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Latest from Steven Ponson

    Helping small businesses impacted by coronavirus. Starting Tuesday, small businesses in St. Johns County that were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic can start applying for the county’s Back to Business Grant Program. The online application opens at 9AM and paper applications will not be accepted. The county says the program allows for qualifying small businesses to receive to up $10,000 per business to offset costs like payroll, rent or mortgage, and utilities.  The county says in order to be eligible for the program businesses must: Have experienced Disruption and/or Loss of Income due to COVID-19 Crisis and/or public health Emergency Orders. Own or lease space at a physical location zoned for business operations in St. Johns County as of March 17, 2020. Be registered with FL Division of Corporations and/or licensed under FL Business and Professional Regulation Have earned less than $5 Million in Annual Gross Income for 2019. Have 75 or fewer employees as of March 17, 2020. Show proof of Employees paying Payroll Taxes prior to March 17, 2020. Have been operating for at least one (1) year prior to March 17, 2020. No Start-Up Businesses eligible. Be current on St. Johns County Business Taxes. Have no pending petition for bankruptcy protection, No Claims; Not on HUD Debarred List. Not be a Non-Profit Organization. Cannot operate as a Home-Based Business.  Not be receiving Unemployment Insurance Benefits if a Sole Proprietor. The county says the application period will close at 5PM on June 1st and applicants will be chosen by an independent contractor. The money will be dispersed electronically.   If you have any questions or if you need help with your application, you can call the county at 904-209-1278 between 8AM and 5PM Monday through Friday. You can start the application process by clicking here.
  • As more of Northeast Florida gets back to a sense of normalcy, there is a renewed push by Lifesouth Community Blood Centers to help replenish the blood supply. The blood center says a combination of canceled blood drives and elective surgeries resuming, and other demands a hospital sees on a daily basis, have resulted in a low community blood supply.  Karen Patterson with Lifesouth says most of their blood donations come from students and since schools and universities have been closed for months now they have lost access to those people donating. “The blood needs to be there on the shelf when something happens to save lives.” Patterson says. She says blood drives have also been canceled and that’s put a dent into their blood supply. We’re told they’re in need of all blood types, but they are in critical need of donors with types O and B blood. If you’d like to help out you can check out Lifesouth.org for more information.
  • Ahead of the normally busy travel weekend of Memorial Day, AAA Florida is predicting a slower than normal travel weekend due to coronavirus. Spokesperson for AAA Florida, Mark Jenkins, says the slow travel forecast is due in part to the hesitations people might have to get out of the house.  “AAA is forecasting the lowest travel in Memorial Day in history.” Jenkins says. He says last year 43 million Americans traveled during Memorial Day weekend and the previous low was 31 million. He says he doesn't expect the number this year to exceed that. “You’re not gonna be seeing as many people who are driving across the state to go to a destination. Its more regionalized.” Jenkins says. Jenkins doesn’t expect any peak drive times since traffic is likely going to be spread out over the entire weekend. If you are planning on heading out, AAA says gas prices have ticked up in Jacksonville since this same time last week. Currently prices are at $1.84 a gallon on average and last week at this time they were at $1.66 a gallon on average.
  • Thursday Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced there will be three new drive-thru testing sites opening in the area. He says the new sites will open the CVS stores on San Juan Ave, Southside Blvd and State Road 13 in Fruit Cove. “Patients must register in advance at CVS.com beginning Friday, May 22nd to schedule an appointment.” Curry says. The city says the testing will be available for anyone meeting the CDC criteria. To make an appointment Click Here.
  • Ahead of the long Memorial Day weekend, several counties in northeast Florida are getting the green light from the state to reopen vacation rental properties. Wednesday the Department of Business & Professional Regulation approved the plans submitted for Duval, Nassau and St. Johns Counties.  The plan submitted for Duval County says there will be limits for guests traveling from cities with populations of more than a million from a coronavirus hotspot. Included in the guidelines is a 10-person limit for the rental properties and proper cleaning and social distancing measures still need to be followed by visitors and staff. St. Johns County is also limiting where people in the U.S. can travel in from to get a place. They say their plan prohibits reservations or visitors from states with more than 500 cases per every 100,000 residents. Those states include Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia as of now. The county says that list will be updated as states rise or fall below the 500 cases per 100,000 residents threshold. We reported Wednesday when Clay County officials announced they submitted plans to reopen vacation rentals. They say they hope to have them reopened by Friday and they are waiting to hear back by Thursday from the state.
