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Current as of June 24, 2020 at 8:00 a.m.

COVID-19 Testing Sites - Florida

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Gov. Ron DeSantis says the “grim reaper” is coming for Florida businesses that aren’t following the state’s guidelines to prevent coronavirus spread.

By that, he means stripping business licenses “because there’s not going to be any tolerance for it.”

DeSantis spoke in Orlando on Tuesday, the day after Florida passed 100,000 cases of COFID-19.

The governor said his orders about social distancing and reducing occupancy in businesses are just that — orders. Not suggestions.

“The guidelines are in place for a reason. You’re not doing it just to do it,” he said. “If you don’t follow the guidelines and pack huge numbers of people indoors that are very close, you’re creating an environment where you’re going to see more spread.”

After lagging behind its competitors in starting clinical trials, the French drugmaker Sanofi has announced plans to speed a vaccine development timeline that could yield approval from regulatory authorities sometime next year, perhaps in the first half of 2021, the company announced on Tuesday.

The company and its partner in the endeavor, GlaxoSmithKline, originally projected that a vaccine would be available, at the earliest, in the latter half of next year.

Like other contenders in the race for a coronavirus vaccine, Sanofi is eager to push forward. Still, “such fast-tracking and intense scale of vaccine production is totally unprecedented,” and the future unknown, said Padmini Pillai, an immunologist at M.I.T.

The Sanofi-GSK vaccine contains a laboratory-synthesized version of the coronavirus’s “spike” protein, which decorates the surface of the virus and is crucial to its ability to enter host cells. This so-called recombinant vaccine is also formulated with one of GSK’s proprietary adjuvants, compounds that can enhance the body’s immune response to a foreign onslaught, in theory boosting the staying power of a given vaccine.

Lawmakers are weighing the contents and timeline of a future COVID-19 response package, with many expecting the Senate debating a bill in July. 

While it remains to be seen whether Congress even needs another bill, it is imperative that lawmakers reject any effort to extend the $600 per week supplemental pandemic unemployment assistance.

This program has subsidized welfare over work and threatens our economy’s ability to recover by incentivizing workers to remain on the sidelines.

As a condition of supporting the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Democrats demanded the creation of a new, additional $600 weekly unemployment benefit through the end of July. 

This $600 per week benefit is in addition to existing unemployment insurance, which varies by state, but typically totals 50 percent of previous earnings up to a cap.

The combination of these two provisions means that millions of Americans are receiving more money from being on unemployment than they would from working. In fact, according to the Heritage Foundation, a job would have to pay more than $62,000 a year to exceed the pandemic unemployment insurance payments.

This is a significant disincentive for Americans to rejoin the workforce, and could lead to a shortage of applicants as five out of every six Americans on UI receive more than they otherwise would in their job, according to the Congressional Budget Office. 

As peaceful protests are co-opted by violent rioters, urban neighborhoods that have already been hit hard by the coronavirus are now being vandalized and looted.

It's good to see that important discussions about inequality are finally taking place, but these neighborhoods need more immediate answers about how they can start to rebuild. Fortunately, there’s one policy that’s already put some areas on the road to recovery, and it’s poised to help many more.

According to an initial data analysis of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York City, individuals with an average income of $36,245 a year or less accounted for approximately 36% of cases. At a recent White House meeting, Scott Turner, executive director of the Opportunity and Revitalization Council, pointed out that “distressed communities generationally have been behind. And now, with the COVID and the recovery ... they have been severely hit.”

There’s one existing tax incentive that will be key to their recovery: the opportunity zone tax incentive, a component of President Trump's 2017 tax reform package that offers investors tax benefits for investing in low-income communities.

Since the passage of this program, billions of dollars have been invested in more than 8,760 designated "opportunity zones" across all 50 states, territories, and Washington. Despite the coronavirus-induced shutdown, opportunity zone projects have continued to develop, breathing new life into communities that are far too often left behind.

In Washington, Eleven Parkside, a 191-unit market-rate apartment building, recently began construction near the Minnesota Avenue Metro Station. This site, located in Washington’s Ward 7, is already home to 186 affordable housing units, 300 townhomes, and more.

A similar development in Seattle, Washington, is set to break ground later this month. The Canyon Partners Real Estate and American Capital Group joint venture will be an affordable and “attractive option for renters seeking newly-built housing with convenient access to employment centers and retail options.”

But opportunity zone investments don’t just offer affordable housing; they also stimulate business growth.

European Union antitrust authorities launched two formal probes into whether Apple Inc. violated competition laws through its Apple Pay service and App Store, escalating the bloc’s broader campaign to curb Silicon Valley giants’ alleged attempts to corner markets and squash rivals.

The EU’s new investigations join other formal and informal probes into companies including Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Facebook Inc. and Inc., which is set to face EU antitrust charges in coming weeks. In many of the cases, tech...

he recent spate of statue toppling is not just vandalism of the rabble gone wild. It’s more than that, much more.

