COVID data lawsuit, voting in 2024 and five years since Hurricane Michael
This week on The Florida Roundup, we discuss Florida settling a COVID infection information lawsuit that it fought for two years, new laws that may change how you cast your ballot in the 2024 election, and the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Michael's impact on parts of the panhandle.
Florida settles a lawsuit over COVID-19 records
On June 4, 2021, the state of Florida stopped delivering daily information on COVID-19 testing, infections and deaths. At the time, the spokesperson for Gov. Ron DeSantis said COVID cases had dropped significantly and “our state is returning to normal” noting the availability of vaccines.
Instead of daily reports, it was going to release the data each week. Today, the information comes out every two weeks.
At the time the state stopped its daily update, almost 37,000 Floridians had died primarily from COVID-19. According to the latest data from the Department of Health, through the end of September, over 91,000 residents have died from the virus.
This week, the state agreed to hand over the statistics it originally said it did not have. It does, and it amounts to 25 gigabytes of data — more than two years of infection rates, vaccinations and deaths.
The state settled a lawsuit by releasing the reports, and while not admitting any guilt, it will pay the $152,000 in legal costs by those who sued.
- Jason L. Salemi, associate professor of Epidemiology at the University of South Florida
- Barbara Petersen, the executive director at The Florida Center for Government Accountability
Voter fraud stories in Florida making headlines
In about a year you may be casting your ballot already in the 2024 election. Florida has made election security and the way you cast your vote big issues.
This month, there have been two voter fraud stories in Florida making headlines.
In Tallahassee, 69-year-old Marsha Ervin has been charged with felony voter fraud. She was convicted of a felony and served time in prison. Her probation doesn’t end until next month and so she was not eligible to vote in 2020 and 2022, but she was able to register to vote with the state and she voted.
The second case is from The Villages where Robert Rivernider was charged with felony forgery and fraud for allegedly voting for his dead father in the 2020 election. He also has a felony conviction on his record and has been paying restitution.
In Florida, felons have to complete their prison time, probation, and finish paying fees, fines and restitution before being able to legally vote again.
Florida has made several changes to voting since the last presidential election, including creating a special law enforcement agency to investigate elections.
- Brian Corley, the Pasco County Supervisor of Elections
- John Kennedy, a reporter in the Capital Bureau, USA Today Network-Florida
Hurricane Michael recovery has a long way to go
Five years ago this week Hurricane Michael crashed into Florida’s Panhandle. The storm was devastating for communities in its path. Homes, jobs and lives were lost. Now, many of the residents who lived through the disaster say they’re still struggling to recover. Regan McCarthy from our partner station WFSU in Tallahassee has more.
Michael went from a tropical storm to a deadly category 4 monster in about 30 hours. Reporter Tristram Korten was with the Air Force Reserve on a flight into Michael to gather historic information — to help better understand such big storms. This is his story originally broadcast in 2018.
Center will hail Jacksonville’s music history
A three-story brick building on Palmetto Street in Jacksonville where the Florida Casket Company built its merchandise for 46 years will be filled with life and music in the years ahead.
The Jacksonville History Center is moving into the former casket factory, and its first floor will be dedicated to music and musicians from around the Jacksonville area.
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