Sunday, June 20

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.10.20


🦠 — This grim number — The U.S. has surpassed 10 million cases of COVID-19. It took just 10 days to go from 9 million to 10 million, which is the shortest period of time ever to add 1 million cases to the nation’s toll. The U.S. is the first nation in the world to reach 10 million cases.

Keep an eye on Rick Scott’s ambitions — Scott is seeking to lead the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is up for a vote Tuesday. This is important for two reasons. First, if he wins, he will defend Republicans’ position in the Senate in 2022, a tough year in which 21 GOP seats will be on the ballot, including two open races where Republicans are retiring. Second, the post is often sought by those looking to boost their profile, another breadcrumb along the way in Scott’s rumored 2024 presidential ambitions.

Rick Scott is making strategic moves that could put him on the presidential ballot in 2024. Image via AP.

🐤📃 — Worth a follow — Florida Politics’ has updated its Twitter lists to include the new crop of state Representatives, state Senators and members of Congress elected last week. Check them out and follow them to stay in the loop with what’s going on in Washington and Tallahassee.

👨‍⚕️ — The doctor is in — Dr. Patrick Hwu is taking over as Moffitt’s new President and CEO. Hwu comes from MD Anderson, where he served as the Head of the Division of Cancer Medicine and oversaw 2,500 employees, $4.6 billion in revenues, and more than $100 million in grant funding.

🎉Not your daddy’s Surplus Lines Association — The group celebrates its 60th anniversary, and what a long way it has come. What once represented the marine and aviation industries primarily, FSLA now represents insurance solutions for industries dealing in artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, COVID-19 and sea-level rise. The group is seen as the “problem solvers of the insurance industry.” Read more about the FSLA here.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

Tweet, tweet:

@LarrySabato: This was NOT an especially close election. #PresidentElectBiden won 306 EVs plus a 4-5 million-votes plurality. You want close? Look at 1960, 1968, 1976, 2000, among others. NETWORKS — Stop feeding this false storyline.

@Timodc: I don’t think there’s enough appreciation for the fact that GOP Senators/Congressmen, most of the conservative commentariat/@FoxNews, and leaders of industry are all pretending like they think there might be election fraud just because the President’s feelings are hurt.

@JohnJHarwood: top echelon of Republican Party has a clear choice: a) acknowledging the obvious reality that [Joe] Biden won and will become President Jan 20 b) acquiescing, from some combination of fear/ambition/profit/delusion, in Trump’s fantasy that it’s in doubt no contest they’re going with b)

@JustinTrudeau: I just spoke with @JoeBiden, and congratulated him again on his election. We’ve worked with each other before, and we’re ready to pick up on that work and tackle the challenges and opportunities facing our two countries — including climate change and COVID-19.

Tweet, tweet:

@AriFleischer: After a lifetime of hearing that voter fraud is real, it seems to me that this is the perfect opportunity to find out if that’s true — or not. Even if the margin is too big to turn around the election, it’s worth a full and deep dive to learn whether or not there is cheating.

@LucyMcCaldwell: Imagine if your job on the [Donald] Trump campaign were to listen to the messages left on the fraud hotline.

@AGlorios: Yep. I briefly flirted with challenging @GovRonDeSantis as an R in his next primary last night just because even tho I am not an R (yes I am nonpartisan) I know I could make a better conservative health care plan than him. And boy, did those ads sound nasty in my head.

@FiveThirtyEight: For many, watching Alex Trebek was ritualistic — the way a day ends and a night begins. It was also a way to get real facts, a brief respite from the “alternative facts” so prevalent over the past few years.

— DAYS UNTIL —

PS5 release date in North America, Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand — 1; FITCon Policy Conference begins — 2; The Masters begins — 2; NBA draft — 8; Pixar’s “Soul” premieres — 10; College basketball season slated to begin — 15; Atlantic hurricane season ends — 20; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 22; the Electoral College votes — 34; “Death on the Nile” premieres — 37; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 42; “Wonder Woman 1984” rescheduled premiere — 45; Greyhound racing ends in Florida — 51; the 2021 Inauguration — 71; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 89; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 100; “Black Widow” rescheduled premiere — 114; “No Time to Die” premieres (rescheduled) — 143; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 234; Disney’s “Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings” premieres — 241; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 255; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 263; St. Petersburg Primary Election — 297; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 357; Disney’s “Eternals” premieres — 360; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 363; Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” premieres — 395; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 459; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 512; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 693.

— PRESIDENTIAL —

Donald Trump supporters launch small, disparate efforts to fight election results as no GOP or Trump allegations of irregularities have been proved” via Robert Klemko, Annie Gowen, Holly Bailey and Scott Wilson of The Washington Post — Trump‘s refusal to accept the presidential election results is being reinforced in pockets of denial nationwide. Still, the anger continues to fall short of a coherent resistance movement that would threaten to overturn the vote. In states where Trump won and in one where he lost a close race, elected Republicans and GOP voters called for the continuation of efforts to challenge the results, which in Pennsylvania give President-elect Biden a roughly 45,000-vote margin of victory.

Donald Trump supporters protest election results; the anger is fueled by Trump’s accusations of irregularities. Image via AP.

GOP-led states back Trump’s legal drive to challenge election” via Josh Gerstein and Zach Montellaro of POLITICO — A coalition of Republican attorneys general filed an amicus brief at the U.S. Supreme Court urging the justices to formally take up and resolve a dispute from Pennsylvania over a ruling that the state’s Supreme Court issued granting three extra days for the receipt of mail-in ballots cast. The 10 attorneys general aligned their states with arguments from Trump’s presidential campaign, the Pennsylvania Republican Party and a pair of GOP state legislative leaders that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision usurped powers that the Constitution reserves for state legislatures.

