Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried will hold a statewide moment of silence Wednesday for Floridians who have died from COVID-19.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 44,553 Floridians have died with COVID-19 as of Monday, a rate of 207 per 100,000 residents.
“I invite all of my fellow Floridians to join me for this moment of silence honoring the memory of the nearly 45,000 lives lost across our state due to COVID-19,” Fried said. “No matter where you are or what you’re doing, we can all come together to pause and observe a moment of reflection and remembrance, uniting as a state to pay our respects to the victims of this virus.”
The moment of silence will come after Fried holds a news conference to announce updated COVID-19 data. The moment of silence will take place at 11:45 a.m. in the Capitol. Both events will be livestreamed on the Agriculture Department’s Facebook page.
The only Democrat to win a statewide election since 2012, Fried is a candidate for Governor hoping to deny Gov. Ron DeSantis a second term. Late last month, she began hosting frequent COVID-19 briefings, citing a “void” of data from the DeSantis administration.
The number of people dying of COVID-19 in Florida worsened last week as the state set another record Friday. That week’s report tallied 1,727 new deaths acknowledged since the week prior.
With that report, Florida has averaged reporting more than 200 new COVID-19 deaths per day over a three-week stretch of August — the worst period of mortality seen in the Sunshine State’s entire 18-month coronavirus pandemic.
That level also means that in recent weeks COVID-19 might be the leading cause of death in Florida.
“Personnel note: Nikki Fried promotes three more inside Ag Department” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — A week after promoting two people and hiring a third, Fried announced Monday three additional promotions in the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. “Florida continues to face major agricultural, public health, and economic challenges that require successful engagement with state and federal lawmakers and agencies,” Fried said in a statement. Carlos Nathan has been promoted to Director of the department’s Office of Legislative Affairs. Taking Nathan’s place as Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs is Pamela Añez Krivočenko. Anthony Pardal, who has served as Assistant Director of Administration for the Office of Federal Affairs, will now be its Deputy Director.
Scoop from inside Fried’s campaign — Finance director Stefanie Sass is exiting the campaign for a TBD position with the Joe Biden administration. “It’s been a privilege and an honor to work with the only female, Jewish Agriculture Commissioner elected to statewide office. I’m excited for her work and service to continue. I’ve been offered an opportunity with the Biden administration that I’ve decided to accept. I’ll be able to share more details soon.”
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@KejeraL: hot girl summer is over. the old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters
A mind-blowing graphic in today's Times on what $85bn worth of lost equipment means in practice for the Taliban: pic.twitter.com/GDcuNQbb6P
— Will Brown (@_Will_Brown) August 29, 2021
—@JeromeAdamsMD: The lack of a national and local/school-based testing strategy -along with less than ideal vax uptake and no or late to the game masking- are gonna make it hard to slow the delta variant, and much more likely that schools will be forced to go virtual.
—@djrothkopf: More people have died of COVID in Florida in the past two weeks than U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan in 20 years.
—@SenileDonDraper: And then Roger said “I bet you can’t sell horse dewormer to people who mostly wear red hats.” Just threw down that gauntlet. Excuse me while I piss the letters “I BET I CAN” on his grave. Draper plays the long game.
words to live by vis-a-vis: horse deworming medication pic.twitter.com/uZj5iJQSBb
— DJ Judd (@DJJudd) August 28, 2021
—@GNewburn: It doesn’t matter what post hoc statutory interpretations even a bill’s author conjures (for any number of reasons, among them that such interpretations are often based on immediate political concerns rather than good-faith analysis). What matters is the law’s text.
—@MattHaig1: Skimming through social media is exhausting. You switch from the bad news to the bad views to the random troll to someone telling you that you are amazing to seeing your first girlfriend’s twelve-year-old child and the aunt who still thinks COVID is a hoax. All before breakfast.
—@Tbridis: So long, and thanks for excellent and entertaining Capitol insights over years, @RadioRicko. Your @Fla_Pol Sunrise podcast has been recommended daily listening for our @FreshTakeFla journalism students
— DAYS UNTIL —
Boise vs. UCF — 2; Disney’s ‘Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings’ premieres — 3; Notre Dame at FSU — 5; NFL regular season begins — 9; Bucs home opener — 9; California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recall election — 14; Broadway’s full-capacity reopening — 14; Alabama at UF — 18; Dolphins home opener — 19; Jaguars home opener — 19; 2022 Legislative Session interim committee meetings begin — 20; The Problem with Jon Stewart premieres on Apple TV+ — 30; ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres (rescheduled) — 31; Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary party starts — 31; MLB regular season ends — 32; ‘No Time to Die’ premieres (rescheduled) — 33; World Series Game 1 — 46; ‘Dune’ premieres — 50; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 57; Florida TaxWatch’s annual meeting begins — 57; Georgia at UF — 60; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 63; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Primary — 63; Disney’s ‘Eternals’ premieres — 66; ‘Yellowstone’ Season 4 begins — 68; ‘Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ will debut — 69; Miami at FSU — 74; ExcelinEd’s National Summit on Education begins — 79; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ rescheduled premiere — 80; FSU vs. UF — 88; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 92; Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ premieres — 101; ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 108; ‘The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 113; ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 116; NFL season ends — 131; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 133; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 133; NFL playoffs begin — 137; Super Bowl LVI — 166; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 206; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 250; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 275; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 311; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 323; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 402; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 437.
“State mask bans face federal civil rights inquiries” via The Associated Press — The Education Department announced it’s investigating five Republican-led states with universal mask bans, saying the policies could amount to discrimination against students with disabilities or health conditions. The department’s Office for Civil Rights sent letters to education chiefs in Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah. Those states have barred schools from requiring masks among students and staff, a move that the department says could prevent some students from safely attending school. “It’s simply unacceptable that state leaders are putting politics over the health and education of the students they took an oath to serve,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement.
