Hello and welcome to Monday.
The daily rundown Between Saturday and Sunday, the number of Florida coronavirus cases increased by 595 (nearly 1.5 percent), to 40,596; hospitalizations went up 78 (nearly 1.1 percent), to 7,171; and deaths rose by 6 (0.3 percent), to 1,721.
Inching closer We are now about seven weeks away from a new fiscal year and a new state budget and yet its almost out of sight, out of mind for Floridas legislative leaders. Any time it comes up it, those leaders say they may need to do something about the budget, but otherwise they deflect.
Damaged Yet there are signs that Floridas fiscal situation has deteriorated significantly as the coronavirus pandemic eviscerates the states economy. Late last week, it became known that the Agency for Health Care Administration, which oversees Medicaid in Florida, has projected that as much as $1 billion more in state money may be needed in the coming fiscal year a scenario that usually triggers budget cuts.
Draining away Previously, top Republicans would point to Floridas $4 billion reserve. Its important to note that number itself was a projection of how things would look July 1, barring no changes. Between increased spending due to respond to the pandemic and collapsing tax collections that projection is now no longer tethered to reality.
The agenda We get it. There are a lot of reasons to push off talk of a special session. (Numbers are still preliminary, its unknown how long this will last.) Republicans so far have trusted the way for the most part Gov. Ron DeSantis has handled the crisis. But then theres the behind-the-scenes speculation that lawmakers dont want to come back for many reasons, including that they will be confronted with the unemployment mess the administration is still trying to clean up.
All powerful executive? And its true the federal government provided billions of dollars in relief funding that could help plug some gaps. But that requires the Legislature to accept the premise that during an emergency,DeSantis has full authority to appropriate large amounts of money and move it around. Some parts much discussed aid to local election offices, for example require setting aside a matching amount in state money. Will the Legislature also accept that the governor can make large budget cuts without their input? Can he veto spending in the new budget and then reallocate the money elsewhere? This is an emergency and a once-in-a-lifetime situation. No doubt about it. But maybe its time to get a handle on the extent of executive power during a crisis and whether separation of powers is something legislators remain guarded about.
WHERE'S RON? Nothing official announced for Gov. DeSantis.
VOX POPULI How Florida slowed coronavirus: Everyone stayed home before they were told to, by Tampa Bay Times Adam Playford, Kathleen McGrory, Steve Contorno, Caitlin Johnston and Zachary T. Sampson: The analysis indicates that while Floridas politicians debated beach closings and stay-at-home orders, residents took matters into their own hands. By the time each county shut down, there had been large reductions in activity, the cell phone data shows. People in the worst-hit counties were overwhelmingly staying home weeks before DeSantis order went out and even before the much-earlier orders issued by local governments.
ON THE GROUND Coronavirus strains Floridas Gulf Coast counties supply chains for protective gear, by Naples Daily News Ryan Mills: As Floridas COVID-19 cases grow by the hundreds every day, some emergency management departments in the Gulf Coast region are scraping by with just a few days supply of personal protective equipment for front-line workers fighting the deadly virus.
DOES IT START WITH A D? The movement to reopen Florida has been somewhat subdued. Why is that? by Tampa Bay Times Kirby Wilson: But Floridas reopen movement has been a more modest affair compared to those that have disrupted other states. An analysis by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, a non-profit watchdog of far-right extremists, found that Facebook groups dedicated to reopening Florida have just a fraction of the following of other states groups.
TRACKING DOWN THE VIRUS Undetected: Lack of access to testing among minorities keeps virus alive, by Sun Sentinels Cindy Krischer Goodman and Mario Ariza: Doctors, public health workers, activists, and leaders in South Floridas black and brown minority communities warn of a gap in surveillance in these groups. And as coronavirus spreads from house cleaner to landscaper to grocery clerk, its undetected chains of transmission are like the embers of a forest fire, keeping the outbreak going, and potentially sparking the next wave of infections.
