Florida Get Its Share, and Then Some...
His critics and political enemies keep throwing rocks at him because they feel he hasn't done enough to help mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus in the state, but the truth is Gov. Ron DeSantis and his partner in emergency crime Jared Moskowitz, have been the most aggressive in demanding federal aid to help combat the spreading virus. READ MORE
Senator Marco Rubio took a shot at the media for their coverage of the spreading virus in the U.S., calling them out for apparently rejoicing that the U.S. had surpassed China in the number of cases reported. READ MORE
The numbers keep rising...
Here is a snapshot of the most up-to-date numbers from the Florida Dept. of Health:
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“Rubio calls media “grotesque” over COVID-19 coverage” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – The Coronavirus or the “China virus” as President Trump likes to call it, originated in the Wuhan region of China, and the pandemic’s rate of infection in that country is largely suspected to have been downplayed and falsely reported on by the Communist Chinese government. China and Italy were the top two countries with the most infections and deaths until the virus made it to the U.S. The current number of Coronavirus cases in the U.S. has topped 142,000 and China’s number of cases appears to have plateaued at around 82,000 while Italy’s has climbed to 97,000. Does it sound like China is underreporting? Now that the virus has all-but crippled the U.S. economy, many media outlets are reporting the spread of the virus almost like a sport, and according to Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R), the media coverage by some reporters is “grotesque” and “bad journalism.” Rubio said that some of these reporters could not “contain their glee & delight” when reported that the U.S. had passed China in COVID-19 cases.
“Cuomo Postpones New York Presidential Primary Amid High Numbers of Coronavirus Cases” by The Floridian’s Mona Salama – New York Gov Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday that New York’s Democratic presidential primaries scheduled for April 28 will be postponed until June 23, aligning it with the states congressional and legislative already scheduled primaries. “We’re supposed to have a presidential primary election that’s coming up on April 28th. I don’t think it’s wise to bring a lot of people to one location to vote — a lot of people touching one doorknob, a lot of people touching one pen, whatever you call the device on the ballots, so we are going to delay that and link it to an election that was previously scheduled on June 23rd,” Cuomo said at Saturday’s coronavirus press briefings. Cuomo said June 23 was chosen as the makeup date because New York already has state and congressional races scheduled for that day and he “had advocated for it to be on [the June] date all along.” The governor’s decision came as election commissioners across New York warned earlier this week they were risking their “health and safety to meet impending deadlines” amid coronavirus fears to test election machines and preparing ballots because of “staff shortages due to the ongoing stay-at-home order” ahead of the April 28 date.
“Todos Con Biden Event Talks COVID-19” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – This week, the United States soared in terms of Coronavirus cases, and cases in the sunshine state are growing at an exponentially high rate. In a Todos Con Biden call with Florida Rep. Darren Soto (D) and California Rep. Raul Ruiz (D), Dr. Jill Biden and the lawmakers discussed the growing COVID-19 pandemic and the harmful impact it is currently having on Latino communities across the United States. “Our doctors, nurses, and hospital workers, our EMTs, police and first responders, our farm workers, grocery store clerks, and truckers who make sure we have food on our tables – Latinos represent a significant portion of those workers who are putting their health on the line so that the rest of us can stay safer.” Dr. Biden affirmed that “this virus does not discriminate on the basis of immigration status or race, and our response should not either.” Florida Rep. Soto echoed in her remarks, calling for Latinos to rally around Vice President Biden in the upcoming presidential election because, during times like this, “we forgot what it looks like to have a leader that we can look to – someone who unites us, not divides us.”
