The Point, May 21, 2020: Drama Over Florida Health Department Employee Continues


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Today’s top Florida stories

• Politico: As Pence stands by, DeSantis unleashes on former health official. “As Vice President Mike Pence quietly looked on, Gov. Ron DeSantis unleashed his temper on a former state employee at the center of a debate over Florida’s coronavirus data. DeSantis, visibly annoyed and raising his voice, blasted Rebekah Jones, age 30, who was fired this week from the Florida Department of Health after she raised doubts about the veracity of coronavirus testing data on the Florida Department of Health’s Covid-19 dashboard.”

• Tampa Bay Times: DeSantis reveals criminal charge against fired data manager, but questions remain. “Although DeSantis’s office said Rebekah Jones had been fired from her job as geographic information systems manager, Department of Health spokesman Alberto Moscoso said Jones is still technically employed. He said she has the option to resign by 5 p.m. Thursday. If she does not, she will then be fired. The Department of Health has not said publicly why they have asked Jones to resign.”

• WMFE: Pence In Orlando: Businesses To Reopen “Sooner Than Most People Think.” “The vice president struck an assured tone as he pointed to data trends that he said show the coronavirus is easing its grip on the quarantine-weary country.”

• Miami Herald ($): Can South Florida’s climate change adaptation programs survive coronavirus costs? “Although the full impacts of the financial crunch won’t be known for a while, setting aside money for problems years or decades away will likely be a growing challenge for many communities — and their political leadership. Just months into the COVID-19 crisis, the chipping away has already begun on some signature South Florida climate programs.”

• New York Times ($): It’s Almost Memorial Day, and I Want to Go to the Beach. Can I Do That Safely? “For those concerned about their safety during the coronavirus pandemic, the current consensus is that socially distant outdoor activities are some of the safer ways to re-engage with the world.”

• WMFE: Universal To Present Reopening Plan To County On Thursday. “The news comes as an Orange County task force is recommending that ten smaller tourist attractions be allowed to reopen. Several of the attractions said they could open today if allowed, and could hire more than 1,000 employees back if allowed to open.”

• Northwest Florida Daily News ($): Flight operations suspended after two aircraft crashes in four days at Eglin AFB. “Two aircraft crashes within four days have prompted the installation commander at Eglin Air Force Base to declare a ‘safety pause’ for Thursday.”

• Lakeland Ledger ($): Judd: 70 arrested after investigation into homicide, armed home invasions. “More than 70 people have been arrested after a 9-month investigation sparked by the homicide of Shabreon ‘Shay’ Collins and five armed home invasions, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.”

• Fort Myers News-Press ($): Where do burned out cars go? Thousands damaged near airport will get new life as scrap metal. “Most of the vehicles — damaged or destroyed by a fire near the airport more than a month ago — are headed to a local plant for recycling.”

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From NPR News

• Health: Organ Transplants Down As Stay-At-Home Rules Reduce Fatal Traffic Collisions

• Business: Target’s Average Day In April Was Bigger Than Cyber Monday

• Business: Germany Struggles To Fill Its Farm Labor Shortage After Closing Its Borders

• National: Cities Have Never Seen A Downturn Like This, And Things Will Only Get Worse

• National: ‘Things Will Never Be The Same.’ How The Pandemic Has Changed Worship

• National: She Gets Calls And Texts Meant For Elon Musk. Some Are Pretty Weird

• National: Expedition To Salvage Titanic’s Wireless Telegraph Gets The Go-Ahead

• Politics: Trump And Biden Wage An Uneven Virtual Campaign

• World: Tom Moore, U.K.’s 100-Year-Old Hero, Is Awarded Knighthood For Fundraising Walks

About today’s curator

I’m Ethan Magoc, a news editor at WUFT. Originally from Pennsylvania, I’ve found a home telling Florida stories. I’m part of a team searching each morning for local and state stories that are important to you; please send feedback about today’s edition or ideas for stories we may have missed to

About WUFT News

Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news

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