“State withholds school board salaries over masks” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Despite a court ruling saying school districts can require students to wear masks, the state is still withholding money to penalize Broward County schools. Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said the state will withhold money equivalent to the salaries of eight of the nine Broward School Board members who voted for a mask mandate. He also is withholding the salaries of four of five board members in Alachua County who passed a similar measure. Corcoran said the districts couldn’t use money designed for students or teacher pay to offset the penalty.
— CORONA FLORIDA —
“‘We’ll end up getting it back:’ Ron DeSantis confident in appeal of mask mandate ruling” via Brianna Volz of Click Orlando — DeSantis says he’s confident things will go in favor of the state as he appeals a ruling made by a judge that blocked his ban on school mask mandates. Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper agreed with a group of parents last week who claimed in a lawsuit that DeSantis’ order is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. The Governor’s order gave parents the sole right to decide if their child wears a mask at school. Cooper said DeSantis’ order “is without legal authority.”
“While promoting monoclonal treatment in Tampa, DeSantis fights treatment ‘resistance’” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis is traveling the state to promote success stories in people who received Regeneron’s COVID-19 treatment amid “resistance” from medical experts to talk about the treatment. Florida has opened at least 21 sites offering monoclonal antibodies, a therapy available to people at risk for severe infections when they test positive. However, that antibody cocktail is hardly known to the public, at least until this month, when the FDA expanded the use of the drug. Promoting the antibody cocktail at the Hillsborough County Department of Health on Monday, DeSantis had Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez share the positive experience her mother and aunt had with monoclonal antibodies after they tested positive.
“30K+ COVID-19 have received monoclonal antibody treatment in Florida” via Mike Vasilinda of WFLA — Thousands of Floridians have already received monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 at one of the state’s 21 infusion sites. On Monday, walk-in traffic was slow at the center, with just a handful of cars in the parking lot. One woman told us the four shots were painless; what bothered her was waiting an hour after they were done. Meanwhile, DeSantis said the treatments are working. “Visits to the emergency department for COVID-like illnesses are down,” said DeSantis.
“DeSantis says vaccines are best tool against COVID-19; but how’s Florida doing on the vaccination front?” via Laura Cassels and Diane Rado of the Florida Phoenix — DeSantis on Monday continued to traverse the state to raise awareness of monoclonal antibodies therapy being offered as a COVID-19 treatment for free at 21 sites in Florida and counting. But while the Governor focused on promoting treatment after a person becomes ill, he also reminded listeners that vaccination is the best tool for avoiding infection and fighting the spread. He did not mention masking — and no one visible in broadcasts of his three indoor news conferences was wearing a face mask or practicing significant distancing. But overall, with vaccine shots widely available, Florida is at 52.6% of the total population fully vaccinated. Florida ranks 22nd among the states and the District of Columbia in that category.
“Dr. Anthony Fauci rips DeSantis fundraising site selling anti-vax shirts amid COVID-19 crisis” via Mary Papenfuss of Yahoo News — Infectious disease expert Fauci attacked a fundraising website for DeSantis that is selling merchandise mocking COVID-19 vaccines and other health measures amid the state’s deadly COVID-19 crisis. “We have an extraordinary problem that’s killing people in the United States — killing us and putting us in the hospital,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told Jake Tapper. “There’s no place” for “that kind of politicization” when “you’re dealing with a public health crisis,” he added. The DeSantis campaign team website raising funds for the Governor is currently selling T-shirts and drink coolers featuring the phrase “Don’t Fauci My Florida.”
“State reports 30,712 weekend cases as surge shows early signs of leveling off” via David Schutz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Florida on Monday reported another 30,712 positive cases of COVID-19 from the past weekend as the seven-day trend showed early signs that the nearly two-monthlong surge might be leveling off. The state also reported 902 new deaths that were spread out over the past 10-14 days. The seven-day average of new cases is now 21,288, the lowest its been since Aug. 9. The seven-day trend of new deaths is at 262, a spike due largely to Monday’s bulk deaths report.
“COVID-19 cases stay high; hospitalizations drop in Florida” via Adriana Gomez Licon and Kelli Kennedy of The Associated Press — The number of patients with coronavirus in Florida hospitals continues to drop as infection rates stay high, a sign that while more people are testing positive for the virus, they are not necessarily developing severe illness. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tallied 15,488 patients with COVID-19 in Florida hospitals, an 8% decrease over the past week. Meanwhile, the CDC reports a seven-day average of 21,489 new cases per day in the state, not far from its recent peak of 21,761. Hospital officials are cautiously optimistic, saying the Jacksonville area hit its peak sooner, and the Panhandle and Sarasota area is now feeling strained.
—“95% of Florida’s ICU beds in use, even as COVID-19 cases start to decline” via Christopher Heath of WFTV
“Fried: Cow dewormer sold out in Florida because people are taking it for COVID-19” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Florida’s supply of a horse and cow deworming drug is sold out, thanks to a disturbing rise in people using it as an alternative treatment for COVID-19. Ivermectin, an antiparasitic treatment for livestock, has not been approved for human use in most cases. Its manufacturer, Merck, says there is “no meaningful evidence for clinical activity or efficacy in patients with COVID-19.” But despite warnings from the FDA and CDC that taking the drug to combat the virus can hurt humans, many Floridians have instead turned to dubious expertise on social media to inform their medical decisions. The result: There has been about one case a day this month of ivermectin-related poisoning, and patients the drug is intended for, animals, can’t get it.
