Hello and welcome to Friday.
The daily rundown — Between Wednesday and Thursday, the number of Florida coronavirus cases increased by 2,628 (nearly 0.4 percent), to 709,144; total hospitalizations went up 212 (nearly 0.5 percent), to 44,320; deaths rose by 129 (0.9 percent), to 14,444.
Breaking overnight — President Donald Trump’s plans to be in Sanford for a rally today were abruptly canceled when he announced shortly before 1 a.m. that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Florida was to be a focus — Initial reports out of the White House are that the president is not exhibiting any symptoms, but this news obviously upends the campaign, especially since there was supposed to be a focus on Trump’s adopted home state during the final stretch. A Trump campaign operative said earlier in the week that they were looking at having the president make anywhere from four to five more appearances in Florida between now and Election Day. The second debate between Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden is also scheduled to be held on Oct. 15 in Miami.
What happens next? — POLITICO reported that it was unclear how long the president will be confined to the White House. The White House has required other officials who tested positive for the virus to have a week without symptoms and two negative test results before returning to work. For a president and a party who have spent months trying to shift the public mindset away from Covid-19, we’ve now found ourselves perhaps more inundated with it than ever.
— WHERE’S RON? — Nothing official scheduled for Gov. DeSantis.
THE FIFTY: Governors and mayors have never mattered more to the future of the nation, and The Fifty, a new series from POLITICO, takes you inside the role they’re playing in the pandemic and more. We’ve got a new podcast episode to go with this week’s feature on secretary of state elections. Check it out!
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MAJOR DEVELOPMENT — “Trump tests positive for coronavirus,” by POLITICO’s Matthew Choi, Meredith McGraw and Nancy Cook: President Donald Trump announced early Friday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, upending his presidency and the 2020 race just 32 days before Election Day. The 74-year-old president disclosed his diagnosis in a tweet at 12:54 a.m. on Friday, hours after news broke that top aide Hope Hicks had tested positive. “Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19,” he tweeted, referencing first lady Melania Trump. “We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!“ Trump’s physician, Sean Conley, said in a memo that the president and first lady were “both well“ and that Trump would continue to carry out his duties as president… The announcement threatens to transform the final month of a volatile campaign that Trump had long intended to frame around a message of success in defeating the virus — despite surging case counts in parts of the country, shuttered schools and businesses and widespread division about the seriousness of the threat.
WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 11: U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk to the White House residence as they exit Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on September 11, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump and the First Lady traveled earlier to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania to mark the 19th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) | Drew Angerer/Getty Images
WHITE NOISE? — “A TV ad tidal wave in Florida: Nearly $250 million and counting,” by POLITICO’s Gary Fineout: Florida’s record-breaking campaign season continues to scale stunning new heights, with the presidential campaigns and their allies preparing to spend at least a quarter of a billion dollars on television ad time between now and Nov. 3. The ad barrage is a reminder of Florida’s outsized role in the presidential election. President Donald Trump, who narrowly won the state in 2016, is unlikely to win a second term in the White House if he loses his adopted home state.
Florida No. 1 — An analysis by Advertising Analytics conducted at POLITICO‘s request showed that as of this week, Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, and their allies, have purchased or plan to spend $243 million. When radio and digital advertising is included, the total jumps to $264 million. Florida is the undisputed leader in television advertising across the nation. Pennsylvania is second with $156.5 million in buys so far, and North Carolina is third with nearly $107 million.
EVEN MORE ADS — Among the latest wave of ads are ones focused on Florida’s Jewish voters. Democratic Majority for Israel PAC is going up with a new ad in Florida that touts Democratic nominee Joe Biden as a strong friend to Israel. Mark Mellman, president and CEO for Democratic Majority for Israel, told Playbook that the goal of the ad is to demonstrate that Biden has been a consistent ally to Israel. Mellman said he knows there are a lot of ads running in the state right now but he said “there’s a pitched battle for every voter in Florida and that includes every Jewish voter.” DMFI PAC’s ad is going up just as the Republican Jewish Coalition says it is launching its own $3.5 million ad buy in South Florida. Its two ads include one that says President Donald Trump is the “most pro-Israel president in history.”
TURNAROUND — “Biden flip-flops on door-knocking with just 33 days left,” by POLITICO’s Alex Thompson and Holly Otterbein: Campaign door-knocking in a pandemic puts lives at risk and turns off voters. It’s also sort of useless. And anyone who said otherwise is needlessly panicking. That was the Joe Biden campaign’s position — until Thursday, when it abruptly reversed course and announced hundreds of volunteers would soon be hitting the doors in swing states with just 33 days to go in the campaign. The campaign said volunteers would start door-knocking in Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania this weekend with the rest of the battleground states following early next week.
VIRTUAL GOVERNOR — “Cuomo to keynote event for Palm Beach Democrats,” by POLITICO’s Bill Mahoney: Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be making one of his highest-profile political appearances of the year this weekend, and it’ll happen — virtually, at least — in Florida. Cuomo will be the keynote speaker at a remote fundraiser for the Palm Beach County Democratic Party on Saturday. He’ll be joined at the digital dais by Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, and fellow New York native Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee. Tickets range from $50 to $10,000. Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo asked Cuomo to participate.