  • Clay County officials are working to take the next steps in reopening. Wednesday Emergency Management Director John Ward announced the county has submitted plans to the state to reopen vacation rental properties. He says their goal is to get them back open before the three-day Memorial Day weekend. “We submitted that on Monday, so we’re hoping that either today or tomorrow that information will come back.” Ward says. As of Wednesday afternoon, according to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the plans submitted to reopen vacation rentals in Duval, Nassau and St. Johns Counties have been approved. Meanwhile if you’re looking to get the kids out of the house, the county says they’re reopening all playground equipment beginning this Friday. Next Tuesday the county says all public library branches will be opening Monday through Friday from 1PM until 6PM. With the expanded reopening, they say you’ll be able to browse for items inside the library, but there will be a 50% capacity limit. Also, this upcoming Tuesday, the animal shelter in Green Cove Springs will be open from 10AM until 2PM Tuesday through Saturday. The county says an appointment is required and you’ll need to check in at a tent outside of the entrance.
  • Helping Northeast Florida get back to work.  On Tuesday May 26th CareerSource Northeast Florida says they will be reopening seven career centers in six counties. They say once they reopen there will be new safety measures in place to protect those looking for a job and the workers. Some of the new safety steps include workers wearing PPE and cleaning areas after each appointment. They will also be taking the temperature of their staff as well as each job seeker. CareerSource is asking job seekers to wear some sort of a face covering when they come to their appointment.  Spokesperson for CareerSource Ron Whittington says once the centers reopen they’ll be by appointment only.  “We’re limiting that to 45 minutes per appointment” Whittington says.    He says you can start making appointments today at careersourcenortheastflorida.com or you can call 904-356-5627. Before heading to your appointment some of the things you’ll need to have prepared include a resume, working email address and have your Social Security Number.  To make sure social distancing still takes place, CareerSource is modifying the layouts of their centers and there will be less workstations and capacity to limit physical contact. They say they’re making up for the lack of space by changing around conference rooms and adding some short-term spaces. To help make sure they can help as many people as possible virtual services will still be provided.  All Centers will be open from 9AM until 4PM Monday through Friday at the following locations. Duval County: Gateway: 5000 Norwood Ave., Suite 2 Jacksonville, FL 32208 Southside: 11160 Beach Blvd., Suite 111 Jacksonville, FL 32246 Clay County: 1845 Town Center Blvd., Suite 150 Fleming Island, FL 32003 St. Johns County: 525 State Road 16, Suite 109 St. Augustine, FL 32084 Nassau County:  96042 Lofton Square Ct. Yulee, FL 32097 Baker County: 1184 South 6th St. Macclenny, FL 32063 Putnam County: 400 Highway 19 North, Suite 53 Palatka, FL 32177
  • Tuesday it announced that the Green Day, Fall Out Boy and Weezer concert scheduled in Jacksonville has been postponed. In a joint statement, the three bands said they’ll be announcing Summer 2021 dates at the same venues soon. They are urging fans to hold on to their tickets, but they say all ticket holders will be emailed with refund options. The concert was originally scheduled for August 6th at TIAA Bank Field.
  • As the State of Florida continues to reopen, and more people get out of the house, gas prices are starting to increase slightly according to AAA. They say gas prices went up slightly last week for the first time in 10 weeks after they hit a 4-year low.  In Jacksonville, AAA says prices have increased by seven cents a gallon compared to last week, yet we’re still paying some of the lowest prices in the state at $1.70 a gallon on average. As demand increases with more reopening in the state, AAA Spokesperson Mark Jenkins says, you can expect prices to go up by small amounts.  “I wouldn’t expect gas prices to just suddenly surge back to what we were paying earlier this year and late last year, around the $2.30 mark or $2.50 mark.” Jenkins says. Even though prices are going up, prices are still relatively low. Jenkins says prices are about 90 cents lower going into the Memorial Day weekend compared to last year at this same time. He says as we go through the summer we can expect to pay some of the lowest prices in the last four years.
  • Beginning this Monday, the State of Florida will begin to take the next steps in reopening. Governor Ron DeSantis announced Friday that the state will move into what he calls a full phase one. With these next steps, gyms will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity with social distancing and proper cleaning measures in place.  “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, we have a pathway back and this continues us on that journey.” DeSantis says. In addition to the gyms reopening, restaurants and retailers will be able to operate at 50% capacity. Museums and libraries will be able to operate at half capacity as well. DeSantis says movie theaters and bars will remain closed for now. For short-term rentals, DeSantis says counties that want to open them have to provide a safety plan and have that plan approved by the state.