— CORONA LOCAL —
“Families line up outside Venice chiropractor’s office to get medical exemption forms for school mask mandate” via Allyson Henning of WFLA — Families were lined up outside a chiropractor’s office in Venice hoping to get medical exemption forms for their children in response to Sarasota County’s new school mask mandate. The mask mandate in Sarasota County schools went into effect on Monday and, while the district says compliance so far has been good, they are dealing with a few challenges vetting medical exemption forms. As the district works through the exemptions to ensure they’re valid and correct, some parents are voicing concerns over the local chiropractor, who confirms that he’s signed dozens of exemption forms in the past week.
“Woman lying on floor of Jacksonville clinic touts COVID-19 antibody treatment after recovery” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — Two weeks ago, Toma Dean was prone on the floor of a Jacksonville library, waiting to receive an antibody treatment at a site set up by DeSantis’ administration. On Monday, she was by the Governor’s side, touting the Regeneron drug she says helped save her life. Photos of Dean doubled over and in pain went viral earlier this month, with many seeing it as a symbol of the rampant spread of COVID-19 in Florida. “I received Regeneron, and within about 24-36 hours, I knew I was going to make it,” Dean told reporters at a news conference in Jacksonville. “I knew that something had drastically changed in me.”
“Orange County lawmakers briefed on declining COVID-19 cases, rising deaths” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The numbers of new COVID-19 cases and people checking into hospitals are declining in Orange County, but deaths from the disease are still on the rise, lawmakers were told Monday. The good news/bad news reports from local government, school, health, and hospital officials reflect the grim reality of COVID-19; the worst mortality usually lags weeks after cases and hospital admissions peak. Dr. Raul Pino, the Orange County health officer with the Florida Department of Health, said August is seeing about twice as many COVID-19 deaths in Orange County as were seen in July, which was almost twice what was seen in June.
“Hillsborough County Schools report 5.5K COVID-19 cases since school year started” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — The Hillsborough County School District has reported 5,511 cases of COVID-19 since the school year started on Aug. 10, impacting 9,281 students and staff, or nearly 4% of the district. Those impacted are required to isolate at home after contact with a student or staff member who tested positive for the virus. The district provides a dashboard updated daily on the number of COVID-19 cases reported by students and staff members. From last Aug. 23 through Aug. 30, the school district confirmed 2,603 cases of COVID-19, made up of 332 employees and 2,589 students. That’s a slight increase from the district’s second week, which reported 2,233 cases of COVID-19, including 319 students and 1,914 employees.
“Lee Health is operating at 100% bed capacity with 639 COVID-19 patients, including 15 children” via Liz Freeman of the Fort Myers News-Press — Lee Health was operating at 100% capacity of staffed beds on Monday with 639 patients, including 15 children, hospitalized with COVID-19. Eight patients died Sunday, bringing the total deaths to 909 at Lee Health since the pandemic began. The publicly operated hospital system in Lee County had to “open up all sorts of different spaces” at its Golisano Children’s Hospital to care for the 15 pediatric cases, Dr. Larry Antonucci, president and chief executive officer of Lee Health, said Monday during a media briefing.
“Manatee deputy dies from COVID-19, 80 staff with Sarasota Sheriff still out from virus” via Patricia McKnight of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office announced the death of one of its deputies from COVID-19. Deputy Douglas Clark lost his battle to coronavirus following a two-week hospitalization, the agency announced. “I am deeply saddened by the loss of Deputy Clark,” Sheriff Rick Wells said in a news release. “I ask that you please keep his family, friends and the entire MCSO family in your thoughts and prayers.” Clark joined the MCSO in 2008 and worked in the corrections department for 13 years, recently overseeing inmate work projects in the jail’s road gang.
“Friends, family honor Polk deputy who died of COVID-19” via Rebecca Lee of The Lakeland Ledger — With heavy hearts and masked faces, local law enforcement gathered with loved ones at Victory Church in Lakeland on Monday to remember a Polk County sheriff’s deputy who died last week of COVID-19. Chris Broadhead of Winter Haven was a father of five and a deputy for nine years. He battled COVID-19 in the hospital for weeks before he died on Aug. 23. Sheriff’s Office officials said Broadhead contracted the illness in the line of duty. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Broadhead worked his way through different PCSO departments and looked forward to becoming a sergeant one day.
—”Clay County deputy killed by COVID-19 escorted to funeral home Monday afternoon” via Dan Scanlan of The Florida Times-Union
—”COVID-19: 3 Marion school employees, 1 former student died last week” via Joe Callahan of the Ocala Star-Banner
“In the COVID-19 ICU, an Osceola nurse warns inadequate staffing threatens patient safety. She blames the hospital’s staffing policy.” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — June Brown is a night shift nurse in Osceola Regional Medical Center’s COVID-19 intensive care unit. She says she’s the only night shift staff member who has worked the full pandemic without quitting. Brown said that the nurses aren’t just quitting because they’re afraid of getting infected with COVID-19, but because the ICU’s high nurse-to-patient ratio makes it harder to care for their patients safely. After the previously eight-bed COVID-19 ICU stretched to 20, some nurses now take care of three or four patients each, Brown explained. It’s best practice for one nurse to look after one or two patients in the ICU, according to an article from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, published in 2011 and updated in 2021.
“Seminole school board to consider mask mandate at emergency meeting Thursday” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — The Seminole County School Board is to meet Thursday to consider a mask mandate for students, joining a growing number of districts reconsidering mask rules following a judge’s decision Friday that DeSantis’ ban on school mask mandates was unconstitutional. Board member Kristine Kraus, who has pushed unsuccessfully for a mask mandate in Seminole, said Monday she hoped the measure would now get the go-ahead because of the “horrible” number of student COVID-19 cases and quarantines since classes began Aug. 10. The district requires students to wear face masks unless their parents opt them out with a written note. About 17% of Seminole students have permission not to wear face coverings.
