Tag: Florida

Florida Gov. DeSantis explains his handling of coronavirus: ‘We wanted society to function’

“You can’t kneecap your own society and think you’re going to successfully handle a pandemic,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told Fox News’ “Life, Liberty & Levin” in an interview airing Sunday night.

The Republican DeSantis has been harshly criticized by the mainstream media for his handling of COVID-19. The governor declined to issue a statewide face mask mandate and lifted restrictions on bars and movie theaters in early June. Last month, DeSantis lifted all state capacity restrictions on bars and restaurants.

“What we did, Mark, was really three things,” DeSantis told host Mark Levin. “One is protect those who are the most vulnerable to the disease, which is our elderly population, and focus that protection there rather than trying to suppress society as a whole. Second thing is, we want to make sure that our hospital system had what they needed in terms of PPE, medication, testing, and we were able to do that.

“But then third, and I think this is really important, we wanted society to function. You can’t burn down the village in order to save it … So if you look now, Florida’s open for business. We have everything — like theme parks, all that have been open for months. And we have kids in school in person. Parents have the option to opt for virtual [learning] if they want, but they have the in-person [option], which is very, very important.”


As of Saturday, Florida (population: 21.5 million) had recorded 15,186 deaths from COVID-19, compared to 32,875 in New York state (population: 19.5 million).

“One of the things we did in the middle of March is we prohibited hospitals from discharging ill patients with coronavirus back into nursing homes because many of them were not equipped to handle that,” DeSantis explained. “And so what we did instead is we established a lot of COVID-only nursing units throughout the state. So if you had someone test positive in a nursing home, but they weren’t ill enough to need hospitalization, they had a safe place to be isolated in.”


According to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), 3,202 Florida nursing home residents had died of coronavirus as of Sept. 27. It’s unclear how many New York state nursing home residents have died of the illness because the state does not count residents who died in hospitals as part of the total. However, an Associated Press report from August suggested the number could go as high as 11,000.

“One of the problems that we had in terms of some of the restrictions with nursing homes was we stopped the visitation early on,” DeSantis recalled. “We didn’t want the disease to get in. I think most of the people wanted that done. But after months of this, you start to see loneliness and despair creep in … We

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As Donald Trump’s Law-and-Order Message Fails In Minnesota, Campaign Moves Money to Must-Win Florida

The release on bail of Derek Chauvin, the officer charged in George Floyd’s death, prompted yet another surge of unrest in Minnesota. But even as demonstrations filled the streets for a second night, Donald Trump’s campaign was pulling ad money out of the state. The president’s law-and-order message, which campaign officials had expected to resonate in the protest-torn state, wasn’t working.

a group of people posing for the camera: Law and order? Protesters lock arms during a demonstration after the release on bail of former police officer, Derek Chauvin, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 7, 2020.

© KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images
Law and order? Protesters lock arms during a demonstration after the release on bail of former police officer, Derek Chauvin, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 7, 2020.

Trump taking down the fabled “blue wall” of Rust Belt states—Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan—was the most shocking component of his historic upset in 2016. Just as unexpected, to Democrats, pollsters and political pundits, was this: he nearly won Minnesota, falling just 1.5 points behind Hillary Clinton in what was supposed to be the bluest of blue states. Democrats have won in Minnesota every presidential cycle since 1976, the longest streak in the nation.


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The Trump campaign went all in this time around, convinced it could flip the state and give him some electoral breathing room should, say, Wisconsin (which, like Minnesota, has ten electoral votes) flip back to the Democrats. It has 79 paid staffers in the state, Trump staged rallies there three times in the last three months, and campaign surrogates have been in the state repeatedly.

With Trump currently trailing in all the Blue Wall states he won in 2016, the need to carry Minnesota looks more urgent than ever. The problem for Trump: the state appears to be slipping away. According to Real Clear Politics, an aggregation of recent polling done through the month of September shows the president trailing in the state by nine points. And the demographic break downs of those polls—the so-called “internals”— are even more dispiriting for the Trump Team. They show the president underperforming relative to 2016 in his key constituency: white males without college degrees.

The fact that Trump hasn’t drawn closer in Minnesota suggests that a key strategic shift in the Trump campaign in the late summer—its emphasis on ‘law and order” in the wake of urban unrest across the country—has not worked. Late this spring, Minnesota became ground zero for two issues that have since roiled the country: the death of George Floyd at the hands of three police officers fueled outrage nationwide, prompting large demonstrations demanding racial justice and significant change in law enforcement. In many cases, however, the protests turned violent, something the Trump campaign seized on.

Election Day 2020: Where Trump, Biden Stand In The Polls 30 Days Before Nov. 3



“Law and order” became a campaign catchword—a nightly staple on Fox News—and the campaign cut TV ads emphasizing the looting and violence, trying to tie it to Biden and the Democrats. Trump strategists were convinced the chaos in Minneapolis and elsewhere would redound to the president’s benefit, particularly in largely white, middle-class suburbs.