Most Republican lawsuits challenging election results in battleground states haven’t gone far” via Kevin McCoy, Donovan Slack and Dennis Wagner of USA Today — Even before Democrat Biden was projected to be the winner of the presidential election, Trump‘s campaign and Republican allies started pursuing lawsuits over voting and ballot counting. Cases filed in five key states alleged ballots had errors because voters were required to use Sharpies, observers didn’t have enough access to monitor ballot counting, and that late-arriving mail ballots were improperly mixed with legal votes. Judges have dismissed most cases quickly, often for lack of evidence.

Ashley Moody signs on to Pennsylvania ballot brief” via The News Service of Florida — Attorney General Moody signed to a brief aimed at convincing the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that allowed Pennsylvania elections officials to count some late-arriving absentee ballots. Moody was one of 10 Republican attorneys general who filed the brief in a challenge to a decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that allowed counting absentee ballots received up to three days after the Nov. 3 election. The case is one of a flurry of lawsuits filed by Republicans alleging potential ballot fraud in various states.

Tweet, tweet:

Mitch McConnell backs Trump’s refusal to accept election results” via Andrew Desiderio and Marianne Levine of POLITICO — Senate Majority Leader McConnell and GOP lawmakers on Monday refused to recognize Biden as the President-elect, defending Trump as he continues to launch unsubstantiated allegations about widespread voter fraud. Like other Republicans, McConnell neither repeated Trump’s false claims that Democrats are trying to “rig” and “steal” the election nor publicly pressured the president to concede. Trump has continued to assert that there were widespread irregularities in several states but has provided no evidence. He has falsely claimed on Twitter that he won the election.

Lindsey Graham’s curious and conspiratorial argument for why Trump should fight election results” via Amber Phillips of The Washington Post — Within the Republican Party elite, few have been as adamant that widespread fraud is costing Trump the election than Sen. Graham. And he’s using highly conspiratorial language to try to bring the rest of his party along with him. “If Republicans don’t challenge and change the U.S. election system, there will never be another Republican president elected again,” Graham said. That’s a strong statement worth analyzing because it reflects where the Trumpian wing of the Republican Party stands on this election. Graham said that mail balloting probably led to voting irregularities and fraud on a scale that swayed the election.

’She is a master’: Joe Biden’s campaign manager told the political future — and was right” via Chris Smith of Vanity Fair — Jen O’Malley Dillon probably won’t be appearing regularly as a talking head, period, unlike her predecessors as managers of winning presidential campaigns. But for steering Biden across the 270-vote Electoral College line in his third run for the White House, in the middle of a pandemic, against a uniquely potent and craven incumbent president, Dillon deserves just as much fame and credit as those who have come before her. There is, of course, plenty of credit to go around inside the Biden and Democratic worlds. Yet no one did more than Dillon, the rare and most powerful new kid in Biden’s inside circle, who today becomes the first woman ever to manage a winning Democratic presidential campaign.

‘I loved John McCain’: Inside Arizona’s GOP movement to defeat Donald Trump” via Bryan Bender and Maggie Severns of POLITICO — Two years and two months before Arizona rebuked Trump, hundreds of Republican leaders of the Grand Canyon State crowded into North Phoenix Baptist Church to bid farewell to their hero and mentor, McCain. They were met with a tearful eulogy from a special friend of McCain’s. “My name is Joe Biden. I’m a Democrat. And I loved John McCain,” the former Vice President began, sharing anecdotes from their decadeslong friendship and recounting their bipartisan victories in the Senate. He called McCain his “brother” and lauded his heroic American story, “grounded in respect and decency.”

Citing no evidence, Georgia’s U.S. Senators demand elections head resign” via Mark Niesse and Greg Bluestein of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution — Georgia’s two U.S. senators called on the state’s top elections official, a fellow Republican, to resign Monday in a shocking attempt to appease Trump and his supporters ahead of Jan. 5 runoffs for likely control of the U.S. Senate. U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue provided no evidence to back up claims of unspecified “failures” with the November election that was overseen by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who said flatly that he’s not stepping down: “It’s not going to happen.”

Tweet, tweet:

Man featured at Rudy Giuliani news conference is a convicted sex offender” via Matt Friedman of POLITICO — The first person Giuliani, the attorney for Trump, called up as a witness to baseless allegations of vote counting shenanigans in Philadelphia during a news conference last week is a sex offender who for years has been a perennial candidate in New Jersey. “It’s such a shame. This is a democracy,” Daryl Brooks, who said he was a GOP poll watcher, said at the news conference. Trenton political insiders watched with bemusement as Brooks took the podium. Brooks was incarcerated in the 1990s on charges of sexual assault, lewdness, and endangering a minor’s welfare for exposing himself to two girls ages 7 and 11, according to news accounts.

— TRANSITION —

Trump-to-Biden handoff stalls as President rejects outcome” via Jennifer Dlouhy of Bloomberg — Trump’s reluctance to concede the race to Biden risks delaying the vital work of handing over the reins of government to the next administration. Already, what started as a 78-day window for transition work between Election Day and the Jan. 20 swearing-in ceremony has been shortened amid vote counts in battleground states. So far, it’s just a modest trim — nothing like the 37 days that George W. Bush had to formally prepare for his presidency in 2000, after the Supreme Court’s Dec. 12 ruling in Bush v. Gore. But Trump has signaled that it could get longer.

For Joe Biden, the transition of power is expected to be a rough road. Image via AP.

Pressure mounts on federal agency to affirm Joe Biden victory” via Alex Thompson of POLITICO — Former Republican White House officials and veterans of past presidential transition are calling for the government to begin the formal transfer of power from Trump to Biden. “While there will be legal disputes requiring adjudication, the outcome is sufficiently clear that the transition process must now begin,” the nonpartisan Center for Presidential Transition wrote in a letter exclusively obtained by POLITICO. “We urge the Trump administration to immediately begin the postelection transition process and the Biden team to take full advantage of the resources available under the Presidential Transition Act,” they wrote.