“While classes begin at UNF, faculty members say they feel unsafe” via Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union — Faculty members at the University of North Florida have joined other educators across the state pushing for a safer working environment amid the coronavirus pandemic. Still, they say their concerns have gone mostly unheard. Staff and faculty have hosted rallies over the summer in tandem with the United Faculty of Florida union in hopes to gain flexible teaching methods, a mask requirement, and better access to COVID-19 tests. “They want to be able to have that flexibility, that freedom, that ability to choose what’s going to be right for them for their educational needs,” said the United Faculty of Florida UNF Chapter’s Vice President Elizabeth Brown.
— STATEWIDE —
“Florida offering Louisiana, Mississippi aid in Ida’s wake” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Florida is deploying aid to Louisiana and Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Ida. DeSantis and the Florida Division of Emergency Management announced the assistance Monday. Ida made landfall as a Category 4 storm over Louisiana Sunday, 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina struck the state. Ida has since been downgraded to a tropical storm and now a tropical depression as it has tracked inland. Still, the National Weather Service warns of flash floods and heavy rainfall in Louisiana and Mississippi that could continue as the storm carries over to the mid-Atlantic. “The state of Florida stands with both our Gulf Coast neighbors as they face the devastation left by Hurricane Ida,” DeSantis said in a statement.
—“TECO crews driving from Florida to Louisiana to help with Hurricane Ida aftermath” via Christine McLarty of WFLA
“JEA crews head to Louisiana to help restore power in the wake of Hurricane Ida” via Teresa Stephzinski of The Florida Times-Union — JEA line workers in a convoy of more than 30 utility company trucks hauling equipment left Sunday morning for Louisiana to help restore electricity in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced Sunday afternoon that he’d authorized city Fire and Rescue Department personnel “to aid our neighbors in Louisiana if necessary.” “Our men and women are on standby,” Curry said in a Twitter post about 2:30 p.m. The decision came after city officials talked with state authorities, he said. The dangerous Category 4 storm headed ashore in southeast Louisiana as the JEA crews were on the road to staging areas to await deployment under a mutual aid agreement.
—”Tropical Storm Ida will continue to bring heavy rain to Pensacola through Tuesday” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal
“DeSantis urged to seek up to $820 million in food aid for children” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — More than four months after Florida first could have applied for up to $820 million in food aid, it’s still unclear if state officials are seeking the money, which is enough to feed 2.1 million children in low-income homes. More than 80 advocacy groups, including the food bank Feeding Tampa Bay, signed the letter Monday urging DeSantis to request federal aid. DeSantis’ office hasn’t answered repeated questions from the Times/Herald over the past week about the aid’s status. The money comes with no mandates or required matching funds. At least 42 other states, including those led by Republican Governors, have tapped into the extra money.
“Attorneys joust over anti-riot bill in federal court” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — A federal judge will soon decide the fate of a new state law that controversially stiffens penalties against rioters and violent protesters in Florida. Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker told the U.S. District Court in Tallahassee Monday a possible preliminary injunction against the law may take days. The law (HB 1) is a priority of DeSantis. “I’d rather take a little bit more time and get out the correct order as opposed to rush it out,” Walker said. The law, among other things, creates a new, broader definition of riot. It also requires those arrested during a demonstration to stay in jail until their first appearance. Attorneys for the plaintiffs challenged aspects of the law, including the new definition of a riot as unconstitutionally vague. Vagueness, the attorneys warned, may lend laws to the arbitrary and discriminatory application by the police.
“First responders could get workers’ compensation for COVID-19 exposure” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — At least one Florida lawmaker wants to provide first responders with workers’ compensation coverage for exposure to COVID-19 while on the job. DeLand Republican Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff filed a bill (HB 53) on Friday that would grant workers’ compensation to qualifying first responders when they’re exposed to an infectious disease, like COVID-19, during a public health emergency. The proposal presumes first responders contracted the disease in the line of duty if they weren’t exposed outside of work. “This legislation is extremely important for our first responders who are being exposed every day to COVID-19 while conducting their duties,” Fetterhoff said in a statement.
“South Florida lawmakers visit Haiti, help send aid following massive earthquake” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Elected officials from South Florida are continuing efforts to assist Haiti’s recovery after a massive 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked the island earlier this month. Rep. Matt Willhite is pairing with Palm Beach County Cares to help send emergency supplies to Haiti. Meanwhile, Rep. Marie Woodson, who is Haitian-American, joined several local elected officials on a trip to Haiti to survey the damage and meet with Haiti’s leaders. Woodson is a member of the National Haitian American Elected Officials Network (NHAEON). She traveled to Haiti early Monday along with North Miami Councilman Alix Desulme, North Miami Councilwoman Mary Estimé-Irvin and North Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Joseph.
Happening today — Sen. Randolph Bracy, Rep. Travaris McCurdy, and former Rep. Alzo Reddick will host a news conference about a proposal to honor Reddick with a road naming, 10 a.m., McCurdy’s office, 1803 Park Center Dr., Suite 220, Orlando.
Happening today — The Putnam County legislative delegation — Sen. Keith Perry and Rep. Bobby Payne — will meet ahead of the 2022 Session, 2 p.m., Putnam County Commission board room, 2509 Crill Ave., Palatka.
Happening today — Rep. Mike Giallombardo will appear at the Cape Coral Republican Club, 6:30 p.m., Personal Touch Catering, 1530 Santa Barbara Blvd., Cape Coral.
Happening today — The state university system’s Board of Governors meets for series of committee discussions before its full board meeting Wednesday; meetings start at 8:30 a.m., Florida International University, Graham Center, 11200 S.W. Eighth St., Miami.
Happening today — The Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council meets for interviews for two seats: Commissioners Art Graham and Andrew Fay seek reappointment; others include Ria Lee Shue Ling; Belinda Little-Wood; Steven Petty and Anibal Taboas. Names of finalists go to DeSantis, who makes the appointments. The meeting starts at 10 a.m. Zoom link here.
