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Your Wednesday Update: Orange County Task Force Gives Disney, SeaWorld Initial Greenlight to Reopen, Hurricane Season Collides with the Pandemic, Traffic is Problematic as Cities Lift Restrictions

Photo: Patricia Ferreira
Photo: Patricia Ferreira

An Orange County committee has given the initial greenlight for Walt Disney World and SeaWorld to reopen

Abe Aboraya, WMFE 

The Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force approved plans for both parks Wednesday. 

Disney spokesman Jim McPhee says Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom would reopen July 11, while Hollywood Studios and Epcot would reopen July 15.

McPhee says Disney will not allow character meet-and-greets, and will reduce capacity on rides. 

“And restaurants, and retail stores, and transportation. We will temporarily suspend fireworks and parades and other events that create crowds," McPhee said.

Next, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and Gov. Ron DeSantis would need to sign off on the plans. SeaWorld hopes to open its three Orlando theme parks June 10.

Hurricane season collides with coronavirus

Tom Urban, WLRN
With the six-month Atlantic hurricane season starting Monday, emergency management officials have changed how Florida will respond to storms as they grapple with the coronavirus pandemic. Disaster managers are modifying hurricane plans on issues such as evacuations and shelters because of the virus. People who go to shelters are less likely to be crowded into single large rooms. Caps will be placed, maybe 50 people to a shelter, or evacuees could be spread across complexes such as schools, where each classroom could be used by five to 10 people. Another possibility is that people could find themselves filling hotels that would otherwise be low occupancy. Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz says it’s likely more people will be told to shelter in place. “Now, potentially county emergency managers will be saying know your home, know your zone and know your home. So, if you live in a surge zone, yes you’ll still have to get out. But, if your house is new construction, it’s built to code, and we get a Category One or Category Two storm, perhaps they’ll decide the safest place for you to be is in your home," Moskowitz said. Mixing the forecasts with the coronavirus, the state has created a reserve of 10 million face masks, one million face shields, and five million gloves. NOAA is forecasting 13 to 19 named storms this season. There have already been two tropical storms, as Arthur threatened the Carolinas earlier this month and Bertha formed off the Carolinas Wednesday.

As lockdown orders lift, can cities prevent a traffic catastrophe?

Camila Domonoske, NPR

Over the last few months, cities have had to deal with tremendous challenges — fighting a pandemic, preserving essential services, protecting their own workers, coping with devastating budget cuts.

One thing local officials didn't have to worry about was traffic, as the pandemic emptied city streets.

But that's about to change.
Many city dwellers, trying to maintain social distance, are continuing to avoid public transit. If they replace bus or subway trips with car rides, congestion could grow dire. Eve Strother, a lawyer in Boston, says she won't be getting on the T anytime soon. She's worried about being close to people who refuse to wear masks or follow social distancing guidelines. "It's kind of scary to not know how your commute will go," she says. Strother feels much safer in her car. Some cities in China have already seen rush hour traffic significantly worse than before the pandemic. "We could really see an outcome from this where we have crushing gridlock," says Corinne Kisner, the executive director of the National Association of City Transportation Officials. The organization recently released  a guidefor cities on how to adapt to the ongoing coronavirus crisis and the recovery ahead. Normally, cities would respond to growing traffic by trying to boost rides on buses or subways. "Being able to move more people in the least amount of space has been the mantra of transit agencies around the world," says Tiffany Chu, the CEO of transportation planning software company Remix. "And now all of a sudden with COVID, because you have to socially or physically distance, that mantra just no longer holds up. And it's mind-boggling for people who've been working in transportation for decades." Making more space for cars, scooters and pedestrians ... There's no silver bullet to solve this problem, but one key strategy is to push more people to travel by bike, foot or scooter instead of by car.