“Trump Names Peter Navarro as Defense Production Act Policy Coordinator” by The Floridian’s Mona Salama – President Trump named current Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro as the policy coordinator for the Defense Production Act. “My order establishes that Peter will serve as national Defense Production Act policy coordinator for the federal government,” Trump said. “He’s a tremendous guy and he will do a fantastic job. Navarro said the DPA was activated with General Motors to create ventilators because those pieces of equipment are “really the most important thing for patients who become seriously ill. They are literally the lifeline for people.” “We need industrial mobilization in order to make adequate ventilators,” Navarro said, adding that other companies that build ventilators were “cooperative, patriotic, moving in Trump time, that is to say as soon as possible, but we did have a problem with GM and VENTEC.” Citing the roadblocks with General Motors, Navarro said, “We cannot afford to lose a single day particularly over the next 30-60 days.” The announcements comes shortly after Trump announced during the signing ceremony for the CARES Act in the Oval Office that he has invoked the Defense Production Act to compel General Motors to prioritize ventilators production.
“Trump Signs Historic $2 Trillion Economic Stimulus Bill” by The Floridian’s Mona Salama – President Trump, flanked by his administration and GOP lawmakers signed the historic $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package into law Friday afternoon in the Oval Office. “I want to thank Republicans and Democrats for coming together, setting aside their differences and putting America first,” Trump said in a brief remark during the Oval Office signing ceremony. “This is a very important day. I’ve signed the single biggest economic relief package in American history and, I must say, any other package by the way. It is twice as large as any relief every signed. This will deliver urgently needed relief to our nation’s families, workers, and businesses. That’s what this is all about.” He added, “We got hit by the invisible enemy and we got hit hard. I think we are going to have a tremendous rebound. It wants to rebound so badly, but we have to get rid of the bug, we have to get rid of the virus.” The relief package, dubbed the CARES Act includes one-time payments to many Americans based on their level of income. Individuals who earn up to $75,000 will receive $1,200 each, while married couples earning up to $150,000 combined income will receive $2,400 plus an additional $500 for each child. It also includes $387 billions in small business loans, $100 billion for hospitals, $200 billion for other “domestic priorities,” including child care and assistance for seniors, $250 billions in unemployment insurance benefits and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies.
“Mast: Americans are ‘Tough SOBs That Are Defeated By Absolutely Nothing’” by The Floridian’s Mona Salama – Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL.) during the House debate on the coronavirus relief stimulus package ahead of the vote gave an electrifying speech in which he called Americans “tough SOBs that are defeated by absolutely nothing.” The Florida Republican in his remarks Friday urged his fellow colleagues on the House chambers to approve the $2 trillion stimulus package aimed at jolting the economy from the detrimental impact caused from the coronavirus pandemic. “I would rather die than see my country stumble or fall. And by God, I mean that, and I don’t think I’m the only one in this body that feels this way,” Mast said on the House floor, adding he didn’t want to see the economy stumble because of “a virus that was born in a disgusting market in Wuhan, China, that was hidden from the world.” “But I can tell you that that worry has subsided quickly for me as I looked around my own community and realized again that Americans are a salty group of tough SOBs that are defeated by absolutely nothing. And this isn’t going to defeat us either,” he continued. Mast noted there are some parts of the bill he doesn’t approve, but it is essential for the aid to reach the American people in need so when they “wake up tomorrow” they won’t wake up as “victims but as people with a greater opportunity.”
“Florida Governor DeSantis Excludes Miami Herald From Press Conference On Coronavirus” by Forbes’ Lea Lane – A drama is playing out right now in Florida which could have serious consequences for both public health and first-amendment rights. The Miami Herald wrote a scathing editorial last Sunday on Governor Ron DeSantis’ strategy and leadership, including the lack of statewide closure of beaches, and stay-in-place directives specifying all citizens. “Pictures of Florida’s crowded beaches, taken days after every expert in the world was sounding the social-distancing alarm, have further cemented our place as an international punchline,” said the editorial. The editorial’s headline reads, “Coronavirus is Killing Us in Florida, Act Like You Give a Damn.” This past Saturday, Mary Ellen Klas, a Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times reporter for the state capital bureau operated jointly by two of Florida’s largest papers, was excluded from a press conference covering testing, access to medicine, and efforts to prevent New Yorkers from flying into the state. Klas was told by the governor’s spokesperson that they could view the press conference from a live stream. Along with other reporters, she had asked for social distancing in a March 20 letter.