— 2022 —
“DeSantis committee has raised nearly $5M in August” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — While DeSantis technically hasn’t filed for reelection, a political committee supporting his ambitions has raised more in August than those supporting his Democratic opponents have brought in all year. Friends of Ron DeSantis reported raising $4.92 million from Aug. 1 through Friday. By comparison, Friends of Charlie Crist and Florida Consumers First, committees respectively supporting Democratic candidates Charlie Crist and Fried, raised a combined $3,249,970 this year through the same date. And that’s before the close of the month. The bottom line? Even after paying $682,920 in bills this month, the committee sits on $52,604,242 in cash on hand.
“DeSantis snubs questions about New Jersey fundraising junket” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The Governor, taking questions at the Florida Department of Health in Jacksonville, pointedly passed on four separate opportunities to defend his trip to New Jersey for political fundraising. He did not want to discuss the optics of out-of-state fundraising as Florida hospitals buckle from the pandemic burden. The New Jersey Globe reports the “high dollar event in Deal hosted by real estate developer Joe Cayre” was his second Garden State getaway since April. DeSantis has not appreciably abbreviated his travel schedule out of state during the pandemic, as he takes what looks like the preliminary steps for a 2024 presidential campaign.
—”Annette Taddeo’s new video attacks DeSantis again” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics
“Marco Rubio Iowa trip prompts derisive digital video campaigns” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Rubio’s planned trip to Iowa on Monday prompted two new digital video campaigns, including one that puts him on a milk carton to underscore how aloof he’s become to Floridians’ concerns. Milk cartons haven’t been used to find missing kids since the 1990s, but two progressive Democratic groups, Progress Florida and Florida Catch, are putting out an alert that the search should be on for Florida’s senior Senator considering it’s been 1,286 days since his last town hall on Feb. 21, 2018. Florida Democrats also piled on about the planned Iowa trip Monday, with another video tweeted by the official Florida Democrats’ Twitter account and Congresswoman Val Demings, who represents the Orlando area and is running to unseat Rubio in the Senate.
Sen. Marco Rubio joins Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann and Sen. Joni Ernst for a conversation at a Republican Party event in Mason City. Rubio, who has not ruled out a 2024 presidential run, is attending a series of events in Iowa this week. pic.twitter.com/vSLBsvKVeS
— Brianne Pfannenstiel (@brianneDMR) August 31, 2021
“Democrat Lauren Levy announces run for HD 89” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Levy, a lawyer from Boca Raton, says she’ll challenge Republican Rep. Mike Caruso in the House District 89 contest next year. Levy announced Monday she would run for the seat, citing some of her top priorities. “We should be making it easier, not more difficult, for every citizen of legal age in this country to vote,” Levy said Monday. Levy is the first Democrat to file for the seat. Caruso has already filed to run for a third term in the House. Caruso won the seat in 2018 by just 32 votes out of more than 78,000 cast. But in 2020, he won his reelection bid by double digits.
Happening today — The Florida Elections Commission will meet at 8:30 a.m. Call-in: 1-877-309-2074. Code: 339753920.
For your radar — “Donald Trump acolytes poised to push out Senate dealmakers” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO — If Senate Republicans seem conservative now, just wait until next year. The 2022 midterms could usher in a wave of full-spectrum MAGA supporters who would turn the GOP conference an even deeper shade of red — and make the Senate a lot more like the fractious House. In the five states where Republican senators are retiring, the primary election fields to succeed them are crowded with Trump supporters who have made loyalty to the former president a cornerstone of their campaigns.
— CORONA NATION —
“Poll: Vaccine hesitancy may be crumbling” via Margaret Talev of Axios — Vaccine hesitancy in the U.S. is showing signs of crumbling, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index. Fewer adults than ever now say they won’t take the shot, and in the past two weeks there has been a sharp increase in the share of parents who plan to get their younger kids vaccinated as soon as it’s allowed. Many factors are playing a role — including the delta variant’s strength, kids’ return to school and FDA approval of the first COVID-19 vaccine — but the biggest drivers appear to be the rise of mandates.
“Some element of vaccine hesitancy is rooted in faith — but Party still seems to be more important” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves seems pretty certain that partisanship isn’t playing a role in his state’s bottom-tier vaccination rates. In April, for example, he suggested that the problem wasn’t a function of Republican resistance but, instead, of Mississippi having “a very large African American population” and “a lot of rural people.” More recently, at a fundraising event in Tennessee last week, Reeves said that the general indifference to the coronavirus common in his state is partly because Mississippi is so religious. The other true aspect of Reeves’s claim is that many religious Americans are putting their faith in God to weather the pandemic.
— CORONA ECONOMICS —
“The world is still short of everything. Get used to it.” via Peter S. Goodman and Keith Bradsher of The New York Times — Delays, product shortages, and rising costs continue to bedevil businesses large and small. And consumers are confronted with an experience once rare in modern times: no stock available, and no idea when it will come in. The Great Supply Chain Disruption is a central element of the extraordinary uncertainty that continues to frame economic prospects worldwide. If the shortages persist well into next year, that could advance rising prices on a range of commodities. As central banks from the United States to Australia debate the appropriate level of concern about inflation, they must consider a question none can answer with full confidence: Are the shortages and delays merely temporary mishaps accompanying the resumption of business, or something more insidious that could last well into next year?
“Ida’s effects on Gulf Coast could lead to higher gas prices in Florida, AAA says” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — With certain damage from Hurricane Ida to southern U.S. oil fields, the AAA says gas prices in Florida will likely go back up. Ida’s path through the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 4 storm took it over Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama oil rigs. According to the AAA-Auto Club South in its weekly gasoline prices briefing, that’s where roughly 17% of the country’s entire crude oil production takes place. It’s still unclear how prices at the pump will be affected, AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins says, but the supply chain is likely to experience interruptions.
