch the tragedy unfolding in Afghanistan, let us first dispense with the fantasy that the United States was maintaining the peace there with just a few thousand troops and that this situation could have been managed with this small commitment. For the past couple of years, it looked that way to Americans because Washington had made a deal with the Taliban, and, as a result, the Taliban was deliberately not attacking U.S. and coalition forces. Above all, that government’s legitimacy was crippled because it survived only thanks to the support of a foreign power. Afghan identity is closely tied to resistance against foreign invasion, particularly the invasion of infidels.

— OPINIONS —

We’ve coddled ignorance for years. Now we’re all paying the price with COVID-19.” via Susan J. Demas of Florida Phoenix — After almost two years of a horrific pandemic that’s killed almost 620,000 Americans and deadly, faster-spreading variants emerging because selfish and ignorant people refuse to get vaccinated, those of us who have tried to do everything right have no more f — ks left to give. Anti-vaxxers, COVID-19 conspiracy theorists and right-wing politicians have made the pandemic far more hellacious than it ever needed to be. If you refuse to get vaccinated, you are to blame for the fourth wave. You are the reason why more children are being hospitalized, so spare me your family values bloviation.

After hearing from medical advisers, Miami-Dade Schools’ decision on masks is a no-brainer” via the Miami Herald editorial board — It’s not every day that this Editorial Board recommends school districts defy an executive order. But when the health and safety of children, teachers and staff are at stake, we have no choice. The public-health benefits of requiring masks to prevent COVID-19’s spread in schools far outweigh the potential consequences of standing up to a bullying Governor. We’d rather see Superintendent Carvalho and the School Board risk their own salaries — a penalty Florida’s petulant Governor said they might face — than allow children to turn up at school unmasked, possibly endangering the health of other students, faculty and staff that come in contact with that child.

Put Florida’s manatees back on the endangered species list, before it’s too late” via Orlando Sentinel editorial board — This month, that number surpassed 900, probably more than 10% of the state’s total estimated manatee population. The death toll of 905 through Aug. 5 exceeds the deadliest year on record for sea cows, 830 in 2013, and we still have nearly four months to go in 2021. The state is calling it an “unusual mortality event.” More like a catastrophe for one of Florida’s most beloved and unique creatures, an aquatic mammal whose numbers have been steadily rebounding for 30 years. This state’s longtime neglect of our waters is bearing some bitter fruit. Pollution has resulted in widespread and persistent algae blooms, clouding the water and killing the seagrass beds that manatees feed on.

— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —

COVID-19 casualties continue to pile up in Florida.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— The Florida Board of Education votes to crack down on two school districts accused of trying to protect their students from COVID-19. Alachua and Broward are being punished for refusing to make masks optional.

Crist comes out swinging in the battle over face masks, with his first commercial attacking DeSantis over his COVID-19 response. It will not be the last.

— The Governor announces another site for COVID-19 sufferers to get monoclonal antibodies.

— And since when did DeSantis become a pitchman for Regeneron? There’s a theory on that.

— And finally, a Florida Man and his Florida Woman used bogus vaccine passports to travel to Hawaii.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Star Wars: Visions trailer renders Jedi, Sith, and a galaxy far, far away in animé style” via Matt Patches of Polygon — After a big behind-the-scenes look out of the 2021 Animé Expo, Disney and Lucasfilm premiered the trailer for Star Wars: Visions on Tuesday. Premiering this September on Disney Plus, the nine-episode animated anthology series renders the Star Wars universe in various styles of Japanese animé, and the shorts will cast both English and Japanese actors in various roles. Visions brings together studios from across Japan. Each of the nine shorts has a distinctive visual style, as teased in the full-length trailer. “Each one of these studios that we approached, we found hard-core Star Wars fans,” Lucasfilm executive producer Jacqui Lopez said at the Animé Expo. “They all had a story they wanted to tell.”

To watch the trailer, click on the image below:

Cirque du Soleil’s new Disney show sets opening date” via Matthew J. Palm of the Orlando Sentinel — The new Cirque du Soleil show at Walt Disney World finally has a new opening date — more than a year and a half after the COVID-19 pandemic halted the production. Called “Drawn to Life,” the show was in final rehearsals and just a few weeks away from debuting when the pandemic shutdown brought the entertainment industry to a halt. The first created jointly by Cirque du Soleil and Disney, the show is now scheduled to open at Disney Springs on Nov. 18. On Tuesday morning, the best seats for the Nov. 18 opening date were already spoken for.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday to John Dowless, Bob Poe, and our friend Noah Pransky.

___

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


One comment

  • Watson William

    August 18, 2021 at 10:51 am

    Didn’t the Lege decree they can override supervisor of elections on final election results? If this is true, what would keep the Rs from declaring a winner in the senate race, regardless of the Vite count? Pls correct me if I am wrong.

Comments are closed.


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