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Sundial

Gov. DeSantis’ New Data Analyst Hire, $15 Minimum Wage Coming To Florida, Miami Dolphins And COVID-19

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David Santiago
/
Miami Herald
Noji Olaigbe, left, from the fight for a $15 minimum wage movement, speaks during a workers strike at 27 West Broward Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale on May 23, 2019.

Governor DeSantis has hired a new data analyst who has been an anti-masker and spent years as a sports blogger. Florida's minimum wage is getting an increase. And how the Miami Dolphins are managing this season.

On this Thursday, Nov. 12, episode of Sundial:

Gov. DeSantis’ New Data Analyst Hire

Earlier this week, the DeSantis administration announced they were hiring a sports blogger from Ohio — named Kyle Lamb — to be a data analyst for the state.

Lamb has baselessly claimed online, among other things, that masks are ineffective in protecting people from the virus, that COVID-19 isn’t deadlier than the flu, and that the virus might be part of a Chinese “biowar” effort.

Scientific research has proven that face masks do help prevent the spread of the virus, evidence has also shown that biological warfare theories are groundless and there are still too many unknowns about COVID-19 to say that it isn’t “deadlier” than the flu — data show that 20% of COVID-19 patients get cases that are serious enough to get sent to the hospital. That's about 10 times more often than the flu.

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“Mr. Lamb certainly admits that he does not have qualifications to be a COVID-19 analyst. He says he's not a doctor, is not an epidemiologist — he's just someone who crunches the numbers. As far as we're aware, he doesn't have a college degree. And it's just extremely surprising that someone who kind of rose to prominence on the fringe of the COVID conspiracy blogosphere in Ohio would find themselves working in Florida's capitol," said Nicholas Nehamas, an investigative reporter for the Miami Herald.

Members of Florida’s Democratic congressional delegation sent a letter to Gov. DeSantis Thursday demanding for the removal of Kyle Lamb from his position, calling the hiring “inexplicable and grossly irresponsible” and accusing DeSantis of playing politics with the virus.

A spokesperson for DeSantis has said that Lamb isn’t a “COVID hire,” and that his analysis would pass through about 10 hands before it would reach the governor.

Gov. Desantis’ New Data Analyst Hire
Gov. Ron DeSantis

$15 Minimum Wage Coming To Florida

Some Floridians will gradually see higher numbers in their paychecks — after voters approved Amendment 2, which will lead to a statewide minimum wage increase.

The current minimum is $8.56 per hour. The plan is to increase that to $10 next year. Then, it will continue to increase by $1 each year until it reaches $15 in 2026.

But there are questions on whether a move like this will help or hurt the state's economy — especially when it’s recovering from a pandemic.

“There will be winners and losers, without a doubt,” said Sean Snaith, the director of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Forecasting.

“The other aspect of minimum wage law, whether they are statewide or nationwide, is that one size does not fit all. The labor market in Miami-Dade is quite different from the labor market in Apalachicola, Florida. The cost of living and so forth is quite different in those areas ... so setting one price for all the different markets will cause a varying degree of displacement.”

We also heard from workers, business owners and Alexis Davis, a policy analyst with the Florida Policy Institute. She worked on a report that studied the impacts of a wage increase on the state’s economy.

$15 Minimum Wage Coming To Florida
People protest for a $15 minimum wage in New York City in 2017.

Miami Dolphins And COVID-19

The Miami Dolphins have been on a streak-winning their last three games, in part because of rookie sensation Tua Tagovailoa, who’s quarterback play has been strong over the past few weeks. However, games look noticeably different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It looks like basically any other store that you walk into, there are dots on the ground where you should stand. So you're six feet socially distanced from the person in front of you waiting in line. The capacity is way down — the Dolphins allow 13,000 people, which is essentially one-fifth of the stadium,” said Adam Beasley, a sports reporter for the Miami Herald.

He added that the Miami Dolphins’ profit losses are in the “tens of millions of dollars” which, when multiplied by the 32 teams in the NFL, adds up to a much bigger financial impact.

“It's a billion-dollar hole that the NFL is staring at, maybe more, because of COVID. But you know what? A billion-dollar hole is better than a $4 billion or a $5 billion hole. And that could be what the league would face if there wasn't some sort of football on TV. TV money is still king — it still drives much, if not most of, the revenue of the NFL. And look, that's not going anywhere,” said Beasley.

Miami Dolphins & COVID
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Leslie Ovalle produces WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.
Suria is Sundial's fall 2020 high school intern and a production assistant.