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Sat-Aug-2020 Nearly 11,000 Florida inmates hit by COVID-19

With a major increase in infections reported Friday, nearly 11,000 state prison inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 and 63 have died, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.…

Sat-Aug-2020 DeSantis mulls broadening definition of 'essential' workers

Gov. Ron DeSantis suggested Friday a further broadening of what constitutes an “essential” worker as he continues efforts to revive the coronavirus-staggered economy.

However, bars will have to wait for bigger declines in coronavirus case numbers before they can start pouring drinks for customers again.

“Of course, I'm willing to look at it, but I would just tell people, you know, we need to get through this period first,” DeSantis said when asked about the prospect of reopening bars and craft breweries while appearing at a transportation event at the Hilton Orlando-Bonnet Creek Resort.

The state Department of Health on Friday reported 7,686 new coronavirus cases, with a test positivity rate above 10 percent.…

Fri-Aug-2020 Federal appeals court will reconsider Jeffrey Epstein victims case

In a major victory for victims of notorious sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, an Atlanta-based appeals court on Friday agreed to revisit a decision in a lawsuit alleging that federal prosecutors violated victims’ rights by hatching a secret non-prosecution deal without getting the input of women who were abused by the wealthy financier when they were minors.

Courtney Wild, a Florida woman who as a teen was one of Epstein’s numerous victims, filed a lawsuit against prosecutors in 2008, alleging that the agreement violated her rights under the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act to confer with the government’s lawyers and to be treated fairly by them.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in April ruled that, although the facts of the case are “beyond scandalous” and a “national disgrace,” the agreement did not violate the federal victims-rights law.

But the appeals court on Friday granted Wild’s request for what is known as an “en banc,” or full court, rehearing and vacated the three-judge panel’s April 14 decision.…

Fri-Aug-2020 Florida restaurant employees can return to work now without a coronavirus test

A Thursday executive order signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis lifted the requirement of restaurant employees to pass two coronavirus tests before returning to work.

This amendment marks a significant change to the March 17 executive order, which authorized the Department of Business and Regulation to prohibit any employee who meets “criteria indicative of concerns related to COVID-19” from returning to work unless two negative test results are shown to the employer, according to the order.

Replacing the test results are “employee screening protocols” based on suggestions by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention.…

Fri-Aug-2020 Florida is lagging in Census responses, especially Orange County

About 60 percent of Florida households have responded to this year’s U.S. Census, trailing 31 other states in response rates, according to information released by the U.S. Census Bureau.…

Fri-Aug-2020 DeSantis quietly lifts travel restrictions on New Yorkers

New Yorkers and their neighbors from the tri-state region no longer have to self-quarantine for two weeks after entering Florida.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, who had repeatedly disparaged New York as an example of how not to manage the coronavirus pandemic, quietly lifted travel restrictions Thursday on people coming to Florida from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

The three states are not the coronavirus hotspots they were when the 14-day self-quarantine restrictions were put in place on March 23.

DeSantis lifted the restrictions Thursday in an executive order that focused on ensuring restaurants comply with employee coronavirus-screening protocols updated by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Shortly after issuing the executive order, DeSantis held an event at the University of North Florida to call for resuming high-school athletics amid the pandemic.…

Fri-Aug-2020 Leslye Gale's O-Town Lowdown on Magic 107.7 for Friday, Aug. 7, 2020

Every morning on Magic 107.7 FM, Leslye Gale discusses the most interesting Orlando Weekly stories of the day on "Chad & Leslye."…

Fri-Aug-2020 OnePulse Foundation benefit event CommUNITY Rainbow Run moves online for 2020

Joining countless concerts, arts events, political debates and plays, this year's CommUNITY Rainbow Run has moved online, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The fourth annual benefit for the OnePulse Foundation is still a go, at least, happening in September virtually.

Runners can take on the 4.9K miles of the race – a number that is a tribute to the 49 who lost their lives in the Pulse Nightclub shooting – at the time (and place) of their choosing.

And on the morning of Sept. 12 at 8 a.m., onePULSE Foundation will air a pre-taped video of the Orlando race route on its Facebook and YouTube pages.

“Please know we do not make these decisions lightly — we will always prioritize the health and safety of the public, the Pulse community, and our employees,” said onePULSE Foundation CEO Barbara Poma in a press release.

The registration fee is $49.…

Thu-Aug-2020 Experience the joy of schnitzel at the Stammtisch x Eola General pop-up this weekend

Eola General has been killing it with the pop-ups recently, and this weekend is no different: Stammtisch, the German lovechild of MX Tacos impresario Ryan Manning, hits their kitchen this Friday and Saturday night with a chefly spin on German comfort food faves.

From 5 to 9 p.m. both nights, a Stammtisch menu will be served (see menu below), as well as German beer and wine pairings by Curate Orlando.