— MORE CORONA —
“A Florida deputy died from COVID-19, and a vaccine site popped up at his funeral service” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — For the last few months, Florida officials have been bringing COVID-19 vaccines to places where many people gather like concerts and malls to make it easier for someone to get a shot. On Monday, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office hosted a pop-up at an unusual venue that could put things into perspective: the funeral of 32-year-old Polk County Deputy Sheriff Broadhead. The father of five died from COVID-19 complications on Aug. 23 after being in the hospital for several weeks. The idea behind the pop-up: If you loved Broadhead, honor his memory by getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
— PRESIDENTIAL —
“Donald Trump voters should be loving Joe Biden” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — Ninety-four percent of Trump voters disapprove of Biden, according to a new poll, including 86% who strongly disapprove. Trump voters even disapprove of the (Trump-negotiated) pullout from Afghanistan, 61 to 39%. The likely reason for this is obvious and depressing. Trump voters weren’t attracted to him because of his policies but because of tribal partisanship and because they liked Trump’s style: his attacks on institutions, government-by-tweet, the violent talk, and, yes, the White nationalism. Conversely, Democratic voters support Biden despite many policy disappointments because he has brought calm and stability and isn’t slashing away daily at the fabric of democracy.
“Biden’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan is complete” via David Rohde of The New Yorker — On Monday, the final flight of American troops left Kabul, ending a 20-year mission and fulfilling Biden’s promise to withdraw all U.S. forces. In a statement, Biden touted the evacuation of more than a hundred and twenty thousand people from Kabul, most of them Afghan citizens. For months, refugee organizations and military officials had urged the administration to begin evacuating Afghans who had backed the U.S. effort. The White House demurred, worried that such a move would signal a lack of faith in the Afghan government. As a result, the operation, crammed into the span of a few weeks, was unnecessarily rushed and poorly planned. An estimated 200,000 Afghans who were unable to get out now face retaliation from the Taliban.
“America leaves its longest war behind, and many wonder what the point was” via Alexander Smith of NBC News — Biden oversaw the end of the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan. Military officials said the final operation went smoothly, with the cooperation of the Taliban, but many in the U.S. and around the world wondered what had been achieved after such a colossal sacrifice. “Now, our 20-year military presence in Afghanistan has ended,” Biden said, adding that he would address the nation on Tuesday. But it may be the Taliban who have the last word. “Without a doubt, the Taliban are victors,” Zabiullah Mujahid, the group’s senior official said. “There was no justification for this war.”
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“Matt Gaetz, Anthony Sabatini, Roger Stone to headline October conference at Trump National Doral” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A slate of Trump-supporting lawmakers, pastors and celebrities will appear in South Florida this fall for a gathering at Trump National Doral. American Priority is hosting AMPFest 2021 at the property. According to promotional materials sent Monday, U.S. Reps. Gaetz and Paul Gosar, state Rep. Sabatini, former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn and longtime Trump ally Stone will all be on hand for the event. The gathering will take place Oct. 7-10 at Trump Doral, which has hosted events from the group in the past. “Pool parties, prayer brunch, golf tournament, book signings, neon night, annual DJT Awards Gala and more!” read a text blast sent out by organizers Monday morning.
— CRISIS —
“Trump campaign paid more than $4.3 million to Jan. 6 event organizers” via Alex J. Rouhandeh of Newsweek — Trump’s campaign reported paying over $4.3 million to organizers of the January 6 “Save America” rally held before the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, OpenSecrets reported. Questions remain about the extent of the campaign’s involvement. Last week, the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the United States Capitol sent requests to 15 social media companies asking for information pertaining to the insurrection. In the requests, the committee named several GOP-affiliated individuals who demonstrated ties to The Capitol riot. One of these individuals, Caroline Wren, who received “at least” $170,000 as the Trump campaign’s national finance consultant, was listed as a “VIP Adviser” on the permit granted by the National Park Service for the January 6 rally.
“Jan. 6 panel seeks records of those involved in ‘Stop the Steal’ rally” via Rebecca Beitsch of The Hill — The House committee investigating Jan. 6 sent letters to 35 different telecommunications and social media companies Monday, asking them to retain records of those who may have been involved in the attack on the Capitol — a group that likely includes lawmakers. The requests seek email and phone records as well as communications and other data within different social media networks. The letters do not reveal whose information is being sought but follows a nod from Chairman Bennie Thompson that the committee would seek the records of members of Congress. Even without naming names, the letters released by the committee show a focus on both those already being investigated by the DOJ and those who were involved in planning former Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally.
“Records rebut claims of unequal treatment of Jan. 6 rioters” via Alanna Durkin Richer, Michael Kunzelman and Jacques Billeaud of The Associated Press — It’s a common refrain from some of those charged in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and their Republican allies: The Justice Department is treating them harshly because of their political views while those arrested during last year’s protests over racial injustice were given leniency. Court records tell a different story. An Associated Press review of court documents in more than 300 federal cases stemming from the protests sparked by George Floyd’s death last year shows that dozens of people charged have been convicted of serious crimes and sent to prison. Meanwhile, only a handful of the nearly 600 people who’ve been charged in the insurrection have received their punishments so far, and just three people have been sentenced to time behind bars.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“‘We have to try’: Lawmakers rush to assist in Afghanistan evacuations.” via Luke Broadwater and Catie Edmondson of The New York Times — Consumed with trying to help dozens of Afghans escape their country as U.S. troops prepared to withdraw, aides to Rep. Michael Waltz shifted their work schedules to Afghanistan’s time zone, coming in after midnight so they could talk evacuees through Taliban checkpoints. Stories from both Democrats and Republicans help explain the intensity of the bipartisan anger at the Biden administration for how it planned for evacuations and its insistence on holding to the president’s Aug. 31 withdrawal date. Members of Congress were so aggressive in trying to secure the rescue of stranded Afghans that they “overwhelmed” the American task force in Kabul, orchestrating high-priority evacuations.
