The Virus, The Democrats, and the Governor
Florida’s Democratic Congressional caucus is comprised of a slew of smart, aggressive, and opinionated members who aren’t afraid to stand up for what they feel is right, or stand up against those Republicans who they feel are out of line or have overstepped their authority.
House Democrats have waged an all-out assault against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) over his handling of the Coronavirus pandemic in the state, and when news broke that the current Unemployment Benefits system was compromised, they took the gloves off.
Florida Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Kathy Castor, Ted Deutch, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Lois Frankel, Donna Shalala, and Frederica Wilson were all on a Telepress call with reporters to discuss Florida’s hapless benefits program. Democrats called into question DeSantis’ leadership ability. READ MORE
Rep. Wasserman Schultz spoke very bluntly about the spineless DeSantis. READ MORE
The veteran congresswoman also accused DeSantis of shutting down communications with House Republicans. House Republicans like Rep. Matt Gaetz had something to say about that false claim. READ MORE
It should’ve been Andrew Gillum over DeSantis?
Democrats are quick to question DeSantis, but would Andrew Gillum have been any better, and would his personal issues have overshadowed his leadership? 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 supports withholding funds from compromise World Health Org” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – As the Coronavirus continues to spread around the world, President Donald Trump has drawn a line in the sand, announcing that the U.S. will stop its funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) because that group’s assistance of the Chinese government to cover up the spread of the disease. Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R), who was the first to call for a review of the funding for the WHO and to hold the group’s leadership accountable for its “mishandling” and cover-up of the Coronavirus outbreak, agrees with the withholding of funds. Sen. Rubio says he supports funding the organization but only after an “independent” WHO is established. “The Chinese Communist Party used the WHO to mislead the world,” Rubio said. “The organization’s leadership is either complicit or dangerously incompetent. I will work with the Trump Administration to ensure the WHO is independent and has not been compromised by the CCP before we continue our current funding.” Rubio isn’t the only Floridian calling for heads to roll over at the WHO.
“Trump slams World Health Org, say he’s cutting off funding” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – This week, President Trump slammed the World Health Organization, adding tension to a relationship that has been contentious for some time, and only compounded by the Coronavirus outbreak. President Trump said today that he was considering putting “a very powerful hold” on funding for the World Health Organization, adding that he believes the agency is “being very China-centric.” He doubled down on his thoughts regarding WHO, saying that it “has been wrong about a lot of things,” and asserting that “we’re going to put a hold on the money sent to the WHO.” Other lawmakers have followed suit in slamming the agency, which includes Senator Rick Scott (R) sharing his disapproval of the agency’s actions during the Coronavirus pandemic. In a tweet, the Florida Senator championed World Health Day, informing that “we celebrate the incredible men & women on the front lines caring for those in need” during this time.
“Wasserman Schultz: DeSantis needs to “unclench his fist” and “grow a spine.”” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – Tuesday morning’s media telecall with several of Florida’s House Democratic members of Congress regarding the Coronavirus pandemic affecting the world turned out to be an anti-Ron DeSantis event, as congressional participants took aim at the first-term governor. In the call, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) was accused of shutting down all communication with Florida’s congressional delegation, meaning that he is not speaking to either Democrats or Republicans. The Florida Democrats were on the attack, arguing that the Governor has been difficult to work with, but they still expressed that they are committed to working on behalf of their constituents to ensure that Floridians remain safe. However, in response to the accusation that DeSantis was ignoring Republican members of the House of Representatives, several Republican congressmen argued the false or misleading accusation, rather saying that they have been working closely with the Governor.
“Wasserman Schultz says DeSantis is also shutting out House Republicans” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) appears to have shut down all communication with the entire Florida congressional delegation, including Republicans, as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread across the state. Members of Florida’s Democratic Congressional delegation have accused Gov. DeSantis of excluding, shutting them out of any and all Coronavirus outbreak communications. During a Telepress conference with reporters on Tuesday morning, Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Ted Deutch, Kathy Castor, Lois Frankel, Donna Shalala, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, expressed their concerns over DeSantis refusal to communicate with them. “He has been absolutely unresponsive to the Florida delegation, to the Democratic Florida delegation,” said Rep. Mucarsel-Powell. The freshman congresswoman said that dealing with the DeSantis administration was a “frustrating process” when it came to COVID-19 responses and that DeSantis’ office “has not been very cooperative. “ “We haven’t been able to get clear and straight information,” added Mucarel-Powell.
“Florida Democrats critical of DeSantis extend him “help” during pandemic” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – With the Coronavirus continuing to spread across the state of Florida, Rep. Lois Frankel (D) put together a tele-press conference from several members of the Democratic congressional caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives to press upon Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to make fixes to the state’s compromised Unemployment Benefits system. “It is wrong and immoral to order people to stay home, away from work, and then to deprive them of the resources that they need to survive when in fact the resources can be made available,” stated Rep. Frankel. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was a little more “blunt” and critical with her remarks about DeSantis. Rep. Wasserman Schultz said that “Rick Scott broke the unemployment compensation insurance system intentionally so that it would push down his unemployment number,” but that DeSantis and the Republican-led legislature “is refusing to fix” the program.
“Grisham Leaves Role as White House Press Secretary” by The Floridian’s Mona Salama – Stephanie Grisham is leaving her role as White House press secretary after nine months on the job and returning to the East Wing as chief of staff to First Lady Melania Trump, according to a White House statement Tuesday. Melania announced that is “excited” to welcome Grisham “back to the team” full time as Chief of Staff and Spokesperson, saying Grisham “has been a mainstay and true leader in the Administration from even before day one, and I know she will excel as Chief of Staff.” The statement added that the first lady’s current chief of staff, Lindsay Reynolds resigned earlier this week to spend time with her family. Grisham had previously served as the first lady’s press secretary before replacing Sarah Sanders as White House press secretary last summer. While serving as press secretary, Grisham had retained her role as Melania spokeswoman and both ladies remained extremely close, speaking to one another frequently on a daily basis. In the statement Grisham said her replacements would be announced “in the coming days” and that she would remain in the West Wing “to help with a smooth transition for as long as needed.”
“Coronavirus: Experimental drug hydroxychloroquine helping South Florida patient with COVID-19 recover” by Channel 10 News’ Terrell Forney – A South Florida coronavirus patient is grateful to be recovering and is offering his thanks to a controversial drug treatment. That patient was moved to tears when reflecting on the work of his doctors. “You guys saved my life and you know you did,” he said from his hospital room at Broward Health. That help came in the form of hydroxychloroquine, a drug normally used for arthritis and to prevent malaria. The medicine has also been controversially touted by President Donald Trump to treat coronavirus patients. “I hope they use it, because I’ll tell you what, what do they have to lose, and in some cases, they’re in bad shape,” Trump said. Now doctors at Broward Health are using experimental doses of that same drug on patients in dire condition. “When these patients get admitted, they’re really, really sick, and we didn’t have too many options,” said Dr. Sunil Kumar, a Critical Care & Pulmonary Medicine physician at Broward Health. “In the initial phase, we started using a combination of Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin, a Z-Pak.”
“Jury trials in Florida delayed again, impact on local system” by WEAR TV’s Danielle Apolinar – Florida Supreme Court Justice, Charles Canady is extending the order to delay in-person court functions. This includes jury selections and trial. Under this extension, jury trials will not resume until May 29th at the very earliest. State Attorney for Northwest Florida, Bill Eddins, said this is a smart move considering the large gatherings required for jury selection. Because of this, he believes the delay may extend even further than the end of May. As a result, Eddins said this lull is causing a backlog in cases and it could take anywhere between six to twelve months to catch-up once the system is back up and running. In the meantime, his office is working to tighten up their cases for prosecution, to prevent any delays once the trial begins. “We’re making sure all of our charges are correct. Making sure all the evidence and discovery is gathered up. Many times there’s additional video or witness that’s listed in the report that’s not listed in our discovery document, so we are tightening up our cases in that way as well,” Eddins said.