Cities like London and Paris, which have already committed to supporting bicycle travel, have accelerated their plans to build bike lanes to help reduce future pandemic-worsened traffic jams. In the U.S., in contrast, many cities have so far focused on urgent needs  during the pandemic shutdowns, instead of the crowding that may come after. Cities from Oakland to Boston have taken  street space previously reserved for cars and used it to reduce crowding and promote social distancing — from expanding sidewalks to using parking lots as dining spaces. But some of these measures, particularly "slow streets" or "open streets" reserved for non-car traffic, could also help replace car trips and reduce traffic in the long term. Seattle, which  blocked through traffic on some roadsand dubbed them Stay Healthy Streets, was the first major U.S. city to announce it would make the pandemic-induced changes permanent. "The support and the positivity we got in just the first few weeks of putting these out meant that it ... was pretty easy to say, 'Let's make this permanent,' " says Sam Zimbabwe, the director of Seattle's Department of Transportation. The streets were meant to support both recreation and travel needs, he says, but as more people resume daily travel, "the transportation aspects will probably grow in importance," he says. Seattle was building on an established network of greenways and bike paths, and many cities have similarly used existing plans and policies as a launching pad. "I think cities have been really proactive and sort of standing up projects and initiatives essentially overnight — or within a week or so," says Zabe Bent, the director of design at the National Association of City Transportation Officials. "Open streets, shared streets, bike lanes ... projects that can can just be moved forward a lot faster because there are fewer people traveling on our streets by car." ... While keeping transit rolling, with more empty seats Meanwhile, public transit remains crucial — particularly for communities hardest hit by the coronavirus. Many essential workers live far from their workplaces and don't have access to a car. Transit, an app that provides public transit data,  surveyed users who kept riding transit during the crisis. People of color, low-income riders and people who work in food service or healthcare were disproportionately likely to keep taking transit during the pandemic. "I think some of the rhetoric I've been hearing in the transportation world — and I don't think this is intentional — is almost painting transit as sacrificial ... [that] it's not going to be safe for a long time, we've all got to get on bikes," says Lynda Lopez, an advocacy manager at the Active Transportation Alliance in Chicago. "I think we need to realize that public transit is a core part of how people move, especially in communities that don't have other options." Safety measures, from masks to extra cleaning, can help keep transit as safe as possible for essential riders — and vulnerable transit workers. Kisner, of the National Association of City Transportation Officials, says cities can also increase the frequency of buses or trains, add bus lanes and redesign their bus routes to better serve essential workers who rely on transit services — not just 9-to-5 office workers. "A lot of transit systems haven't really changed their network design in, frankly, decades," she says. "It's been a very slow and gradual process." Now, moving slowly isn't an option for cities that want to keep up with a world transformed by the coronavirus. Tamika Butler is the head of California planning and equity and inclusion at Toole Design, a consulting firm that helps cities with transportation planning, especially for biking and walking. She says community input is essential as cities are moving with unprecedented speed. "There has to be a balance between answering the call and doing what folks need while still not recreating processes that continue to exclude people," she says. Done properly, she says, this is an opportunity to address the underlying inequities that have long shaped American cities, and not just keep streets moving, but make them more accessible — and safer — for everyone.

A bold pitch to boost school funding for the nation's most vulnerable students

Cory Turner, NPR

School district lines have become engines of inequity in many states. Not only can they be used to keep children out of a neighborhood's schools, they can also keep a district's wealth in. But with many districts facing severe budget cuts because of the coronavirus pandemic, a new report proposes a radical solution:

Leave the lines, but spread the wealth.

The report, titled Clean Slate, comes from EdBuild, a nonprofit that advocates for equitable school funding. It's a moonshot pitch to many district and state leaders that recommends distributing local property tax revenue more broadly — at the county or even state level. According to EdBuild, only 13 states currently do this.

After a nationwide analysis of school funding data, the report found, "the bigger the school district taxing jurisdiction, the more equity was being created," says Rebecca Sibilia, EdBuild's founder and CEO.

Under this reimagining of America's school funding system, EdBuild found, more than 2 out of 3 K-12 students (69%) — and 76% of low-income students — would receive equal or greater school funding than they do now, an average increase of nearly $1,000 per student.

Sibilia admits some communities may see this idea as a threat to their local control of schools, but funding should not be confused with governance, she says.

"I hope this report will take the first step toward really challenging this question of whether or not being able to run your own schools means being able to keep all of the money that you happen to have," Sibilia says.