Biden warns of ‘dark winter’ ahead with COVID, urges mask-wearing” via Tyler Pager of Bloomberg — President-elect Biden warned on Monday that the U.S. was facing a “dark winter” as the coronavirus continues to spread unabated, taking a somber tone to address the country even as scientists celebrated positive news about a potential vaccine. “There’s a need for bold action to fight this pandemic. We’re still facing a very dark winter,” he said in remarks after meeting with his newly appointed coronavirus task force. Biden cannot take the reins of the country’s response until he’s inaugurated on Jan. 20, so he used the crux of his speech to implore Americans to wear masks and continue practicing social distancing.

Assignment editors — President-elect Biden will deliver remarks in Wilmington, Delaware on Texas v. California, the Trump Administration’s lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act, and his plan to expand access to quality, affordable health care. Joining Biden is Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, 2 p.m., livestreamed on the Biden-Harris Presidential Transition Twitter page. Media interested in receiving print pool reports should sign up for the press list at joe.link/presslist.

Biden’s DOJ must determine whether Trump should be prosecuted” via David Yaffe-Bellany and Billy House of MSN — Biden won the presidency promising to bring Americans together. But now his administration is sure to come under pressure from some Democrats to risk exacerbating divisions by investigating and prosecuting Trump. Although Biden has said that prosecuting a former president would be a “very unusual thing and probably not very good for democracy,” he also vowed in an NPR interview in August that he wouldn’t “interfere with the Justice Department’s judgment of whether or not they think they should pursue the prosecution of anyone that they think has violated the law.”

Biden may have trouble unearthing Trump’s national security secrets” via Natasha Bertrand of POLITICO — From tearing up documents and hiding transcripts of calls with foreign leaders to using encrypted messaging apps and personal email accounts for government business, the Trump White House’s skirting of records preservation rules could limit the incoming Biden administration’s visibility into highly sensitive foreign policy and national security secrets. The mysteries have swirled over the past four years: What was really said during Trump’s many phone calls and one-on-one meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin? What has Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner discussed with Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed bin Salman on WhatsApp?

Joe Biden will have a difficult time untangling Donald Trump’s foreign dealings, particularly with Vladimir Putin. Image via AP.

An early look at who might be in Biden’s inner circle in the White House” via Mike Memoli, Carol E. Lee and Kristen Welker of NBC News — Biden is focused on building the team that will enter the White House with him on Inauguration Day, his “Day One staff,” as he looks to fill several thousand jobs in his administration, according to multiple people familiar with the process. Biden plans to announce these positions likely later this week. Longtime Biden adviser Ron Klain is among those leading the effort to fill these roughly 200 positions in the White House and at some key government agencies, these people said. Once that’s complete, they said Biden would turn to building out his Cabinet.

With pick for treasury secretary, Biden will tip hand about his economic agenda” via Rachel Siegel of The Washington Post — Biden faces a crucial decision in the coming weeks that could dictate how he plans to run his administration and shepherd the nation’s economy: whom to nominate as treasury secretary. A leading candidate is Federal Reserve governor Lael Brainard, who served as a senior Treasury Department official in the Barack Obama administration. Brainard has broad policymaking experience, particularly during economic crises, and wide respect among international foreign ministries and central banks from her time as the department’s top diplomat.

Trio of Central Florida Democrats pushed for Biden administration” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Democratic U.S. Reps. Stephanie Murphy and Val Demings and former Democratic Lieutenant Governor nominee Chris King are being discussed for spots in President-elect Biden‘s administration. For now, it’s largely a grassroots draft movement, amplified by supporters of the trio of Central Florida Democrats, led by various local political leaders such as former Rep. Dick Batchelor and former Orange County Mayor Linda Chapin. Chapin said she is hearing from sources that Biden’s transition team is considering Murphy for some sort of National Security Council post.

Alvin Brown to lead HUD? Here’s what Jacksonville insiders think” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Former Jacksonville Mayor Brown may be a key part of the incoming Biden administration. Brown was more recently a staffer for the Biden campaign, which took increasingly Democratic Duval County even as it failed to carry Florida. Brown, in a prominent role, may help to shore up Northeast Florida, say some. Word is that his selection is heavily advocated by Rep. James Clyburn, the South Carolina Democrat who helped Biden recalibrate his campaign when it looked poised to fall apart ahead of the South Carolina primary. This week’s response varied to the rumor, with many prominent locals contacted by Florida Politics not being quick to respond.

Tweet, tweet:

— 2020 — 

Worried pollsters admit huge problem” via Sara Kehaulani Goo of Axios — Four years later, it’s still easy to hate on the polls. Even if they called the presidential race “right” this time, the national polls vastly underestimated support for Trump once again, leading to a major industry soul searching about how to fix some fundamental problems. Without data to provide a beacon for elections, there isn’t much else to go on. With a sharply divided public consuming increasingly partisan-skewed information, America has depended on data and statistics to provide clarity and reasonable expectations going into elections. Trust in the numbers has largely been eroded, and now they’re more subject to partisan attack and spinning.

Voters approve charter amendment and make Florida the epicenter of Rights of Nature in the U.S.” via Joseph Bonasia for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — On Election Day, a breathtaking 89% of Orange County voters approved the Right to Clean Water Charter Amendment. Orange County is now the largest jurisdiction in the nation to pass this kind of legislation. This is an indisputable, bipartisan mandate from the citizens of Orange County. Approval of the amendment — also known as the Wekiva River and Econlockhatchee River Bill of Rights — shows that the rights to clean water and healthy ecosystems are not to be subordinated to polluters’ interests. The amendment gives citizens the right to sue corporate polluters in court without showing they have been personally harmed, as state law requires.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Florida adds nearly another 4K COVID-19 cases Monday” via the staff of Florida Politics — With coronavirus cases on the rise in Florida and daily diagnoses reaching new heights nationwide, state health officials counted 3,924 new COVID-19 cases in their Monday update. Now 847,821 people have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, including 11,451 nonresidents. The Department of Health also confirmed 58 deaths since Sunday, raising the death toll among Florida residents to 17,179. In addition to the death toll, 212 nonresidents have also died in the state. For all but one day in the past two weeks, the percent positivity rate has been above 5%. On Oct. 28, it was 4.9%. On Sunday, the rate was 8.1%, higher than all recent days apart from Friday, when 8.3% of results came back positive.