“Commissioner Nikki Fried issues emergency order on eggs in Florida during COVID-19” by CBS 12’s Leslie Acosta – Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried issued an emergency order Tuesday waiving certain packaging and labeling requirements for eggs sold at Florida retail stores. The order says packages of shell eggs will not be required to have printed certain information such as date of pack, grade, and size. Although, stores will provide in-store statements with the information typically required. Fried says this will allow eggs to be moved more quickly from producers to retailers. “Now more than ever, Floridians need access to safe, healthy, farm-fresh foods like eggs,” said Commissioner Fried. “This order will give industry flexibility to meet increased consumer demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are fully committed to working with agricultural producers and retailers to get more fresh products to consumers at this critical time.” The order follows an announcement from the FDA that it would provide more flexibility on certain packaging and labeling requirements for shell eggs sold in stores.
“Florida governor ‘fine’ with postponing local elections” by News Service of Florida – Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday he’s “fine” if local governments or county supervisors of elections request moving upcoming local elections to the Aug. 18 statewide primary date. “I know Polk County had some municipal stuff (today). They wanted to go. I think everyone voted by mail anyways at this point, so they thought they had social distancing,” DeSantis said. “But certainly, anyone that requests to be pushing off until August, I don’t think there is any election that couldn’t be done. I don’t think they’d lose much. So, I’d be happy to work with them on that.” Several local elections are set for next Tuesday in Jackson, Lake and Pasco counties. City elections are also scheduled this month in Bay and Gadsden counties. Additional local contests are on tap in May, June and July in Levy, Marion, Jackson, Hamilton and Gadsden counties. Florida went ahead with the March 17 presidential primary elections despite concerns about spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Florida’s Law School Deans Ask State Supreme Court to Offer September Bar Exam” by Law.com’s Dylan Jackson – The deans of Florida’s 12 accredited law schools are asking the justices of the Florida Supreme Court and the Florida Board of Bar Examiners to offer a September bar exam in addition to the July testing block. The request comes as law schools try to adapt to the effects of the novel coronavirus. In response to state-mandated shutdowns, many schools have switched to remote learning as well as transitioning grading systems to pass/fail standards. A decision is expected in full, or in part, by May 5, the same day the National Conference of Bar Examiners will decide whether to offer the July exam. The deans have also implored the state to lower the fees associated with the exam and allow first-time test-takers to take Part A, the Florida section of the exam, first if they so choose. But simply postponing or offering more dates is not enough on its own, the schools say. In an April 7 letter addressed to the court and Florida Board of Bar Examiners, the deans also recommend that the court expand the certified legal intern program, or CLI, which allows law students to practice law under supervision.
“Pressure builds to make Florida’s jobless claims retroactive” by Associated Press – Pressure mounted on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday to make jobless benefits retroactive as the state’s newly unemployed continued to be mired in an unemployment system riddled with glitches and uncertainty amid the coronavirus outbreak. Amid rampant filing troubles, it remained unclear how quickly the state could begin issuing checks to hundreds of thousands of Floridians left without income because of stay-at-home orders and the economic downturn. Meanwhile, congressional Democrats called on Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, to extend unemployment benefits beyond the current 12-week limit and raise the $275 a week cap, among the lowest in the country. “This combination of low pay and short eligibility is one of the least supported benefits programs in the country, despite our relatively high cost of living,” said Rep. Lois Frankel, a South Florida Democrat, during a call with reporters and other Democrats in Congress. Florida on Tuesday reached 14,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 295 deaths. About 1,800 are hospitalized.