To understand Sibilia's proposed solution, here's a quick primer on the system as it is: On average, America's schools receive nearly half of their funding from local sources, mostly property taxes. But those local dollars usually don't cross school district lines. So if one community's property wealth far surpasses that of its neighbors across the road, the inequity will show up not just in the size of the homes or the number of businesses, but in classroom spending, too.

According to EdBuild, in counties with more than one school district, the average difference between the highest- and lowest-wealth district is more than $6,000 per student. And these spending inequities within a given county are most common in northern states.

The report found that school districts in the South — in a triangle tipped by Maryland, Florida and Louisiana — distribute local funding more equitably than their neighbors to the north for one big reason: Districts in the South are larger, and tend to follow county lines.

Georgia, for example, has 159 counties, but the vast majority (139) have just one school district in them, Sibilia says. New York, on the other hand, has just 62 counties, but 57 contain two or more districts. The average difference in local revenue per student, between the highest and lowest-wealth districts in the same Georgia county is $186. In New York, that difference is $22,006 per student.

In addition to New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut and California all rank among the worst states in the nation for cross-border equity.

Sibilia says this idea that broader, county- or state-based school district spending allows for more equitable local funding, has come up again and again in previous EdBuild reports. "Last year we put out a report that highlighted the 969 worst school districts, in terms of both racial and funding gaps. Only 66 of those school district borders, the worst in the country, exist in states that draw school district funding lines along counties."

EdBuild's report comes as districts across the country face severe budget cuts as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. State revenues, driven largely by income and sales taxes, make up the other half of schools' funding, after local sources, and with revenues crashing states have already warned schools to prepare for steep cuts. That's why, Sibilia says, it's more important than ever for state lawmakers to rethink how communities collect and share their local property tax revenue.

"I would find it inexplicable that [state lawmakers] don't do that at the same time that they take the massive cuts that we know are coming," Sibilia says. "If they do the dual injustice of taking the cuts from the state funds and the injustice of not taking action to spread out local wealth at the same time, then we're going to just continue to repeat the same problems that have always existed in school funding."

The chief obstacle to Sibilia's fix is the fact that, while nearly 70% of students would benefit, that leaves almost a third of students who would not. Those students would see declines in local school funding, making this recommendation political kryptonite in many communities. Even in places that may be receptive, change likely would not happen fast enough to help schools through the current, pandemic-driven budget crisis.

"This is an idea that's ... unbelievably difficult and is not something that would help in the fall," says Michael Griffith, who studies school funding at the Learning Policy Institute. Communities who would stand to lose money would need to be convinced that the change is still in their best interest, he says. "If this were easy to do, it would have been done."

Griffith points to Michigan as an example of just how hard change can be. In 1994, the state moved from a traditional, local property tax school funding system to a statewide tax. But to do so, lawmakers took dramatic steps.

"To get everybody on board, they said, 'Most of you will get a property tax cut. We'll make up that property tax cut with sales and cigarette taxes and some other things. And then you're going to share that property tax revenue with others in the state.'"

That sweeping property tax cut, says Griffith, helped people to buy in. But it also made Michigan's schools more dependent on sales tax revenue, which is more volatile than property taxes in an economic downturn.

While school funding experts may not share Sibilia's optimism for how quickly states might be willing to reimagine their school funding systems, they do agree that it's an important conversation to have.

"It would benefit all of us if we had more equitably funded schools," says Michael Leachman at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "I hope that we're moving to a place where we recognize that dealing with these kinds of underlying structural questions really helps all of us."

Coronavirus won't stop them, but weather could: Inside SpaceX's historic launch

Brendan Byrne, WMFE

It’s launch day for SpaceX and two NASA astronauts - the first to blast off from the U.S. since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011. 

NASA’s Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are set to ride SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station, launching from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

It’s the first time NASA astronauts are flying on a commercially designed and built vehicle. 

NASA has given SpaceX the final go for launch - after completing critical engineering reviews and conducting a dress rehearsal of launch day. 

The one thing that could stand in the way of a successful launch is weather. Air Force forecasters say there’s a chance rain and clouds at the site could scrub the launch. 

Most public viewing sites are closed - NASA is urging space fans to follow the launch online instead.

Disney, SeaWorld will unveil plans to reopen Wednesday

Abe Aboraya, WMFE

Disney and SeaWorld will present plans to Orange County Wednesday to reopen their parks. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings says the county and the health department were on site to do inspections Tuesday.

