Your Tuesday Update: Eviction Moratorium Extended, Hurricane Prep During Coronavirus, More Curfews Reinstated, White House Coronavirus Czar Steps Down
Gov. Ron DeSantis extends eviction moratorium for another month
Danielle Prieur, WMFE
Gov. Ron DeSantis has extended the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through July 1, 2020.
The moratorium was set to expire Tuesday.
The right thing to do. @GovDeSantis extended an Executive Order that provides temporary relief from mortgage foreclosure and evictions for Florida home owners & tenants thru July 1, 2020 because he believes it’s the right thing to do given the harmful economic impact of COVID19.
— Helen Aguirre Ferré (@helenaguirrefer) June 2, 2020
The order applies to all Florida homeowners and tenants. In a tweet, DeSantis’ communications director Helen Aguirre Ferre said the governor felt, “it was the right thing to do given the harmful economic impact of COVID-19.”
The executive order suspends evictions and foreclosures – but explicitly says it doesn’t relieve individuals of their obligations to pay.
I have issued an executive order extending the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures until July 1st. We are committed to getting Floridians back on their feet as we move forward with our #SafeSmartStepbyStep plan for Florida’s recovery. pic.twitter.com/ZJHGrOYJN7
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) June 2, 2020
The key to coronavirus testing is community
Short Wave, NPR
Justifying the means: What it means to treat all suffering equally
Hidden Brain, NPR
Lake County has imposed a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Joe Byrnes, WMFE
The emergency curfew order cites “concern of riots, vandalism and looting taking place across the country.”
The violence — along with peaceful protests — followed the death of George Floyd last week in Minneapolis police custody.
No looting or vandalism was reported in Lake County. But Commission Chair Leslie Campione says the sheriff’s office learned of credible threats against local businesses.
“In light of those threats along with the fact that Orlando and Orange County have put a curfew in effect, we wanted to try to be proactive and be prepared should those threats materialize,” Campione said.
The curfew has exceptions for police, fire and other officials, medical emergencies, and people traveling to and from work.
Nearly 26,000 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19, federal data show
Ina Jaffe, NPR
Newly released data from the U.S. government show that nearly 26,000 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19 and more than 60,000 have fallen ill. These figures, however, don’t account for all nursing homes across the country.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, known as CMS, about 80% of nursing homes nationwide reported data to the CDC as is now required. The remaining 20% could face fines if they don’t comply.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma told reporters on a conference call Monday that the data has limitations: Some facilities have reported cumulative figures, and some have reported weekly. She said she expects the discrepancies will even out over time. The figures will be publicly available Thursday on a government website called Nursing Home Compare.
Verma also said CMS had found that the nursing homes with the lowest ratings had some of the worst outbreaks of COVID-19. In March, CMS ordered states to inspect nursing homes for proper infection control. But figures released Monday show that nationwide, a little over half of those inspections have been done, with Nevada completing 100 percent of inspections and West Virginia completing around 11 percent.
States that do not finish all of the required infection inspections by the end of July could face having to forfeit some of their funding under the coronavirus aid package known as the CARES Act. That money could be redistributed among states that are in compliance with the requirement.
CMS also announced Monday that it will be stepping up fines for nursing homes that fail to sufficiently control infections. Nursing homes that have previously been cited for lax infection control could receive fines ranging from $5,000 to $20,000.
White House Coronavirus Testing Czar to stand down
Selena Simmons-Duffin, NPR
The Trump administration’s testing czar announced Monday that he will be leaving that position in mid-June.
Adm. Brett Giroir told a meeting of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS that he will be “demobilized” from his role overseeing coronavirus testing at FEMA in a few weeks and going back to his regular post at the Department of Health and Human Services.
A HHS spokesperson confirmed the plan for Giroir to stand down from his role and indicated that there are no plans to appoint a new “head of efforts” for coronavirus testing.
“While Adm. Giroir will remain engaged with the COVID-19 testing and related efforts, many of the day-to-day management and operations of testing are being transitioned to HHS operating divisions,” the spokesperson said in a statement to NPR. This will allow Giroir “to return to the key public health responsibilities of the Assistant Secretary for Health.”
Giroir was appointed to the testing position in March at a time when the U.S. was struggling to ramp up testing capacity as coronavirus was spreading. When Giroir took charge, on March 12, there were only 5,247 tests done per day nationally.
By the end of May, there were around 400,000 tests done daily according to The COVID Tracking Project. While that’s a significant increase, some public health experts say that in order to safely reopen, as many as 900,000 daily tests may be needed.
“Week after week, things do look a little bit better,” says Scott Becker, CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories. “But we’re working to continue to expand because we really believe much more testing is needed through the summer and certainly into the fall.”
Becker says Giroir was responsive and forthright about the testing issues, and that he appreciated him in the “command and control kind of role.” The move by HHS away from that model is understandable, Becker says, adding that it also makes him “a little bit anxious.”
“The testing supplies are still not perfect — the supply chain still isn’t fully operational,” he says. “So I want to make sure that we’re still getting the attention that we need.”
