In March, Florida boasted the 17th largest economy in the world. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, pulverizing workers, businesses, and even tax revenues.
But Floridians are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
A new survey conducted by the Florida Chamber of Commerce found 56% of Floridians are optimistic the state economy will be on the rebound in six months. Only a quarter believe otherwise, with the balance split between no change and unsure.
“A majority of Floridians are nothing but optimistic when it comes to Florida’s economic recovery, and as the old saying goes, expectations tend to breed results. These are the right sentiments Florida needs as we unify the business community to relaunch and re-imagine Florida’s economy,” Florida Chamber EVP David Hart said.
The hopefulness doesn’t mean Floridians are content right now, however. Respondents were split on whether the state was headed in the right direction — 44% said yes and 42% said no.
Nearly seven in 10 Republicans said Florida was on the right track, a sentiment that held pat in some of the more reliably red areas of the state. In Southwest Florida, for instance, the split was 62%-21%.
Responses were the inverse among Democrats, who said the state was headed in the wrong direction by a 63%-22% margin. Independents were also unimpressed, with 49% saying the state was on the wrong track compared to 38% who felt the opposite.
The Florida Chamber poll was conducted June 6-15 by Cherry Communications. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The sample included 248 Democrats, 243 Republicans and 120 others for 611 respondents statewide.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Belmont Stakes rescheduled — 1; Father’s Day — 2; Apple to hold Developer Conference — 3; NBA training camp — 11; “The Outpost” with Orlando Bloom and Scott Eastwood premieres — 14; NBA teams travel to Orlando — 18; Major League Soccer will return to action — 19; Disney World Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom to reopen — 22; Disney World Epcot and Hollywood Studios to reopen — 26; Federal taxes due — 26; “Mulan” premieres — 35; TED conference rescheduled — 36; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” premieres — 42; NBA season restart in Orlando — 42; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 59; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 60; NBA draft lottery — 65; Indy 500 rescheduled — 65; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 67; Rev. Al Sharpton’s D.C. March — 70; U.S. Open begins — 73; “A Quiet Place Part II” premieres — 77; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 78; Rescheduled date for French Open — 100; First presidential debate in Indiana — 105; “Wonder Woman” premieres — 105; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 106; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 113; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 115; Second presidential debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 118; NBA draft — 118; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 119; NBA free agency — 121; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 127; 2020 General Election — 137; “Black Widow” premieres — 141; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 144; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 151; “No Time to Die” premieres — 158; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 165; “Top Gun: Maverick” premieres — 207; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 233; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 399; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 408; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 504; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 602; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 644; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 686; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 840.
— AMERICA SMOLDERING —
“Juneteenth: A day of joy and pain — and now national action” via Aaron Morrison and Kat Stafford of The Associated Press — In 2020, as the coronavirus ravishes black America disproportionately, as economic uncertainty wrought by the pandemic strains black pocketbooks, and as police brutality continues to devastate black families, Juneteenth is a day of protest. Red velvet cake, barbecued ribs, and fruit punch are optional. For many white Americans, recent protests over police brutality have driven their awareness of Juneteenth’s significance. Friday’s celebrations will be marked from coast to coast with marches and demonstrations of civil disobedience, along with expressions of black joy in spite of an especially traumatic time for the nation.
“Juneteenth protests, celebrations planned in major cities” via Eliza Collins of The Wall Street Journal — Protesters plan to mark Juneteenth, a holiday that marks the end of slavery, with demonstrations against racism and police brutality planned in cities across the country. Event organizers in New York City, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Tulsa, Okla., are planning for thousands to come out for marches and celebrations on Friday, June 19. On June 19, 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger of the Union Army arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced that the war was over and all enslaved people were free. That date has been celebrated since at least the late 1800s. Even as protests are planned, some usual events celebrating the day have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, such as an annual parade in Houston, which is near Galveston.
Assignment editors — MSNBC.com will livestream the “Faith for Black Lives JusticeCon” social justice conference featuring former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Val Demings, Rev. Al Sharpton, Color of Change President Rashad Robinson and more, event begins 9 a.m. Eastern time.
“The budget strain of the George Floyd protests” via Stef W. Knight of Axios — Cities and states have spent millions of dollars on police overtime over the past few weeks during the Black Lives Matter protests. Government budgets already were under severe strain from coronavirus shutdowns, due to steep tax revenue declines, and these extra expenses could make it even more difficult to meet obligations. The Dallas Police Department says it spent $1.5 million in extra staff and equipment costs during the first three days of BLM protests. At the state level, the California Highway Patrol spent more than $38 million on its response to the protest in addition to the $25 million Gov. Gavin Newsom‘s administration reportedly spent to deploy National Guard troops.
“‘She has found her voice’: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms steps into national spotlight amid policing debate” via Maureen Groppe and Ledyard King of the USA Today — Bottoms knows what it’s like to have the police come to your home, tear everything apart, including your box of toys, and watch your father taken away, hands cuffed behind his back. That traumatic experience, friends say, helps explain how she makes tough decisions as a mayor to address unrest over police violence and discuss the issues in an empathetic way that has resonated across the country. After Floyd‘s death, Bottoms unflinchingly called out looters and rioters in a powerful speech that garnered national attention and was followed by the dismissal of local officers who arrested and tased two college protesters.
“People are still fighting to keep Confederate statues standing. The question they are raising is a distraction from the one we should be asking.” via Theresa Vargas of The Washington Post — We can pretend that the debate over Confederate symbols is about preserving or erasing history, but really, it’s about our values. It’s about whether we care more about statues standing than people falling. Because we know, through statistics, video evidence and story after story, that the people who are most hurt by those symbols of hatred are falling at disproportionate rates across the country. The removal of these statues is not about history, it’s about futures. Protesters are tearing them down across the country because they are fed up. They are tired of debating and discussing and waiting for people to show they are more invested in removing chains than honoring those figures who fought to keep others in them.
“Officer charged with murder for shooting Rayshard Brooks” via Kate Brumback of The Associated Press — Prosecutors brought murder charges against the white Atlanta police officer who shot Brooks in the back, saying that Brooks was not a deadly threat and that the officer kicked the wounded black man and offered no medical treatment for over two minutes as he lay dying on the ground. Brooks was holding a stun gun he had snatched from officers, and he fired it at them during the clash, but he was running away at the time and was 18 feet, 3 inches from Officer Garrett Rolfe when Rolfe started shooting, District Attorney Paul Howard said in announcing the charges. Stun guns have a range of around 15 feet. The felony murder charge against Rolfe carries life in prison or the death penalty, if prosecutors decide to seek it. He was also charged with 10 other offenses punishable by decades behind bars.
“Atlanta police call out sick to protest charges in shooting” via Kate Brumback of The Associated Press — Atlanta police officers called out sick Thursday to protest the filing of murder charges against an officer who shot a man in the back, while the interim chief acknowledged members of the force feel abandoned amid protests demanding massive changes to policing. Interim Chief Rodney Bryant said that the sick calls began Wednesday night and continued Thursday, but said the department has sufficient staff to protect the city. It’s not clear how many officers have called out. “Some are angry. Some are fearful. Some are confused on what we do in this space. Some may feel abandoned,” Bryant said of the officers. “But we are there to assure them that we will continue to move forward and get through this.”
“As Donald Trump warns of leftist violence, a dangerous threat emerges from the right-wing boogaloo movement” via Craig Timberg of The Washington Post — A far-right extremist movement born on social media and fueled by anti-government rhetoric has emerged as a real-world threat in recent weeks, with federal authorities accusing some of its adherents of working to spark violence at largely peaceful protests roiling the nation. Federal prosecutors have charged various supporters of a right-wing movement called the “boogaloo bois,” with crimes related to plotting to firebomb a U.S. Forest Service facility, preparing to use explosives at a peaceful demonstration and killing a security officer at a federal courthouse. Boogaloo is more of a violent anti-government ideology than a formal movement, say those who study extremist groups.