He says the plans he has seen have protections in place for employees and guests.

“And to do it safely not just for the guests, but for the employees as well. The plans I saw today had an abundance of that where there were requirements for the employees and for the guests who will be entering," Demings said.

If the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force approves the plan, Demings and Governor Ron DeSantis would also need to sign off. 

Other attractions have already gotten local approval. Legoland wants to open June 1, and Universal wants to open June 5th. 

Florida revenues fall by nearly $900 million amid pandemic

The Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The state of Florida might have lost nearly $900 million in tax revenues in April, as the coronavirus pandemic siphoned away tourist dollars and other revenues from the state’s coffers.

The outbreak was certain to impact the state's revenues, but it became clearer Tuesday by just how much.

The state Legislature has yet to send the $93.2 billion budget it approved in March to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his signature.

Lawmakers approved the budget just days after the governor began shuttering some businesses and putting stay-at-home measures in place.

Florida officials had expected to take in nearly $3 billion last month, but fell short by $878 million.

Mayors Castor, Kriseman not fans of Republican Convention moving to Florida

Mark Schreiner, WUSF

The mayors of Tampa Bay's two largest cities are reacting to state Republican leaders floating the possibility that this summer's Republican National Convention could be coming to Florida.

President Trump tweeted Monday about moving the convention out of Charlotte because North Carolina was not reopening fast enough. Governor Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that Florida would welcome the RNC.

But St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman was not as enthusiastic during a Facebook Live event.

"Putting on an event of this size and scale takes months and months of preparation, so I don't see how realistically that could even happen," Kriseman said.

And the office of Kriseman's fellow Democrat, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, issued a statement pointing out that when the city hosted the Republican Convention in 2012, it took eighteen months of preparation and a price tag of fifty million dollars.

Castor's statement also said - quote - consideration of this would be irresponsible at this time.

On eve of historic remote votes in the House, Republicans sue to block the move

Claudia Grisales, NPR

More than 20 Republican members of Congress and constituents are suing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other officials in federal court to block proxy voting, arguing the practice is unconstitutional, according to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Earlier this month the House approved new rules that allowed remote voting and hearings for the first time in the chamber's history. Under the changes a member can vote on behalf of up to 10 colleagues who are unable to travel to the Capitol during the coronavirus pandemic.

In the lawsuit filed Tuesday, the House members argue that the change sets a dangerous precedent and dilutes lawmakers' votes.

The chamber is scheduled to vote by proxy Wednesday for the first time since the rules went into effect. As of late Tuesday, more than 55 members filed notification letters with the House Clerk of their plan to vote by proxy.

In a statement Tuesday evening, McCarthy called the proxy voting decision "reckless and partisan," and said that GOP members had to respond.

Some in Key West look to limit cruise ship impact on the island

Nancy Klingener, WLRN
About 2 million people a year visit Key West - and about half of them get there on cruise ships. With the industry on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, some on the island are working on a reset. The Key Lime Pie Bakery and Coconut Factory is in downtown Key West, a couple of blocks from two piers where cruise ships dock. Mei Li Ellis bought the store four years ago. "When the cruise ship come in and they walk past my store. Even if they don't stop, when they come on the way back to the cruise ship they will stop at my store and get a piece of pie and get some souvenir," Ellis said. Ellis says her store - and the seven people who work there - wouldn't make it without the big ships that bring thousands of people at a time to the island. "And I will have a good rush hour, one or two hour, and that's mostly my main income," Ellis said. But others say the ships are too big a risk for the relatively small part they play in the local tourism economy. Cruise ship passengers are not getting hotel rooms and they spend a lot less than other visitors. "On our peak days over the last year it would be 10 to 12,000 people focused on the downtown corridor. With COVID-19 and this period of pandemic, those masses, those sheer numbers seem exceptionally risky." Evan Haskell is with a group called Safer Cleaner Ships that has launched a petition drive. They want Key Westers to vote on three questions on the August ballot. They would limit the number of people and capacity of ships that could call here. And they would prioritize ships with better health and environmental safety records. "The future tourist is going to be looking for oases around the world, places that are less crowded," Haskell said. Key West port officials say they don't have any confirmed dates on when cruise ships could return to the island, but they say it would be August at the earliest.