Florida reaches another milestone in COVID-19. Image via AP.

COVID-19 hospitalizations top 2,900” via The News Service of Florida — The number of people hospitalized with “primary” diagnoses of COVID-19 has substantially increased during the past two weeks, topping 2,900 on Monday. The total of 2,902 hospitalizations late Monday afternoon was up from 2,777 on Sunday. It also was up from 2,474 a week earlier and 2,252 two weeks earlier. The increase in hospitalizations has come as the state has seen thousands of new COVID-19 cases each day. Miami-Dade County had the most people hospitalized late Monday afternoon at 402. It was followed by Broward County, with 277; Hillsborough County, with 219; Palm Beach County, with 194; Duval County, with 162; Pinellas County, with 148; and Orange County, with 143.

Let’s ask Fred Piccolo — “Experts wonder and warn: Is Florida the nation’s test case for COVID-19 herd immunity?” via Mary Ellen Klas and Ben Conarck of the Miami Herald — The answer from Ron DeSantis is an emphatic yes. And, whether Floridians know it or not, he is pursuing a policy that will allow the virus to spread freely in the state until most of the population becomes infected or is vaccinated with a yet-to-be obtained vaccine while attempting to protect those thought to be most vulnerable. Two months after a deadly summer surge and months before a realistic goal to begin rolling out a vaccine, the governor issued an order that opened up nearly every part of commerce, ended restrictions on restaurant dining, and barred local governments from enforcing mask mandates and social-distancing rules.

Inmate COVID-19 cases increase” via The News Service of Florida — Florida’s prison system had a significant increase in recent days in inmates testing positive for COVID-19, with the overall total approaching 17,000 inmates since the pandemic started. According to the department, the numbers showed an additional 246 inmates had tested positive since a Friday count and that an additional 324 inmates tested positive during the past week. In all, 16,944 inmates have tested positive. At least part of the recent increase came at Walton Correctional Institution, where 315 inmates were reported to have tested positive as of Monday. Department reports last week showed that hundreds of inmate test results were pending at the Northwest Florida prison.

As COVID-19 starts to spike, Ron DeSantis’ orders limit South Florida leaders from taking action to curb virus” via Skylar Swisher and Mario Ariza of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — As hospitalizations rise, South Florida leaders — representing the hardest-hit region in the state — will have little flexibility to craft a local response that differs from DeSantis’ approach. DeSantis barred local governments in September from enforcing mask mandates with fines, closing restaurant dining rooms or implementing any measure that “may prevent an individual from working or from operating a business.” The Republican governor has staked his political career on a strategy that his critics say amounts to a “herd-immunity” approach. That philosophy involves letting the pandemic burn itself out through mass infection.

Tommy Hazouri weighs canceling Jacksonville City Council meeting after Scott Wilson gets COVID-19” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville City Council President Hazouri canceled the Tuesday meeting of City Council after fellow Council member Wilson learned he had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Hazouri’s memo sent at about 4 p.m. Monday to council members cited “health and safety concerns” of COVID-19. “We can ill afford to have a council meeting and expose anyone further to contracting the virus,” Hazouri said. He said it’s a matter of protecting the health of the Council members, city staff and the public that shows up in council chambers for the meetings at City Hall. City Council meets every two weeks, so the next scheduled meeting is Nov. 24, but the canceled meeting Tuesday could be rescheduled by Hazouri before then.

Does Key West need a COVID-19 curfew? City leaders will decide” via Gwen Filosa of the Miami Herald — As confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in the Florida Keys, the Key West City Commission on Tuesday will consider a nightly curfew. The city on Friday announced an emergency meeting had been set for 10 a.m. Tuesday at City Hall and on Zoom to discuss starting a midnight to 7 a.m. curfew. Monroe County restricted restaurant hours for a while earlier this year, from late July through early September, to keep people off the streets overnight. “We’ve got to tighten up right now before the holidays,” Key West Mayor Teri Johnston. “We’ve got to take some additional precautions.”

Sarasota City Commissioner Kyle Battie tests positive for COVID-19” via Timothy Fanning of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Newly elected District 1 Commissioner Battie tested positive for COVID-19 last Friday ahead of a swearing-in ceremony at City Hall. Shortly after a rapid test revealed Battie tested positive for the virus, the 52-year-old was ushered into his office and virtually attended the meeting. Battie was not late for the meeting, as was previously reported. Battie, who volunteered to take the test ahead of Friday’s meeting, said he feels fine but is experiencing a dry cough. Battie also said he recently recovered his sense of taste and smell but has lost his appetite. He said he would quarantine until his symptoms subside and tests negative for COVID-19.

Sarasota City Commissioner Kyle Battie tests positive for COVID-19. Image via the City of Sarasota.

On day of possible COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough, CDC Director Robert Redfield visits FAMU, FSU” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — On Monday, Director Dr. Redfield heard from FAMU and FSU leaders at both campuses and those directly involved in implementing protocols established in reopening plans for both universities, including updates on campus-operated COVID-19 testing operations. The Florida Department of Health arranged Redfield’s campus visits. Both visits were closed to the media and advanced details of his schedule were not released. Shortly after noon Monday, FAMU President Larry Robinson escorted Redfield, along with Florida’s Surgeon General Scott Rivkees and Florida’s Deputy Secretary and Health Shamarial Roberson — who earned her doctorate in public health from FAMU — inside for a presentation attended by about 15 people, including staff members.