“About 40 Afghan refugees have found a home in Jacksonville. A new program could bring more.” via Katherine Lewin of The Florida Times-Union — The Ghaznavi family left their lives behind in Afghanistan on Aug. 13 and arrived in Jacksonville the following night. Ghaznavi was a soldier in the Afghanistan military and arrived in Northeast Florida with his wife and four of his children. His oldest son, 24 years old, had to remain in Afghanistan because he is too old to be included in the family’s Special Immigrant Visa case. The cutoff age is 21. Family members declined to give their first names because they still have family in their home country and worry the Taliban could retaliate against their loved ones.
“The cost of war: Northwest Florida military personnel paid price in Afghanistan. Here are their names.” via Jim Thompson of the Northwest Florida Daily News — This list, compiled from a variety of sources including the Defense Casualty Analysis System maintained by the Department of Defense, the Military Times website and other media reports, comprises the names of U.S. military personnel across Northwest Florida who lost their lives during the United States’ 20-year involvement in Afghanistan. The list includes troops from Northwest Florida, or who were serving in units based in Northwest Florida at the time of their death.
“Fried demands federal action to fix ‘unfair’ Mexico produce trade costing Florida billions” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Florida agriculture producers lose up to 20% of sales yearly due to Mexico’s “unfair” trade practices, which result in nearly $4 billion lost annually in direct and indirect revenues, including an up to $2.6 billion shortfall for farmers, and between 18,000 and 36,000 jobs lost yearly. That’s according to a new report the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services released showing imports of specialty crops from Mexico grew by 580% over the last two decades. Mexico’s share of the regional produce market began growing exponentially under the North American Free Trade Agreement, which former President Bill Clinton signed into law, but continued under NAFTA’s replacement.
— LOCAL NOTES —
“Florida Condo Act changes needed to prevent more building collapses, officials say” via Clayton Park of the Ocala Star-Banner — Florida laws governing how condominiums are overseen and maintained must change, and change soon, or the state could see more catastrophes like the recent collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South in Surfside. That was the view expressed by most of the speakers at a town hall meeting hosted by Miami-Dade County on condominium building safety. “It’s essential that we get answers … to ensure a disaster like this can never, ever happen again,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cara, who co-chaired the meeting with Miami-Dade County Chairman Jose Diaz.
“The owner of this iconic building ordered all tenants to leave. Some aren’t going” via Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald — By May 2022, Maria Ray would have saved enough money to relocate from Miami to San Juan. Ray just hadn’t counted on her landlord suddenly terminating her lease. Ray is one of the roughly 200 residents of the Hamilton on the Bay apartment tower, who received a notice on May 16 requiring them to move out by July 16 so the building’s new owners, the Denver-based firm Aimco/AIR, could complete renovations and repairs. That deadline was extended until Sept. 17, and Aimco is now offering tenants three months’ rent plus a $500 stipend to help with move-out costs. But 17 tenants — including Ray — are staying because the settlement offered is not enough to move in the current rental market.
“City manager could be suspended or fired Tuesday after racketeering charge” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Tamarac’s city manager, charged with a felony in an alleged scheme to make a profit for a pair of disgraced developers, could be out of his $272,000 job come Tuesday. At least one Commissioner said he will call for City Manager Michael Cernech to be fired at a hastily called special meeting on Tuesday evening. Cernech is charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering. Prosecutors allege he worked with real estate developers Bruce and Shawn Chait to force developer 13th Floor into paying them millions of dollars as hush money.
“St. Anthony’s cancels triathlon because of continued pandemic” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times — A month before some of the world’s top athletes would have descended on St. Petersburg’s scenic waterfront course for the St. Anthony’s Triathlon, organizers have called off the event because of the surge in COVID-19 patients in its own hospitals. “As a health care leader in the Tampa Bay area, St. Anthony’s does not feel that it would be responsible to further tax our team members and those community resources at this time,” a BayCare spokesperson said. In typical years, the Oct. 1-3 event would have drawn some 4,000 competitors, many of them Olympic athletes, to the first major race on the U.S. calendar. St. Anthony’s has kicked off the triathlon season in North America for the past 37 years.
“Tampa General tops another ‘best of’ list — places to work in Florida” via Florida Politics — Forbes Magazine released its list last week of America’s Best Workers by State, and TGH earned third place overall in Florida and first in health care in Florida: Costco Wholesale, Hard Rock International, Tampa General Hospital, Northrop Grumman and NASA. Nationally, TGH ranked No. 13 among Forbes’s Best Employers for Women. This is a feat in any given year, but to see a hospital whose workers are on the front lines of a pandemic earn such a title is incredibly meaningful. “In the past 17 months of the pandemic, our team members proved that they are warriors and heroes. They have been dedicated, flexible and compassionate and they truly deserve these honors,” said John Couris, CEO and president of TGH.
— TOP OPINION —
“The point is that people in the South are suffering” via Margaret Renkl of The New York Times — By now, you’ve probably seen photos of the apocalyptic flooding in Middle Tennessee on Aug. 21. At least 20 people died, and entire communities were wrecked beyond all recognition. Even before any forms of assistance were in place, community members were already helping their neighbors survive. This is the flip side of that confounding Southern insistence on “freedom” that you keep hearing about. It’s the thing that rural people do best: They tend to their own. The point is that people are suffering. Instead of engaging in what a progressive, small-town friend calls “misplaced schadenfreude,” we need to learn to talk about climate change in a new way, one that isn’t so politically charged.