Tampa area dentist on National Reopening Task Force

Daylina Miller, WUSF

A Tampa Bay area dentist is on a national task force guiding dental offices on how to reopen following shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The profession is confident that it can treat patients safely despite working closely to their mouths and noses.

Dr. Rudy Liddell is president of the Florida Dental Association - and on the American Dental Association's "Advisory Task Force on Dental Practice Recovery."

Their guidelines include calling for masks, goggles and face shields when dentists may have only worn paper masks before.

The guidelines also encourage dentists to use hand-scaling techniques for cleaning plaque off teeth, using high velocity suction to reduce aerosol, and using rubber dental dams when possible.

Liddell says dentists are well-equipped to handle viruses:

"Dentists have always been at the forefront of office sanitation, disinfection and sterilization ever since the the AIDS epidemic back in the late 80s," Liddell said.

Dentistry was also recently elevated on the Health and Human Service's list of prioritized health care professionals for PPE.

Broward officials celebrate reopening, plea for people to follow rules

Caitie Switalski, WLRN

Beaches in Broward County are closed no more. Several city and county officials visited Fort Lauderdale beach early Tuesday to clarify what is and is not allowed.

Fort Lauderdale's Mayor Dean Trantalis urged people to continue social distancing.

"Please do not ignore these policies, it could cause the COVID virus to rebound. If that happens we may have to slow further reopening and reconsider the steps that we've already undertaken," Trantalis said.

If you do visit the beach, just make sure the activity you pick, surfing, kayaking, swimming, running, or walking, keeps you moving. There's no sunbathing allowed.

Gyms and hotels are also open now in Broward County.

Nearing 100,000 COVID-19 deaths, U.S. is still 'early in this outbreak'

Laurel Wamsley, NPR

The bleak milestone the U.S. is about to hit — 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 — is far above the number of deaths seen from the pandemic in any other country.

So far, the impact of the coronavirus has been felt unevenly, striking certain cities and regions and particular segments of society much harder than others.

To get a sense of how that may change, and where in the course of the epidemic the U.S. is right now, NPR's Morning Edition host David Greene spoke Tuesday with Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute and professor of health policy at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

As you look at this number looming now, what are you reflecting on?

Well, a couple of things. First of all, it is a solemn moment to reflect on the idea that about 100,000 Americans have died — mostly just in the last two months. The speed with which this has happened is really devastating. Of course, we've had very little opportunity to mourn all those losses because most of us have been shut down. And I've been thinking about where we go in the future and fall and reminding myself and others that we're early in this outbreak. We're not anywhere near done.

The U.S. ... has had more deaths than any country in the world. Do you think that the country is absorbing the significance of these numbers?

I think for a majority of Americans, this doesn't quite feel real because the deaths have been concentrated in [a] few places. Obviously, New York has been hit very hard, and some other places like Seattle, Chicago — some of the big cities. And so people who don't live in those areas may not be absorbing it.

But the nature of this pandemic is that it starts and kind of accelerates in big cities, but then it moves out into the suburbs and into the rural areas. So, by the time we're done with this, I think every American will have felt it much more up close and personal. That's what I worry about — that it shouldn't have to take that for people to really understand how tragic this is and how calamitous in many ways this is.

Q: We're coming out of Memorial Day weekend, and we saw many regulations relaxed in many parts of the country. As you were watching that, what are you predicting in terms of what we could see by the end of summer?

If you look at all of the models out there — and most models have been relatively accurate — a few of them have been too optimistic. But then, if you sort of look at the models of models — the ones that really sort of combine it all and put it together and make projections — the projections are that we're probably going to see 70,000 to 100,000 deaths between now and the end of the summer.

While the pace will slow down, because we are doing some amount of social distancing and testing is ramping up — we're going to, unfortunately, see a lot more sickness and, unfortunately, a lot more deaths in the upcoming months.

Q: There's been talk of a seasonal aspect to this. Whatever happens over the summer, do we face even more deaths as we head later in the year?