“Florida Supreme Court chief justice suspends jury trials through May” by News 4 Jax’s Jim Saunders – Trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at courthouses across the state, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady on Monday extended a suspension of jury trials and many other in-person court proceedings through May. “The Florida state courts have taken measures to mitigate the effects of this public health emergency upon the judicial branch and its participants,” Canady wrote in a 14-page order. “To that end, I have issued several administrative orders implementing temporary measures essential to the administration of justice during the COVID-19 pandemic. The overarching intent of those orders has been to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, while keeping the courts operating to the fullest extent consistent with public safety.” The order extended the suspension of criminal and civil jury trials, jury selection and grand-jury proceedings through May 29. It said circuit and county courts will “continue to perform essential court proceedings,” such as first-appearance hearings and criminal arraignments, bail hearings for people in jail, juvenile-delinquency detention hearings and hearings to determine whether people should be involuntarily committed under the Baker Act.
“Kayleigh McEnany set to become fourth Trump press secretary” by CNN’s Betsy Klein – The White House’s communications staff got a shakeup Tuesday with the announcement that Kayleigh McEnany, the Trump 2020 campaign’s press secretary and high-profile Republican communicator, is joining the team as the Trump administration’s fourth White House press secretary. McEnany comes to the role with a bevy of Republican communications and television experience, beginning with an internship during the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign, where she worked as an intern at a Tampa field office as a high school student. From there, she held internships at a gubernatorial campaign and with a Florida congressman. A 2010 Georgetown University graduate, McEnany earned a law degree from Harvard University, and began a media career in production at Fox News.
“Trump says US may put a ‘very powerful hold’ on funding to World Health Organization” by Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly – President Trump signaled Tuesday he may put a “very powerful hold” on funding to the World Health Organization as he lashed out at the United Nations specialized agency and accused it of “being very China-centric” amid the coronavirus pandemic. Reiterating his complaints from a tweet earlier in the day, the president said that the WHO “has been wrong about a lot things.” Trump has been critical of the WHO for opposing the travel restrictions from China and Europe. “They’ve been wrong about a lot of things,” Trump said during the daily press briefing of the White House coronavirus task force. “They seem very China centric.” He added: “We’re going to put a hold on the money sent to the WHO.” Trump, however, backtracked when questioned on that statement by members of media, saying he was “going to look into” cutting off funding to the WHO and denying his earlier statement. The WHO has praised China for its transparency on the virus, even though there is reason to believe that more people died of COVID-19 than the country’s official tally.
“Seven Days, Hundreds of Deaths: New York’s Worst Week Yet Tests Its Coronavirus Response” by WSJ’s Melanie Evans – Sharon Pollard, director for respiratory care at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., had eight ventilators left and needed more. Overnight, at least 17 new patients required them. Teams at the hospital unloaded ventilators delivered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The machines were bound for a central depot to distribute to many other hospitals. Ms. Pollard asked if they would leave some at her hospital, which had more than 400 coronavirus patients, many of them growing worse and others still arriving. She asked for 25 and got 15. “We’ll take anything,” she said. New York City hospitals faced the full force of the pandemic in recent days, as the new coronavirus surged through the city and on Monday claimed 731 lives, the highest number of deaths in a single day. Hospital loudspeakers sound constant alarms for doctors to aid patients in a crisis that has stretched the capacity of New York’s medical community and sparked the ingenuity and resourcefulness of its members.
“Biden describes his phone call with Trump about coronavirus response” by CNN’s Paul LeBlanc – Former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday said he told President Donald Trump in their phone call that the federal response to the novel coronavirus pandemic is “about taking responsibility.” The call, which took place Monday, marked a rare moment of direct communication between the two political rivals. The President has harshly criticized Biden over a range of issues for months and the former vice president has repeatedly excoriated Trump’s handling of the virus outbreak. But while speaking with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “Prime Time” Tuesday, Biden said the two “had a good conversation.” “I laid out what I thought he should be doing. I laid out four or five specific points that I thought were necessary. I indicated that it is about taking responsibility, and being the commander in chief, taking on the responsibility. He asked whether or not we would not discuss the detail of what we talked about, just saying that we had a good conversation,” Biden said of the call. “He was very gracious in his conversation. So it was — the President — I had an opportunity to tell him what I would have done, what I thought, the lessons we learned.”
