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Your Thursday Update: Florida, Orange County See Jump in Cases, DeSantis Announces Roadmap for Reopening Schools, Bright Futures Scholarship Requirements Eased

Photo: SJ Obijio
Photo: SJ Obijio

More than 1,700 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday in Florida, the biggest daily jump in two months

Danielle Prieur, WMFE

Florida saw more than 1,700 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the biggest daily jump since the beginning of May.

Orange County continues to lead Central Florida with the highest number of new coronavirus cases: 2,585 people have fallen ill, and forty-six people have died.

Like the state, the county saw its highest daily count since the beginning of May on Wednesday. There were 128 new cases in the area.

Gov. Ron DeSantis says the rise in new coronavirus cases is due to an increased availability to testing, and outbreaks in prisons and nursing homes.

But at a conference on Thursday night, Orange County Health Director Dr. Raul Pino said "we are on our way up, there's no other way to describe it."

"We slowly have increased that number to the point that we have seen a significant increase to the prior days."

Pino said the curve has not flattened yet in Florida, in fact he expects the curve will continue to rise.

Unemployment woes a mounting strain on Trump in Florida

The Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — With the November election just five months away, Florida’s troubled unemployment system could create problems for Republicans trying to again secure the state for President Donald Trump.

Hundreds of thousands of Floridians are still fuming over the delay in getting unemployment checks.

The question now is how many of the state’s 2 million newly unemployed will bring their anger to the voting booth, as they help decide races from the statehouse to the White House.

While Republicans are defending Gov. Ron DeSantis’ handling of the debacle, Democrats hope to elevate the state’s unemployment fiasco into a far broader debate about who has the best interests of working people in mind.

DeSantis expands reading programs after coronavirus shutdown

The Associated Press

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to improve the reading skills of the state's youngest students who have fallen further behind because of the coronavirus outbreak.

DeSantis on Thursday announced a $64 million plan that will include month-long summer programs for kindergarten to fifth grade students who have been identified as poor readers.

Money will also be provided to districts to buy supplemental teaching materials for kindergarten to third grade classes and to train 2,000 reading coaches statewide.

The goal is to have 90% of students be proficient readers by 2024. The announcement comes as the state's confirmed coronavirus cases neared 70,000 and deaths reached 2,850.

Parents are skeptical about summer camp during coronavirus pandemic

Natalia Clement, WLRN
School’s out and some social distancing restrictions have been lifted. Parents are wondering whether or not to send their kids to summer camp. Although their kids have been cooped up for months, many parents are skeptical about taking them to summer camp this year. Doris Bravo-Hieger is a mother of two. Both kids have health problems. She says municipalities have left her in the dark. “I want to have the reassurance that somebody is thinking about it, somebody has a plan and that we’re taking action. I don’t feel like that right now," Bravo-Hieger said. Nancy Fry has two kids. She wants to see how COVID-19 cases evolve before sending them to camp. “I wish I would see more leadership, especially with the state, as far as getting the testing and the contact tracers and all that we need to be able to make informed decisions," Fry said. Some parents, like Norma Schwartz, are considering alternatives. “We’re thinking about just having little pods where we meet with our friends and let them play together but they’re only allowed to play with those kids," Schwartz said. These moms share a similar goal. They want to keep their kids happy and healthy.

Back to school options lead to segregation concerns

Regan McCarthy, WFSU
As parents decide whether to send their children back to the classroom this fall, Florida Democratic Senator Audrey Gibson says she’s worried more parents could opt to home school. And she says that could create an even bigger racial divide in education. “When we talk about who has to work even in low-wage jobs and underpaid jobs, because certain individuals have been historically denied certain jobs anyway. It could result in more segregation," Gibson said. Gibson says while more affluent parents might have the option to stay home with their children, black and minority parents are less likely to have that choice—meaning they must send their kids to school. She says that also means those children are at greater risk of dangers that could be associated with going to school—including the spread of the coronavirus.