“His father defied the President. Will Roger Goodell follow?” via Andrew Beaton of The Wall Street Journal — Charles Goodell’s reelection campaign would become transformative for that freckled boy. Roger watched up close as his father and role model, a Republican senator, was ousted because he placed his moral convictions ahead of his political ones. Charles bucked his party and came out against the Vietnam War. For 50 years, that moment has hung over the NFL commissioner, who for so long had never been willing to risk his job in that same way. Roger has now changed his approach, backing NFL players’ right to protest.
“Racism is rampant on Reddit, and its editors are in open revolt” via Eric Newcomer of Bloomberg — The volunteer moderators of Reddit Inc.’s r/blackladies community, an online message board that currently has over 40,000 members, wrote an open letter outlining their frustrations with the popular website in August 2014. They had pitched their message board, known as a subreddit, as a safe space for Black women, but were being deluged with hateful comments and links to racist content from anonymous accounts. “They are relentless, coming in barrages,” the moderators wrote. “We have a racist user problem and Reddit won’t take action.” Reddit has faced several potential inflection points in its approach to racism but has never undertaken a full enough reckoning to satisfy its critics.
— FLORIDA REAX —
Wait, what? — “She complained about Fla. prison boss’ ‘degrading’ Black History Month talk — and got fired” via Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald — At a Black History Month Luncheon in February, Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch spoke to a largely Black audience, describing how he fought and distrusted Black people growing up, and noting that Americans should celebrate “Scottish Heritage Month” in addition to Black history. Tiffany Gray, a former FDC human resources employee who was at the luncheon, filed an internal complaint about Inch’s remarks. Just over a month later, she was fired.
“Alcee Hastings, Debbie Wasserman Schultz push for funding to improve community-police relations” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Hastings and Wasserman Schultz are introducing legislation aimed at funding local organizations that help foster improved relations between police and nearby communities. The legislation is called the Police Accountability and Community Engagement (PACE) Act. The PACE Act would put money toward “nonprofits, institutions of higher education, community groups, and faith-based organizations, to facilitate organized dialogues that bring together community members and police officers for discussions designed to build trust, increase accountability and reduce tension in police/community relationships.” Under the PACE Act, grants would also target youth outreach programs between police and individuals age 13 to 18.
Assignment editors — Rep. Charlie Crist will commemorate Juneteenth with visits to Black-owned small businesses in the St. Petersburg area: 9 a.m., Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, 2240 9th Ave. S, St. Petersburg; 9:30 a.m., Daystar Life Center, 1055 28th St S, St. Petersburg; 10:15 a.m., Right Turn Realty, 1127 22nd St S, St. Petersburg; 11 a.m., Presbyterian Towers, 430 Bay St NE, St. Petersburg; 11:30 a.m., Exquisite Touch Salon, 1614 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg; 12:30 p.m.: Black Lives Matter Business Expo, 2810 34th St S, St. Petersburg.
“Kionne McGhee calls on Ron DeSantis to issue Juneteenth proclamation” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — McGhee is calling on DeSantis to issue a proclamation commemorating Friday’s Juneteenth celebration. “Juneteenth is a commemoration of June 19, 1865, when the Union Soldiers read the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, Texas,” McGhee wrote in his Thursday letter. “The Governor may issue annually a proclamation designating June 19 as Juneteenth Day and calling on public officials, schools, private organizations, and all citizens to honor the historic significance of the day,” the relevant law reads. McGhee, however, is also pushing the Governor to support legislation that would make Juneteenth a public holiday. The Governor’s proclamation alone wouldn’t make the celebration a full holiday.
“Fentrice Driskell to close office in observance of Juneteenth, calls for confederate holiday repeals” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Rep. Driskell is closing her office Friday in recognition of Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of slaves in the U.S. on June 19, 1865. This year is the 155th anniversary of federal troops arriving in Galveston, Texas to inform enslaved African Americans they were now free. Though the announcement came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation, slaves in Galveston were the last to learn of their new freedom, marking the unofficial end of slavery in the United States.
Assignment editors — Sen. Randolph Bracy and Reps. Bruce Antone and Geraldine Thompson will host a “Juneteenth Rally for Justice,” 10 a.m., Bill Breeze Park, 125 N Lakeshore Dr., Ocoee.
“Juneteenth celebrations around Tallahassee” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — To celebrate Juneteenth on Friday, the day when word of the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery in the U.S. made its way to the Deep South, several events are being held in Tallahassee. The Cascades for Freedom Festival will be held noon to 4 p.m. A Juneteenth celebration hosted by Halisi Africa Obsession and Gifts and Knotz and Mane will be held 1-10 p.m. in Railroad Square.
—“‘We have something to celebrate’: Pensacola Juneteenth celebration in Brent aims to educate” via Jake Newby of the Pensacola News Journal
“Misinformation overwhelms Miami-Dade school district ahead of vote on anti-racism lessons” via Colleen Wright of the Miami Herald — The Miami-Dade County School Board was the target of a viral misinformation campaign that tried to stoke fears of a board member’s proposal to explore an anti-racism curriculum in the public schools. School Board members said they received hundreds of calls and written comments filled with falsehoods, with many echoing the same misinformation on social media and radio waves. Board members ultimately voted to approve the proposal 8-1. Social media posts referenced by school Board members were full of untruths and boogeymen. They said the board wanted to incorporate a class called “Institutional Racism” based on the principles of Black Lives Matter.
“St. Pete tattoo parlor offers to cover up hate and racist symbols for free” via Catherine Hawley of Fox 13 — A St. Petersburg tattoo shop wants to help people move past hate by offering cover-ups on racist ink — for free. Most people spend a lot of time choosing their first tattoo. After all, it is permanent. “It’s the one thing that stays with your forever,” said Fredo, the owner of Fredo Ink & Co. A Tampa man was their first client. John Dingler was once in prison. While there, he got a white power patch tattooed on his head. Dingler says he is proud of his American heritage, but the hateful ink on his body sends the wrong message, especially to his mixed-race son.
“Pensacola mayor makes case for renaming Lee Square to parks board: ‘It’s not controversial’” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal — The city of Pensacola’s Parks and Recreation Board unanimously supported Mayor Grover Robinson‘s request to change the name of Lee Square back to Florida Square, paving the way for the City Council to discuss renaming the square at the same time they will discuss removing the Confederate monument that anchors it. Last week, Robinson said “now is not the right time” to discuss removing the monument, but later walked back that statement and announced he was pushing to rename Lee Square and said the City Council should decide at its July 16 meeting whether to remove the monument.
“St. John’s Cemetery offers to take Confederate monument from downtown Pensacola” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal — The historic St. John’s Cemetery in downtown Pensacola is offering to take the Confederate monument from Lee Square if the City Council decides to remove it from its current location. The cemetery made the offer in a letter sent to the mayor and City Council. The letter proposes moving the statue near the first roundabout in the cemetery, near the graves of other Confederate soldiers. “St. John’s Cemetery has the highest number of Confederate soldiers and the most Confederate generals buried in a public cemetery in Florida,” wrote Eric Stevenson, the president of St. John’s Cemetery. Stevenson added that the cemetery is proposing the city continue owning and maintaining the monument if it is relocated to cemetery grounds.
“UF drops Gator Bait cheer over ‘horrific historic racist imagery’” via Graham Hall of the Gainesville Sun — The University of Florida will no longer use the “Gator Bait” cheer at sporting events, President Kent Fuchs announced Thursday, citing the racist imagery associated with the phrase as the primary reason behind the decision. “While I know of no evidence of racism associated with our ‘Gator Bait’ cheer at UF sporting events, there is horrific historic racist imagery associated with the phrase,” Fuchs wrote in a UF statement titled “Another Step Toward Positive Change Against Racism … Accordingly, University Athletics and the Gator Band will discontinue the use of the cheer.” The cheer typically follows a brief intro from the UF band, followed by fans using their arms to “chomp” twice, followed by a “Gator Bait” cheer.