“Dan Crenshaw slams Hillary Clinton tweet, defends Trump coronavirus response” by Fox News’ Dom Calicchio – U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, fired back at Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, accusing the former U.S. secretary of state of once again using the coronavirus outbreak to score political points against President Trump. On Monday, Clinton retweeted a Washington Post story that was critical of Trump and said the U.S. was “beset by denial and dysfunction as the coronavirus raged.” Clinton’s Twitter message quoted from the Post article: “It took 70 days for Trump to treat the coronavirus not as a distant threat or harmless flu strain well under control, but as a lethal force poised to kill tens of thousands of citizens.” Then Clinton added a message for her followers. “Replace this man in November,” she wrote, referring to the president. But Crenshaw responded to Clinton, noting President Trump “restricted travel in January & saved lives” while Clinton and the Democrats “celebrated his impeachment.” “Denial?” Crenshaw wrote. “From the man who restricted travel in January & saved lives, while your party celebrated his impeachment?
“Government and Businesses Turn Attention to Eventual Reopening of $22 Trillion U.S. Economy” by WSJ’s Stephanie Armour and Jon Hilsenrath – Government officials and business leaders are turning their attention to a looming challenge in the fight against the new coronavirus pandemic: Reopening a $22 trillion U.S. economy that has been shut down like never before. With some preliminary signs that infections from the virus are slowing, the whole nation is hopeful to get back to business as soon as possible. But a host of questions arise: Under what conditions should people be allowed back to work and stay-at-home orders be lifted? How will people at work be monitored for reinfection or antibodies to prevent a resurgence of the deadly virus? Does it all happen at once or is it staggered? Who is in charge of the effort? A sharp reduction in new infections is a critical first step, but health experts say other steps will be needed to prevent another devastating outbreak that shuts the economy down all over again.
“Acting Navy secretary resigns after criticizing ousted USS Theodore Roosevelt commander” by Fox News’ Gregg Re – Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly has resigned, a U.S. official told Fox News on Tuesday, one day after Modly apologized for suggesting the ousted commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt was either “too naïve or too stupid” — or perhaps even deliberately insubordinate — over his handling of the ship’s coronavirus outbreak. “Good riddance,” a sailor onboard the Roosevelt told Fox News after hearing the development. Defense Secretary Mark Esper spoke privately with Modly one-on-one earlier Tuesday morning, Fox News is told. Modley arrived at the conclusion that he should submit his resignation on his own, the sources said, and Esper then spoke to the president, who accepted the reason for the resignation. “This morning I accepted Secretary Modly’s resignation,” Esper tweeted Tuesday afternoon. “With the approval of the President, I am appointing current Army Undersecretary Jim McPherson as acting Secretary of the Navy.”
“Top public health official says number of dead could be lower as Americans practice social distancing” by CNN’s Jim Acosta and Elizabeth Cohen – A week after unveiling a stunning projection for the number of people who would die from coronavirus in the US — 100,000 to 240,000 — White House officials have yet to fully explain how they arrived at those numbers. Some administration officials are now saying the number could be lower than they originally warned — but it comes as there are continued questions about how the administration got to the high number. The final number could end up being higher or lower than the dramatic estimates released one week ago in a briefing by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, according to federal health officials and researchers who are creating models to forecast the outbreak. A source close to the task force said it’s possible the eventual death toll will be “way under” the 100,000-to-240,000 figure. A key factor driving the large estimate was a crucial assumption, discussed internally by task force officials, that only 50% of Americans would observe the government’s stringent social distancing guidelines, the source said.
President Donald Trump @realDonaldTrump –Just had a conf call w/ major lenders discussing our Great Small Businesses & the #PPPloan. I ask every company, big & small, making announcements about innovative contributions, hiring new workers, or looking to overcome setbacks to share your stories with
Trump just fired the Inspector General overseeing the relief package. And threatened another who reported PPE shortages.
Inspectors General are charged with doing independent oversight and exposing corruption.
Their job is to uncover the truth.
Exactly why Trump fears them.