COVID-19 spread continues in Palm Beach County

Wilkine Brutus, WLRN
Palm Beach County officials debuted a one-day only mobile coronavirus testing vehicle in the City of Greenacres Thursday. Dr. Alina Alonso is the county director for the department of health in Palm Beach County. She cautioned the public and business community about community spread of the virus. "The virus is still here. It has not gone away. It is still infecting many people. There is still community spread. What I mean by that is the virus is spreading in the community. And it is not contained in any shape, way or form," Alonso said. Alonso stressed the need to maintain physical distancing, hygiene and use of face masks. Mayor Dave Kerner says community spread of the virus was inevitable in Palm Beach County. He’s more concerned about vulnerable populations, like people who work in agriculture. "Am I concerned about the numbers going up? Of course I'm concerned. Did I anticipate numbers going up? Absolutely. Community spread is OK if it's managed correctly and people aren't getting into the ICU and getting hurt by it and our vulnerable populations are protected. We see that concept playing out. Our vulnerable populations are being protected," Kerner said. Earlier Thursday, the state department of health reported a record number of positive COVID-19 cases over a 24-hour period.

Education Commissioner temporarily eases requirements for Bright Futures

Gina Jordan, WFSU
Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has signed an emergency order easing some eligibility requirements for awards under the Bright Futures Scholarship Program.

Many graduating seniors have struggled to complete volunteer service hours and improve SAT or ACT test scores because of shutdowns caused by the pandemic. Corcoran says he found it “necessary” to take steps such as partly suspending rules and laws that require students to complete service hours. He also extended a deadline to earn qualifying standardized test scores for the different types of scholarships offered in Bright Futures. The order applies only to the academic year that just ended. It allows students to submit statements from school counselors or administrators that certify the students “had planned for, and intended to complete” the service hours.

SeaWorld reopens Thursday, with restrictions

Abe Aboraya, WMFE

SeaWorld reopens its three Orlando theme parks today, with reduced hours, mask requirements and social distancing guidelines.

Tickets must be bought ahead of time online, and have been deeply discounted. Guests must wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines.

Employees and guests will have their temperature taken and anyone with a fever will not be allowed into the park. Some attractions will be closed if distancing isn’t possible.

"Out of an abundance of caution, teams working with animals such as felines and primates are using additional personal protective equipment," the park said on its website.

Universal Orlando is already open, and Disney is scheduled to begin opening July 11. The governor also approved the reopening of twelve smaller attractions, including FunSpot and Gatorland.

The very first vaccine

Planet Money, NPR

A vaccine is just exposing yourself to a little bit of the bad thing that can kill you.

But when did we first get the idea to inject ourselves with something that can kill us, in order to save us?

On today's show we trace the 2000-year history of the very first vaccine. We go from Ancient Greece to Imperial China to Britain. And we learn how this led to an achievement we'd love to repeat again now with the coronavirus — completely eradicating a deadly disease.

Our Daily Breather: Reading to stay present during the pandemic

Cyrena Touros, NPR

Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who: Cyrena Touros
Where: Washington, D.C.
Recommendation: Re-reading a beloved book

At the beginning of the year, I pulled my copy of Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek down from the bookshelf of my teenage bedroom. I wanted to send it to a friend, along with all the notes my 17-year-old self scribbled in the margins and underlined in black pen. It's actually one of the few books I own that I've marked up, and it felt a bit like an unintentional gift from my younger self to my present one.

Pilgrim details a year of Dillard's life in Virginia's Tinker Creek, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. As the days warmed, I wanted to digest the book in a similar atmosphere, maybe find a nice, quiet spot by running water and sit to read, but instead I've been confined to my back patio. While some of my favorite passages are of Dillard just roasting insects ("Fish gotta swim and bird gotta fly; insects, it seems, gotta do one horrible thing after another"), the chapter I keep revisiting is called "The Present."

"Time is the one thing we have been given," she writes, "and we have been given to time. Time gives us a whirl. We keep waking from a dream we can't recall, looking around in surprise, and lapsing back, for years on end. All I want to do is stay awake, keep my head up, prop my eyes open, with toothpicks, with trees."

I selected this quote and began writing this reflection before a Minneapolis policeman, who is now charged with murder, killed George Floyd on May 25. I wanted to talk about staying grounded in the present; I learned a long time ago that training yourself to live for only the good parts of life will steal the years away from you — especially when difficult moments stretch on and on and on.

I was 15 years old when a man killed Trayvon Martin in my home state; I was the same age as Michael Brown when he died and I went to my first protest. And I'm thinking about how unfair it is that I have changed so much in this past decade — since I first read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, since I first watched a black boy's cruel death become a national news story — when in some ways, the world has changed so little. As journalists across the country reopen the argument about "objectivity" — about how newsroom guidelines, often set by white corporate media, wittingly or not work in the interest of people in power — and as I grapple with what to do in the meantime, the challenge I set for myself is to not look away. To, as Dillard says, stay awake, keep my head up and prop my eyes open as a witness.

U.S. hits 2 million coronavirus cases as many states see a surge of patients

Rob Stein, NPR

The U.S. has reached another dire landmark in its fight against COVID-19, surpassing 2 million confirmed cases on Wednesday. New coronavirus infections are rising in at least 20 states, even as restrictions on daily life continue to ease across the country.

More than 112,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. — the most fatalities reported by any nation, according to a tracker from Johns Hopkins University. And most experts believe those numbers underestimate the true toll.

The latest data also reflects the difficulty of quashing the coronavirus. While some early hot spots such as New York state have seen a sustained drop in new cases, COVID-19 hospitalizations have swelled recently in places like Texas, Arizona, Arkansas and California.

Texas set new records for COVID-19 hospitalizations on three consecutive days this week, with a total of 2,153 hospitalized patients on Wednesday. The state was among the first to start the reopening process, and Gov. Greg Abbott is moving forward with plans to raise occupancy limits for bars, restaurants, amusement parks and other businesses.

Florida is seeing its own new surge, with more people testing positive for the coronavirus on Saturday than any day in the past two months. Since June 2, the state has reported more than 1,000 new cases every day, even as the number of COVID-19 deaths has dropped to double-digits.

Arizona has reported an average of more than 1,000 new cases every day this week — the highest per capita rate in the U.S. Underscoring the crisis, the health department said Tuesday that only a quarter of the state's beds in intensive care units are currently available.

Public health experts say these surges should not be dismissed as a result of more testing.

"It's very clear that it's a real increase in community spread," Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, tells member station KJZZ in Phoenix. "It's not some artifact of additional testing."

Read the full article here.

United Airlines adds a step to check-in: Stating you don't have COVID-19 symptoms

Laurel Wamsley, NPR

United Airlines will now require passengers to complete a "health self-assessment" as part of its check-in process. It's the latest effort by a U.S. airline to assure passengers that it's safe to fly as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The airline's "Ready-to-Fly" checklist does not involve temperature checks or diagnostic testing for the virus. Instead, travelers must review the checklist when checking in online and click "Accept," or confirm it verbally to a gate agent — similar to how passengers must affirm they're not bringing explosives or banned materials on board.

Here's what's on United's checklist before boarding:

  • A reminder you must wear a face mask while on board
  • A list of common COVID-19 symptoms, and a declaration that you have not experienced them in the last 14 days
  • You have not been denied boarding by another airline due to a medical screening in the last 14 days
  • You have not had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days

"If anyone does not meet these criteria, we ask that you reschedule your trip," it says, and directs you to rebook your flight.

Read the full article here.

Separated by the pandemic, families struggle to keep in touch with vets in VA nursing homes

Stephanie Colombini, WUSF
As with most long-term care facilities, VA nursing homes haven't allowed in-person visitation for more than two months in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The separation has been hard on veterans and their families.

Army veteran Harry Stapleton is a resident at the Orlando VA’s Community Living Center. He’s doing a video chat with his sister Maria Mishkind and her husband who live in Maine. "You wanna see the dogs? - yeah - ok, oh gosh they're all over the place this is like a dog house." The Mishkinds show their brother the view from their back porch along with some photos. One of him standing next to a helicopter during the Vietnam War, and a recent shot of their mother, who's also in a nursing home. They chat about the family and a NASCAR race Stapleton saw on TV. "I watched the whole thing and only missed one lap - oh wow." Stapleton couldn't pull this video chat off by himself. The 72 year-old has severe Parkinson’s Disease connected to Agent Orange exposure during the war. His recreation therapist Pravish Presaud handles the technology so Stapleton can focus on his family. "It's like actually being there. It's like being there with them? Yeah it is, that's exactly what I think. it's like we're having coffee together isn't it? Yeah." Stapleton last saw the Mishkinds when they flew down in January. Maria says they typically "wear him out" with outings to the Kennedy Space Center or restaurants. They were supposed to return in April but had to cancel because of the pandemic. “I think he misses getting out and we miss getting him out, so it’s just been really hard to not be able to see him.” The Orlando Community Living Center has only had 1 COVID-19 case and no deaths. The visitation ban is part of national VA guidelines to protect residents and staff. Still it’s been stressful for 79 year-old Minda Lagos. Her son Diosdado is also at the facility and the coronavirus has completely upended their lives. Before the pandemic, Lagos spent every day at the facility sitting beside her son, who due to brain injuries can't move or talk. She says she was devastated when she learned in March she couldn’t visit and worried her son would think she’d abandoned him. “I was going nuts." Lagos isn’t good with electronics, so for weeks her contact with her son was secondhand through phone calls with nurses, until she broke down and complained. "I was crying and crying, I couldn't talk, I said why do I have to do this?" Therapist Pravish Presaud ended up meeting Lagos outside the facility to set up a chat app on her phone and teach her how to use it. Seeing her son on the screen for the first time was a huge relief. "It was good, he looks the same and I told him, hey you're handsome." Even though her son can’t respond verbally, Lagos says he listens and can smile and pucker his lips to send kisses. She says they both depend on the precious minutes they have with each other during their weekly virtual visits. "I’m just waiting and they call me, I'm able to talk to him you know, say I love you. We can't do anything unless this virus will be eradicated." Lagos still has a ways to go before she and her son can reunite. The VA has issued guidelines for its facilities to reopen. But Lisa Minor with the VA's Office of Geriatrics and Extended Care says it could be a while before nursing homes will welcome guests again. "Because we know this is a very vulnerable population and we want to see how things go in other areas of the hospital." Until then staff will continue to facilitate video chats to keep veterans engaged. Minor says she knows how important it is for vets and their families to be together again, but it has to be done safely.

Tokyo Olympics organizers aim to 'simplify' games

Austin Horn, NPR The Tokyo Olympic Games, which have been  delayed a year to 2021 due to the coronaviruspandemic, may be held in a simpler fashion than the Olympics usually are. Yoshiro Mori, the president of the organizing committee, told reporters Wednesday that he hopes to simplify the games in order to cut costs and provide a safer environment, according to Japan's NHK News. It's not clear how exactly the organizers want to carry this out. Officials said on Wednesday that they plan to ask international sports bodies and national Olympic committees to "streamline" the games and reduce the total number of participants. More than  11,000 athletes participated in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics. The Tokyo Summer Olympics are now set to begin in July 2021, and the International Olympic Committee  said last month that it will devote up to $800 million to help cover costs of postponement. The delay is estimated to cost Japan anywhere from $2 billion to $6 billion, according to The Associated Press. Mori said that organizers for the Tokyo Olympics have been communicating with the IOC, and are "in the process of identifying more than 200 items that simplification could exist," the wire service reported. "At this juncture, I am not able to say concretely what kind of games we are planning," Mori said. "What I am saying, is going forward we are going to listen, study and discuss what the games should be. How the games should be." The IOC plans to hold a meeting virtually on July 17, where such discussions could be held. Japan currently has the 46th-highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases with just over 17,000,  according to Johns Hopkins University. As of Wednesday afternoon, 922 people have died there due to the virus, a count lower than at least 21 U.S. states.

