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74,000 Floridians seek benefits, critics demand reform

ORLANDO — More than 74,000 Floridians applied for unemployment benefits last week, a tenfold increase from the previous week, as the spread of the novel coronavirus shut down the state’s theme parks and visitors stayed away from its hotels and airports, officials said Thursday. The extraordinary jump in unemployment benefits[…]

Police: 2 construction workers electrocuted

PORT ST. LUCIE — Two men died Wednesday morning following a construction accident along a Florida road, authorities said. Patrick Sarvela and Dillon Drew, both 22, died at the scene, Port St. Lucie police said. An initial investigation determined that the two workers from Allterra Engineering & Testing were electrocuted[…]

Official loses defamation suit against political operative

WEST PALM BEACH — A former Florida official who said she was defamed by a campaign flyer from a political operative has lost her lawsuit. Shanon Materio, the former West Palm Beach commissioner, lost an October 2018 lawsuit filed against political consultant, Rick Asnani, and two affiliated companies, The Palm[…]

Florida’s number of coronavirus cases jumps sharply

FORT LAUDERDALE — Miami-area hospitals were treating about a dozen crew members from two cruise ships and Florida’s second-largest county ordered residents to stay home as the state’s number of coronavirus cases jumped sharply on Thursday. The state health department said more than 2,350 people had tested positive for the[…]

Florida sheriff’s deputy arrested on domestic battery charge

WEST PALM BEACH — A Florida sheriff’s deputy was arrested and has been placed on paid leave after being arrested on a domestic battery charge, officials said. The Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office said in an arrest report that Alex Alfonso was taken into custody following he allegedly assaulted a woman[…]

Ex-aide to Miami mayor faces federal child porn charges

MIAMI — A former aide to the mayor of Miami who was previously charged in state court with groping a teenage boy at City Hall and then sending him a lewd photograph is now facing federal child porn charges. The U.S. attorney’s office in Miami filed a criminal complaint Wednesday[…]

Trump declares Florida a disaster area due to virus

TALLAHASSEE — President Donald Trump declared Florida a disaster area Wednesday because of the new coronavirus outbreak, while another of the state’s largest metropolitan areas moved toward a near-shutdown. The president acted a day after Gov. Ron DeSantis requested the declaration, becoming the sixth state to receive one because of[…]

Florida governor’s coronavirus dilemma: health vs. economy

ST. PETERSBURG — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been walking a tightrope for weeks during the coronavirus crisis, trying to protect both residents vulnerable to the virus and the cratering economy in a state of 21 million people. His dilemma is a clear example of the conundrum facing the president[…]

Judge: Second expert to evaluate man who bit victim’s face

STUART — A judge in Florida has granted a motion to have another mental health expert evaluate a Florida college student accused of fatally attacking a couple outside their home and chewing off part of the man’s face. Earlier in March a health expert for the state agreed with a[…]

Former officer pleads guilty to excessive force at hospital

TAMPA — A former police officer at a Florida veteran’s hospital has pleaded guilty to using excessive force and lying in reports to cover up the incident. Norman Nicholson, 56, pleaded guilty in Tampa federal court Tuesday to charges of making false records in a federal investigation and depriving an[…]