UM, WHAT? Florida oncology network that bilked cancer patients gets $67 million in COVID-19 aid, by Miami Heralds Alex Daugherty and Ben Wieder: A Fort Myers-based oncology network that was Floridas largest recipient of federal coronavirus relief dollars for healthcare facilities admitted last week to participating in a criminal conspiracy that limited treatment options available to cancer patients in order to maximize profits. Florida Cancer Specialists, which employs 250 doctors in 100 facilities across Florida, admitted in federal court on April 30 that it worked with unnamed co-conspirators to limit cancer treatment options for patients, agreeing to pay a $100 million federal fine the largest amount allowed by law along with a $20 million state fine.
THE TOLL "Found unresponsive at home: Grim records recount lonely deaths, by New York Times Patricia Mazzei, Rebecca Halleck and Richard A. Oppel Jr.: A 71-year-old woman with nausea who was sent home from the emergency room, even though a doctor wanted to admit her. A 63-year-old nurse who was self-isolating while she waited for results from her coronavirus test. A 77-year-old man who was prescribed antibiotics by a doctor in another state for his fever and dry cough. All were found unresponsive at home the nurse on the sofa, where she was found by her husband their lives claimed by Covid-19 before they ever had a chance to check into the hospital. The agony of how the coronavirus has killed at least 1,669 Floridians, many of them older, is brief and matter-of-fact in the unadorned language of medical examiners, who summarize death in sometimes less than 200 words.
CLOSED AGAIN Facebook readers react to city of Naples public beach closures, lack of social distancing, by Naples Daily News Michael Braun: Naples City Council is scheduled to hold an emergency meeting at 1 p.m. Monday to discuss access to public city beaches and boat ramps and to evaluate its emergency beach closure order. After the city of Naples shutdown access its public beaches because it determined crowds were not maintaining acceptable social distance, people took to Facebook to weigh in on the decision.
GAETZ V. 60 MINUTES Trump administration cuts funding for coronavirus researcher, jeopardizing possible COVID-19 cure, by 60 Minutes Scott Pelley: Matt Gaetz on 'Tucker Carlson Tonight': 'The NIH gives this $3.7 million grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, they then advertise that they need coronavirus researchers. Following that, coronavirus erupts in Wuhan.' There never was a $3.7 million U.S. grant to the Wuhan lab. But, the falsehood spread like a virus, in the White House, and without verification, in the briefing room.That grant was to Peter Daszak's U.S.-based EcoHealth Alliance for disease prevention it does throughout the world. His work was considered so important that, last year, the grant was reauthorized and increased by the Trump administration. Daszak had been spending about $100,000 a year collaborating with the Wuhan lab.
Gaetz's Twitter response: The Wuhan Institute of Virology takes 10 days to notify the world of the sequence of coronavirus and American taxpayers are supposed to keep funding them? After the State Dept said they werent being safe? Looks like @CBSNews is going all China First.
TO COURT South Florida lawsuit accuses China of coronavirus cover-up, fueling loss of lives and jobs, by Miami Heralds Jay Weaver: Worried about her future, Merritt recently decided to join a growing South Florida class-action lawsuit that accuses the Peoples Republic of China of knowing about the danger of the coronavirus in December, covering up its rapid spread by Chinese traveling to other countries through January, and ultimately causing the loss of tens of millions of jobs and the deaths of at least 78,000 Americans a number likely to continue growing for months.
RULES Here are the barbershop, salon rules for reopening in Florida on Monday, by Orlando Sentinels Mark Skoneki: "Barbershops and salons must operate by appointment only and allow 15 minutes between appointments to sanitize their work stations, according to rules released by state officials. Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday added salons and barbershops to those that could reopen under his plan to restart the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic."
ON THE JOB Panama City manufacture keeps workers on job despite COVID-19, by Panama City News Heralds Nathan Cobb: "In the face of layoffs throughout the economy because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a local pipe manufacturer has kept roughly 350 people at work. For Andrew Hicks, vice president of operations for Berg Pipe, its important that his employees continue to provide for their families despite tough economic times."
NEW RULES State issues testing orders for long-term care facilities, by News Service of Floridas Jim Saunders: With more than 700 COVID-19 deaths linked to long-term care facilities, the state Agency for Health Care Administration said Sunday it has issued emergency orders to bolster testing of staff members at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.
