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Florida reports highest single-day jump in COVID-19 deaths
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida is marking another grim milestone as health officials report 120 new deaths from the coronavirus — the highest one-day jump yet amid a surge in new infections. The number of deaths announced Thursday was the highest since the 113 reported in early May. The cumulative death toll has now surpassed 4,000 as new infections climbed by nearly 9,000 to more than 229,000. Meanwhile, the number of new jobless claims in Florida continues falling — dipping to more than 67,000 last week — amid fresh worries that the ranks of the unemployed could again swell as restaurants and other establishments re-close to stave off new infections.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-FANTASY FEST
Fantasy Fest in Florida Keys canceled because of coronavirus
KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — The risk of coronavirus transmission has prompted organizers in the Florida Keys to cancel this year’s Fantasy Fest. Key West’s annual masking and costuming festival had been scheduled for October, but festival director Nadene Grossman Orr said Thursday that the 41st edition will not be staged. The festival was developed in 1979 to bolster off-season business in the tourism-based economy. It grew to generate some $30 million in annual revenues for the Florida Keys island chain. The island chain reopened to visitors June 1 after being closed to nonresidents for some 10 weeks to slow the spread of COVID-19.
US Supreme Court asked to lift stay on Florida felon voting
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Voting rights advocates are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to lift a stay on a federal judge’s ruling that allowed Florida felons to regain the right to vote, regardless of unpaid fines and other financial obligations. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals last week granted a request from Florida’s governor to review a May ruling that was deeply critical of how Florida has set up road blocks for hundreds of thousands of felons seeking access to the ballot box. The appellate court has scheduled a hearing on the matter for Aug. 18, the same day as Florida’s primary.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-TELEVISION STATION
9 employees of Miami TV station test positive for COVID-19
PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. (AP) — Nine employees of a Miami-area television station have tested positive for COVID-19. WPLG announced on Wednesday that the station is taking every precaution, including the testing of 147 employees and their family members this week. Many of the station’s employees are quarantined at home, including news anchor Nicole Perez and her reporter husband Roy Ramos, and anchor Louis Aguirre, who all tested positive. Perez told the station that she’s feeling cold-like symptoms and has felt run-down. She says she’s more concerned about her husband, whose symptoms have been far worse.
Watchdog details storm of political pressure in Sharpiegate
An inspector general report details the political pressure from the White House and Department of Commerce in what later became known as Sharpiegate. Thursday’s 115-page report details what the weather chief called “crazy” middle-of-the-night texts, calls and emails from political officials to get the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to criticize the Birmingham weather office. The Alabama weather office had told residents in a tweet they were safe from Hurricane Dorian just 10 minutes after President Trump tweeted they could get hit hard. Dorian hit 600 miles away. The inspector general said the political pressure could undermine public trust in weather warnings.
Trump’s reelection campaign gets a reboot as virus persists
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign will take baby steps back out onto the road in the coming days after a multiweek hiatus. The break came amid a massive surge in coronavirus cases across much of the nation and after the debacle of his planned comeback in Oklahoma. Trump is facing a deficit in the polls and is eager to send a signal that normal life can resume despite a rampaging virus that has killed more than 130,000 Americans. He’ll be holding his first in-person fundraiser in a month on Friday in Florida and then making another try at a rally on Saturday, this time in New Hampshire.
POLICE CHIEF REMOVED-FLORIDA
Ft. Lauderdale police chief removed amid protest criticism
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The police chief in Fort Lauderdale has been removed from office as the agency has come under criticism for tactics during racial injustice protests. Fort Lauderdale police spokesman Maj. Frank Sousa said Thursday the decision was made by the city’s manager. It was not immediately clear why Rick Maglione is being replaced as the department’s leader. Maglione had served as chief since 2016. The department recently has come under criticism for officers’ tactics during racial injustice protests, including a video showing officers laughing while firing rubber bullets into a crowd. Taking over as chief on an interim basis is Karen Dietrich, who was the assistant chief. Maglione will remain with the department.
Sheriff: Detective claimed $15,000 for unworked shifts
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a Florida detective has been arrested for claiming more than $15,000 in pay for shifts he didn’t work. The Broward Sheriff’s Office says Detective Luis Silberberg was taken into custody Thursday at the agency’s headquarters and charged with grand theft, official misconduct and obtaining property by fraud. Officials say Silberberg falsified overtime forms on seven occasions and lied more than 50 times about working a full shift. The investigation began more than 18 months ago when the FBI asked for the sheriff’s office to help investigate Silberberg for an unrelated case. Silberberg was hired in 2006. He has been suspended without pay.
Trump signs executive order as he courts Hispanic voters
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that creates a new advisory commission tasked with improving Hispanic Americans’ access to economic and educational opportunities. The effort comes as the president hopes to win a bigger share of the Latino vote than he did four years ago. Trump used the event to highlight how his administration had boosted employment among Hispanics prior to the coronavirus pandemic. But his attempt to court Latino voters ahead of the November election is complicated by his efforts to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and his work to end legal protections for hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the United States as children.
Latino group launches $10M campaign to boost voter turnout
PHOENIX (AP) — A national organization that aims to boost Latino voter turnout is launching a $10 million campaign in several 2020 battleground states. The campaign by Mi Familia Vota is starting in Arizona and Florida, where Democrats hope to swing votes toward their presumptive presidential nominee, Joe Biden. Both major political parties are courting Latino voters this year. The advertising campaign announced Thursday comes amid growing concerns about Latino turnout in a year when that community has been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus.