Florida Coronavirus Cases
As of May 26, Florida reported 52,255 confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Of these, 2,259 have resulted in death. Miami-Dade County has the majority of cases with 17,168 reported. Broward County was second with 6,799, and Palm Beach County, with 5,429, was third. Hillsborough County had 1,969, while Orange County had 1,849.
Source: Florida Department of Health
Federal Judge Rules That Florida Cannot Stop Felons from Voting for Free
The Florida law that required felons to pay legal fees before voting rights were granted to them was ruled unconstitutional by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle on May 24.
Hinkle striked down this law, calling it unconstitutional, because in many cases felons cannot afford the fees and many have no way of finding out how much they owe. He ordered the state of Florida to set up a new process for registering to vote that would help felons and others. This decision comes right before the 2020 presidential election, which gives hundreds of thousands of people the opportunity to vote who have never had that opportunity before.
In his 125-page ruling, Hinkle expressed that this system mimics a “pay-to-vote” system, which is not constitutional because of the obstacles set in place to make it harder for felons to figure out how to pay and how much money they actually owe.
“This pay-to-vote system would be universally decried as unconstitutional but for one thing: each citizen at issue was convicted, at some point in the past, of a felony offense,” said Hinkle.
“A state may disenfranchise felons and impose conditions on their re-enfranchisement. But the conditions must pass constitutional scrutiny. Whatever might be said of a rationally constructed system, this one falls short in substantial respects,” he said.
Paul Smith, vice president of the Campaign Legal Center, said in a statement that this was a “landmark victory” for many people in Florida.
“This is a watershed moment in election law. States can no longer deny people access to the ballot box based on unpaid court costs and fees, nor can they condition rights restoration on restitution and fines that a person cannot afford to pay,” Smith said.
"We’re going to be in this for another 30 days. That’s just the reality that we find ourselves in. And so, given those circumstances, given the the unique situation in Florida, I’m going to be doing an executive order today, directing all Floridians to limit movements and personal interactions outside the home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities."
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
Florida Now Making Coronavirus Data Public After Facing Scrutiny
The state of Florida is now making coronavirus death records gathered by state medical examiners public record after reports surfaced about inaccurate numbers and suppression of details.
Stephen J. Nelson, who is currently the chairman of the state medical examiners commission, released his own reports that included information left out of state reports. The state then made the decision to make all records available to the public. Nelson, when asked about why this decision has been made, said, "all I can tell you about the timing is: this has been my position for months now."
The reports that surfaced contained information about death numbers, causes of death, and details of those who died.
"You can't suddenly tell the medical examiners that what we're doing all along is exempt because it contains confidential death information," said Nelson.
Although it is still not clear what prompted Florida officials to make this decision, many believe it has to do with scrutiny that the state has faced for a number of actions. First, it was discovered that initial announcements regarding death tolls were largely inaccurate. Second, the scientist who created Florida’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard was fired for refusing to censor certain aspects of the data. Third, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit requesting that data regarding inmates and coronavirus be made public record.
By the time Governor DeSantis issued the stay-at-home order in Florida, it was announced that there had been 85 deaths linked to this virus. New, uncensored, reports show that the number was as high as 188. These reports are consistently different than old state reports.
“The chief difference between the lists compiled by the ME’s and the Florida Department of Health is that we’re counting people who died here in Florida and they’re not. Of course the numbers will be different,” said Nelson.
Rebekah Jones, the scientist who created the state’s coronavirus data site and claimed to get fired for not censoring data, questioned the Department of Health’s commitment to “accessibility and transparency.”
Jones wrote in an email to CBS12 News, a Florida TV station, that her leaving was “not voluntary” and that she was “ousted” after refusing to “manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center was concerned with the reports released regarding the coronavirus-related deaths of people who are incarcerated in Florida prisons. The center filed a public records lawsuit against the state Department of Corrections to obtain this information.
“The public has a right to know how FDC the Department of Corrections is handling COVID-19 in the prisons, which incarcerate nearly 96,000 people, including a substantial number who are elderly or medically vulnerable and thus at heightened risk from the virus,” said Shalini Goel Agarwal, senior supervising attorney for the center in Florida.
“Crowded prisons are ripe targets for the spread of COVID-19. Hundreds of incarcerated people in Florida’s prisons have tested positive for COVID-19 and thousands more have been exposed. But despite the dangers this poses to Floridians inside and outside the prisons, FDC has not been transparent in how it’s dealing with this crisis,” said Agarwal.
Sales of disinfectant: 973% rise Cleaning wipes: 1,079% rise
Unemployment claims: 221,905 Prior week: 174,860
Year-over-year retail sales growth due to COVID-19 outbreak in Florida: 8%
Statistics provided by Statista
Four Florida-based Companies Receive Coronavirus Warning Letters
As the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sends out coronavirus warning letters, four of them were addressed to companies across Florida for making possibly false claims about prevention, treatment, and even cures for the virus.
Although the companies have released claims that their products may be able treat, prevent, or make people immune to COVID-19, none have produced solid evidence for these claims. The lack of evidence makes these claims illegal. The FTC sent out letters on May 7, ordering the companies to immediately cease making advertisements with no scientific proof.
Detox VIP in Florida published claims on their website which read that a “Chinese medical team reports successful treatment of Coronavirus patients with high dose of Vitamin C” and sells infusions as a way for people to build their own “natural defenses against COVID-19.” Acupuncture and Natural Health Solution in Naples, Florida was selling a product called “COVID-19 Homeopathy Treatment Kits,” claiming effectiveness for 80% of people.
Naturments, another company, has been promoting Black Seed Oil and claims that this “miracle cure” can “prevent COVID-19 duplication and possibly kill it.” This company claimed that they ran a study that found Black Seed Oil “could decrease the virus load when any of them were added to the coronavirus infected cells.” This study, however, was not a real clinical trial and therefore the claim is illegal.
Remedys Nutrition in Florida made claims on their social media pages that their products could boost immunity and “win the fight against coronavirus,” targeting consumers who feel like a simple immune boost will be enough to prevent being infected.
The total number of coronavirus warning letters sent out by the FTC is now up to 120. These letters all remind the companies of the illegality of advertising that a product can prevent or cure a human disease without substantial scientific evidence. Substantial scientific evidence should, if possible, be “well-controlled human clinical studies,” none of which these companies ran. The letters order recipients to promptly remove these claims from advertising within 48 hours of receiving them.