Thu-Aug-2020 As Florida jobless claims rise, Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Rick Scott point fingers

Florida had an estimated 73,955 first-time unemployment claims last week, a drop of nearly 20 percent from the previous week as the state continues to try to recover economically from the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, with more than 3.48 million unemployment applications filed since mid-March, a verbal battle has reemerged over the state’s troubled jobless system after Gov. Ron DeSantis said it was designed with “pointless roadblocks.”

The system was developed under former Gov. Rick Scott, who responded Wednesday by advising DeSantis to “quit blaming others.”

The U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday reported an estimated 73,955 first-time jobless claims were filed in Florida as part of 1.186 million new claims nationally during the week that ended Aug. 1.

The national total represented the 20th consecutive week with more than 1 million new claims, but it was down from 1.4 million claims in each of the prior two weeks.

Florida’s figure was down from 91,462 claims during the week that ended July 25 and was well below claims from April, when much of the state was shut down to try to control the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. DeSantis began efforts May 4 to reopen businesses.

While Florida showed improvement last week, only California had more first-time claims, with an estimated 228,530.…

Thu-Aug-2020 4 Rivers Smokehouse brings back the brisket burger for the month of August only

Local barbecue emporium 4 Rivers Smokehouse is pulling a McRib – perhaps the worst metaphor ever to use for an actual barbecue restaurant, forgive us – and bringing back their popular Brisket Burger for a limited time only.

The towering combination of Angus brisket patty, melted cheddar cheese and fried onions all stuffed between two buns will be available through Aug. 29 for $8.49.

Is your heart up to the challenge? Of course it is.

The elusive burger last appeared for the month of May last year, so this might be your last chance to indulge for a good while.

The Brisket Burger is available now at all area 4 Rivers locations.



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Please follow CDC guidelines and Orange County advisories to stay safe, and please support this free publication.…

Thu-Aug-2020 UCF professor and composer Stella Sung and Opera Orlando receive $10k grant for opera based on a Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings story

UCF professor Stella Sung and Opera Orlando have been awarded a $10,000 grant from Opera America as a commission to complete an opera based on – in a wonderfully Florida-centric turn – The Secret River, a children's story by author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (Cross Creek, The Yearling).

This grant is part of a $100,000 program on the part of Opera America to promote women composers in the world of opera.

Sung – a multifaceted composer, musician, professor of music theory and composition, former Composer-in-Residence for the Orlando Philharmonic, and Director of UCF's Center for Research and Education in Arts, Technology and Entertainment – is already well into composition, with Pulitzer Prize-winning lyricist Mark Campbell handling the libretto.

The Secret River, Rawling's only expressly children's book, was posthumously published in 1955. The often fantastical story, also set in Florida, should be prime for a translation to the stage.…

Thu-Aug-2020 Orlando City ready to win it all, at MLS Is Back tournament


Orlando City has finally given its devotees and supporters something to believe in during the "MLS Is Back" tournament, going on now at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Lake Buena Vista.

Today, Orlando City will take on Minnesota United in the semifinal of the tournament, after having beaten 2019 Supporter's Shield winner LAFC last Friday.…

Thu-Aug-2020 Gov. DeSantis calls off another Florida Cabinet meeting

A Florida Cabinet meeting scheduled for next Tuesday has been canceled, to the displeasure of Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the lone Democrat on the panel.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office did not immediately give a reason Wednesday for why DeSantis, Fried, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Attorney General Ashley Moody won’t meet.…

Thu-Aug-2020 Florida group calls for 'universal' mail-in voting

A Tallahassee research organization called Wednesday for “universal” mail-in voting in Florida, a day after President Donald Trump backed the state’s current system for casting ballots by mail.

The non-profit group Integrity Florida released an analysis of changes made after the troubled 2018 elections and suggested the coronavirus pandemic will require going to a universal process in which ballots would be mailed to all voters, with some in-person voting statewide or at the county level.

Ben Wilcox, research director for Integrity Florida, said he anticipates Republican legislative leaders might be more open to the proposals after the 2020 elections, as some Western states are using universal voting and others are using it on local levels.

“I think people are going to be more open to going to universal mail balloting once this election is over and we see how successful it has been,” Wilcox said. “We just don’t know what’s going to happen with this pandemic.…

Wed-Aug-2020 Battle between state and Florida's largest teachers union intensifies, as school openings near

With some students set to return to classrooms on Monday, state officials and Florida’s largest teachers union are locked in a legal battle over an order requiring schools to reopen this month amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Florida Education Association last month filed a lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and other defendants, alleging that a July 6 order issued by Corcoran violates the state Constitution, which guarantees Floridians the right to “safe” and “secure” public education.

But the governor and Corcoran this week asked a Miami-Dade County circuit judge to toss out the lawsuit, calling it a “misguided effort to obtain a judicial mandate that forbids any school in the state from providing in-person instruction to any student.”

