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'Anti-Riot' Bill Becomes Law, Is DeSantis The GOP's Successor?, Changing How We Measure COVID

Miami Herald
Activists head toward Miramar Town Center as they participate in a Justice for George Floyd rally in Miramar, Florida on Saturday, June 6, 2020. Hundreds of protestors took to the street Saturday protesting against police brutality and the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the 'anti-riot' law. Opponents call it 'anti-protest.' Could DeSantis be Trump’s GOP heir? Plus, how vaccination are changing how we measure COVID-19.

On this Monday, April 19, episode of Sundial:

'Anti-Riot' Bill Becomes Law

Protesting in Florida will soon be radically different now that Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed HB1 into law this morning.

Under the law, anyone at a protest with more than three people where violence is committed, property is damaged or roadways are illegally blocked can be arrested, without the ability to pay bail.

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“Three or more people automatically is considered that if there's any trouble, then you might end up not only in jail but without the ability to get out, without the ability to post bond. ... We're going to end up with a lot of young kids in jail just for exercising their right to free speech, which is in our Constitution. I believe this whole bill is unconstitutional,” said Democratic state Sen. Annette Taddeo, who represents Miami-Dade County.

Another controversial component of the bill provides civil immunity to individuals in vehicles who defend themselves by driving into protesters.

“At any point, anyone can run over these people that maybe even were there peacefully, maybe they were blocking the road. … All they have to say is it’s sorta like a ‘Stand Your Ground’ situation but for your car,” said Taddeo.

You can read more about HB1 here.

'Anti-Riot' Bill Becomes Law

Is DeSantis The GOP's Successor?

With Donald Trump no longer president, DeSantis has made a name for himself and become a key player within the GOP.

Recent polls show Republicans like him and that he has a chance — almost as much as Trump — for a run at the White House.

“I think it's the ability to sort of position himself as an alternative to Democrats. When you have Democrats in the majority in Congress, it's difficult for the Republican senators to be able to do much. The president is a Democrat and Congress is held by Democrats. So, you have governors from the Republican Party who are able to score political points as opposition leaders of the Republican Party,” said New York Times reporter Patricia Mazzei.

You can read her profile on DeSantis here.

Is DeSantis The GOP's Successor?
Gov. Ron DeSantis

Changing How We Measure COVID

More than eight million people in Florida have been vaccinated against COVID-19, decreasing the number of people at risk for developing severe disease from the virus.

But the rise in inoculations has also skewed meaningful and trusted metrics that experts, politicians and the public have relied on for the past year.

“Leading indicators are mostly driven by testing. So cases and test positivity, the percentage of tests coming back positive. Lagging indicators are more what happens with those infections like hospitalizations, emergency room visits and deaths,” said Miami Herald health-care reporter Ben Conarck.

Hospitalizations is the metric that hasn’t changed. It’s become the best indicator of the spread and severity of COVID-19 — also, how well vaccines are working.

Conarck added that it’s still worth tracking positive tests. For example, a small sample size, like a community hospital. Statewide, those numbers might not be as insightful as more people get vaccinated.

Changing How We Measure COVID

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Suria is Sundial's fall 2020 high school intern and a production assistant.
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.