So far in this current cycle, the statues of Confederates, Christopher Columbus, George Washington, a Spanish missionary, U.S. Grant, a Texas Ranger, and an Oregon pioneer, to name a few, have either been torn down by mobs or removed by officials who have surrendered to the swarming Woke activists. It’s not easy to decide who is more contemptible, the thugs pulling down the memorials or the authorities who are allowing the crimes to occur.

Either way, the rampaging is more than a matter of aesthetics and a breach of polite behavior, with supposedly civilized Americans conducting themselves like savages. The dangers are ultimately existential. As Ed Driscoll blogged Tuesday on Instapundit, “as with all previous revolutions, eliminating statues of dead people is merely the precursor to eliminating living people deemed by the left to be, as Hillary would say, ‘deplorable.’”

Last week, Hoover Institution scholar, professor, farmer, and columnist Victor Davis Hanson told Fox News the vandals are “very arrogant. They’re sure of their moral superiority because they’re ignorant and they have no self-doubt.” It’s “true of most revolutionaries,” he continued, “they have no self-doubt and they become cannibalistic in their zeal for perfection, perfection, perfection.”

Monday, Hanson was on Fox again, telling host Tucker Carlson that the destruction is “not about the icon on the statue, it’s about humiliation and power.” Hanson, who is also a classicist and military historian, has been warning us for years about the hazards of sitting idle while history is erased.

“Cleansing the past is a dangerous business,” he wrote in 2017. The progressive left “search for more enemies of the past may soon take progressives down hypocritical pathways they would prefer not to walk.”
Elizabeth Rogliani, a Venezuelan actress living in this country, tells us exactly what that path looks like.

I have already lived through this thing when I was living in Venezuela. Statues came down, (Hugo) Chavez didn’t want the history displayed. Then he changed the street names, then came the curriculum, then some movies couldn’t be shown on certain TV channels.

You guys think it can’t happen to you. I’ve heard this so many times. But always be on guard, never believe that something can’t happen to you. You need to guard your country and your society or it will be destroyed. … And there’s clearly a lot of people wanting to destroy the U.S.

For those with short memories, Chavez is the Castro-ite revolutionary who was elected Venezuelan president in 1998. He eventually became a dictator, surviving a 2002 coup. While in power, he drove what at one time was the richest country in South America into an economic abyss. The oil-rich nation now has the 75th largest economy in the world and ranks only seventh in Latin America, and falling fast.

Due process is not the strong suit of mobs. Neither is nuance, open discussion, or disagreement. These inherent defects should be painfully obvious as mobs pull down statues, seize sections of cities, and demand the public approach them on bended knee, literally. Anyone who dares push back, perhaps with a mild tweet saying “All lives matter,” faces immediate censure. If the mob is successful, any offenders will lose their jobs. Feckless employers are all too eager to appease the mob and hope it turns on another target.

In this perilous environment, the most frenzied voices do more than dominate the public square. They monopolize it by silencing dissent. They have received full-throated support from the tech giants that control electronic discussion and the media giants determined to shape the narrative rather than report the news. Twitter and NBC are the poster children for this assault on free and open discussion. Their suppression in the name of “social justice” betrays the idea, best articulated in John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty,” that competing, divergent views lead to greater understanding and better decisions.

The idea of an open forum, so basic to democracies, already lies a-moldering in the grave of academia, at least in the humanities and social sciences. Imagine applying for a job in Gender Studies and saying you oppose abortions after, say, Week 38. The term for such a person is “unemployed.” Imagine merely calling for a discussion on the pros and cons of affirmative action, taking the negative side, and hoping to win tenure in political science, sociology, anthropology, or history. Bad career move. There is more robust political debate at the Academy Awards.

University administrations are equally rigid. Rejecting affirmative action, questioning the implementation of Title 9, or opposing Black Lives Matter would end your chances of being hired by the admissions office or dean of students at nearly every American university. Yet all of them proudly tout, with no sense of irony, their “office of diversity and inclusion,” fully staffed and generously funded. For them, of course, diversity never includes diverse viewpoints. It’s all about DNA and gender identity. Modern universities are now well-oiled machines to stamp out dissenting views. That’s been true for decades. What’s new, and disturbing, is seeing this orthodoxy spread to K-12 education, corporate HR departments, mainline churches, and newsrooms. The “thought police” are on patrol and ever-vigilant, twirling the twin batons of guilt and moral superiority.