CAMPAIGN ROUNDUP — Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell’s campaign said Thursday the incumbent Democrat representing Florida’s 26th congressional district raised more than $2 million during the third quarter, a record for a Florida congressional candidate… Senate Victory, the campaign organization for state Senate Democrats, released a digital ad that goes after Republican Jason Brodeur because he once paid a blogger linked to the Proud Boys, a far-right hate group…
— Rep. Stephanie Murphy is helping out 16 state legislative candidates in an effort to try to flip seats in the GOP-controlled Legislature. Her PAC, Developing a New Generation PAC, has donated $30,000 to candidates as well as state and local party committees… Phil Ehr, the Democrat challenging Rep. Matt Gaetz, released a new parody ad that uses technology to make it appear Gaetz is endorsing Joe Biden and criticizing Fox News. Ehr says the ad is illustrate how disinformation campaigns could work… BlackPAC, Unite The Country and Mike Bloomberg announced on Thursday they are launching a $2.1 million joint partnership to reach Black voters across the stae through ads airing on Black and Caribbean radio stations… Alan Cohn, the Democratic candidate running in Florida’s 15th Congressional District, announced he had raised $1.05 million in the third quarter, a record for the district.
2020 BY THE NUMBERS — So far, 241,416 vote-by-mail ballots have been cast for the November election according to the latest information on the state Division of Elections website. Of those, 129,500 have come from Democrats and 66,529 have come from registered Republicans. Overall, there are 5.02 million mail ballots requested but not yet returned. Of those, nearly 2.29 million are held by Democrats and nearly 1.59 million are with Republicans.
— “Ivanka Trump visits Asian American campaign volunteers in Orlando,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Steven Lemongello
— “Ballots are in the mail, but if you think your ‘privacy sleeve’ is missing, look again,” by Treasure Coast Newspapers’ Joshua Solomon
— “Donald Trump Jr. to make return visit to The Villages,” by Villages-News.com’s Meta Minton
— “Workers push to pass Amendment 2 for $15 minimum wage as Florida’s tourism industry fights it,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Caroline Glenn
BLUNT — “Wasserman Schultz on Proud Boys controversy: ‘Plain and simple, I think Donald Trump is a racist,’” by Sun Sentinel’s Anthony Man: “U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the prominent South Florida Democrat, said Thursday that President Donald Trump is a racist and his racism is clearly ‘embedded within him.’ Wasserman Schultz made her comments during a video news conference held by the three Jewish members of Congress from Florida. They joined to condemn Trump for his reluctance to denounce white supremacism — something they said he embraces — and his signal of support to the violent, far-right Proud Boys organization to ‘stand back and stand by.’”
STILL NOT A MANDATE? — “‘This is extortion’: Broward bows to state pressure to open schools,” by POLITICO’s Andrew Atterbury: The local board, which governs one of the nation’s largest school districts, voted unanimously Thursday to bring teachers and students back to campuses next week, beginning with the youngest students, to avoid a massive budget shortfall in the heat of the coronavirus pandemic. The district originally had planned to start classroom instruction Oct. 20. Board members lamented the decision and expressed concern about logistical challenges the district will confront to open ahead of schedule. They bashed [Education Commissioner Richard] Corcoran and Gov. Ron DeSantis, both Republicans, for forcing their hand. “This is extortion by the Department of Education, there’s no two ways about it,” Board member Patricia Good said at the emergency meeting Thursday.”
DISCONNECT — “‘Not even close’: State health department data on COVID-19 in Leon schools is missing cases,” by Tallahassee Department’s Casey Chapter and CD Davidson-Hiers: “The Florida Department of Health released a report Tuesday that lists COVID-19 cases in schools across the state. But the numbers don’t add up. More precisely, the amount of confirmed cases that Leon County Schools reports and the numbers reported by the state health department aren’t the same. The state shows confirmed cases at 23 schools in Leon County between Sept. 6 and Sept. 26, which includes laboratory schools, charters and universities. But the report is missing more than half of cases that local educational institutions have reported themselves.
ADD IT UP — “Local leaders tell DeSantis they’ve imposed $2 million in coronavirus fines,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Gray Rohrer: “Only a handful of local governments have issued fines to people or businesses related to their coronavirus orders, according to reports requested by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Not all cities and counties responded, but out of the ones that did and issued fines, just two account for the vast majority of the $1.9 million in penalties. Miami-Dade County and Naples account for more than 85% of the fines, due to a variety of reasons, including disobeying mask ordinances, staying out past curfew and parking by the beaches when they were closed.”