“Coronavirus is generating a surge of interest in voting by mail in the 2020 presidential election. It’s not a panacea” by Sun Sentinel – The emergence and spread of the new coronavirus — and the resulting social distancing and caution about what you touch — is generating a surge of interest in voting by mail. Everyday citizens and voting-rights activists see it as safer for the public and election workers. The announcement on Thursday that two poll workers from Broward County have tested positive for coronavirus — one who handled people's driver's licenses as part of the check-in and identification process for Florida's March 17 primary — is sure to feed the mail voting vs. in-person voting debate. Advocates of expanded voting by mail want the discussion now — six months before Election Day — not when the presidential election is much closer, decisions would be rushed, and every move would be viewed with suspicion that it's a way to benefit one of the candidates. The $2 trillion coronavirus response package signed into law Friday contains $400 million to improve elections, a figure many experts say pales in comparison to what's needed.
“Holland America cruise ship starts moving toward Florida” by Sun Sentinel’s Lisa J. Huriash – A Holland America cruise ship, carrying four bodies and scores of patients with coronavirus-like symptoms, has been given permission to cross the Panama Canal, allowing them to continue their journey toward Florida, the cruise line’s president said Sunday. The Zandaam and Rotterdam, where some passengers were transferred, may be heading to Fort Lauderdale or Miami. “We recently received confirmation from the Panamanian government that both ships have been allowed access to Panama Canal to make our way east toward Florida,” Holland America president Orlando Ashford said in a video shown to passengers and crew on Sunday night. Valerie Myntti and her husband remained locked in their rooms Sunday, unable to leave the Zandaam because her husband reported that he had a cough. “This is a humanitarian disaster and we need immediate attention,” said Mynitti, a Minnesota resident who owns a house in Boca Raton. “Who are we [America] in times of an incredible crisis if we don’t reach out in incredible generosity? In a crisis you can see how the men are divided from the boys.”
“Sarasota Memorial Hospital employees among Florida’s new COVID-19 cases” by Fox 13 News – On Sunday, four additional members of Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s health care team and seven more patients at the hospital were diagnosed with COVID-19. The facility now has a total of six employees who tested positive for COVID-19 and is caring for 24 patients. The hospital also announced Sunday that a second patient has died from the novel coronavirus. One employee is hospitalized, while the others are being monitored at home. According to the hospital, the new cases remain under investigation, but based on the tracing of the employees' contacts, they did not appear to have a known exposure to a positive patient at SMH. Patients and staff who had close contact with the employees in the days before they went into quarantine are being notified. As a precaution, several staff members have been asked to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days, and we are testing those who have or develop symptoms. In total SMH has tested 498 people, with 37 positive results.
“Florida approaches 5,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, 1 day after passing 4,000” by Miami Herald’s Aaron Leibowitz – There are now 4,950 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Florida, state health officials announced Sunday night, an increase of 912 cases from the night before and the largest single-day jump to date. Sixty people in Florida have died of the disease. The latest update was released around the same time President Donald Trump was praising Florida’s handling of the crisis. At a press conference, Trump said the reason Florida has had 100% of its requests for supplies fulfilled by the federal government is that “they’re very aggressive in trying to get things.” “They’re doing a very good job,” Trump said. The president on Sunday also backed off his suggestion that the country’s economy could be “opened up” again by Easter — April 12. Instead, Trump said, the federal guidelines for social distancing will be extended through April 30. Earlier on Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had predicted that more than 100,000 Americans could eventually die from COVID-19 and millions more could be infected. The United States had more than 139,000 reported cases as of Sunday evening and more than 2,400 deaths.
“Florida National Guard soldier tests positive or coronavirus” by NBC 2’s Katelyn Massarelli – A National Guard soldier helping with the coronavirus response in South Florida has tested positive for the virus. The soldier is a 26-year-old man that reported for duty at the Miramar Readiness Center on March 17 in Miami-Dade County, according to the Florida National Guard. He started showing symptoms of coronavirus and was placed in self-isolation at his home on March 19. The Florida National Guard said that he did not interact with the public while activated for the response.