Becker takes some comfort in the fact that Giroir should still be accessible and responsive on testing issues from his usual post as assistant secretary for health at HHS, noting, “I still know where to find him.”
Florida rethinks hurricane prep in midst of coronavirus
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — As emergency managers across Florida prepare for hurricane season, the question of how to conduct evacuations and sheltering during the coronavirus pandemic throws a wrench into an already difficult process.
Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz is expressing confidence that the state is prepared for a storm, but county directors still have concerns, particularly on how to shelter people in a way to prevent spread of the virus.
Options include using hotels or expanding existing shelter space to make sure there’s enough room to social distance. And some people may be told it’s better to ride a storm out at home.
NWSL sets schedule for tournament in Utah
The National Women’s Soccer league has announced the schedule for the opening round of its tournament set to start later this month in Utah.
The league’s nine teams will play four preliminary round games, with eight teams advancing to the quarterfinals.
The Portland Thorns will play the defending champion North Carolina Courage on the opening day, along with a match between the Chicago Red Stars and the Orlando Pride.
One of those games will be broadcast nationally on CBS, the league’s new television partner this season.
Second COVID-19 wave expected after regulations relax and protests continue
Blaise Gainey, WFSU
Health experts worry COVID-19 cases could rise because of the reopening of restaurants and businesses, as well as large gatherings that are part of nationwide protests.
Epidemiologist Perry Brown is a professor at Florida A&M University. He says a spike in positive coronavirus cases around the county is likely to happen.
“I would love to be wrong because the outcome would be the best outcome but again my fear is that some of these things that are happening now with both the relaxation as well as the mass gatherings will contribute to a second wave,” Brown said.
For Faiy Al, a student at Florida State University, worries about the coronavirus aren’t her main concern. She joined a protest Monday in front of the state Capitol and says right now, there are bigger issues to worry about than COVID-19.
“Honestly I’ve kind of forgotten about COVID-19 because all I can think about is why they keep killing us. Like I don’t even have time to worry about COVID-19 because, COVID-19 I mean theres ways I can go to the hospital to get, and I mean with my age group I’m young enough to fight it. But if a cop is in my face and shoots me right away I can’t fight that,” Al said.
Brown says he expects test results to reflect the opening of more businesses and the recent protests within 5 to 14 days. Over the weekend health officials reported more than 2,000 new cases in Florida, and 47 deaths.
Half of Florida COVID-19 deaths linked to long-term care
Brendan Rivers, WJCT
More than half of Florida’s reported COVID-19 deaths have been linked to long-term care facilities like nursing homes.
Gov. Ron DeSantis says the state’s primary testing focus is on staff and residents at long-term care facilities.
In recent weeks, the number of COVID-19 linked deaths in nursing homes and assisted living facilities has risen much faster than deaths in the general population, topping 50 percent over the weekend.
The disease is especially dangerous to seniors and people with underlying health conditions, which describes most residents of those long-term care facilities.
State numbers on Sunday show 85 percent of all Floridians who have died from COVID-19 were 65 or older. People under 55 account for less than 6 percent of all deaths.
AAA survey shows 42% of people less likely to evacuate for hurricanes this year due to coronavirus concerns
Robbie Gaffney, WFSU
Almost half the Floridians taking part in a AAA survey said they’re less likely to evacuate for a hurricane this season because of fears of catching the coronavirus. More than a quarter of respondents said they’ll stay in their homes even if officials warn them to leave.
AAA conducted a survey last week to see how people are preparing for the 2020 hurricane season.
Spokesperson Mark Jenkins says COVID-19 could impact someone’s decision to leave their home. According to the survey, about 42 percent of respondents are less likely to leave because of concerns about the virus.
“I think ultimately it just comes down to people staying at home when maybe the recommendation should be that they get out of harm’s way. People might not be as anxious to do that. They might be more likely to stay at home and in the path of a potentially dangerous storm,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins says his organization urges Floridians to listen to evacuation warnings.
The 2020 hurricane season has just begun. Statewide, officials have started making plans for reducing the potential spread of the coronavirus in shelters. Some plans include using schools as shelters and keeping family groups together in classrooms.
Keys open to tourists again after two months
Nancy Klingener, WLRN
By Monday morning, traffic had already picked up in the Upper Keys. The Isla Bella Resort in Marathon had 70 reservations, out of about 200 guest rooms.
Justin Nels is the managing director at Isla Bella.
“It’s nice to see folks coming back. Demand’s been great. You know, we spent the last two months getting the hotel cleaned and sanitized and putting in sanitizing stations and the employees are all wearing masks and practicing social distancing. And reserving pool chairs for distancing,” Nels said.
Nels says a lot of the guests are people who have stayed at the resort before, even though it’s only been open a little over a year. But they’re also getting some first-time guests.
“We have some new travelers that maybe would have traveled to the Caribbean or Mexico in the past, that now can come here without a passport and still have that same experience,” Nels said.
Monroe County is recommending hotels limit occupancy to 50 percent for the first few weeks. Vacation rentals, including AirBnBs, also can reopen.
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