— CORONA NATION —

Pfizer’s early data shows vaccine is more than 90% effective” via Katie Thomas, David Gelles and Carl Zimmer of The New York Times — The drugmaker Pfizer announced that early analysis of its coronavirus vaccine trial suggested the vaccine was robustly effective in preventing COVID-19, a promising development as the world has waited anxiously for any positive news about a pandemic that has killed more than 1.2 million people. Pfizer, which developed the vaccine with the German drugmaker BioNTech, released only sparse details from its clinical trial, based on the first formal review of the data by an outside expert panel. The company said that the analysis found that the vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing the disease among trial volunteers who had no evidence of prior coronavirus infection.

Pfizer may have found a vaccine with more than 90% efficacy. Image via AP.

Pandemic on course to overwhelm U.S. health system before Biden takes office,” via Dan Goldberg and Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico — The United States’ surging coronavirus outbreak is on pace to hit nearly 1 million new cases a week by the end of the year — a scenario that could overwhelm health systems across much of the country and further complicate President-elect Biden’s attempts to coordinate a response. Biden, who is naming his own coronavirus task force Monday, has pledged to confront new shortages of protective gear for health workers and oversee the distribution of masks, test kits and vaccines while beefing up contact tracing and reengaging with the World Health Organization.

President-elect Biden announces coronavirus task force made up of physicians and health experts” via Yasmeen Abutaleb and Laurie McGinley of The Washington Post — Biden announced the members of his coronavirus task force, a group made up entirely of doctors and health experts, signaling his intent to seek a science-based approach to bring the raging pandemic under control. Biden’s task force will have three co-chairs: Vivek H. Murthy, surgeon general during the Obama administration; David Kessler, Food and Drug Administration commissioner under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton; and Marcella Nunez-Smith, associate dean for health equity research at the Yale School of Medicine. Murthy and Kessler have briefed Biden for months on the pandemic. Biden will inherit the worst crisis since the Great Depression, made more difficult by Trump’s refusal to concede the election and commit to a peaceful transition of power.

Utah Governor declares emergency, issues mask mandate: ‘We cannot afford to debate this issue’” via Andrea Salcedo of The Washington Post — For months, even as coronavirus cases have dramatically risen in his state, Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert has refused to order residents to wear a mask. But on Sunday, after the state’s worst week yet and amid fears that hospitals could soon be overwhelmed, he reversed course. In a video posted to Twitter late on Sunday, Herbert also declared a two-week state of emergency. He announced a spate of other restrictions aimed to curb infections, which the governor noted are “growing at an alarming rate.” “Our hospitals are full,” Herbert said in the clip. “This threatens patients who rely on hospital care from everything from COVID-19 to emergencies like heart attacks, strokes, surgeries and trauma. We must work together to keep infections low until a vaccine is available.”

— CORONA ECONOMICS — 

Tourism stocks rally on news of possible COVID-19 vaccine” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Stocks of beleaguered tourism companies rose sharply Monday after drugmaker Pfizer’s announcement that its coronavirus vaccine was 90% effective in early trials. The gains for airlines, hotels and cruise lines occurred amid a broader stock market rally reflecting investors’ hopes that a vaccine could soon return economic life back to normal in the United States and beyond. Arguably, no industry has more riding on stopping the pandemic than the cruise industry. Carnival Cruise Line shares closed up 39.3%, to $19.25, on the vaccine news. Royal Caribbean rose 28.8% to $75.43, and Norwegian gained 26.8%, closing at $21.51. All have announced that cruises, suspended since March, won’t resume in 2020.

Wall Street took the news of the possible vaccine very well. Image via AP.

Florida gas prices hit five-month low amid coronavirus surge concerns” via Malena Carollo of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida gas prices hit a five-month low this week. According to AAA, the Auto Club Group, state gas prices averaged $2 Monday, down 4 cents over the week and 17 cents since last month. Tampa Bay prices were even lower at $1.93 per gallon, on average, down 6 cents from last week and 25 cents from last month. The bay area had the third-lowest gas prices in the state Monday. “Demand concerns related to surging cases of COVID-19 continue to weigh on the global fuel market, leading to lower prices at the pump,” said Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman.

— MORE CORONA —

Most recovered COVID-19 patients left with heart damage, study shows” via Katherine Fung of Newsweek — A new study published Monday in the JAMA Cardiology Journal found that 78% of recovered COVID-19 patients had permanent heart damage. The study from the University Hospital Frankfurt examined the cardiovascular MRIs of 100 people who had recovered from the coronavirus. The heart images showed that almost 80% of recovered COVID-19 patients had structural changes to their hearts. Sixty percent of patients had ongoing myocardial (heart muscle) inflammation even after recovery. The majority of the patients were not hospitalized and recovered at home, with symptoms ranging from none to moderate.

The pandemic is taking a toll on parents, and it’s showing in alcohol consumption rates” via Sarah Hosseini of The Washington Post — In a May survey conducted by the Research Triangle Institute International, researchers polled 993 people from across the United States about their drinking habits before the pandemic hit and after. It found an average person’s drinks per day increased by 27%; the frequency of a person’s drinking that “exceeds drinking guidelines” increased 21%, and binge drinking increased by 26%. Researchers also found that being female or Black was associated with significant increases in at least one measure. Respondents with children in the household had greater-than-average increases in all three.

Alcohol consumption has spiked among parents during the pandemic.