“Bernie Sanders’ Florida campaign office vandalized with swastikas” by JTA – A Florida campaign office for Bernie Sanders was vandalized with swastikas. A tweet Saturday from the Florida for Bernie account showed two large swastikas painted in black and the words “voting didn’t stop us last time.” It did not say where in Florida the office is located. “Didn’t know if we should share, but one of our grassroots Bernie offices in Florida was vandalized with swastikas. Sheriff sent a team to clean it up. But Bernie is just another old white man, right?” it said. Several replies called the vandalism “fake.” Others accused a Sanders staffer of drawing the graffiti. Earlier this month a protester identified as a known white supremacist unfurled a Nazi flag at a Sanders rally in Phoenix. Sanders has been more open about his Jewish identity during the current Democratic primary contest, but he trails former Vice President Joe Biden in the race.
“Bloomberg campaign hit with FEC complaint for $18M transfer to DNC” by Fox News’ Andrew Keiper – A Federal Elections Commission complaint has been filed against former New York City mayor and 2020 presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg for an $18 million transfer from his defunct campaign to the Democratic National Committee. At the core of the complaint is the tenuous distinction between Bloomberg’s personal finances and those of his presidential campaign. The complaint is unique because of the nature of Bloomberg's self-funded campaign. He took no outside donations and maintained complete control over the campaign's finances, and the complaint argues this weakens the legal distinctions normally found between campaign cash and a candidate's personal wealth. Bloomberg’s ill-fated foray into the 2020 presidential race saw him spend more than $900 million of his own money, according to FEC filings. After he suspended his campaign and endorsed Joe Biden, Bloomberg announced he’d be transferring $18 million to the DNC and the campaign’s field offices to state Democratic parties. The complaint alleges that both far exceed FEC limits on campaign contributions. “Allowing these kinds of contributions is everything we’ve said no to in 40 years of campaign finance jurisprudence,” said Dan Backer, the man who filed the complaint through his pro-Trump Great America PAC. “Never has this been okay at the federal level.”
“CDC issues travel advisory for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut” by CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi, Jason Hoffman and Kelly Mena – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory urging people in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to "refrain from non-essential domestic travel" for the next two weeks. President Donald Trump had asked the CDC on Saturday to issue the advisory after he had floated the idea of a quarantine earlier in the day. The CDC said this advisory does not apply to employees of critical infrastructure industries, including but not limited to trucking, public health professionals, financial services, and food supply. These employees of critical infrastructure, as defined by the United States Department of Homeland Security and have a special responsibility to maintain normal work schedules. The move comes, he said on Twitter, after consulting with the governors of the three states, who will administer the plan "in consultation with the Federal Government." The CDC said that the governors of the states would have "full discretion" on how to implement the advisory. Trump said in his tweet that a quarantine would "not be necessary." Trump had said earlier in the day that he was considering a short-term quarantine of "hot spots" in parts of the tri-state area -- New York, New Jersey and Connecticut -- where cases of coronavirus continue to rise.
“After Fed Unleashes Firepower, Washington Rearms Central Bank” by WSJ’s Nick Timiraos – The Federal Reserve quickly deployed a half-dozen emergency lending programs over the past two weeks to ensure cash keeps coursing through the U.S. financial system. Now, Congress wants it to go much further, approving $454 billion to reload the Fed’s own ability to lend. Washington is relying on the Fed, to an unprecedented degree in peacetime, to preserve business balance sheets after elected officials and private industry have put the economy into the equivalent of a medically induced coma to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The economic-rescue legislation President Trump signed on Friday asks the Fed to charge headlong into credit and fiscal policy, by financing businesses, states and cities. These are areas the central bank has normally regarded as matters best left to elected officials in Congress and the White House. “Congress is the Fed’s boss and Congress has mandated them to lend to areas of the economy that they were previously uncomfortable doing,” said Julia Coronado, a former Fed economist and founder of economic-advisory firm MacroPolicy Perspectives.
“Coronavirus rattles America's national security priesthood” by Politico’s Nahal Goosi – If the U.S. foreign policy establishment were a high school cafeteria, the popular kids would be the terrorism and nuclear weapons analysts. And the global health specialists would be eating tater tots in the corner with the band geeks. The coronavirus outbreak is upending that social hierarchy as it ravages economies and societies around the world – making an irrefutable case for a cause that once struggled to get a hearing in the clubby national security priesthood. Now, it’s the infectious disease academics getting interviewed on TV. It’s the pandemic response historians seeing their books get a second look. It’s the veteran officials who tackled the Ebola virus whose phones won’t stop ringing. As the global body count nears 30,000, nobody is celebrating this macabre I-told-you-so moment. But the health experts suddenly thrust into the limelight are making the most of the opportunity to educate the public about the gargantuan risks tiny viruses pose to the world. “I think this is a break point, a transformative moment that is going to change institutions,” said Stephen Morrison, who leads a global health program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “You’re going to have a hard time to find people argue again that this really is not all that important.”
“Partisan divide returns in U.S. Congress on coronavirus next steps” by Reuters’ Sarah N. Lynch, Chris Sanders, Doina Chiacu – Fresh partisan divisions flared on Sunday on the next steps for the U.S. Congress in dealing with the coronavirus crisis, with the top House of Representatives Republican casting doubt on the need for more economic stimulus legislation while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled she plans to move forward with it. President Donald Trump on Friday signed into law a $2.2 trillion aid package - the largest on record - to address the economic downturn inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic after the Democratic-led House and Republican-led Senate put aside partisan differences to pass it nearly unanimously. It was the third legislative package approved by lawmakers to address the mounting crisis. Trump on Sunday left open the possibility that he would support a fourth relief bill, telling reporters he was prepared to do “whatever’s necessary” to save lives and bring back the economy. But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was more cautious in comments that aired earlier in the day. “I’m not sure we need a fourth package,” McCarthy told the Fox News program “Sunday Morning Futures,” noting he wants to see the first three packages take effect first.
“Biden sexual assault allegation goes unmentioned in another televised interview” by Fox News’ Gregg Re – Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden, who has previously said that women leveling misconduct accusations should be presumptively believed, sat for another television interview Sunday -- and again wasn't asked about the recent accusation by former Senate staffer Tara Reade that the former vice president sexually assaulted her in 1993. Speaking to NBC News' "Meet the Press," Biden discussed everything from whether sanctions on Iran should be suspended during the coronavirus pandemic ("I would need more information to make that judgment," Biden responded) to whether Bernie Sanders should drop out of the race ("I think it's up to Bernie to make the judgment whether or not he should stay in the race or not stay in the race," Biden said.) Pressed by anchor Chuck Todd on Trump's record-high approval ratings, Biden downplayed the news: “In every single crisis we have had … president’s ratings have always gone up.” Biden went on to offer some advice to the president. "He should be focusing on making sure we are in a situation where we are able to see to it that unemployment benefits can get to people," Biden said.
“Thousands of grounded planes. Nearly empty flights. How the coronavirus is affecting US airlines” by CNN’s Gregory Wallace – Thousands of grounded planes. Nearly empty flights. Airports that look like ghost towns. That is the picture of aviation in an era where approximately 200 million Americans are under directives to stay at home and limit their travel due to the coronavirus. A CNN review of the latest airline-related data gives a clearer picture of how air travel has ground to a halt, a result of isolation measures around the country.
The latest announcement on Friday from American Airlines reflect the trends around the industry: Over the next two months, it expects to fly as little as 20% of its domestic schedule and between 10% and 20% of its international schedule. Many of those planes have just a handful of passengers. American CEO Doug Parker said his planes are about 15% full. US airlines started the year filling about four of five available seats, but are now, on average, filling just one of every five seats, according to data from Airlines for America, an industry group. The sliver of usual traffic that is now trickling through airport security checkpoints show how few people are packing their bags. The Transportation Security Administration on Thursday screened just 8% of the travelers that it did on the equivalent day in 2019 -- the first day since the coronavirus pandemic reached the US when that number has dropped below 10%.