Dissent from their approved views is not just considered an error, much less an innocent one. It is considered immoral, illegitimate, and unworthy of a public hearing. Although both left and right have moved steadily toward this abyss, the worst excesses today come from the left, just as they came from the right in the 1950s. Opponents are seen in religious terms, as dangerous apostates who deserve to be burned at the stake, at least symbolically. You never expect the Spanish Inquisition. Yet here it is. That is the powerful iconography behind torching police cars and neighborhood stores

3. A disconnect I wish we could make…

If only we could disconnect ourselves from the Internet and its earthquake leveling and tornado flattening of all our structures of rational discourse. No hierarchies of thought, no norms of debate, no frameworks of logical deliberation can be erected on social media’s shaky ground in the howling wind of viral content.

The Internet’s pandemonium keeps the voices of reason and sense from rising above the clamor of the mob. Everyone is handed a bullhorn and no one is given a pulpit.

Leadership is trivialized by the Internet. Its tide of vulgarity sweeps away leaders of every kind and deposits them beyond the reach of public attention. There is no one to make the arguments worth arguing for. There’s no one even to make the arguments worth arguing against.

Where is today’s William F. Buckley of conservatism? Where is today’s John Kenneth Galbraith of liberalism? Where’s the Republican Ronald Reagan? Where’s the Democratic Tip O’Neill? Where’s the Milton Friedman extolling free markets? Where’s the John Maynard Keynes critiquing free markets’ effects? Where, especially, is the Martin Luther King, Jr., making the current protests peaceful, dignified, and powerfully effective?

And where are we without these leaders?

erusalem, in the tenth century B.C., is an inhospitable place for farmers but a strategic location for men on the run. Human settlement in the Judean highlands is sparse: five thousand people, spread out in hamlets of about fifty families each. The landscape is rugged, veined with ravines and thicketed with oaks. Rain is unpredictable. To the east lies the desert, hushed and empty. To the west—teasingly close—are the lush lowlands of the Philistine city-states, with their seaside trade routes and their princely homes. Cut off from these coastal plains, life in the hill country is severe. Homes are made of unworked stone; sheep and goats are quartered indoors. There are no public buildings, no ornate furnishings in the shrines. Bands of fugitives, landless laborers, and tax evaders rove the Judean wilderness. These rebel gangs—viewed by the neighboring Egyptians as both a nuisance and a threat—maraud the nearby villages. They collect protection money and pillage the locals, making off with their women and their cattle. They terrorize the Philistines, and then, in a sudden turnaround, offer their services to a Philistine king in exchange for shelter.

Their leader is a wily, resourceful man from Bethlehem, who decides that his people are meant for more than lightning raids and mercenary stints. He sends his men to rout an advancing force, then shares the loot with the highland elders. This wins over the highlanders, and, in time, they make him chieftain of the southern hill area. He takes over the tribal center of Hebron, and later captures Jerusalem, another hilltop stronghold. The chieftain moves his extended family to the main homes of the Jerusalem village, and settles in one himself—a palace, some might call it, though there is nothing extravagant about it. He rules over a neglected chiefdom of pastoralists and outlaws. His name is David.

Israel Finkelstein’s vision of King David—the vagabond, the racketeer—helped make his career as an eminent Biblical archeologist. But, when he began his research in the area, he was interested less in the Bible than in migration patterns. In 1993, Finkelstein was a newly tenured professor at Tel Aviv University, forty-four years old and known as something of an iconoclast. He was working on a book called “Living on the Fringe,” which took up questions of human habitation in the ancient southern Levant—particularly Canaan, the site of what is now Israel. Finkelstein argued that the first settlers came there as a result of internal changes in the region; nomadic societies became sedentary for a few generations during periods of successful trade, then uprooted themselves, then settled again. The Israelites, he claimed, were “of local stock”—that is, Bedouin nomads.

The Bible, of course, tells it differently. In the Old Testament story, Canaan is where the Hebrews ended their exodus, and where David secured for his people a glorious kingdom. From about 1,000 B.C., he and his son Solomon ruled over a vast monarchy that encompassed four defeated kingdoms, stretching as far north as the Euphrates River and as far south as the Negev Desert. (Archeologists derive the date from an inscription on a portal gate in the Egyptian city of Karnak, which lists the military conquests of King Shoshenq—thought to be the same king mentioned in the Bible as Shishak.) The United Monarchy, as it is known, represented the golden age of ancient Israel; though it probably lasted no more than a generation or two, its legacy has persisted for thousands of years. For Jews, Finkelstein told me, David “represents territorial sovereignty, the legend of the empire.” For Christians, he is “directly related to Jesus and the birth of Christianity.” For Muslims, he is a righteous prophet who preceded Muhammad. The story of David, Finkelstein added, “is the most central thing in the Bible, and in our culture.”

The Bible depicts David as a brilliant but flawed figure, capable of unspeakable violence but also of remorse and tenderness—perhaps humanity’s first antihero. He is anointed by God to replace Saul, the first king of Israel, whose short rule was marked by bouts of rebellion. David is a handsome shepherd; he has a way with the lyre and a way with women; he slings a fatal stone at a giant. So far, these are the familiar tropes of the ancient hero. But David is also said to have impregnated Bathsheba—a married woman—and sent her husband off to die in battle.