  • Steven Ponson

    Reporter

    Steven Ponson is the morning reporter for Jacksonville’s Morning News. He has been with Cox Media Group since the summer of 2015, and been living in Florida for over 20 years. Steven is an alumni of the University of Central Florida where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Radio and Television and a minor in Sociology. It’s a dream come for him to work in the radio business and has a family legacy in Florida radio. When he is away from WOKV, he likes to spend time with family and friends and is an avid football and hockey fan.

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  • Commissioners from St. Johns County voted this morning to officially ask Elon Musk and the Tesla Company to move to St. Johns County. Earlier this month, Elon Musk was tweeting about how the stay-at home restrictions in Alameda County, California were “facist” and robbed people from their freedom of going back to work. Since then, several cities and states have reached out to Tesla saying they are more than welcome to relocate the car-making plant. That now includes St. Johns County. 'Tesla, Inc., is hereby respectfully and enthusiastically invited to consider St. Johns County, Florida, as a potential destination in the relocation of its headquarters or any future programs,' the resolution states. The resolution also states several facts about St. Johns County, listing why it would be a good place to relocate the headquarters. “St. Johns County, while we have experienced a devastating virus, we are still open for business and we have got to employ our residents so they can put food on the table,” Commissioner James Johns said. This vote was a followup to a discussion by the commissioners on May 19. 
  • More than 5.5 million people worldwide – including more than 1.6 million in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. While efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak continue, states have begun to shift their focus toward reopening their economies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Tuesday, May 26, continue below:  New Jersey allows professional sports teams return to training, competition Update 12:25 p.m. EDT May 26: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey announced Tuesday that professional sports teams are now allowed to resume training and competition in the state. “While leagues make their own decisions about operations, I am confident that teams are equipped to practice and eventually play in a responsible manner, protecting the health and safety of players, coaches, and team personnel,” the governor said, according to NBC News. New York Gov. Cuomo to meet with President Trump on Wednesday Update 12:10 p.m. EDT May 26: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said he will meet Wednesday with President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. Cuomo said at a news conference Tuesday that he plans “to talk about a number of things” with the president, including the possibility of ramping up infrastructure projects to boost the economy. “There is no better time to build than right now,” Cuomo said. “You need to create jobs and you need to renew and repair this country’s economy and it’s infrastructure. Now is the time to do it. It’s especially the time to do it when some of the volume is lower.” Jacksonville, Florida mayor says city ‘would be honored’ to host RNC Update 12 p.m. EDT May 26: The mayor of Jacksonville, Florida said Tuesday that the city “would be honored to host the Republican National Convention” after President Donald Trump threatened to pull the convention from North Carolina due to the state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. >> Read more on WFTV.com In a series of Twitter posts, Mayor Lenny Curry said his administration and Gov. Ron DeSantis “have created a regulatory framework that operates in (a) way that is attractive to significant events like these.” He offered up the city’s partnership with the UFC, which led to several fan-free shows at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena earlier this month, as evidence that the city “has strongly demonstrated the ability to host large events in a safe (and) responsible way.' Earlier Tuesday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said his state would be willing and able to safely host the RNC, which is scheduled to take place Aug. 24 to Aug. 27 at the Spectrum Center and Charlotte Convention Center. As of Tuesday morning, 50,916 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in Florida and 2,259 people have died the viral infection. Officials with the Georgia Department of Public Health said 43,586 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed statewide as of Tuesday morning with 1,853 people killed by the viral infection. In North Carolina, officials said that as of Tuesday morning, 24,140 people had been diagnosed with coronavirus infections and 766 people have died statewide. 73 new fatal coronavirus cases reported in New York Update 11:35 a.m. EDT May 26: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said Tuesday that 73 more people have died of COVID-19 statewide. The number was slightly less than the 95 new fatal cases reported one day earlier. Georgia offers to host RNC after Trump threatens to pull convention from North Carolina Update 11:10 a.m. EDT May 26: Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia on Tuesday offered his state up as host of the Republican National Convention after President Donald Trump threatened to pull the RNC from it’s planned setting in North Carolina over the state’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. “With world-class facilities, restaurants, hotels, and workforce, Georgia would be honored to safely host the Republican National Convention,' Kemp wrote in a post on Twitter. Trump said in a series of tweets published Monday that North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper must immediately tell organizers whether or not they’ll be able to host the convention as expected from Aug. 