Corcoran’s order requires all school districts to reopen brick-and-mortar schools at least five days a week sometime in August, unless state and local health officials direct otherwise.

“The circumstances that brought us here today are dramatic, tragic, and well known to all of us,” Kenneth Coffey, a lawyer who represents the teachers union, told Circuit Judge Spencer Eig during an online hearing Wednesday.

The union on Tuesday filed a motion asking Eig to issue a temporary injunction “to stop the reopening of schools until it is safe to do so.”

The legal wrangling over reopening schools comes as COVID-19 cases and deaths related to the coronavirus continue to climb throughout the state, a point emphasized by Coffey.

The lawyer noted that state health officials on Wednesday reported that Florida has had more than 500,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 7,600 deaths related to the virus.…

Wed-Aug-2020 Gov. DeSantis looks to allow visits again at Florida's nursing homes

Gov. Ron DeSantis, acknowledging what he called the “emotional damage” caused by a lockdown of nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic, said on Tuesday that the state will look at ways to ease restrictions that have kept nursing-home residents and family members separated since March.

“I think that would put a lot of people at ease knowing there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” DeSantis said.…

Wed-Aug-2020 Florida's sales tax 'holiday' starts Friday, and includes computers

Retailers reeling from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic hope Floridians will indulge in a chance to save some money this weekend as students prepare for the new school year, whether it be in traditional classrooms or online.

The state will hold a sales-tax “holiday” from Friday through Sunday, allowing back-to-school shoppers to avoid paying sales taxes on clothes costing $60 or less and school supplies costing $15 or less.

A third part of the holiday — no sales taxes on the first $1,000 of the cost of personal computers and some related accessories — has been drawing attention as school districts debate when and how students will begin classes.

Many children are expected to start the school year taking classes online because of concerns about the spread of the virus, likely spurring some families to look for computer equipment.

Best Buy and Walmart have taken notice, running online ads that banner the state’s tax-holiday period above computer discounts.…

Wed-Aug-2020 Impossible Foods' plant-based burgers now stocked at Publix locations throughout Florida

In what no doubt will be great news to vegetarians and omnivores alike, plant-based burger company Impossible Foods are expanding their distribution network into Florida via a deal with supermarket chain Publix.

Impossible Foods products will now be available in all of Publix's 1,243 locations in Florida and throughout the Southeast.

“Impossible Foods’ fans are passionate, vocal advocates. Many of them have been specifically asking for Impossible Burger to come to Publix," said Impossible's President Dennis Woodside in a press release.…

Wed-Aug-2020 New Wendy's in Winter Park offers a year of free breakfast to first 100 cars on Friday

Consult your cardiologist and set that alarm clock.

To celebrate the grand opening of a new Wendy's location in Winter Park, the company is offering an entire year of free breakfast to those diligent enough to be among the first one hundred cars to make a drive-thru purchase on Friday, Aug. 7, starting at 6:30 a.m.

Those super-special guests will be given coupon books with a free breakfast sandwich to be redeemed every week through August of 2021. People arriving after the first hundred cars on Friday will receive a small Frosty as consolation.…

Wed-Aug-2020 Civil rights attorney suing Disney World and Orange County Sheriff's Office over arrest of great-grandmother with CBD

Prolific civil rights attorney Ben Crump is filing a civil lawsuit against Walt Disney World and the Orange County Sheriff's Office over the "wrongful and traumatic" arrest of Hester Burkhalter, a then-69-year-old great-grandmother visiting the Magic Kingdom with her family in April 2019.

The arrest led to a felony charge and a 12-hour stay in jail, before a $2,000 bond was posted, despite a note from her doctor that Burkhalter had in her purse at the time of the arrest. The charges were later dropped by Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala.

The glass bottle Burkhalter carried into the park in her purse said it contained a peppermint CBD tincture with zero milligrams of THC, the chemical contained within cannabis that induces a euphoric feeling. She suffers from severe arthritis and was recommended the oil by her doctor.

Burkhalter hired Crump soon after the incident, announcing her intention to sue in May 2019.…

Wed-Aug-2020 Mayor Dyer tells ABC News he's 'not sure how we bring bars back' until after coronavirus vaccine is developed

During an interview with ABC News on Tuesday, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said that he couldn't see how bars could reopen safely in Orlando until a vaccine for coronavirus is developed. …

Wed-Aug-2020 Leslye Gale's O-Town Lowdown on Magic 107.7 for Wednesday, Aug. 5

Every morning on Magic 107.7 FM, Leslye Gale discusses the most interesting Orlando Weekly stories of the day on "Chad & Leslye."…

Wed-Aug-2020 Gov. DeSantis says he's 'cautious' about linking Florida school reopenings to virus

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday he would be “cautious” about linking school reopenings in Florida to COVID-19 positivity rates in communities.…

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