How the coronavirus surprised Italy again” via Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli of The Washington Post — After being so devastated by the coronavirus in the spring, Italians saw the ability to reclaim aspects of a normal life as a matter of national pride. They flocked to outdoor cafes and reserved spots at the beach. They put on their masks, resumed using public transportation and returned to their offices. They relished having successfully brought the virus in check. Italy’s worst-to-first pandemic rebound seemed to offer a model for the world. But now that Italy has been caught up in Europe’s second wave, startled by the virus once more, pride has given way to recriminations and a crisis of confidence. There’s a growing sense that the country and the continent misplayed their second chance.

— DATELINE: TALLY —

Jimmy Patronis appoints three to Citizens Property Insurance Board of Governors” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Chief Financial Officer Patronis announced three appointments on Monday to the Citizens Insurance Board and Florida Insurance Guaranty Association. Patronis appointed Medallion Homes CEO Carlos Beruff to Citizens Board Chair and Burr & Forman attorney Scott Thomas to the Citizens’ Board of Governors. Additionally, Patronis appointed Dean Mead shareholder Marc Dunbar as the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association representative for the group.

Chris Sprowls recommends upping House members’ allotted bills to seven” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Among the new rules House Speaker-designate Sprowls is proposing for the coming Legislative Session, the incoming Speaker wants representatives to be able to file an additional bill each. Since 1998, House rules have allowed members to file up to six bills. Still, the Clearwater Republican wants lawmakers to be able to file seven bills, citing a growing “scope and complexity of the issues overseen by the State Legislature.” A memo sent to House members Monday proposed that change. Rules regarding which bills count toward a representative’s limit would go unchanged. Another suggestion would reduce the number of proposed committee bills by keeping 7000-level bills reserved for significant policy and necessary housekeeping.

Incoming Speaker Chris Sprowls wants to allow lawmakers to file one more bill each.

Shevrin Jones proposal would make it harder for police to claim ‘qualified immunity’” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Jones says he’ll introduce a bill during the 2021 Session to gut the controversial “qualified immunity” doctrine for police officers. Jones announced the push Monday as part of his 2021 Legislative Session agenda, which he dubbed the “People’s Agenda.” The modern “qualified immunity” doctrine stems from a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court case. Many courts have interpreted the doctrine to say police officers cannot be sued for violating a person’s rights unless a court has already ruled that behavior is unconstitutional.

Storm forces rescheduling Board of Ed meeting” via The News Service of Florida — A State Board of Education meeting planned for Tuesday in Miami has been rescheduled because of Tropical Storm Eta. The meeting is now slated for 9 a.m. Nov. 18 at Tallahassee Community College, according to the Florida Department of Education website. Among the expected topics is a presentation about what is described as a “rigor gap.” That presentation comes after the Council of 100, an influential group of business leaders, released a study pointing to a “rigor gap” between grades that high school students receive and their ability to pass end-of-course exams in Algebra 1 and 10th-grade English language arts, according to a board agenda item.

— STATEWIDE — 

Tropical Storm Eta causes flooding in South Florida” via Patricia Mazzei and Frances Robles of The New York Times — South Florida awoke to streets turned into shallow rivers on Monday after Tropical Storm Eta soaked the region overnight. It dumped rain inland, caused storm surge along the coast, and left hundreds of thousands of people without electricity. According to the National Weather Service, more than 13 inches of rain fell in some areas, flooding front yards and back patios, threatening mobile home communities, and creating dangerous driving conditions. By 11 a.m. on Monday, three flash-flood emergency alert warnings had screeched over cellular phones, each time extending the danger period.

Tropical Storm Eta is battering South Florida with heavy rain and wind. Image via AP.

$15 minimum wage supporters in Florida are ‘ready to fight’ legislation that undercuts Amendment 2” via Caroline Glenn of the Orlando Sentinel — Backers of raising Florida’s minimum wage to $15 per hour say they’re prepared for a fight if the Republican-controlled Legislature or business groups try to undercut Amendment 2. The amendment, which passed Tuesday night with the 61% supermajority needed to become law, raises the minimum wage to $10 in 2021 and then $1 a year until it reaches $15 in 2026. The current state minimum wage is $8.56. Although studies found the proposal could lift millions of households out of poverty, it was vehemently opposed by business groups, including the Chamber of Commerce and Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, which argued it would force small businesses already struggling through the pandemic to eliminate jobs and or shut down completely.

Court to hear antitrust fight between health insurers” via Jim Saunders of The News Service of Florida — Oscar Insurance Company of Florida went to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after a district judge sided with Florida Blue in the dispute, which is rooted in Oscar’s entrance in 2018 into the market for individual health insurance policies in the Orlando area. Oscar contends that Florida Blue engaged in “manifestly anticompetitive conduct” by threatening to cut off independent agents who also sold Oscar policies, according to a brief filed in the Atlanta-based appeals court. “Altogether, Florida Blue’s threats have caused hundreds of brokers to avoid working with Oscar, leaving the vast majority of Florida brokers captive to Florida Blue and denying Oscar the ability to compete,” the brief said.

$1.2 million grant awarded for various Florida military installation projects” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — The Florida Defense Support Task Force Grant Program awarded $1.25 million to help five military installation projects across the state. The grant winners include the Santa Rosa County Board of County Commissioners, Clay County Development Authority, Polk County Board of County Commissioners, Orlando Economic Partnership and the South Florida Progress Foundation. The funding will be used for various community support and growth projects at several Florida military installations. “These grant awards demonstrate the state of Florida’s commitment to our defense communities,” DeSantis said. “Florida continues to be the most military-friendly state in the country and supporting service members and their families is an honor and responsibility we hold high.”

— D.C. MATTERS —

Obamacare faces Supreme Court remade by Trump” via Susannah Luthi of POLITICO — Trump will leave office without making good on his pledge to wipe out Obamacare. But the Supreme Court he reshaped will soon indicate if it’ll finish the job. The court will hear a lawsuit Tuesday that likely represents Republicans’ last chance to knock out a health care law they’ve opposed for over a decade, and that Biden is vowing to expand. One of the most-watched participants at the oral arguments will be Trump’s latest appointee to the high court, Amy Coney Barrett. Democrats during last month’s confirmation hearings portrayed her as the pivotal vote who could bring about the law’s demise amid an intensifying pandemic that’s sickened millions.