Protesters keep pressure on state leaders to fix Florida's unemployment system

Ryan Dailey, WFSU
Braving the mid-morning heat, a small group of protesters gathered at the historic Capitol Wednesday. They were there to tell Florida leadership the state’s unemployment system still needs fixing. When Judy Tanzosch was furloughed from her job in March, she started trying to apply for benefits on the state’s CONNECT system. "My situation, I applied on March 27, or I started to apply – and it took 45 days for me to be able to actually get the application completed in CONNECT, because the CONNECT system would consistently boot me out in various stages of the process," Tanzosch said. Then, after 11 weeks, Tanzosch says she was notified that she’d been denied. For that reason, she says she’s waiting to be invited to apply for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits. "So, you have to be denied for Florida benefits first, and then in a few days they will ‘invite’ you to apply for federal benefits. And then you start the application process all over," Tanzosch said. The PUA in Florida offers up to $275 per week, and is meant to be a safety valve for those who typically aren’t eligible for state benefits, like gig workers. Florida entered this crisis with one of, if not the least prepared unemployment systems. No state provides a fewer number of weeks. Earlier this week, Democratic state Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez testified before the U.S. Senate’s finance committee, where he ripped the state’s CONNECT system. Florida offers unemployed workers up to $275 dollars a week in traditional benefits. "We’re near the bottom in weekly benefits, capped at $275 and have major gaps in eligibility. Add to that an application and payment system infamous for its failures, and how persistent those failures are, having endured, unchanged, through several gubernatorial terms, successive audits, and prior federal intervention," Rodriguez said. Rodriguez thanked members of Congress for passing the CARES Act, responsible for giving many Americans a stimulus check. But, he said the Sunshine State is slow to disperse some of the federal money that should be going to Floridians. "Florida remains an outlier in deploying the CARES Act. Of those deemed ineligible for traditional unemployment, only about one fourth end up qualifying for the catch-all PUA program. A rate far below other states," Rodriguez said. Tallahassee’s small protest Wednesday brought out a Jacksonville congressional candidate. Albert Chester is running for a House seat. "My mom’s a teacher, my grandfather, he’s struggling to get his unemployment right now, hadn’t received anything – and people can’t live like that. I’m just here and want people to know I’m always going to support the lifeblood of America, and that’s middle America, low to middle-America," Chester said. Chester also had a message for state leadership. "We’ve just got to be more proactive, because that’s going to keep us out of certain situations, because if you’re reacting, by that time it’s too late – you’ve got people that are hungry, people on the brink of losing their homes, their cars, all those things," Chester said. Governor Ron DeSantis hasn’t been a big defender of the state’s CONNECT system, calling it among other insults a “jalopy.” He’s called for an investigation into how the contracts were forged to build the system, under previous governor and now U.S. Senator Rick Scott.

Senate panel asks: When can K-12 schools safely reopen?

Cory Turner, NPR Safely reopening the nation's public schools will be an expensive and Herculean task without additional help from the federal government. And, until schools do reopen, the nation's most vulnerable children will continue to be hardest hit — losing consistent access to meals, valuable learning time, and vital social-emotional support. Those were just some of the takeaways Wednesday from a hearing of the U.S. Senate's education committee. A handful of school leaders and a former U.S. secretary of education told senators that many districts will struggle to put in place  recommendations for protecting students from COVID-19. Those include providing masks, gloves and sanitizer, hiring cleaning staff and nurses, conducting testing and contact tracing, as well as planning for socially distant classrooms. One big challenge is that these efforts are happening as states slash education budgets. "I am concerned that the economic impact of the pandemic will result in necessary and sustained cuts in PK-12 education funding, perhaps to exceed 20% in Nebraska," said Matthew Blomstedt, that state's Commissioner of Education. The high cost to reopen schools was thrown into sharp relief by a  recent analysis from the School Superintendents Association and the Association of School Business Officials International. According to the report, the average district would incur nearly $1.8 million in additional expenses, with the bulk of the spending going toward hiring additional custodial staff, nurses and aides to take students' temperatures before they board school buses. Read the full article here.

Federal Reserve vows to help economy weather the pandemic recession

Scott Horsley, NPR The Federal Reserve left interest rates near zero Wednesday and once again promised to deliver whatever monetary medicine it can to an economy that's badly ailing from the coronavirus pandemic. "The Federal Reserve is committed to using its full range of tools to support the U.S. economy in this challenging time," the central bank said in  a statement. While noting that "financial conditions have improved, in part reflecting policy measures to support the economy," the Fed's rate-setting committee reiterated its intent to leave interest rates at rock-bottom levels, "until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve its maximum employment and price stability goals." Notes released along with the committee's statement suggest no rate increases are expected at least through 2022. "We're not thinking about raising rates," Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said at a news conference. "We're not even thinking about thinking about raising rates." Wednesday's vote by committee members was unanimous.

Despite a better-than-expected jobs report last week showing employers added 2.5 million jobs in May, committee members expect unemployment to remain very high for an extended period. They project a jobless rate in excess of 9% at the end of this year and 6.5% at the end of next year. "The May employment report, of course, was a welcome surprise," Powell said. "We hope we get many more like it. But I think we have to be honest. It's a long road." Inflation, meanwhile, is nowhere in sight. The Labor Department reported this week that  consumer prices fell in May for the third month in a row. Over the last 12 months, prices have risen just 0.1% — or 1.2% if volatile food and energy prices are excluded. That's well below the central bank's 2% inflation target. While the Fed uses a slightly different measure of inflation, the consumer price index suggests there's no need to worry about runaway prices for the foreseeable future. In addition to keeping interest rates low, the Fed has launched a series of  emergency lending programs with the Treasury Department, in an effort to keep families and businesses afloat during the pandemic. These include unprecedented efforts by the central bank to loan money to state and local governments and mid-sized businesses. Loans may not be enough to help some whose livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. Powell has repeatedly suggested that  Congress may have to do more to prevent the  coronavirus recession from doing even more lasting damage. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin acknowledged as much Wednesday during a hearing before the Senate Small Business Committee. "I definitely think we are going to need some kind of bipartisan legislation to put more money into the economy," he said.