Gilead Sciences announced plans Monday to start testing an inhaled version of its experimental coronavirus drug to determine whether it could treat the deadly disease sooner.

The pharma giant will begin screening patients this week for early-stage trials of the breathable form of remdesivir, which has been shown to help COVID-19 patients recover faster, Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day said. The company expects to begin the studies in August.

While patients currently get doses of remdesivir through IV drips, an inhaled form of the drug could be delivered through a nebulizer, which would make it easier to administer outside of hospitals at earlier stages of infection, O’Day said.

“For patients who are at high risk of disease progression, it could be particularly beneficial to start treatment outside the hospital,” O’Day said in an open letter detailing Gilead’s plans. “Our hope is that earlier intervention could help patients avoid hospitalization altogether.”

Archaeologists have unearthed what may be the oldest Viking settlement in Iceland.

The ancient longhouse is thought to be a summer settlement built in the 800s, decades before seafaring refugees are supposed to have settled the island, and was hidden beneath a younger longhouse brimming with treasures, said archaeologist Bjarni Einarsson, who led the excavations.

"The younger hall is the richest in Iceland so far," Einarsson told Live Science. "It is hard not to conclude that it is a chieftain's house."

Why some physicists really think there's a 'mirror universe' hiding in space-time

A series of viral articles claimed that NASA had discovered particles from another parallel universe in which time runs backward. These claims were incorrect. The true story is far more exciting and strange, involving a journey into the Big Bang and out the other side.

The sensational headlines had muddled the findings of an obscure 2018 paper, never published in a peer-reviewed journal, which argued that our universe might have a mirror reflection across time, a partner universe that stretches beyond the Big Bang. If that's the case, and a series of other extremely unlikely and outlandish hypotheses turn out to be true, the paper argued, then that in turn could explain a mysterious signal hinting that a completely new particle is flying out of the ice in Antarctica.

The claim that NASA discovered a parallel universe seemed to have been first dreamed up by British tabloid The Daily Star, and the story was then picked up by British and American outlets, including The New York Post. 

This dust plume, known as the Saharan Air Layer, is a phenomenon that develops every year off the coast of Africa, where powerful winds from thunderstorms over the Sahel can push the dust many thousands of feet up into the atmosphere. A few times a year, that layer of dust sends out vast clouds that then drift over the sea.

But this year, the dust clouds that normally do little more than amplify sunsets have drifted far lower to coat Caribbean islands with a thin layer of dust and choke the air with a dry haze that in some places cut visibility by more than half. The cloud is forecast to sweep across the southeastern United States—Texas and Louisiana in particular—on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Another wave of dust is expected to follow.

Mother Found Still Cradling Baby After 4800 Years

Oftentimes, few people are interested in the findings of archeological digs – broken pots, scattered bones, it usually takes a sign of cannibalism or extraordinarily old carbon dating to draw the mainstream media’s attention. Yet a Taiwanese discovery announced last year proved to be an exception to the rule. Photos of the exhumed bodies went viral and major news organizations from Fox News to the Huffington Post reported on the story. What was that discovery? A Stone Age skeleton of a mother cradling a baby in a shared grave.

The Origins of the Mummified Mother and Baby
The scientific excavation began in 2014 and took about a year to complete. A team of archaeologists led by Chu Whei-Lee of Taiwan’s National Museum of Science was working on a Neolithic site 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) inland from Taiwan’s western coast. Today, that area is called Taichung City but the site itself has been dubbed An-ho. Experts believe shorelines have shifted over the years and that An-ho was once a coastal village. Indeed, over 200 shark teeth have been found in the site’s dwellings, however, whether these teeth were practical, decorative, or spiritual is not known. The inhabitants of An-ho were most likely Dabenkeng people.

A gigantic monument at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee, as well as several mysterious structures, including a gigantic stone wheel and a moon-shaped monument, were recently found in northern Israel. The mysterious structures have left archaeologists around the world bewildered. Who built them and what were they used for?

They may be some of Israel’s most mysterious structures. They are easy to miss from the roadside but can clearly be seen from the skies or beneath the sea.

The prehistoric stone monuments of Gilgal Refaim, Jethro Cairn and the circular structure found in the sea of the Galilee went unnoticed for centuries in the disputed regions of the Golan and the Galilee but still archaeologists don't know who built them, or why. 

Theories have gone wild and include ancient calendars, ceremonial structures, or 'sky burial' sites in which dead bodies were placed on top of stone mounds to be picked apart by vultures. Even more eluding is that that are no archeological evidence of a city near them, and some have therefore posited that the structures is in fact a huge monument carrying symbolic significance.