SCUTTLED — “Carnival cancels most 2020 US cruises as CDC extends ban,” by Associated Press’ Dee-Ann Durbin: “Carnival Cruise Line is canceling most U.S. sailings through the end of this year, the latest sign that the cruise industry’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic could still be many months away. The company said Thursday it is canceling sailings from all ports except its home ports of Miami and Port Canaveral, Florida. Carnival said it will focus its initial return to operations on those two ports, but it stressed that it still might not sail from those ports in November and December.”
TOO MANY PEOPLE? — “Tampa won the Stanley Cup. But did the city fail to celebrate safely?” by Tampa Bay Times’ Romy Ellenbogen and Natalie Weber: “The day after the Tampa Bay Lightning brought home the Stanley Cup, clinching the first professional sports title for the region since 2004, Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback Tom Brady tweeted: ‘How does one do socially distant parades??’ It became clear Wednesday — you don’t. A boat parade through downtown Tampa drew thousands of Lightning fans, many packed shoulder-to-shoulder along the river’s edge. They drank and chatted, some wearing masks, some with them down around their chins or none at all. When the players got off the boats at Rick’s on the River, video showed fans drinking out of the Stanley Cup. Afterward at Raymond James Stadium, an estimated 11,000 people filled the stands to celebrate, mostly spread apart.”
— “UM and FIU join a growing list of schools canceling spring break because of COVID-19,” by Miami Herald’s Michelle Marchante
— “FSU cancels Spring Break, announces other spring calendar changes,” by Tallahassee Democrat’s Byron Dobson
— “First-time unemployment claims drop in Florida,” by News Service of Florida’s Jim Turner
— “American Airlines will lay off 2,000 in South Florida after new COVID-19 aid fails to arrive,” by Sun Sentinel’s David Lyons
— “Nikki Fried unveils joint effort to increase farmworker COVID-19 testing,” by Florida Politics’ Jason Delgado
POWER POLITICS — “Legislators tell Florida utility regulators to ‘step up’ on shutoffs moratorium,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Malena Carollo: “Two state legislators are calling on Florida utility regulators and Gov. Ron DeSantis to ‘step up’ on an electricity shutoff moratorium and relief from accumulating unpaid balances for thousands of Floridians who are behind on their power bills. Their comments come the same day as the Florida Public Service Commission’s staff recommended that the board deny advocates’ proposal for a statewide ban on shutoffs. ‘This is an issue of human rights and dignity,’ Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, said at a news conference Thursday.”
— “Justices reject sexual abuse lawsuit,” by News Service of Florida’s Jim Saunders
COLLAPSE — “Venezuela’s Food Chain Is Breaking, and Millions Go Hungry,” by Wall Street Journal’s John Otis: “A widespread scarcity of gasoline is the latest blow to domestic food production in Venezuela, preventing goods from getting to market and farmers from filling up their tractors. Food production in this oil-rich nation, led by its socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, had already been hobbled by shortages of seeds and agrochemicals, price controls that made raising crops unprofitable and government seizures of farms and food-processing plants.”
YUCK — “As the biggest sewage spill in Fort Myers history becomes a political talking point, state promises action ‘quickly as possible,’” by Fort Myers News-Press’ Amy Bennett Williams: “Six months after the biggest sewage spill in Fort Myers history, the event has sparked opinion pieces and drawn heat at political debates, yet the state hasn’t taken action against the City of Fort Myers. It’s coming though. “Staff are working as quickly as possible to ensure adequate enforcement is taken for this, and all of wastewater incidents in our region,’ spokeswoman Alexandra Kuchta wrote in an email.”
— “Army Corps of Engineers postpones Lake Okeechobee discharges to St. Lucie River again,” by Treasure Coast Newspapers Tyler Treadway
CLOSED DOWN — “Pensacola Bay Bridge repairs are expected to take six months,” by Pensacola News Journal’s Kevin Robinson: “The bridge was damaged in mid-September when construction barges owned by Skanska USA broke loose during Hurricane Sally and crashed into the structure. The bridge has been closed for more than two weeks, and currently, drivers are being detoured to the Garcon Point Bridge, which is adding anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes to their daily commutes. The forced detour is also having a huge financial impact for Gulf Breeze businesses that rely on daily thru-traffic.”
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— Tallahassee political consultant makes it to World Food Championships crowning moment,” by Tallahassee Democrat: “World Seafood Champion, Josh Cooper recently competed in the World Food Championships (WFC) final culinary gauntlet in Indianapolis, Indiana, where nine other champions navigated three cooking challenges in their quest to earn the biggest title in Food Sport, along with a $100,000 grand prize. Now, for the first time, foodies across the nation will be able to watch the intense, tournament-style elimination process — known as ‘Final Table: Indy’ — unfold as The Cooking Channel reveals who the $100,000 winner is on Oct. 3 at 1 p.m.”
— “Potty training: NASA tests new $23M titanium space toilet,” by Associated Press’ Marcia Dunn: “NASA’s first new space potty in decades — a $23 million titanium toilet better suited for women — is getting a not-so-dry run at the International Space Station before eventually flying to the moon. It’s packed inside a cargo ship set to blast off late Thursday from Wallops Island, Virginia.”
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