HARDEST HIT Life-or-death cases fall heaviest on Duval County black residents, by Florida Times-Unions David Bauerlein: "As a doctor for more than 30 years running a family medical practice in a predominantly African-American part of the city, Rogers Cain had a deepening sense of unease when the global coronavirus pandemic rolled toward Florida. 'It was a gut feeling that became a fear as that gut feeling was fulfilled,' Cain said. 'One of the old adages we have in our community is when white America gets the cold, black America gets pneumonia.'"
COME SAIL AWAY Cruise lines plan restart, but CDC has not lifted no-sail order, by Palm Beach Daily News Wendy Rhodes: Despite a no-sail order effective through July 24 issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the three largest cruise lines Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean have each announced plans to return to the high seas this summer. Carnival announced plans to set sail on August 1. However, Norwegian said it plans to return July 1, and Royal Caribbean even earlier on June 12 before the no sail order expires.
CHOW TIME Theres plenty of meat, but COVID-19 is beefing up prices, by USA Today Network-Floridas Lindsey Leake: "Chris Prevatt knew something was amiss before most Americans. The volume of beef being exported from the U.S. to East Asia began dwindling in January, the Florida agricultural economist noted. 'Thats when we started seeing damages,' said Prevatt, who works at the Range Cattle Research & Education Center in Ona. 'When South Korea closed restaurants, it dramatically reduced how much product we were able to get into Asia.'"
NOT ON SAME PAGE Plan to reopen Broward could come in a day or two, but theres no consensus on extent or timing, by Sun Sentinels Anthony Man: Its time to start reopening Broward, County Commissioner Michael Udine and state Rep. Chip LaMarca said Sunday, citing progress tamping down the new coronavirus and a need to reignite the economy. Not so fast, said County Commissioners Steve Geller and Nan Rich, who warn that reopening too quickly poses significant public health risks because coronavirus is still prevalent and there arent enough tools to deal with an outbreak.
Miami-Dade emergency order amendment makes it official: the Heat can resume practice, by Miami Heralds David J. Neal and Douglas Hanks
Ron DeSantis to submit plan to Donald Trump for screening South American travelers, by Florida Politics Renzo Downey
Sarasota city and county differ widely on approach to lifting restrictions, by Herald-Tribunes Timothy Fanning
Restaurants, stores and salons prepare to reopen Monday in Palm Beach County, by Sun Sentinels David Fleshler
South Bay prison surge fuels rise in Palm Beach County cases, by Palm Beach Posts Joe Capozzi and Joel Engelhardt
Peak of daily COVID-19 deaths still in Floridas future, model now shows, by Florida Politics Renzo Downey
FALLOUT While revenue falls, Medicaid could cost Florida an extra $1b, health agency warns, by News Service of Floridas Christine Sexton: Floridas economic collapse due to the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to cause ballooning Medicaid enrollment that might blow a $1 billion hole in the state budget, according to new projections by the agency that oversees the healthcare safety net program.
HISTORY LESSON Audits spotted flaws in jobless aid system that went unfixed, by Palm Beach Posts Christine Stapleton: Officials at DEO have known about them for years. The agencys critics now point to four audits by the states Auditor General dating back to 2013 as evidence systemic bureaucratic ineptitude and disregard for the needy. What troubled me is you are seeing the same things, said state Sen. Lori Berman, Democrat representing Boynton Beach. Berman was a member of the state House when CONNECT went online in 2013.
When the dust settles: Governor cant say how long unemployment probe will take, by Florida Politics A.G. Gancarski
VP Val Demings husband Mayor Jerry Demings on possibility shes Bidens VP: Shes my pick, by Orlando Sentinels Stephen Hudak: "If Congresswoman Val Demings is chosen as Democratic presidential candidate Joe Bidens running mate, spouse Jerry Demings said he would not give up his elected post. 'I definitely will stay on as Orange County mayor and would just leverage my relationship on behalf of the residents and taxpayers of Orange County,' he said"
HOME SWEET HOME? Trump made Florida his official residence. He may have also made a legal mess, by Washington Posts Manuel Roig-Franzia: Digging into the catacombs of local records to build an argument against the dock, a small group of loosely aligned preservationists, disgruntled neighbors and attorneys have unearthed documents that they assert call into question the legality of Trumps much-publicized decision late last year to change his official domicile from Manhattan to Mar-a-Lago and to register to vote in Florida using the clubs address.
COUNTER POINT Slow down on reopening Florida, legislators tell governor, by Sun Sentinels Anthony Man: All seven Democratic members of Congress from South Florida, the region of the state thats been by far the most affected by the new coronavirus, are warning Gov. Ron DeSantis that they have grave concerns about the way hes trying to reopen the state.
BY THE NUMBERS The U.S. Treasury Department and IRS reported Friday that 9.16 million Floridians have received economic impact payments that were included in the CARES Act approved by Congress. The payments to Floridians total $15.1 billion so far. Meanwhile, since mid-March the state of Florida has paid 531,702 people a total of $1.21 billion in unemployment benefits. The Department of Economic Opportunity reports that 1.28 million people have filed claims.
WHO GOT THE MONEY Flailing corporations took millions in stimulus funding aimed at small businesses, by Palm Beach Daily News Wendy Rhodes: For example, a Tampa corporation specializing in the treatment of sleep apnea, Advanzeon Solutions, Inc., on April 27 received a $1.2 million loan through the Paycheck Protection Program as part of the federal CARES Act. But financial statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission show the company was losing money long before the coronavirus pandemic.
PREPARING FOR THE WORST South Florida prepares for unique hurricane season, by Sun Sentinels David Fleshler: If Florida experiences the misfortune of a hurricane on top of an epidemic this year, the encounter will be unlike any previous confrontation with the powerful storms. If you lose power, it may take longer to get it back. If your house is damaged, the in-person insurance adjuster could be replaced by a phone app that will allow you to send your insurance company photos of the damage. At shelters, workers will conduct health screenings and temperature checks.
GETTER BETTER Five Mile Swamp Fire: 2,200 acre blaze quiets down over the weekend, structure response pulls out, by Pensacola News Journals Annie Blanks: Firefighters got a better handle on the massive Five Mile Swamp Fire over the weekend, keeping the 2,200-plus acre blaze at 65% contained and residential neighborhoods out of its path.
Human-caused fire in Big Cypress National Preserve nears 30,000 acres, closes U.S. 41, by Naples Daily News Michael Braun
BACK IN THE ARENA President Trump praises return of UFC: We want our sports back, by Associated Press: The mixed martial arts behemoth is holding three shows in eight days in Jacksonville, where state officials deemed professional sports with a national audience exempt from a stay-at-home order as long as the location is closed to the general public. The UFC came up with a 25-page document to address health and safety protocols, procedures that led to Jacar Souza testing positive for COVID-19 on Friday. His middleweight bout against Uriah Hall was canceled late Friday. Souzas two cornermen also tested positive, the UFC said in a statement.
FCCI Insurance CEO arrested for alleged battery on officer, other charges, by Sarasota Observers Mark Gordon: Craig Johnson, chairman, CEO and president of FCCI Insurance Group, one of the Sarasota-Manatee regions largest employers, has been arrested for allegedly resisting arrest and battery on a police officer. Johnson, authorities say, was both physically and verbally abusive to officers after a disagreement at a restaurant, and said officers would pay because of his friendship with the Sarasota sheriff. Johnson, in a May 8 statement emailed to the Business Observer, sister publication of the Sarasota Observer, denies the allegations.Johnson continued to rant, the Sarasota Police affidavit states, and stated to officers, Im going to knock you out and that officers were responding like they were going to a black neighborhood.
BIRTHDAYS: (Was Sunday) Former U.S. Ambassador Mel Sembler Stephen M. Ross, principal owner of the Miami Dolphins Ryan Wiggins, owner and chief strategist for Full Contact Strategies Herald-Tribunes Zac Anderson Associated Press Bobby Caina Calvan (Was Saturday) Bill Herrle, NFIB executive director in Florida.
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Legislative leaders and the S-word Floridians stayed home before they were told to Mar-a-Lago mess Live sports returns - Politico