“Joe Biden Points to Ebola Experience in Pitching Coronavirus Plan” by WSJ’s Sabrina Siddiqui and Warren P. Strobel – A virus declared by the World Health Organization to be an outbreak threatened to proliferate across the globe, bringing with it stock market turbulence and international panic. The 2014 Ebola outbreak differed from the novel coronavirus in key respects, health experts say, but former Vice President Joe Biden says his work on that crisis shows how he would combat and contain a lethal and highly infectious disease if elected president. Mr. Biden, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, is looking to leverage that experience against President Trump, casting himself as someone who would be a steady leader in a crisis that has overtaken campaigning for the November election. “Biden knows how to mount an effective crisis response and elevate the voices of scientists, public health experts, and first responders,” Mr. Biden’s campaign website reads. “He helped lead the Obama-Biden Administration’s effective response to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and the 2014 Ebola epidemic.” Interviews with former Obama administration officials found Mr. Biden wasn’t at the center of the response to Ebola, which was overseen by President Obama personally. “The president wanted to own this, and the president did own this,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, who led the U.S. Agency for International Development’s office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance at the time and helped implement the Ebola response.
“Federal prisons mark first virus death” by Politico’s Josh Gerstein – The federal prison system has recorded its first death attributed to the novel coronavirus pandemic as criminal justice reform advocates and public health experts urge officials to consider releasing inmates to slow the contagion. Patrick Jones, 49, was transferred to a hospital from a minimum security prison in Oakdale, La., on March 19, tested positive for Covid-19 — the disease caused by the virus — and was placed on a ventilator the next day, according to a statement from the Bureau of Prisons. Jones, who had "long-term, pre-existing medical conditions" that were considered risk factors for severe coronavirus illness, died Saturday at the hospital, the statement said. Jones was serving a 30-year sentence for drug trafficking. After a jury trial in 2007, he was found guilty of possession with intent to distribute half a kilogram of crack cocaine within 1,000 feet of a junior college. Attorney General William Barr last week directed the Bureau of Prisons to consider early releases to home confinement for prisoners at particular risk to the virus. However, he said anyone released as part of that review would be quarantined for at least 14 days in prison to prevent transmission of the virus into the community.
“Trump tells Prince Harry, Meghan Markle 'they must pay' for security amid reported move to US” by Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn – President Trump on Sunday didn't offer the warmest greeting to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle amid reports that they had relocated from Canada to the U.S. A source told People Magazine last week that the royal couple relocated from Vancouver Island to Los Angeles, Markle's hometown. Markle, 38, and Harry, 35, have been staying in a secluded compound and have stuck close to home during the coronavirus pandemic, the magazine reported. It's unclear when the couple made the move. However, in a tweet from the president on Sunday, it became clear that U.S. taxpayers were not footing the bill for their security. "I am a great friend and admirer of the Queen & the United Kingdom. It was reported that Harry and Meghan, who left the Kingdom, would reside permanently in Canada. Now they have left Canada for the U.S. however, the U.S. will not pay for their security protection. They must pay!" Trump exclaimed. Rumors of a potential move to America have been circulating since the royals announced this past January that they'd "step back" and move away from the U.K. part-time. Reports emerged last month that Markle and Harry were "looking at houses" in Los Angeles for the summer.
President Donald Trump @realDonaldTrump -Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats delayed the Workers Help/Stimulus Bill by over a week, trying to add real “junk” into the Bill. Got some bad things, having nothing to do with those affected by the Virus, included. Republicans need their votes until we WIN BACK THE HOUSE IN 2020!
Donald Trump's careless, shortsighted actions left our nation ill-prepared and now Americans are paying the price.