“UCF professor behind tweets deemed racist says he is subject of ‘witch hunt’” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — The UCF professor whose Twitter posts prompted thousands of people to call for his firing said Thursday he thinks the university, which has opened an inquiry into student complaints of classroom misconduct, has already sided against him and he is the subject of a “witch hunt.” The University of Central Florida started an inquiry on June 4 after reports of “possible discriminatory and other inappropriate behavior” by Charles Negy, who gained national attention in early June after many students and alumni called his tweets racist. “They’re actively soliciting complaints against me because I’m a political inconvenience for them at the moment,” Negy said.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@RealDonaldTrump: [John] Bolton’s book, which is getting terrible reviews, is a compilation of lies and made up stories, all intended to make me look bad. Many of the ridiculous statements he attributes to me were never made, pure fiction. Just trying to get even for firing him like the sick puppy he is!
—@JulianCastro: Today we found out the 2020 Republican nominee for president supports ethnic cleansing by the Chinese government.
—@RealDonaldTrump: Port Tampa Bay in Florida will be awarded $19.9 million from @to improve Hooker’s Point container facility, adding much-needed capacity to keep commerce moving and allowing the region to GROW!
—@RealDonaldTrump: Floridians will get $10M grant from @for @ ’s I-4 to improve technology to provide travelers with better information and important messages in real-time! Will make getting BACK TO WORK easier. Great work @ !
—@MarcoRubio: Jobs destroyed, schools closed & graduations canceled on the advice of experts who then suddenly decided the risks of some large gatherings were acceptable. So from now on while their input is still valued, they don’t get to decide what to cancel anymore
—@MarkPuente: Dr. Larry Feinman, chief medical officer for 18 HCA hospitals in west Florida, implored commissioners to require people to wear masks when they are inside of public spaces. Feinman said people have a three times greater chance of dying from COVID-19 than during open-heart surgery
—@JimRosicaFL: Remember the protester arrested in April outside the @mansion after “trapping himself in concrete-filled barrels?” He was charged with misdemeanor resisting an officer. But that case was reduced to a traffic ticket for obstructing or hindering traffic.
—@BlairKamin: The National Trust for Historic Preservation just announced a major change in its position regarding preservation of Confederate Monuments in public spaces. It is ‘announcing today that it believes the removal of Confederate monuments from public places is justified.’
—@Watchmen: #Watchmen begins in Tulsa, 1921 and explores the legacy of systemic racism in America. We’re proud to announce @HBO will make all nine episodes available for free this weekend on HBO.com and On Demand, and will air a marathon of the series tomorrow at 1 PM ET.
— CORONA FLORIDA —
“Florida shatters daily record with 3,207 new coronavirus cases” via John Kennedy of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Florida added another 3,207 coronavirus cases Thursday, shattering the previous daily record as the state emerges as an alarming hot spot among places grappling with a resurgence of the disease. Thursday’s record topped the 2,783 cases reported just two days earlier by the Florida Department of Health, which had been the third record-setting total in less than a week. There now have been 85,926 coronavirus cases reported in Florida since the outbreak began and 3,061 deaths. The state reported 43 additional COVID-19 deaths Thursday. DeSantis said after Tuesday’s record high that he had no plans to pull back on reopening efforts that he launched in May and since expanded.
“Feds reject plan to use nursing home fines to pay for testing” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau — It seemed like a logical and simple solution to meet the need for rapid COVID-19 testing of residents and staff at nursing homes: pay for the tests using money collected from nursing home fines. The idea was to use millions in unused funds to purchase rapid testing machines and test kits so that every nursing home could frequently, and regularly, test residents and staff, for COVID-19 infections. The money is collected from the industry for violating federal rules on critical health care programs. Florida nursing home regulators liked the idea so much that they asked the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid to approve using the money to do it. But last week, without warning, the idea was rejected by officials in Washington.
“Rene Plasencia urges mandatory masks in public” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Expressing strong concerns about the new surge in COVID-19 infections being identified in Florida, Plasencia is urging that Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings mandate that residents wear masks in public. In a letter sent to Demings, Plasencia expressed concerns about reports that, contrary to statements from DeSantis, a fellow Republican, the rise in coronavirus infections cannot be attributed merely to increased testing, or accepted as the cost of doing business. Plasencia also pointed out that medical experts are convinced that face masks reduce the exposure to the virus, “potentially saving countless lives.”
“Never-ending error: Self-employed Floridians face yet another hurdle to collect unemployment benefits” via Victoria Price of News Channel 8 — Now we’ve learned of another glitch that is preventing self-employed applicants from collecting unemployment, in the form of an inexplicable error message. Because self-employed workers don’t traditionally qualify for unemployment, the state created a special “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance” application. The online application crashes often and prevents people from being able to upload documentation. The error message includes a phone number to call for assistance. This is far from the only glitch that’s preventing people from collecting unemployment.
“Hotel tax revenues plunge amid pandemic” via the News Service of Florida — State and local tax revenues from hotels will drop an estimated $1.3 billion this year in Florida because of the coronavirus-driven reduction in travel, according to a study released by the American Hotel & Lodging Association. The study, conducted by Oxford Economics, projected that the hotel industry tax impact in Florida will be among the largest in the nation, trailing a $1.9 billion impact in California and matching a $1.3 billion impact in New York. “This year is projected to be the worst year on record for hotel occupancy, and experts estimate it will be at least 2022 before hotels return to their 2019 occupancy and revenue levels,” the association said in a news release.
— REOPEN FLORIDA —
“Universities firm up plans for fall reopening” via the News Service of Florida — Representatives of each of the 12 universities are slated to go before the Board of Governors to present plans. The plans deal with a wide range of issues designed to prevent the spread of the virus, with classes offered in-person, online, or a combination of both. Florida State University trustees approved a plan that calls for following social-distancing guidelines and requiring face masks. Classroom capacities will be limited to 25 to 50 percent of students, faculty, and assistants at a time, and the university will use an 80-bed residence hall and other smaller facilities to quarantine students who test positive for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, according to a summary released by the universities.
“Florida State restart plan includes coronavirus testing, fewer students on campus” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida State University’s planned restart for the fall includes on-campus coronavirus testing for employees, reduced classroom sizes, fewer students living on campus and a mix of in-person and online classroom instruction. A heavy focus will be on testing, contact tracing to get ahead of any trends within the campus community, and the mandatory use of face coverings in public. Sally McRorie, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said “there is not a fixed list of courses that will be delivered remotely,” and that class schedules will be completed before registration reopens in mid-July.
“AMC Theatres unveils plans to reopen during coronavirus” via Brent Lang of Variety — AMC is expected to resume operations in 450 locations on July 15 and expects to be almost fully operational by the time that Disney’s “Mulan” debuts on July 24 and Warner Bros.’ “Tenet” bows on July 31. AMC is reducing its seating capacity in order to help people social distance, it is implementing new cleaning procedures, placing hand-sanitizing stations throughout its theaters and encouraging contactless and cash-free concessions. AMC’s competitors Regal and Cinemark announced their own plans to resume business earlier this week, targeting a similar mid-July time-frame for when they expect to be fully operational. AMC recently acknowledged that the coronavirus pandemic could push it into bankruptcy.
— CORONA LOCAL —
“Hillsborough posts double-digit positive test rate for second straight day” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Hillsborough County coronavirus cases continue to surge alongside a statewide trend emerging in recent days. The Florida Department of Health reported 220 new cases Wednesday, down from 246 Tuesday, but still, a significant increase over the 54 cases reported two weeks ago. Over the past two weeks, new cases have only been less than 100 on four days. Three of the past four days have seen more than 200 new cases. The county now has 4,610 reported cases since the virus first appeared in Florida in March. Hillsborough County has the highest concentration of cases outside of South Florida.
