FAC News Clips - September 23, 2020 -

South Florida Sun Sentinel

Florida’s COVID-19 infection rate at highest level in two weeks

Health officials on Tuesday reported the COVID-19 testing positivity rate for Florida exceeded the desired 5% level for the first time since Sept. 10. It could be just a one-day blip on the radar, or the first indication that the novel coronavirus is spreading more across Florida communities. The state Department of Health data show that 5.88% of people swabbed tested positive for the first time, in the latest results. The rate was 4.31% on Monday’s report.

CBS Miami

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Defends Agencies’ Response To Coronavirus

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – With Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried calling for a coordinated response by statewide elected officials to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday defended the actions of agencies under his control. DeSantis added that Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Attorney General Ashley Moody, who along with Fried make up the state Cabinet, have been able to get information from agencies when needed during the “difficult times.”

AP News

Gov. DeSantis: Pandemic continues to hurt small businesses

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis expressed concern during a Cabinet meeting Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic will continue to hurt small businesses and may disrupt commercial real estate even after it’s over. “It seems to me that as you look to see what’s happened, particularly in areas that have done real draconian restrictions on people being able to do businesses, that the pandemic has been a boon for like Amazon and some of these big companies,” said DeSantis, a Republican.

Route Fifty

Predicting Coronavirus Outbreaks Using Google Searches for Gastrointestinal Problems

When people don’t feel well, many turn to search engines for answers. This is particularly true during an outbreak, when the quest is to find out whether their ailment is a symptom of the dreaded disease. It happened during the Ebola outbreak, when the H1N1 flu hit, and as measles tore through certain communities.  During the coronavirus pandemic, searches for symptoms might become useful for predicting the next places to experience an outbreak.

Route Fifty

Decision to Shorten Census Schedule Came From Outside the Census Bureau, Watchdog Says

The Census Bureau was not involved in a decision to cut short its time to collect and deliver results for its decennial count, a watchdog has found, once again warning the shortened schedule is risking an incomplete and inaccurate enumeration. The Commerce Department inspector general could not identify who required the bureau to finish counting U.S. residents by the end of September and deliver data by the end of the year—rather than by the end of October 2020 and April 2021, respectively, as previously scheduled due to delays necessitated by the novel coronavirus pandemic—saying the direction likely came from either Commerce or the White House.

TC Palm

South Florida Water Management District approves budget, tax rate for upcoming fiscal year

The South Florida Water Management District plans to spend over $1 billion in the coming year, most of it to improve water quality, reduce harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie River and send more water south to the Everglades.  And the district plans to do it with a lower property tax rate than last year.

WTSP

Life-saving drone could be coming to Manatee County 911 response system

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — Manatee County leaders are partnering with a private drone company to become one of the nation's first government agencies to use autonomous drones as part of a 911 emergency response. "I do believe that this is the future of public safety,” said Jake Saur, Manatee County’s public safety director. The drone is designed by an Orlando-based company called Archer First Response Systems (AFRS).

Miami New Times

No Emergency Session for COVID, but Anti-Protest Bill Could Get Special Vote

On March 19, members of the Florida Legislature packed up their bags and left Tallahassee at the end of the legislative session. The timing could not have been worse: As they departed the state's capital, life was changing drastically for Floridians facing record levels of unemployment and a growing number of COVID-19 cases and deaths. But in May, Florida Republicans, who control the legislature, rejected a special session proposed by Democrats to discuss the state's job-loss program, a possible expansion of Medicaid, and improvements to mail-in voting.

WLRN

Gov. DeSantis’ Protest Proposal Sparks Furor

TALLAHASSEE --- Gov. Ron DeSantis suggested Tuesday that the Republican-dominated Legislature could consider a controversial proposal aimed at cracking down on disorderly protests when lawmakers return to Tallahassee in November for an organization session, as Democrats declared war on what they decried as a racially motivated election-year ploy. DeSantis’ law-and-order package, backed by incoming GOP legislative leaders, would create new felony crimes when property is damaged or when people are injured as a result of protests involving seven or more individuals.

The Hill

House passes bill to avert shutdown

The House passed legislation on Tuesday night to avert a government shutdown through Dec. 11, sending the bill to the Senate with just eight days left before current federal funding expires. Lawmakers passed the bill in a bipartisan vote of 359-57 after Democrats earlier Tuesday rekindled negotiations with Republicans that had temporarily stalled because of a dispute over farm aid. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) voted "present."