— OPINIONS —
“DeSantis probably won’t be hurt by Florida’s COVID-19 surge” via Henry Olsen of The Washington Post — DeSantis is again receiving national media scrutiny as his state’s COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations soar to record levels. That is as likely to help him politically as it is to hurt him. How could this be? That Florida is one of the nation’s pandemic hot spots surely raises the expectation that the Republican Governor’s standing with voters will take a hit. Combined with his opposition to mask mandates and generally pro-opening stance throughout the yearlong crisis, one could also conclude that his positions are to blame for many of the cases and deaths we are witnessing. But that misreads voter sentiments, especially among Republicans. Attitudes toward measures to control the spread of the coronavirus have differed sharply on partisan lines throughout the pandemic.
“Press secretary Christina Pushaw’s unneeded meltdown over a routine news story” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — It started with an Aug. 17 story by AP reporter Brendan Farrington headlined “Ron DeSantis top donor invests in COVID drug Governor promotes.” The report, citing financial and elections records, detailed that the Chicago-based hedge fund Citadel owns $15.9 million in shares of Regeneron Pharmaceutical Inc. Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, meanwhile, has donated more than $10 million to a political committee that supports DeSantis. Pushaw made the astonishing leap in logic that it might even dissuade sick people from seeking the antibody treatment if they think the Governor is only touting it for his own political gain.
“If DeSantis won’t say it, we will: Thanks, Miami Herald, for exposing group’s abuses and saving Florida millions” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — Last week, we learned that Florida was recouping more than $5 million from the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which had been fleecing the state for years. At a news conference in Orlando, DeSantis thanked Attorney General Ashley Moody for her role in the settlement. Then Moody took the podium and thanked DeSantis for his leadership. Both thanked lawmakers for pursuing the matter. The Herald’s 2018 reporting first revealed that Tiffany Carr, executive director of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, had been paid the absurd sum of $761,560 the prior year, thanks to pay raises of more than $300,000 granted by the group’s board of directors.
“As the Surfside memorial wall comes down, we must push even harder for answers” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Heart-wrenching mementos to the 98 lives lost June 24 when the Champlain Towers South condo fell are being packed up for preservation by HistoryMiami Museum. We know it’s a necessary part of healing. The site where the 12-story building stood is now for sale, too. But we will not forget what happened or stop demanding answers and accountability. The investigation into what happened that night, and why it happened, is continuing. The national investigation team released footage of the now-cleared collapse site to the public last week, a good start in keeping us all informed.
— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —
Gov. DeSantis plans to appeal a judge’s ruling that allows local school boards to impose mask mandates. The promise to appeal came on the same day the Biden administration announced it was opening civil rights investigations into five states with policies banning school districts from requiring masks.
Also, on today’s #Sunrise:
— For the third week in a row, we’ve had more than 150,000 new cases of COVID-19 and Agriculture Commissioner Fried says kids are hit hard.
— But DeSantis doesn’t seem to be too worried about those sick kids. He says many of those cases are minor.
— In non-COVID-19 news, Fried has released a new report documenting harm suffered by Florida growers from Mexican imports.
— Pollster and pundit Steve Vancore visits Rick Flagg for his last show.
— And finally, the stories of two Florida Men: One has been indicted on a charge of embezzling $12 million from companies trying to buy personal protective equipment; the other pulled a gun in a barbershop … and the owner shot him.
To listen, click on the image below:
— ALOE —
“Disney World sells annual passes again Sept. 8; park reservations stay” via Dewayne Bevil and Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — Walt Disney World will resume selling annual passes for its theme parks on Sept. 8. Expect new names for the passes — which have increased in price — as well as strengthened ties to park reservations, which are staying around, the company announced Monday. The number of reservations that a passholder can have at a time will vary with the level of the annual pass. Three of the four annual passes have block-out dates. For annual passholders wanting to go to a Disney World theme park any day (or every day), the option is the Disney Incredi-Pass, which costs $1,299 and holds up to five park reservations at a time. Florida residents can still buy passes using a monthly payment plan, which requires a $205 down payment.
“The Rolling Stones’ concert in Tampa will go on as planned this fall” via Josh Bradley of Creative Loafing — The Rolling Stones’ original drummer Charlie Watts had already decided to sit out his first-ever tour with the band this fall, but nobody could have ever predicted that the world’s classiest drummer would pass away this week at the age of 80. The heartbreaking news of Watts’ death has begged the question of where the remaining Rolling Stones will go from here. While plans for future performances and an album in progress are likely not moving forward anytime soon, AEG Presents partner Concerts West announced yesterday that Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ronnie Wood are not canceling the next leg of The Rolling Stones’ “No Filter” tour in the wake of their brother’s death.
“Florida QB Emory Jones gets his chance after waiting three years” via Mark Long of The Associated Press — Jones first landed on Dan Mullen’s recruiting radar seven years ago. Jones eventually became Mullen’s first hand-picked quarterback to sign with the Gators. Now, after waiting three years behind Feleipe Franks and then Kyle Trask, Jones finally gets his chance when No. 13 Florida opens the season against Florida Atlantic on Saturday night. “It has been hard, but it’s all been for a reason,” Jones said. Jones completed 18 of 32 passes for 221 yards last year, with two touchdowns and an interception. He also ran for 217 yards and two scores. He was at his best against Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, where he threw for 86 yards and ran for 60 more and a score.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Best wishes to Florida Politics’ Joe Henderson, Michelle Dennard of CareerSource Florida, Ryan Gorman, Ashley Green, Gene McGee, and Dr. Ed Moore. Belated best wishes to my fellow Disney Cruise aficionado, INFLUENCE 100 alum, and TallyMadness champ, the great Jon Johnson of Johnson & Blanton.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.