VIRUS OUTBREAK-FLORIDA HOSPITALS
Florida’s curve no longer flat amid new surge of virus cases
MIAMI (AP) — Florida appeared to be successfully “flattening the curve” of new coronavirus cases in the spring after its bars, gyms and beaches closed. But two months after businesses began reopening, the state is facing an alarming surge in COVID-19. On Thursday, officials reported 120 deaths in one day, the highest number since the previous record of 113 in early May. Hospitals in June and July have seen their numbers of coronavirus patients triple, with new patients outpacing those being discharged. Hospital networks are scrambling to hire more health care workers to expand their COVID units and some have said they would again halt or reduce nonemergency procedures to free up space.
Florida reports 93 virus deaths, 11,433 infected in 1 day
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida reported 93 more deaths as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread. The state’s total caseload grew by another 11,433 people infected. Florida’s rate of deaths per day is approaching what it saw in its deadliest period, in May. More than 4,100 people with COVID-19 have died in Florida so far, and the state’s total caseload tops 240,000. A doctor’s group, Physicians for Social Responsibility, wants Gov. Ron DeSantis to require mask-wearing in public statewide. The Republican, following the lead of President Donald Trump, has resisted that, saying local governments must decide what’s best.
Florida to install charging stations for electric vehicles
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — More than two dozen charging stations are set to be installed along Florida’s busiest roadways, paid for by the state’s share of a U.S. government settlement with Volkswagen after the German automaker violated the country’s car emission standards. During a Friday news conference at a service plaza along the Florida Turnpike in Orlando, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the state would be spending $8.6 million of Florida’s $166 million settlement on the charging stations. In all, the state expects to spend $25 million for charging stations as part of a program that state officials said is intended to strengthen Florida’s electric vehicle infrastructure.
Ethics panel clears Rep. Gaetz in lease for district office
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Office of Congressional Ethics has ended a preliminary investigation without taking action against a Florida congressman who is paying a former legal client and donor $5,000 a month to rent space for his district office. The independent office found insufficient evidence to continue the case against GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz, who was accused of a possible violation of House rules that say lawmakers should not lease from people with whom they have had a professional or legal relationship. Gaetz has been leasing space from Collier Merrill, a Pensacola real estate developer under an arrangement Gaetz said was approved by House officials.
Comet streaking past Earth, providing spectacular show
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A newly discovered comet is streaking past Earth, providing a stunning nighttime show after buzzing the sun and expanding its tail. Comet Neowise was spotted by the NASA space telescope bearing that name in March. The celestial snowball swept within Mercury’s orbit a week ago. Its close proximity to the sun caused dust and gas to burn off its surface and create an even bigger debris tail. NASA says the comet is about 3 miles across. It will be visible across the Northern Hemisphere until mid-August, when it heads back toward the outer solar system.
RACIAL INJUSTICE-PROTEST ALTERCATION
Police investigate altercation between diner and protester
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Police in St. Petersburg, Florida, are reviewing videos of a physical confrontation between racial injustice protesters and diners in the rooftop bar of the recently reopened St. Pete Pier. The group created a scene by entering the restaurant, drumming loudly and chanting about mistreatment of Black people by police. A diner told police Thursday night that a protester’s bicycle hit his wife, and that when he objected, the protester punched him. But a protest organizer said the diner hurled racial insults and swung at one of them, at which point he hit back. St. Petersburg Police say no arrests have been made.
Sheriff: Man called 911, threatened to kill kids at party
YULEE, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a 57-year-old Florida man is accused of calling 911 and threatening to kill people attending a house party. Nassau County Sheriff’s deputies went to the home on Thursday night after they say he threatened to shoot up the party and “kill a bunch of children.” An arrest report says it turns out Schuler was in an upstairs bedroom at the home where the party was taking place. Deputies say he was extremely intoxicated. Schuler was charged with making threats to kill and misuse of the 911 system. Jail records don’t list a lawyer for him.
FATAL NEIGHBOR DISPUTE
Police: Dog at center of deadly Florida dispute euthanized
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say the dog at the center of a neighborhood dispute that left three people dead has been euthanized. Roxy, a female mastiff was surrendered to authorities and put down on Wednesday. The shooting happened Monday in Port St. Lucie following a dispute between neighbors that began with a dog fight in March. Police say 82-year-old Ronald Delserro fatally shot 11-year-old Harper Hansman and her 55-year-old father Guy Hansman before being killed in a standoff with police. The dispute began in March when Hansman’s wife was bitten by Delserro’s dog, which was eventually declared a dangerous dog by the county.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS-CHRISTIAN GROUPS
Christian groups oppose ICE rule on international students
Leaders of 12 Christian organizations are urging the Trump administration to rescind a policy requiring international students to leave the U.S. or transfer if their colleges hold classes entirely online this fall. In a letter to the acting secretary of Homeland Security, the leaders say the administration’s policy “falls short of American ideals.” They write that it “robs our country of the significant contribution” international students make to their colleges on both a personal and economic level. The policy “lacks compassion” and “violates tenets of our faith,” they say, citing specific Biblical passages. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced the policy Monday.
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.