“COVID-19 hits Tampa City Hall” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — One city of Tampa employee who tested positive for COVID-19 recently may have been a member of the City Council. City officials were unable to confirm whether a member of the Tampa City Council tested positive for the virus because of health privacy rules. The speculation comes after City Council chair Guido Maniscalco canceled Thursday evening’s City Council workshop and is quasi-judicial hearing later in the evening. “As a result, those City employees are required to either quarantine or undergo daily monitoring,” Maniscalco wrote.
“55 Tampa General Hospital staffers infected with COVID-19” via Megan Reeves of the Tampa Bay Times — About 55 staff members at Tampa General Hospital are infected with COVID-19, president and CEO John Couris said. The majority contracted the virus outside the hospital, but at least six staffers are thought to have come into contact with the disease while caring for patients. All have been sent home to quarantine for 14 days and must be free of all symptoms for a week before returning to work. Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 patients has remained stable, with about 25 in the hospital this week. Tampa General is the region’s largest hospital with about 1,000 beds.
“Businesses in Hillsborough County can soon apply for COVID-19 relief grants” via Rebecca Torrence of the Tampa Bay Times — Small businesses in Hillsborough County financially hurting from the COVID-19 pandemic will soon be eligible for relief grants. The county is making $100 million it received from the federal CARES Act available as part of its Rapid Response Recovery Program. It will begin accepting applications June 30. With these grants, the county hopes to “fill in the gaps of programs where local small businesses may have fallen,” according to the program’s initial proposal. On Monday, June 22, business owners can create an application profile and review the details of three different grant options.
“Pinellas County inches closer to requiring face masks” via Mark Puente of the Tampa Bay Times — Alarmed by the skyrocketing coronavirus cases, the Pinellas County Commission directed the county administrator and county attorney to craft an ordinance that would require people to wear face masks in public. County Administrator Barry Burton and County Attorney Jewel White will work to spell out who will be required to wear masks — the public at large, for instance, or only employees in a business who interact with customers. During a two-hour debate about the “alarming rate” of COVID-19 spreading among people between the ages of 25 and 34, Burton and Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said that some bars, clubs and restaurants are ignoring capacity orders and packing patrons inside their businesses. Those businesses need to be targeted for enforcement.
“18 test positive for COVID-19 at His House, Florida’s largest foster group home” via Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — Eleven children and seven staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 in Florida’s largest group home for foster children. A total of 47 children of the 49 children at His House have been tested so far, according to Esther Jacobo, director of the Citrus Family Care Network, the state-contracted agency that oversees child welfare services in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. Children are only tested if they are exposed to a person who has tested positive for the coronavirus, or if they become symptomatic or are taken to the hospital, Jacobo said. Children at His House have been tested at least twice and there are no plans to retest at this point, she added.
“Rural Immokalee now has more COVID-19 cases than any other ZIP code in Florida” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Nestled inland in Collier County, the rural Immokalee community has now seen 1,207 infections, all in the 34142 ZIP code. Florida Department of Health’s geographic data shows troubling signs for a community best known as home to migrant farmworkers. The area has two more residents who tested positive for COVID-19 than in the ZIP code serving Little Havana, 33125. Collier County, where the Immokalee ZIP code mostly lays, has seen 2,805 residents infected, roughly 3% of Florida cases. Hendry County, where a portion of the ZIP code serves, has seen 700 cases.
“In shift, Florida Keys now requiring face masks until June 2021” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — Visitors to the Florida Keys will need to bring along face masks or face a $500 civil fine. In a Wednesday vote, the Monroe County Commission shifted from an earlier stance on face coverings, and now requires everyone including employees and customers to wear face coverings in any establishment. The city of Key West already had this stricter ruling in place, but unincorporated parts of the Keys had relaxed such requirements, following the guidelines set forth by DeSantis’ statewide Phase 2 of his reopening plan that began on June 5. The ordinance also allows other city governments in the Keys to opt-out of the ordinance.
“Orange Mayor requires all people to wear masks in county” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County Mayor Demings said Thursday that every person in the county must wear a mask, an effort to try to stem a resurgence of the coronavirus seen in the past 10 days. “We do not want to experience another shutdown in our community,” Demings said, noting there could be more restrictions in the future. The order will take effect on Saturday and remain in place indefinitely. People are permitted to take off the mask while eating or drinking, but must wear the mask as they enter establishments, Demings said. Employees of businesses must wear a face covering at all times. People who are exercising outside are exempt from the order.
“Hospital ICU beds in Palm Beach County filling up as coronavirus cases increasing” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — As Palm Beach County experienced a jump in new coronavirus cases Thursday, some county hospitals reported their intensive care beds are completely full. Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration tracks the number of hospital beds available countywide and shows Palm Beach County overall has 74% of its 319 beds occupied. But looking closer at individual hospitals in the county, Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, Palms West Hospital, and Wellington Regional Medical Center have few or no adult ICU beds available. Statewide, new hospitalizations have risen daily in Florida for the last three days.
“Nurse cared for COVID-19 patients then caught it. Loophole leaves her quarantine unpaid” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — As a dialysis nurse, Daniele Haddad regularly spends hours alongside patients who’ve tested positive for COVID-19. It wasn’t a surprise to her when she tested positive for COVID-19 in May. The surprise came when her employer told her she wasn’t going to get paid for the mandatory quarantine period, despite the fact that a government program passed in April would cover the costs. She said the CEO of her company, Federico Dumenigo, called her personally to let her know they wouldn’t be paying her for her mandatory quarantine, despite the promise of a full refund from the government. He pointed to a loophole in the law that allows employers of health care workers to decide whether or not to offer the benefit.
Rest In Peace — “Sheila Aaronson, wife of county political powerhouse Burt Aaronson, dies” via Hannah Morse of The Palm Beach Post — In the ofttimes chaotic world of local politics, Sheila was known best as a friendly face. Though quiet and kind in her demeanor she was considered by many a behind-the-scenes player and right-hand woman to Burt, her furniture executive-turned powerhouse county commissioner husband of nearly 70 years. After a fall at her home this month, she broke her leg and was treated at Delray Medical Center. She went home for a few days but fell ill and returned to the hospital, where she tested positive for the coronavirus. She died Monday at the age of 93.
“Unexpected federal funding to boost St. Johns County COVID-19 recovery” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — Joy Andrews, deputy county administrator for St. Johns County, said her office was informed this week the Florida Division of Emergency Management now has $46 million available for the county to assist with coronavirus-related recovery. The money came from the U.S. Treasury through the federal CARES Act. The latest funding is part of the $5.9 billion the state received from the federal government. Larger counties in Florida received $2.5 billion directly from the federal treasury, bringing the state’s total received funds to $8.3 billion. “It’s going to hugely benefit [the county] from the economic recovery perspective,” Andrews said.
“Why gun store owner won’t let customers wear masks (it may not be what you think)” via John Pacenti of The Palm Beach Post — A West Palm Beach gun shop owner found himself at the center of the culture war over wearing face masks as a number of positive cases for the deadly coronavirus strain explode in the state. Alex Shkop, the owner of Guns and Range Training Center, ended up on CNN after he asked a customer to take off his mask. He said under the law no Floridian can carry a firearm and wear face-covering in public, and most who enter his store are carrying concealed weapons. “We are caught basically in the middle of completely uncharted territory. No one has been here before,” Shkop said.
— CORONA NATION —
“Anthony Fauci: ‘We are still in the first wave’ of coronavirus” via Allie Caren of The Washington Post — As coronavirus cases continue to increase across the United States, the term “second wave” and the question of whether we’re in its midst or about to face one are dominating headlines. “we still are in the first wave because even though there’s variability throughout the country, where some places like New York City are going very nicely down, staying down so that they can start to reopen, simultaneously, we’re seeing in certain states an increase in cases and even now an increase in some of the states of hospitalization,” Fauci said. “The way we’ll get back to normal is by pulling together to try and end this. And … you have a responsibility for your own health.”
“Andrew Cuomo floats quarantine for people entering N.Y. from Florida” via Keshia Clukey of Bloomberg — COVID-19 cases have been climbing in Florida and several other U.S. states, while New York is on the decline. In March, when New York cases were surging, DeSantis ordered self-quarantines of visiting New Yorkers. Now, the tables may turn. “I have experts who have advised me to do that,” Cuomo said. “I’m considering it now.” Cuomo also said he is signing an executive order that will allow the state to immediately suspend the liquor license or shut down any bar or restaurant that violates reopening rules. “I need local governments to do their part,” Cuomo said. “The state cannot do enforcement on these local issues all across the state. I would — we don’t have enough people.”
—“Texas cases up by record; California on face masks” via Bloomberg News
“EEOC says employers can’t require COVID-19 antibody tests” via Vin Gurrieri of Law360 — Businesses can’t make workers take tests that detect COVID-19 antibodies without violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, the EEOC said. The agency was answering a question left open when the commission recently gave businesses the green light to test employees for the virus itself. The guidance is its latest addition to a technical assistance document it has periodically updated in recent months that answers various questions surrounding employers’ response to the novel coronavirus pandemic and their obligations under federal anti-discrimination laws. The latest entry deals with antibody or serology tests, which determine whether a person was ever infected with COVID-19 and built up antibodies to the disease.
— CORONA ECONOMICS —
“Pandemic could erase more global wealth than financial crisis” via Marion Halftermeyer of Bloomberg — The rich are still getting richer, but the coronavirus crisis may slow the breakneck pace of wealth accumulation for years to come. Volatile markets and the economic fallout from the virus could wipe out as much as $16 trillion of global wealth this year and hinder growth for the next five years, according to a study. By comparison, the 2008 financial crisis erased $10 trillion. A decadelong bull run in equities has helped the millionaires and billionaires of the world increase their wealth at double the rate of middle-income and poor people. Now that same dependence on markets can put their fortunes at risk if volatility caused by the virus continues for years.
“Americans skip millions of loan payments as coronavirus takes economic toll” via AnnaMaria Andriotis of The Wall Street Journal — Americans have skipped payments on more than 100 million student loans, auto loans and other forms of debt since the coronavirus hit the U.S., the latest sign of the toll the pandemic is taking on people’s finances. The number of accounts that enrolled in deferment, forbearance or some other type of relief since March 1 and remain in such a state rose to 106 million at the end of May, triple the number at the end of April. The largest increase occurred for student loans, with 79 million accounts in deferment or other relief status, up from 18 million a month earlier. The stimulus package also allowed homeowners hurt by the coronavirus or its economic fallout to ask their mortgage servicers for permission to pause their payments for up to 12 months.
“Another 1.5 million Americans filed for unemployment last week” via Courtenay Brown of Axios — 1.5 million Americans filed new applications for jobless benefits last week. The number of unemployment applications is still historically high, though they have steadily dropped since peaking at 6.9 million at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Continued claims, or the number of Americans who remain on the ranks of unemployment after initially applying, dipped slightly to 20.5 million. Continued claims are watched closely. Consistent drops are a sign that a wave of workers are falling off the ranks of unemployment and possibly returning to work. While continued claims are slowly trending lower, the figure hasn’t budged significantly in recent weeks.
“Florida gets 86,000 jobless claims, as numbers trend down” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Economic reopening efforts across Florida were in a report on initial unemployment claims, which fell last week below six figures for the first time since the coronavirus shuttered businesses in March. The U.S. Department of Labor reported 1.5 million new claims nationally during the week that ended June 13, including an estimated 86,298 in Florida. The Florida estimate was down from 112,161 claims during the week that ended June 6, the biggest drop of any state. Florida, which is engaged in the second phase of DeSantis’ reopening effort, also had a nation-leading decline of 95,546 claims between the weeks ending May 30 and June 6.
“‘There is no work here’: Migrants, some sick, move north” via Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times — Thousands of other migrant workers make their way each year from southern Florida up the East Coast and into the Midwest, following the ripening of fruits and vegetables. Watermelons in Georgia. Sweet potatoes in North Carolina. Apples in Michigan. This year, many will bring the coronavirus with them. Florida’s agricultural communities have become cradles of infection, fueling a worrying new spike in the state’s daily toll in new infections, which has hit records in recent days. While many are guest workers on temporary visas, others are undocumented, with little access to routine health care and an ingrained fear of the authorities.
“Booming space industry weathers turbulent coronavirus economy” via Brendan Byrne of WMFE — Coronavirus has hit Florida’s economy hard. The region’s tourist industry appears to have taken the biggest hit, but on the space coast rockets continue to launch and aerospace businesses have by and large kept their doors open. “For the most part, the space industry has done a pretty good job of responding and adapting to COVID,” said Space Florida’s Dale Ketcham. But the Space Coast hasn’t been immune to economic strife. Budding internet satellite operator One Web, which has a manufacturing plant near Kennedy Space Center, filed for bankruptcy in part due to “market turbulence from COVID-19.”
— MORE CORONA —
“The outbreak is growing: Two of the highest daily tallies in new global cases were reported this week.” via The New York Times — The number of coronavirus cases continues to grow globally, with two of the highest tallies in the history of the pandemic recorded this week, driven by outbreaks in Latin America, Africa, South Asia and the United States, which still posts some of the highest counts of new cases. More than 140,000 cases were reported on Tuesday and another 166,000 on Wednesday, two of the three highest tallies since the outbreak began. Seventy-seven nations have seen a growth in new cases over the past two weeks, while only 43 have seen declines. The United States reported the second-most: more than 25,000.
“Beijing’s new coronavirus outbreak carries an urgent message for the world” via Adam Taylor of The Washington Post — In much of Beijing, life had returned to something like normal weeks ago. Restaurants welcomed diners, people went back to work, schools reopened. The pandemic seemed like something that was happening to the rest of the world, not China. Then Beijing announced Thursday its first domestically transmitted coronavirus case in 55 days. Authorities soon discovered dozens more cases, mostly linked to a sprawling market in Beijing’s southeast. The number of cases remains small for a city of 22 million. But authorities are taking few chances: 1,200 flights in and out of Beijing’s two airports were canceled on Wednesday. Schools closed just a month after reopening. Since Tang’s case was announced, the city claims to have tested more than 3.5 million people.
“Race for virus vaccine could leave some countries behind” via Maria Cheng and Christina Larson of The Associated Press — As the race intensifies for a vaccine against the new coronavirus, rich countries are rushing to place advance orders for the inevitably limited supply to guarantee their citizens get immunized first, leaving significant questions about whether developing countries will get any vaccines in time to save lives before the pandemic ends. Johnson & Johnson plans to make its coronavirus shot for poor countries at a not-for-profit price, because of the complexity of the technology and expertise needed. Likewise, AstraZeneca has pledged to make the vaccine available at no profit during the pandemic.
“COVID-19 test-tube firm, awarded U.S. contract, is accused of unsanitary workplace” via Mark Maremont, Susan Pulliam and James V. Grimaldi of The Wall Street Journal — Fillakit LLC was established in Florida in May, six days before winning a $10.2 million contract from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to produce liquid-filled tubes for COVID-19 tests. Several former employees said dozens of workers sit side-by-side filling test tubes by hand, with cooling fans blowing dust around. Teresa Bosworth-Green, a retired science educator who worked at Fillakit for about two weeks in May, said she witnessed vials containing debris and bugs being packaged for shipment. “The environment is not clean at all and certainly not sterile,” asserted Bosworth-Green.