Many are watching Amy Coney Barrett carefully as the Supreme Court considers a suit attempts to wipe out Obamacare.

Trump will lose special Twitter protections in January” via Reuters — Trump will be subject to the same Twitter rules like any other user when Biden takes office on Jan. 20, the social media company confirmed this week. Twitter places “public interest” notices on some rule-breaking tweets from “world leaders” that would otherwise be removed. Such tweets from political candidates, elected or government officials are instead hidden by a warning and Twitter takes actions to restrict their reach. But the company said this treatment does not apply to former officeholders. It first hid one of his tweets behind a “public interest” label in May when the president violated the company’s policy against glorifying violence.

Use of helipad at Mar-a-Lago ends with Trump’s term on Jan. 20” via William Kelly of the Palm Beach Daily News — For nearly four years, Mar-a-Lago has functioned as the “winter White House” of Trump. One of the perks of that status was a helipad approved by the town, so Marine One could whisk the president in and out of the 17.5-acre estate without jamming traffic. But helicopter trips to and from the helipad at Mar-a-Lago will no longer be permitted come Jan. 20, the day Trump’s chief executive powers transfer to Biden. When it approved the 50-foot, 8-inch-deep concrete helipad on the west lawn of ocean-to-lake estate, the Town Council stipulated it was “for business relating solely to the office of the president.”

Mike Pence takes Florida vacation as Biden formulates virus strategy” via The Associated Press — One week after Election Day, Pence appears ready to take some time off. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, Pence is scheduled to travel to Sanibel, Florida, Tuesday through Saturday. Pence has vacationed on the island along Florida’s Gulf Coast several times previously. The trip comes as Trump has pledged to continue trying to contest the outcome of the election and President-elect Biden is ramping up his transition efforts. Biden and Vice President-elect Harris are being briefed virtually on the coronavirus pandemic by a task force of experts their transition team announced Monday.

George Stephanopoulos’ Rep lobbies for him to become next host of ‘Jeopardy!’” via Tony Maglio and Sharon Waxman of The Wrap — Following  Trebek’s death on Sunday at age 80, Stephanopoulos’ rep is lobbying for the ABC News anchor to become the next host of the hit game show “Jeopardy!,” a highly placed person with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap. Stephanopoulos’ agent Alan Berger did not respond to TheWrap’s request for comment, but a knowledgeable individual close to the “Good Morning America” co-host denied that he was “actively” pursuing the role.

George Stephanopoulos is being floated as a replacement for Alex Trebek on Jeopardy. Image via AP.

— LOCAL NOTES —

What’s Eta done to Miami area roads? Cars sink on streets and a truck hangs off highway” via David J. Neal of the Miami Herald — Tropical Storm Eta has demonstrated with life-threatening clarity the dangers of being a driver in the storm. Several streets in or near downtown Miami, including the Brickell area and the Bayshore Drive area, could’ve been easier negotiated by raft than Range Rover. Drivers abandoned their stalled and sinking cars downtown and others had to navigate a flooded swath of Miami Gardens. “Some roads are completely underwater,” the Lauderhill Fire Rescue Public Information Office tweeted Monday morning at 8:03 with photographic evidence. “Canals have merged with roads and some fire hydrants are nearly submerged. Please stay home and stay safe.”

Tropical Storm Eta is causing havoc on Miami Street. Image via Miami Police Department.

A $15 minimum wage? Here’s how Miami business leaders are responding” via Yadira Lopez, Rob Wile and Carlos Frias of the Miami Herald — Many Florida workers are getting a raise. Last week, more than 60% of Florida voters approved a measure to raise the state’s minimum wage from $8.56 to $15 per hour by 2026. Opponents argued it would kill small businesses; proponents said the current wage is too low. Both businesses and workers won’t see the increase any time soon. The change doesn’t take effect until Sept. 30, 2021, when the state’s minimum wage rises from $8.56 per hour to $10 per hour. The wage then will rise by $1 per hour every Sept. 30 until Sept. 30, 2026, when it reaches $15 per hour. Here’s how local business leaders responded to Tuesday’s passage.

Katrina Brown told to start 33-month prison term in January; seeks to stay free on appeal” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — Former Jacksonville City Council member Brown has been told to report by Jan. 29 to Coleman Federal Correctional Institution in Sumter County to begin a 33-month prison sentence, her lawyer has told court officials. The low-security facility with a minimum-security women’s camp is the same place former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown served 27 months of a fraud sentence before being reassigned to home confinement in April. The location for Katrina Brown to serve her time was left undetermined when she and former City Council member Reggie Brown were sentenced last month for dozens of fraud convictions involving plans for opening a barbecue sauce plant. None of the Browns are related.

— TOP OPINION —

Florida becomes a paragon of smooth elections” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Florida has shaken its reputation for bungling elections. In fact, the state has become an example of how to do it right. Smart policies and lots of practice with tight elections allow our supervisors of elections to count votes quickly as does the state’s embrace of mail-in voting. Tabulating nearly all the votes in hours instead of days helps people maintain faith in the elections process. That should be reason enough to follow Florida’s lead. We’re looking at you Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia. Florida’s current success came the hard way, borne out of the 2000 elections debacle, which made “hanging chad” a household phrase and kept the country on edge for weeks about who would be the next president.