Yes. I'm hoping that the models of the summer of an additional 70,000 to 100,000 deaths are too pessimistic. And they may be, because we may get a seasonal benefit because of the summer: People are outside more.

But the flip side of the seasonal benefit of the summer is what will almost surely be a pretty tough fall and winter with a surge of cases — a wave that might be bigger than the wave we just went through. And we've got to prepare for that, because we can't be caught flat-footed the way we were this time around.

Q: What can we do to prepare? We're seeing so many states relax restrictions right now. Is it a matter of potentially putting those restrictions back in place where they need to be? Or are there other things we could be doing?

There are two things that I would say. First of all, people can't be locked down for the rest of this pandemic. I understand that people need to get out, and being outside is a good thing. But we have to maintain a certain amount of social distancing. I think mask wearing is really important.

The only other tool we have in our toolbox is a really robust testing, tracing, isolation program. You know, if you think about how it is that South Korea and Germany have been able to do much, much better? They have had a really aggressive testing, tracing, isolation program. We know that works. It allows us to kind of have more of our lives back without the number of deaths that we've suffered. So I really think that still remains — and should remain — one of our priority areas.

Q: The federal government's new strategic testing plan calls on states to take a lot of the responsibility for testing. ... Do you see that as the best approach?

I think this is a real missed opportunity and very unfortunate in many ways, because while states have a critical role to play, testing capacity and testing supply chains are national and international.

We don't want 50 states competing. We want a federal strategy that helps states. And I'm worried that we're just not getting that from the federal government.

It's almost June and Florida’s theme parks are making plans to reopen, but will tourists return?

Carl Lisciandrello, WUSF

Legoland and Universal Studios will once again welcome visitors starting next week, and Disney could announce plans to open its attractions in the near future.

But how soon will it be until folks are ready to get out among the crowds?

Robert Niles is with themeparkinsider.com. He said coronavirus is not the only factor that could determine whether the theme parks will thrive once they’re open to the public.

“Gas prices might be down, travel might be cheap, theme parks might offer deals. But if you don’t have anything in the bank account, you’re still not gonna go. So we’ve got the broader question not just of the pandemic, but the recession as well, and how that’s gonna affect tourism and travel in central Florida," Niles said.

Niles says parks will do all they can to ensure visitor safety, but there is only so much they can do with the coronavirus remaining a national threat.

Mexico Beach hard-hit by Harvey, largely unaffected by the pandemic

Valerie Crowder, WFSU
Mexico Beach has had zero confirmed coronavirus cases. Mayor Al Cathey says statewide restrictions on bars, restaurants and retail stores left the the town’s businesses and residents largely unaffected. “Well, heck. We’ve had that for two years - 18 months - that didn’t bother us at all. That’s the way we lived. We’re accustomed to that. We didn’t have to change anything. We didn’t have to make any signs. We didn’t have to do anything," Cathey said. Cathey says he’s concerned about people gathering on the beach. But the town doesn’t have any prisons, schools or nursing homes, where outbreaks in other rural communities in the region have occurred. Bay County has almost 100 confirmed coronavirus cases. For almost the last two weeks, at least one new case has been reported every day.

Veteran charged with taking guns to VA clinic in Florida

The Associated Press

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) — A U.S. Navy veteran has been indicted on federal charges of bringing a rifle and a handgun to a Florida veterans clinic with the intent to commit a crime.

Court records show a federal grand jury in Pensacola formally charged Howell E. Camp last week. Prosecutors say Camp went to the Pensacola Veterans Affairs Clinic on May 6 to pick up a prescription.

A criminal complaint says Camp became frustrated after having to wait for his medication in his vehicle under coronavirus social distancing guidelines.

Prosecutors say Camp left and returned several hours later armed with two guns. Police stopped Camp before he could enter the clinic.

Rubio, now intelligence chair, warns of virus misinformation

The Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — The new Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee is warning of widespread misinformation campaigns as the United States works to recover from the coronavirus. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio predicted in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday that foreign actors will seek to amplify American conspiracy theories about the virus and find new ways to interfere in the 2020 presidential election, much as Russia did in 2016. He warned that other countries during the pandemic are trying to “promote false narratives that drive some of the friction in this country.”


Like what you just read? Check out our other  coronavirus coverage.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.