“Fauci says ‘football may not happen this year’ due to virus” via Brandon Kochkodin of Bloomberg — “If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year,” Fauci said. If the NFL and NCAA seasons were to be canceled, broadcasters would be among the most exposed. More than 80% of the 50 most-watched programs on TV last year were NFL games. In response to Fauci’s comments, the NFL provided a statement from their Chief Medical Officer Allen Sills that details the league’s efforts to prepare to play in 2020. They include a rapid-result testing program and protocols for players and team personnel based on the guidance of public health officials.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Supreme Court rejects Trump effort to end DACA” via Josh Gerstein and Rebecca Rainey of POLITICO — The Supreme Court rejected Trump’s attempt to end the DACA program, handing a major victory to about 650,000 immigrants, most of whom who entered the U.S. illegally as children more than a decade ago. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s Democratic appointees in a 5-4 decision that found the Trump administration’s move to wind down the Obama-era program for Dreamers lacked a sound legal basis. The decision does not foreclose future moves to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but it seems unlikely the administration will be able to put in place a new framework to end DACA before November’s presidential election. Roberts said the Trump official who ordered the wind-down in 2017 erred by failing to consider whether it was possible to eliminate the work permits issued to DACA recipients without ending the limited protection they enjoy from deportation.
—@realDonaldTrump: Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?
—@JoeBiden: Dreamers are Americans. Period.
“Florida ‘Dreamers’ hail high court ruling” via Ana Ceballos of the News Service of Florida — A split U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld federal protections for young undocumented immigrants reverberated throughout Florida, a state that roughly 32,000 “Dreamers” call home. Karen Caudillo, a DACA recipient who lives in Orlando, came to the U.S. with her parents as a 4-year-old. Hearing about the court decision was an unexpected and emotional moment, Caudillo said, especially after talking to her mother, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. “My parents have sacrificed so much. This morning, my mom broke down in tears on FaceTime and she was just like, all our sacrifices are worth it. You are invincible and don’t let anybody tell you that you don’t deserve to be in your home,” Caudillo, 24, said in a telephone interview.
“Matt Gaetz reveals Cuban son on Twitter after clash with Dem congressman” via Morgan Phillips of Fox News — Gaetz surprised social media users by revealing he has a Cuban son after a fiery exchange with Rep. Cedric Richmond a day earlier where Gaetz accused Richmond of suggesting Republicans do not know what it’s like to worry about raising a nonwhite child. “For all those wondering, this is my son Nestor. We share no blood but he is my life. He came from Cuba six years ago and lives with me in Florida,” Gaetz wrote on Twitter. “I am so proud of him and raising him has been the best, most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life.” Gaetz didn’t say whether Nestor was legally adopted but added that he had come to the U.S. when he was 12, and was now 19 and soon to head off to college.
— STATEWIDE —
“’Painful’ health care vetoes predicted” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — DeSantis’ vow this week to make deep cuts in the new state budget has health care advocates and lawmakers on edge, as the Legislature tucked nearly $100 million in so-called “special projects” into the health and human services portion of the more than $93 billion spending plan. How many of the projects will survive DeSantis’ veto pen remains unclear. “Good gravy, I don’t know what to say other than this is unprecedented,” Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chair Aaron Bean said. “It’s going to be big. It’s going to be painful. And it’s coming.” The News Service of Florida obtained a nine-page spreadsheet that contains more than 175 health and human services projects, slated to receive $99.4 million, that could get vetoed.
“Florida TaxWatch recommends $6B in budget savings as 2020 fiscal year looms” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — State budget watchdogs are recommending elected officials take budget cuts and implement new plans that would save the state a net $6 billion annually. The Florida TaxWatch report comes the day after lawmakers delivered their $93.2 billion spending plan to DeSantis, who is expected to issue hundreds of million dollars in vetoes because of the COVID-19 pandemic. April’s revenue report alone, which mostly included sales tax receipts from before the lockdown, already showed an $878.1 million shortfall. TaxWatch stopped short of recommending the Legislature convene for a Special Session but suggested it take up sales tax e-fairness legislation and a renewed Seminole Compact.
“DeSantis signs bill reforming guardianship system inspired by Fierle case” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — DeSantis signed into law Thursday a series of reforms to the state’s guardianship program, spurred by the case of Rebecca Fierle, who authorities said approved a “do not resuscitate” order against a client’s wishes and double-billed hospitals while overseeing hundreds of wards. The bill requires guardians of elderly patients unable to look after themselves to get approval from a judge to sign DNR orders and places greater restrictions on how guardians are appointed to prevent conflicts of interest. Fierle’s attorneys have argued that as a court-appointed guardian, the law didn’t require her to seek permission before signing a DNR order.
“DeSantis signs Jordan’s Law” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis signed legislation lawmakers believe could save children’s lives in the state welfare system. The law, which goes into effect July 1, is aimed at catching red flags in a child’s life before their case turns traumatic or fatal. Rep. Chris Latvala, the legislation’s House sponsor, called the signing the proudest moment of his public service career. “This bill will fix a broken system and save lives and I thank Gov. Ron DeSantis for signing it,” Latvala said. The law will reduce case manager’s workload, streamline communication between agencies and increase training for parents, caseworkers, and law enforcement.
“The FDOT lawyer who admitted forging signatures on official documents has quit” via Kevin G. Hall of the Miami Herald — The Florida Department of Transportation’s top lawyer resigned Thursday, amid an inspector general’s report this week that found he forged the signatures of underlings on official documents, a finding that prompted the Florida Bar to open a misconduct probe. “Today, Erik Fenniman resigned from the position of General Counsel at the Florida Department of Transportation, effective immediately,” the agency said in a statement Thursday afternoon. The inspector general began investigating the forgery complaint against Fenniman after the agency was alerted in March by former staff lawyer Latasha Johnson, who had been in charge of contracts and special projects under Fenniman.
“Hallandale Beach mayor says SWAT team jeopardized city by resigning” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper accused her city’s police union of taking advantage of a tense situation to bolster their position in negotiating a new contract and said her city’s SWAT team jeopardized public safety by resigning last week. Cooper’s criticism came in the midst of an otherwise supportive statement about the SWAT team and its service to the city. The commission, which met virtually Wednesday night, had already heard voicemails earlier in the meeting from more than two dozen Broward residents evenly split on whether they wanted the SWAT team reinstated or permanently dissolved, though more than half of the critical messages came from outside the city limits.
“Florida teacher fired after 18,000 grades were changed” via Sonja Isger of The Palm Beach Post — The school board fired a Forest Hill High teacher after an investigation concluded he changed more than 18,000 grades within the district’s online learning programs over the span of two years. The school’s former principal, Mary Stratos, said she alerted investigators and transferred teacher Randy Whidden from supervising classes with access to the online programs as soon as the allegations landed on her desk. Whidden continued to teach in Palm Beach County schools as the subsequent investigations took their course, said Stratos, who left the district last year. Because it was an ongoing personnel investigation, Stratos said that at least during her tenure no students were alerted to the claims and no purported grade changes were undone.
“RE: Florida boaters. Shouldn’t we expect them to have learned how to avoid hitting each other?” via Craig Pittman of Florida Phoenix — According to a report released last week by the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Florida ranks No. 1 nationwide in both recreational boating accidents and deaths on the water. We earned that ranking because in 2019, there were 679 boat accidents in Florida’s waterways. Of those, 55 were fatal, resulting in 62 people dying. Florida has led the nation in these statistics every single year since 2015. Florida’s fatality rate for 2019 is 6.6 — higher than the national average of 5.2 deaths, but well below more than a dozen states with higher fatality rates.