Students of COVID: Life in lockdown

Kayla Gallagher, WFSU Protests over police brutality have pushed the coronavirus to the side in headlines, but COVID-19 is still a public health threat. Despite that, some states are lifting restrictions and reopening businesses that have had to shutter. And schools are making plans to re-start in the fall after suddenly being shut down in the spring. Students across the country have experienced the effects of coronavirus in different ways. Whether it has been moving back in with their parents, being laid-off or furloughed from their part-time jobs, or even having to work during the pandemic at an essential business. With Zoom classes becoming the new normal, students have had to follow along in creating a new routine for themselves. For these four students profiled by WFSU, the pandemic has taken their lives and turned them upside down. Valentina Saavedra Duke University junior, Valentina Saavedra quarantined in her hometown of Miami, Florida. Saavedra is a double major in Linguistics and International Relations with a minor in Korean Language. Aside from her school work, she was working three jobs and her only free time was on the weekends. Saavedra found out her semester would transition online while she was on spring break. “I was not happy to have school online and stay inside for a huge amount of time. Mostly just because I don’t like the idea of missing out on my school year,” Saavedra said. “I would much rather continue to work regularly where I can learn better when it’s not online and in-person and see my friends and have the independence that comes with not living at home with my parents.” Saavedra said at first, Duke gave the students a two weeks’ notice to come back and retrieve their things before the school would close, but they quickly changed their decision making it harder for students to make accommodations for themselves. Read more of their stories here.

Coachella Festival canceled in 2020, says Public Health Commissioner

Anastasia Tsioulcas, NPR The popular annual music festival Coachella and its country music sibling, Stagecoach, have both been canceled for 2020. While the events' promoter, Goldenvoice, has not yet made a public announcement, the  cancellation order was released Wednesday evening by the public health officer of Riverside County, California. In March, the festivals' organizers announced that both Coachella and Stagecoach would be  delayed until October. However, the order from Dr. Cameron Kaiser warned of a possible spike in COVID-19 infections this fall. He also noted that the festivals attract "hundreds of thousands of attendees from many countries," and that if an outbreak were to occur at Coachella or Stagecoach, it would be "impossible to track those who may be at risk." NPR has reached out to Coachella's promoter, Goldenvoice, which did not respond immediately to a request for comment. On Tuesday, however,  Billboard  reported that the company was looking to reschedule the festivals next year. It is still unclear whether or not Goldenvoice could feasibly present the festivals in April, the month in which they traditionally take place — and probably sell fewer tickets to meet social distancing requirements — or if they would have to move them to fall 2021 in a bid to increase audience capacity safely. It's also unclear at this point which marquee artists would commit to performing either month. Nearly  600,000 tickets were sold for the 2019 edition of Coachella, which was held across two consecutive weekends. This year's planned headliners included Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean for Coachella and Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood and Eric Church for Stagecoach. Goldenvoice is owned by the massive live event company AEG Presents.  Variety  reported on Monday that AEG Presents is instituting a variety of layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts across all areas of the organization as of July 1.

Jacksonville is front-runner for Trump convention speech

The Associated Press TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville, Florida, is the front-runner to host the celebration marking President Donald Trump’s acceptance of his party’s nomination for reelection. That's according to Ronna McDaniel, who heads the Republican National Committee. She said in a radio interview Wednesday that reports of a final decision are “definitely premature” but that Jacksonville is the favorite now. The Democratic governor of North Carolina balked at promising Trump a full-blown convention in Charlotte without social distancing measures during the coronavirus pandemic. The RNC voted Wednesday night to allow the party’s more mundane business, including discussions over the platform, to be held in Charlotte because of contractual obligations. Like what you just read? Check out our other  coronavirus coverage.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.