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Pet adoptions increase during pandemic in Southwest Florida



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Fewer people appeared able to resist a wagging tail, twitching whiskers or even the scaly skin of a reptile as the pandemic swept the world.

While COVID-19 disrupted and closed many businesses, Southwest Florida animal rescue workers are working their tails off with an increase in adoptions and animal intake.

Karen Prohaska and her husband, Bob Von Gyurcsy, of Fort Myers, were fostering a senior dog named Gatsby, 9, for the Gulf Coast Humane Society in February. The plan was to bring him back, but with the pandemic they decided to keep him a bit longer.

Gatsby suffered from allergies that caused a rash, which required medical baths and care. Retirees, Prohaska and Von Gyurcsy didn’t mind helping Gatsby and during a time of uncertainty, they welcomed the distraction.

Gatsby helped them just as much. He gave the couple a routine and taking care of him kept their minds off the pandemic, Prohaska said.

They’d go for walks and car rides, ultimately the couple fell in love with Gatsby.

“It was such a saving grace during the pandemic to have an animal, when your anxiety is high and your fear factor we felt fortunate to have him,” she said.

Ebb and flow

The humane society, in Fort Myers, Executive Director Jennifer Galloway said the interest in adopting is a continuous cycle. One moment the shelter feels empty and the next it’s filled again.

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Alicia Fuller, the lead kennel tech at the Gulf Coast Humane Society finishes up bathing a newly acquired dog on Tuesday, October 6, 2020.  (Photo: Andrew West, The News-Press)

Compared to 2019 the agency’s dog adoption has increased by 242 and their cat adoption increased by 564, totaling 1,239 adopted dogs and 997 adopted cats so far in 2020.  

Read: Lee County Domestic Animal Services to host Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week

Read: Cape Coral’s first animal shelter opens. Adoptions start Thursday

The humane society, nearing a decade of operation, is more than just a dog and cat adoption center. It has a rehab facility where workers care for sick and injured animals, as well as a surgery facility where workers conduct spaying and neutering.

It also has a veterinary clinic where the animals are vaccinated, microchipped and have dental work done. This service is open to the public.

Once the pandemic made its way to Southwest Florida, Galloway said the agency wasn’t sure what was going to happen — and that was the hardest part.

Her board members weren’t sure if they were going to have to close, so they put out a plea for foster homes. They received more than 200 applications for fosters and about 90% of the people who fostered at the start of COVID-19 ended up adopting their foster animal.

The human society also wasn’t sure if it was going to get inundated with surrendered pets.

The newly opened Cape Coral Animal Shelter Executive Director Liz McCauley, said the  group is exceeding expectations.


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NIC Secures New Contracts in Florida and Iowa for Payment Processing and Digital Government Solutions

Digital government solutions firm NIC Inc. has won new multi-year contracts with the states of Florida and Iowa following competitive bid processes.

“We are excited by the confidence Florida and Iowa have placed in NIC solutions as we continue to expand our payment processing and digital government services across the country,” said Harry Herington, NIC CEO and Chairman of the Board. “These wins further reinforce the momentum NIC has experienced in 2020.”

In Florida, NIC has been awarded a contract to provide transaction-funded payment processing services for all state agencies. The five-year transaction-funded contract, which may be extended by up to five additional years, also provides the ability for cities and municipalities to work with NIC for payment processing services, promoting a comprehensive and seamless financial transaction experience for Florida citizens and businesses.

For its fiscal year ended June 2018, the state of Florida processed 74 million transactions for a total of $52 billion in payments across 19 state agencies and processed 21 million transactions for a total of more than $1 billion across more than 90 localities.

In Iowa, NIC will once again serve as the state’s enterprise digital government solutions partner after a 15-year partnership concluded in 2017. Under the new five-year transaction-funded contract, which includes five one-year renewal options, NIC’s Des Moines-based team will work with state leadership to consolidate digital services into a unified experience for all Iowans.

“We are very excited for our digital solutions partnership with NIC in Iowa, first starting with payment processing services,” said Annette Dunn, Iowa’s Chief Information Officer. “We have many large agencies across the state that can benefit not only from a strategic, streamlined approach to payment processing but also from the many digital solutions NIC provides. These solutions happen to align perfectly with Governor Reynolds’ vision for the state, where technology is centered around the citizen and all transactions are stored in a digital wallet.”

About NIC Inc.

NIC (Nasdaq: EGOV) is a leading digital government solutions and payments company, serving more than 7,000 federal, state and local government agencies across the nation. With headquarters in Olathe, Kan., NIC partners with the majority of U.S. states to deliver user-friendly digital services that make it easier and more efficient to interact with government – providing valuable conveniences like applying for unemployment insurance, submitting business filings, renewing licenses, accessing information and making secure payments without visiting a government office. In the COVID-19 era and beyond, NIC helps government agencies rapidly deliver digital solutions to provide essential services to citizens and businesses alike. Having served the public sector for nearly 30 years, NIC continues to evolve with its federal, state and local government partners to deliver innovative and cost-effective digital government to constituents. Learn more at www.egov.com.