— 2020 —
“Trump plots virus-era, made-for-TV mass festival” via Jonathan Swan of Axios — Trump‘s campaign plans to turn this weekend’s Tulsa rally into a massive pro-Trump festival complete with musical acts, and it’s flying in high-profile backers and camera crews to show the world the fervency of his supporters. Organizers are leasing a jet to fly in surrogates the night before and multiple film crews are being brought in to record the event. Watch for these scenes to be quickly converted into TV ads. The June 20 “Great American Comeback” event is partly a kickoff for a comeback tour amid the coronavirus pandemic. It’s also a giant commercial for Trump’s reelection campaign, an answer to protests outside the White House, and a trial run for Republican National Convention events in Jacksonville this August.
“How the Trump campaign’s plans for a triumphant rally went awry” via Annie Karni, Maggie Haberman and Reid J. Epstein of The New York Times — Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign manager, needed to find a host city for the President’s triumphant return to the campaign trail, and he didn’t have much time. Reviewing a list of potential locations over the past few weeks, Parscale quickly settled on Tulsa, Okla., people familiar with the planning said in interviews, mostly because it seemed easy. But Oklahoma was the furthest along of any state in the country in terms of reopening, and it had seen fewer than 400 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Instead of being an easy out to have a rally, Trump’s Tulsa has become yet another flashpoint for a candidate who has repeatedly displayed insensitivity about race in America and ignited controversies and divided people with his use of racist language.
“Heat, virus no deterrent for Trump fans camped outside arena” via Sara Burnett, Tom McCarthy and Sean Murphy of The Associated Press — Scores of Trump supporters have brought their vans, tents, campers and Trump flags to the parking lots and sidewalks outside the 19,000-seat BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and who say what matters most is being there to see the president take the stage on Saturday and to be sure he knows they have his back. Trump rallies are known for being big events with a sometimes festival-like atmosphere and have always drawn die-hard fans who sleep outside for days to secure a spot and pass time at a kind of political tailgate party. The groups gathering in Tulsa are taking that loyalty to a new level, though some called the coronavirus threat “an exaggeration.”
“Trump mounts campaign for more debates against Joe Biden” via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO — Trump’s reelection campaign has tapped former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani to spearhead a campaign to press for more debates this fall, starting earlier than usual and to have a say in choosing the moderators. The changes sought by the Trump campaign amount to a major reversal. Trump last year threatened to boycott the debates; now he wants more one-on-one encounters with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Biden, which advisers think will sow doubts about the former vice president’s stamina for the job. The President wants at least one additional showdown. Trump has raised questions about Biden’s mental capacity.
“SEIU releases anti-Trump digital ad tying him to disturbing protest images” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — With a backdrop of disturbing protester-police confrontations, a new digital ad from the Service Employees International Union seeks to blame Trump‘s rhetoric on police abuses toward Black Lives Matter demonstrators. The SEIU is running the 30-second ad “Dominate” out on streaming-television platforms and social media targeting voters of color in Florida and three other swing states, Nevada, Virginia and Pennsylvania. The $350,000 placement kicks off the SEIU’s $150 million 2020 electoral program. SEIU said it plans to release more ads this summer about the protests and the Black Lives Matter movement, calling on protesters to vote.
— CONVENTION COUNTDOWN —
“Lenny Curry, Brian Ballard helm Republican National Convention host committee” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — The Republican National Convention rolled out its 2020 host committee, and heading it up are Jacksonville’s GOP Mayor and Florida’s best D.C.-connected lobbyist. The committee membership includes a mix of famous-for-Jacksonville types with statewide Republicans, including Ballard’s own associate, former Attorney General Pam Bondi. U.S. Reps. John Rutherford and Michael Waltz are also included. Also in the mix: the current and incoming leadership for the Florida House and Senate including Sens. Bill Galvano and Wilton Simpson, along with Reps. José Oliva and Chris Sprowls. One step below leadership, the powerful budget chairs, Sen. Rob Bradley and Rep. Travis Cummings will represent Clay County.
“RNC in Jacksonville could generate close to $2 million for St. Johns County” via Colleen Jones of The Florida Times-Union — A conservative estimate by the St. Johns County Visitors and Convention Bureau puts the economic impact generated by the Republican National Convention in August at nearly $2 million. And that figure is expected to climb exponentially in the weeks leading up to the GOP gathering in Jacksonville. At an average pre-negotiated daily rate of $265 for a minimum four-night stay during the convention, the revenue for the county works out to about $1.83 million. The projection is based on rooms reserved at this point.
“The RNC is gone, leaving Charlotte to sort out millions in contract liabilities” via Jim Morrill of The Charlotte Observer — The decision to move the Republican National Convention to Jacksonville, Fla., has left Charlotte’s host committee with “tens of millions” in contractual liabilities. The host committee, along with the RNC’s Committee on Arrangements, has been working on the convention ever since it was awarded in July 2018. Now only the first day will be in Charlotte, though the RNC says it will hold other business meetings in the city the weekend before with about 330 delegates. The city of Charlotte said it plans to “hold the RNC accountable to fulfill all its outstanding obligations to the parties and make them whole.”
— MORE FROM THE TRAIL —
Nikki Fried fires three top aides — Fried cut ties with three top aides Wednesday night over their allegations she was in an abusive relationship with her fiance, Jake Bergmann. As reported by Marc Caputo and Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO, the firings came after a Saturday evening incident at Fort Lauderdale’s Westin Beach Resort and Spa that culminated in police escorting Bergman off the property. Fried maintains that she is not in an abusive relationship but acknowledges she and Bergman had a heated argument. Eric Johnson, Fried’s top political adviser, was among those purged from her inner circle.
“Progressive donor group announces $59M vote-by-mail campaign” via The Associated Press — A network of deep-pocketed progressive donors is launching a $59 million effort to encourage people of color to vote by mail in November, a step many Democrats view as crucial to turning out the party’s base during the coronavirus pandemic. A nonprofit arm of the donor network Way to Win is working with philanthropic organizations including the Ford Foundation and George Soros’ Open Society to raise the money. “We need to meet the urgency of this moment … we need everyone to keep their foot on the gas pedal,” said Nicole Boucher, a senior adviser to the group’s nonprofit, Way to Rise.
“Florida Democrats launch new website to attack Vern Buchanan’s health care record” via Ryan Callihan of the Bradenton Herald — Florida’s Democratic Party launched a new website Wednesday dedicated to highlighting what it called Buchanan’s “broken promises.” The Republican congressman’s votes against expanding health care to cover patients with preexisting conditions are the current focus of the campaign. A video advertisement on the page criticizes Buchanan’s prior commitment to “work through” those issues at a town hall meeting in 2009. The video uses footage from a 2009 town hall, when Buchanan told a Bradenton woman that the government’s health care program should provide “what’s available and affordable for you, regardless of preexisting conditions.”
“Rene Garcia, Anthony Rodriguez join local leaders in backing Steve Bovo for Mayor” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Garcia and Rodriguez are endorsing Bovo in the 2020 Miami-Dade mayoral contest. “Steve and I have worked closely for the last 20 years making sure we put our residents first,” Garcia said. “I have no doubt that he is going to continue to do the same thing for the residents of Miami-Dade County.” Garcia spent 16 years representing parts of Miami-Dade County in the state Legislature. “Steve Bovo is the best candidate for Mayor of Miami-Dade because he’s committed to making the county truly accountable to the taxpayer and ending business as usual,” Rodriguez said. Rodriguez, meanwhile, won his first term in the House in 2018.
— TOP OPINION —
“If you didn’t know already, it’s time to wear a mask” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — It’s unfortunate it had to come to this, but St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor made the responsible decision this week to mandate mask policies as coronavirus cases rise. Kriseman’s more lenient order requires employees to wear masks when working in parts of a business open to the public, while Castor’s orders all residents to wear masks in any indoor location. The policies are an unfortunate reminder that government intervention likely could have been avoided if so many people hadn’t flaunted warnings about social distancing, wearing masks and other precautions. The onus falls on all of us to be responsible as the state grapples with its phased reopening. No one wants to close everything down again.
— OPINIONS —
“John Bolton gives Trump too much credit” via Jonathan Bernstein for Bloomberg — What strikes me about Bolton is that he’s basically wrong in his central critique of Trump. Bolton seems to describe a President who is way out of his league — easily swayed by flattery, unprepared, impulsive, uninformed and lacking any kind of strategic sense. The most favorable interpretation of his “strategy” would be that Trump deliberately gives America’s rivals and enemies all they want in the hopes that they’ll realize how valuable he is to them and try to help him get reelected. That wouldn’t really be an abuse of power; it would just be incredibly foolish. And even that almost certainly gives Trump too much credit. The President Bolton reveals is probably incapable of anything so clever.
“If you live in Miami and won’t wear a mask, you’re just an ignorant fool” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez acknowledged worsening COVID-19 numbers and pointed to an obvious culprit: “Some people are being a little too comfortable about not wearing masks.” That’s an understatement. Especially, since the state of Florida has posted a record number of confirmed coronavirus cases In four of the last seven days. An analysis shows it’s highly unlikely that those rampaging numbers are only because of increased testing. Even Miami Beach has slipped. It’s not enforcing its own rules mandating face masks or physical distancing when people are with nonfamily members.
“Hurricane season is upon us. We must prepare now.” via John Huff, Steve Ellis, Steve Pociask, Robert Moore, Jeff Kupfer and Dave Sampson for Florida Politics — June 1 marked the official start of another hurricane season that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expects will include above-normal activity. The associated risks are further compounded by a possible fall resurgence of the coronavirus, which could very well take place as more severe hurricanes batter American coastal communities. To protect Floridians when this year’s hurricanes inevitably hit, our federal, state, and local leaders must implement pre-disaster crisis mitigation strategies without delay. The COVID-19 crisis should remind policymakers of the need to implement pre-disaster mitigation measures to reduce costly post-disaster recovery efforts. By preparing before the fact, we can reduce the losses associated with a busy hurricane season that is further complicated by the pandemic.
— TODAY’S SUNRISE —
Florida just set another record for COVID-19. The Health Department reported 3,207 new cases of coronavirus Thursday — shattering the previous record set Monday.
Also, on today’s Sunrise:
— Over the past week, Florida has recorded more than 17,000 new cases of COVID-19. Maybe that’s why some experts are saying we could be the next epicenter of the pandemic in America.
— Remember when DeSantis blamed New Yorkers for bringing coronavirus to the Sunshine State, imposing a quarantine? After reviewing the latest stats, the New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is now considering a quarantine for anyone visiting from Florida.
— While the new cases pile up, reopening efforts continue. DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran have a plan for the safe reopening of schools in August, but the people who run local schools have the final say.
— Today starts a mandatory face mask rule in St. Petersburg, beginning 5 p.m. Orange County’s Mayor signed a similar order that takes effect tomorrow.
— You can now get a lap dance in Miami Dade. Five strip clubs reopened … more are on the way.
— A big win for the DACA Dreamers: The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Trump’s plan to terminate the program designed to help immigrants brought here by their parents when they were just kids who have lived in America most of their lives.
— And the latest with Florida Man, who really didn’t want to send those dick-picks to a 10-year-old girl; he said he was just trying to be nice.
To listen, click on the image below:
— LISTEN UP —
Dishonorable Mention: Rep. Latvala, activist Becca Tieder, Ernest Hooper and communications expert Dr. Karla Mastracchio discuss politics and culture. Debbie Lundberg steps in for Tieder who is on assignment. Positive COVID-19 cases have significantly increased, did we try to restart the economy too soon? Why is wearing a mask perceived as a partisan decision? Should Florida be inviting the RNC, and professional sport leagues with rising covid-19 cases? The hosts also talk about the tragic death of Rayshard Brooks by police officers in Atlanta. Was lethal force necessary or does this prove more systematic issues in police departments are prevalent? Lundberg talks about her new book — “Remote Work Rockstar!”
podcastED: Step Up For Students president Doug Tuthill speaks with Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party (also known as the Uhuru Movement), and Chimurenga Waller, national director of organization and education expert for the party. The three discuss education and self-determination as bedrock principles to achieving sovereignty for African people — the defining goal of the Uhuru Movement.
The New Abnormal from hosts Rick Wilson and Molly Jong-Fast: Jong-Fast heralds the return of Matt Whittaker, the one-time Attorney General. Wilson wonders whether Trumpists could “solve a complex puzzle, like stacking blocks in order,” and ponders the contents of Ted Cruz’s erotic fan fiction. Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu goes deep on his long fight to take down confederate monuments. And Sleeping Giants’ Matt Rivitz talks about what it’s like to take on Breitbart, Bill O’Reilly, and Tucker Carlson — and win. He’s been pushing advertisers to drop the race-baiters, and they’ve responded. “This is like the Super Bowl … It’s like, okay, brands finally get it. What they choose to support with their media dollars really drives the conversation.”
— WEEKEND TV —
Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.
Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable featuring Hillsborough County NAACP President Yvette Lewis, St. Pete Peace leader Terron Gland and Dr. Jason Wilson, associate director of the Adult Emergency Department at Tampa General Hospital-USF Health.
In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: Remains on hiatus due to coronavirus.
Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A look at Trump resuming campaign rallies; how the coronavirus is impacting voter registration; and police reform following the President’s Executive Order.
The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon talks with attorney Sean Pittman and POLITICO Florida political reporter Gary Fineout.
This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Nat Glover, the first African American Sheriff in Florida, a former Jacksonville Sheriff and former president of Edward Waters College; Mark VanLoh, CEO of Jacksonville Aviation Authority and Rick Mullaney, Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute director.
This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Guests will include former Secretary of State John Kerry and Dr. Aileen Marty, a professor of Infectious Diseases at Florida International University.
— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —
— ALOE —
“Top seller ‘Antiracist Baby’ to be released as picture book” via The Associated Press — A picture book edition of Ibram X. Kendi’s “Antiracist Baby,” one of the country’s top-selling books since the death last month of Floyd, is coming out July 14. “Antiracist Baby” went on sale this week as a board book and has been part of a wave of works about race and racism that have been selling strongly as protests against Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police spread worldwide. Two other Kendi books are current bestsellers, “How To Be an Antiracist” and “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” winner of the National Book Award in 2016.
“Disposable urinals are summer’s new ‘it’ item as consumers avoid public restrooms” via Adrianne Pasquarelli of Chicago Business — Disposable urinal bags have been seeing an increase in popularity and demand in recent weeks. As consumers begin to travel again following pandemic-related lockdowns, they remain leery of public restrooms. Urinal bags, which use chemicals to turn liquid into an odorless solid that can later be thrown away in a trash can, offer a solution to consumers on road trips or camping excursions. Sales of such products may continue to increase as more consumers hit the roads. Camping, RV and road trip essentials are seeing growth as well.
“Betting on great white sharks now being offered, but no attack odds” via Chris Sheridan of Forbes — An offshore sportsbook has decided to post odds on the migratory patterns of nine geotagged Great White sharks, providing a summer diversion for sports fans and wagering aficionados who may or may not have an affinity for sustainable fishing. MyBookie.com is offering a variety of odds. The sportsbook will utilize the tracking technology used by OCEARCH, a nonprofit organization that has the most well-known and widely used tracking tool available. Gamblers will be able to wager on an assortment of odds and props pertaining to the specific migration patterns of individual great white sharks.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Best wishes to Lyndsey Brzozowski of Bascom Communications and Consulting, as well as our man in Jacksonville, A.G. Gancarski.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, A.G. Gancarski, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.