— OPINIONS —

Trump is now sabotaging national security to soothe his bruised ego” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — So this will be Trump’s parting gift to the nation: He is deliberately sabotaging the national security of the United States. His refusal to accept the results, even though it wasn’t a particularly close election, has taken an insidious new turn now that his political appointee in charge of authorizing the start of the Biden transition is refusing to give the OK. The delay undercuts all aspects of the government’s functioning and leaves the country needlessly vulnerable to security threats. In 2000, the delayed transition “hampered the new administration in identifying, recruiting, clearing, and obtaining Senate confirmation of key appointees,” the 9/11 Commission concluded.

The Trump legal team’s latest voter fraud Hail Mary” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — Debunking Trump’s and his allies’ myriad, baseless voter fraud allegations is basically a game of whack-a-mole at this point. They pop up repeatedly and haphazardly, but they’re rather easy to knock down, often with just a couple of minutes and the Google machine. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing because such specious theories are still being pursued, despite the carcasses of the many debunked predecessors failing to dissuade both their perpetrators and their adherents. But few of these theories are as dubious as one that cropped up this weekend.

— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —

Republicans are still having trouble coming to grips with the presidential election.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— While the rest of the world congratulates Biden, the guys running Florida’s government are in a state of denial. Gov. DeSantis, Sens. Scott and Rubio are all encouraging Trump to keep fighting in court. But Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Eugene Robinson says no amount of recounts and lawsuits will change the electoral mathematics.

— Robinson spoke during a virtual meeting of the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches.

— And now for something completely different: Equal time for prayer. The Forum Club began its meeting with a rabbi praying for peace and healing.

— The opposing viewpoint came from TV evangelist Kenneth Copeland.

— After a six-hour delay, Florida’s Department of Health finally releases the latest COVID-19 casualty count: 58 new fatalities, almost 4,000 new cases and no explanation for the delay.

— And finally, checking in with a couple of Florida Men. One will make you proud; the other … not so much.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Matching cheese boards on Zoom? Very 2020: Here are tips for a cozier Zoom Thanksgiving” via Katie Workman of The Associated Press — We all know Thanksgiving is going to look different this year. If you’re lucky, you might live where the weather will still be nice and you have space to create an outdoor Thanksgiving with appropriate social distancing. The rest of us are preparing for the fact that an in-person Thanksgiving with all of our loved ones is unlikely because of pandemic safety concerns. For us, 2020 will be the year of the Zoom Thanksgiving. So how do we make that feel OK? From shared menus to organized games and discussions, some planning and coordination can go a long way. “The idea is to still feel unified in some way,” says Etsy trend expert Dayna Isom Johnson.

Some strategies can help you have the best Zoom Thanksgiving possible.

How to tell your family you’re not coming home for the holidays” via Rachel Miller of Vice — The holidays tend to make people emotional, as does admitting that your kid is growing up and developing a life of their own. As such, these conversations can be super fraught. Feeling confident in your decision is, I think, one of the most important aspects of communicating news someone else doesn’t want to hear. In general, it’s kind and courteous to let someone know as early as possible that you won’t be attending an event they’re expecting you at, and your family deserves that same respect. Try to resist the urge to talk them out of feeling upset. The tone of this conversation should match how your family talks about holidays in general.

Red Lobster is offering Cheddar Bay Biscuit gift boxes for the holidays” via CBS 15 — Red Lobster announced Monday that it is offering limited-edition gift boxes filled with its beloved Cheddar Bay Biscuits this holiday season. “Whether you’re searching for a unique gift to give a loved one you can’t physically be with, or looking to reward yourself for finishing a tough year strong, our Cheddar Bay Biscuit gift boxes are guaranteed to serve up some much-needed warmth and comfort this holiday season,” Deanna Kotch, Red Lobster’s marketing vice president, said in a statement. The holiday biscuit boxes will be available online starting Nov. 16. They will cost $1 more than an unboxed half-dozen order of biscuits, and they can be picked up from the restaurant or delivered to your door where available.

Retail might be struggling, but the rich are buying rare books” via James Tarmy of Bloomberg — Even as independent bookstores struggle to survive, rare books and manuscripts have proved a rare bright spot in the industry. “It’s almost like two businesses,” says Kenneth Gloss, the owner of Brattle Book Shop in Boston. “As far as the general used-book business, it’s been off.” His third floor of rare and antiquarian books, though, is doing nearly as well as it ever has. The same phenomenon has occurred in categories as disparate as jewelry and classic cars. Rich people are still rich, and they’re still spending serious amounts of money on things that bring them joy — and perhaps, a return on investment later.

SeaWorld sets Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa festivities, adds ice skating for visitors” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — SeaWorld Orlando’s holiday plans for 2020 include a new Christmas-carol show, celebrations for Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and theme-park visitors being able to ice skate at Bayside Stadium. “It’s a Wonderful Night: A New Story to Tell” will be produced at the park’s Nautilus Theater with limited capacity and physical distancing. SeaWorld says it will feature more than 30 carols “with clever surprises and lighthearted laughs.” The park will observe Hanukkah from Dec. 10 through Dec. 18 with a lighting of the menorah. Kwanzaa festivities will be held Dec. 26 through Jan. 1. In addition, Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa will be celebrated in the park’s Sesame Street Land as characters perform holiday songs.

Tampa Bay malls prepare for socially-distanced Santa Claus” via Sara DiNatale of the Tampa Bay Times — As the number of coronavirus cases continues to spike in Florida and across the country, malls like International Plaza are announcing pandemic changes for its visits and photos with Santa and his elves. Malls and their retail tenants are still recovering from the period they were forced to close at the pandemic’s onset. Most malls use New Jersey company Cherry Hill Programs to create their Santa experience. International, Tyrone Square, the Westfield malls — Citrus Park, Brandon and Countryside — all use Cherry Hill, which has laid out clear COIVD-19 plans. That means the Santa experience in Tampa Bay will be similar no matter which mall you visit.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday to our friend, the newly engaged Samantha Sexton.

___

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, A.G. Gancarski, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.





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