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201007005965/en/


Kara Cowie | NIC Inc.
Director of Corporate Communications
816-813-2350 | [email protected]

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Florida official says state and federal law enforcement found no ‘malicious activity’ in voter site outage: reports

Investigators looking into Florida’s voter registration website crash Monday reportedly found “no evidence of interference or malicious activity” in connection with the fiasco, which prompted officials to extend the registration deadline to Tuesday evening.

Florida Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee said Monday that the Online Voter Registration system went out “for about 15 minutes” due to an influx of web traffic. It was supposed to be the last day of voter registrations, with a midnight deadline.

But on Tuesday, after meeting with Gov. Ron DeSantis, Lee’s office said the deadline would be extended until 7 p.m. for both online and in-person voter registration.


Voters could also turn in their registration to the offices of their local county elections supervisors, tax collectors, and transportation offices or through the mail postmarked by Oct. 6.

In a statement, Lee said the outage stemmed from “unprecedented volume and traffic” to the site.

“During the last few hours, the RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov website was accessed by an unprecedented 1.1 million requests per hour,” Lee said. “We will work with our state and federal law-enforcement partners to ensure this was not a deliberate act against the voting process.”


In a follow-up statement Tuesday evening, she said investigators had not turned up evidence that that was the case.


Florida has a total population of just below 21.5 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimate for 2019. According to the Florida Division of Elections, there were more than 14 million active registered voters in the state as of Aug. 31.

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Florida high school student arrested after refusing to wear mask, lawyer calls it ‘government abuse’

A 16-year-old boy was arrested last month after refusing to wear a face mask at a Florida high school amid the coronavirus pandemic, a report said Tuesday.

The law firm of Jose Rivas, the family’s attorney, called the incident “government abuse” of a teen suffering from panic attacks, the Orlando Sentinel reported.


“We will be seeking just and fair compensation for the illegal arrest … and the harm that this action caused him,” the law firm said in a statement.

The teen’s mother told the paper her son has an anxiety disorder. She said he was arrested after having gone to the school office for feeling panicky from having trouble breathing in the mask.

“Should they be arresting a 16-year-old child knowing he already has a medical condition?” Rivas told the paper.

The Winter Springs High School sophomore, whose name was redacted on the Sept. 17 report from the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, was arrested after refusing to wear a mask and abide by other school rules, which violated a probation order that required him to maintain good behavior in school, the paper reported.

The sheriff’s report said that starting on Sept. 1 the teen refused to obey rules, including wearing a mask and social distancing, and that he received a warning. The report said he also was caught vaping in the cafeteria.

On Sept. 17, he was seen again not wearing a mask and refused to put one on. A deputy then arrested him and brought him to a juvenile detention center. The sheriff’s office told the newspaper the arrest was for probation violations, not violations of the school district’s mask rules.


The student has not returned to the school and his mother told the paper he would complete an online education program.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Florida extends voter registration deadline by one day

Florida is extending the voter registration deadline in this year’s 2020 general election following problems Monday night with the state’s online registration system.

Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee announced midday Tuesday that the deadline would be extended to 7 p.m. Tuesday for registration online, in person or by mail.

The original deadline to register to vote had been midnight Monday. But as that deadline neared, users encountered slow responses and error messages on the state’s online voter registration site, RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov.

Lee said Tuesday that, during the last few hours, the site had been accessed by an “unprecedented” 1.1 million requests per hour.

She said the Florida Department of State is working with state and federal law enforcement to look at whether there were any “deliberate acts against the voting process” that caused or contributed to outages Monday night to the state’s voter registration website.

“We are working with local supervisors of elections and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to ensure that all eligible registrants have the ability [to] submit a voter registration application by 7 p.m. this evening,” Lee said in a statement.

In addition to registering online, voters can submit applications to their county supervisor of elections offices, through their local driver’s license offices or tax collector’s office or mail an application as long as it is postmarked by Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office has asked that all tax collectors’ offices extend their office hours until 7 p.m. in order to accept voter registration applications. The state will work with other offices about extending their hours Tuesday to assist people registering to vote.

Lee said anyone who already registered to vote online after the deadline would be included in being eligible to vote in the Nov. 3 general election.

Lee also asked anyone not trying to register to vote to stay off the online voter registration site.

Voting rights groups apply pressure

A number of voting rights groups had called for Florida’s voter registration cutoff to be extended multiple days after the problems Monday night with RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov.

On Tuesday, a coalition of voting rights groups, including the League of Women Voters of Florida, All Voting is Local Florida, ACLU Florida and the Florida NAACP, sent a letter to DeSantis and Lee demanding that the voter registration deadline be extended two days, until 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 7.

“Florida’s online voter registration system has unfortunately broken repeatedly at precisely the moment it is needed most — the high volume days just before the voter registration deadline, or in this case, just hours before the book closing deadline,” the groups wrote in the letter.

Brad Ashwell, Florida state director of voting rights group All Voting is Local, said that there would need to be time to get the word out about any deadline extension, and added that there was no guarantee at this point that the website wouldn’t crash again if the deadline were extended.

The coalition also asked in the letter that

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