24 to Aug. 27 at the Spectrum Center and Charlotte Convention Center. “Plans are being made by thousands of enthusiastic Republicans and others to head to beautiful North Carolina in August,” the president wrote. “They must be immediately given an answer by the governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied.” Cooper said Monday that state health officials are working with the Republican National Committee and reviewing their plans for holding the convention, WSOC-TV reported. “North Carolina is relying on data and science to protect our state’s public health and safety,” Cooper said, according to WSOC-TV. As of Tuesday morning, 24,140 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in North Carolina and 766 people have died, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. Officials with the Georgia Department of Public Health said 43,586 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed statewide as of Tuesday morning with 1,853 people killed by the viral infection. New Jersey to allow for socially distanced graduation ceremonies Update 10:45 a.m. EDT May 26: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey announced Tuesday that schools will be allowed to begin holding outdoor graduation ceremonies in July provided they comply with social distancing measures. Murphy said the ceremonies will be allowed beginning July 6. The date is about two weeks later than graduations are typically held, according to North Jersey.com. 4,043 new coronavirus infections reported in the UK Update 10:35 a.m. EDT May 26: Officials in the United Kingdom reported 4,043 new coronavirus infections Tuesday morning, raising the country’s total number of infections to 265,227. Officials said that as of 5 p.m. local time Monday, the most recent date for which data was available, 37,048 people had died nationwide of COVID-19. Wall Street up as recovery hopes overshadow virus worries Update 9:50 a.m. EDT May 26: Wall Street opened sharply higher Tuesday as hopes for economic recovery overshadow worries over the coronavirus pandemic. The S&P 500 jumped to nearly a 3-month high, recovering much of its post-pandemic losses. Investors are shifting their focus to how various nations are adapting to getting back to business, while striving to keep new COVID-19 cases in check. Reassuring comments by the head of China’s central bank also helped spur buying. Benchmarks in Paris, London and Tokyo also gained on Tuesday. Brooklyn Nets allowed to begin voluntary player workouts, reopen training facility Update 9:05 a.m. EDT May 26: Officials with the Brooklyn Nets said the NBA team plans to reopen its practice training facility Tuesday, two days after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said professional sports teams in the state would be allowed to begin spring training statewide. In a statement obtained by CNN, team officials said they plan to reopen the HSS Training Center for voluntary player workouts beginning Tuesday. “The organization will strictly follow the protocols outlined by the NBA and infectious disease experts to ensure that all precautions are taken in order to maintain a safe and healthy environment for players and staff,” the statement said, according to CNN. Several Nets players, including Kevin Durant, tested positive for coronavirus infections in March. Global deaths near 347K, total cases soar past 5.5M Update 7:44 a.m. EDT May 26: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus reached 346,700 early Tuesday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. In the four months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 5,518,905 people worldwide. Meanwhile, 13 nations now have total infection counts higher than China’s 84,102.  The 10 nations with the highest number of infections recorded to date are as follows: • The United States has reported 1,662,768 cases, resulting in 98,223 deaths. • Brazil has recorded 374,898 cases, resulting in 23,473 deaths. • Russia has confirmed 362,342 cases, resulting in 3,807 deaths. • The United Kingdom has reported 262,547 cases, resulting in 36,996 deaths. • Spain has confirmed 235,400 cases, resulting in 26,834 deaths. • Italy has reported 230,158 cases, resulting in 32,877 deaths. • France has confirmed 183,067 cases, resulting in 28,460 deaths. • Germany has reported 180,802 cases, resulting in 8,323 deaths. • Turkey has recorded 157,814 cases, resulting in 4,369 deaths • India has recorded 146,371 cases, resulting in 4,187 deaths. Colorado restaurant owners sue state over Mother’s Day license suspension Update 7:08 a.m. EDT May 26: The owners of a Colorado restaurant who defied statewide shutdown orders by allowing throngs of customers to dine on Mother’s Day have field suit against the state for having their license suspended. The suit was filed Friday by the owners of C&C Coffee & Kitchen in Castle Rock against Gov. Jared Polis; the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and its director; and the local tri-county health department in Douglas County District Court, The Washington Post reported. The suit alleges owners Jesse and April Arellano were denied their “livelihood and ability to operate their business after they simply allowed customers onto their premises to serve food and beverages.” More specifically, it claims that Polis’ statewide restrictions lack empirical evidence to accurately quantify the novel coronavirus pandemic’s toll because they are based on “fluctuating, often inaccurate projections,” the Post reported. Meanwhile, Polis announced Monday that Colorado restaurants will be allowed to reopen dining rooms beginning Wednesday but with strict capacity measures enforced, The Denver Post reported. Global coronavirus cases top 5.5 million Update 5:53 a.m. EDT May 26: The worldwide total of novel coronavirus cases eclipsed 5.5 million early Tuesday. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, a total of 5,508,904 cases have now been diagnosed globally, resulting in at least 346,508 deaths. South Korea links nearly 250 coronavirus cases to popular Seoul entertainment district Published 4:41 a.m. EDT May 26: A popular nightlife district in South Korean capital Seoul has been linked officially to 247 novel coronavirus cases since social distancing restrictions were eased. According to the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 83,000 tests have been performed specific to the Itaweon district outbreak, and about 30% of those who tested positive have remained asymptomatic. D.C. officials confident they can contain coronavirus by July Published 3:33 a.m. EDT May 26: The greater Washington, D.C., area could have enough testing equipment, laboratory capacity and contact tracers to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, but only if the public remains vigilant, The Washington Post reported. According to public health officials in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, the region is expected to reach peak capacity for testing and tracing by June or early July, the Post reported. Read more here. Largest Latin American airline files for bankruptcy amid coronavirus disruptions Update 2:14 a.m. EDT May 26: LATAM Airlines Group has filed for bankruptcy, and the largest Latin American airline cites the novel coronavirus pandemic as the primary cause. In a statement posted to its website, the company said it will reorganize operations under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States. Specifically, CEO Roberto Alvo said LATAM will refocus “on transforming our group to adapt to a new and evolving way of flying, with the health and safety of our passengers and employees being paramount.' No immediate impact is expected to affect reservations, employee pay, flight vouchers or passenger and cargo operations, according to the statement. US coronavirus cases approach 1.7M, deaths surpass 98K Update 1:08 a.m. EDT May 26: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surged toward 1.7 million early Tuesday across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, there are at least 1,662,302 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 98,223 deaths.  The hardest-hit states remain New York with 362,764 cases and 29,229 deaths and New Jersey with 155,092 cases and 11,147 deaths. Massachusetts, with 93,271 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 6,416, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 112,017. Only 16 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 6,000 cases each. Five other states have now confirmed at least 51,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 96,400 cases, resulting in 3,769 deaths • Pennsylvania: 71,925 cases, resulting in 5,146 deaths • Texas: 56,409 cases, resulting in 1,533 deaths • Michigan: 54,881 cases, resulting in 5,241 deaths • Florida: 51,746 cases, resulting in 2,252 deaths Meanwhile, Maryland, Georgia and Connecticut each has confirmed at least 40,000 cases; Louisiana, Virginia, Ohio and Indiana each has confirmed at least 31,000 cases; Colorado, North Carolina, Minnesota, Tennessee and Washington each has confirmed at least 20,000 cases; Iowa, Arizona and Wisconsin each has confirmed at least 15,000 cases; Alabama and Rhode Island each has confirmed at least 14,000 cases, followed by Mississippi with 13,458; Missouri and Nebraska each has confirmed at least 12,000 cases, followed by South Carolina with 10,178 and Kansas with 9,125; Delaware, Kentucky, Utah and the District of Columbia each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases; Nevada and New Mexico each has confirmed at least 7,000 cases; Oklahoma and Arkansas each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • The FBI is investigating after video surfaced early Tuesday that appeared to show a police officer holding a knee against a man’s neck as he struggled to breathe shortly before he was pronounced dead at a hospital. The 10-minute video was caught by Darnella Frazier, who was on her way to meet with friends Monday night when she saw a man on the ground near a police cruiser and began to record, The Washington Post reported. In the video, later posted on Facebook, the man on the ground can be heard shouting that he can't breathe. “Don’t kill me!” he said, according to the Post. In a news briefing early Tuesday with police Chief Medaria Arradondo, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said the officer seen in the video with his knee to the man’s neck “failed in the most basic human sense,” according to KARE. 'For five minutes we watched as a white officer pressed his knee to the neck of a black man,' he said. 'For five minutes.' Police said they were called around 8 p.m. Monday to a report of a forgery in progress on the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South. Officers who responded found a man in his 40s who was believed to have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Police said officers ordered him to step away from his car and that afterward he “physically resisted officers.” 'Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress,' police said in a statement released after the incident. 'Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.' In video of the incident, bystanders can be heard questioning officers’ treatment of the man. “He’s not even resisting arrest right now, bro,” a bystander tells one of the two responding officers in the video, according to WCCO. “You’re (expletive) stopping his breathing right now, you think that’s cool?” The video shows when the man on the ground appears to lose consciousness. “Whatever the investigation reveals, it does not change the simple truth … that he should be with us this morning,” Frey said Tuesday, according to KARE. The two officers who responded to the incident have been placed on paid administrative leave as authorities investigate, according to WCCO. Neither the officers nor the man who died were identified.
  • Washington Insider Jamie Dupree first reported over the weekend that the President had raised the possibility of moving the GOP convention from North Carolina. Then Vice President Mike Pence floated Florida, Georgia and Texas as possible second choices.  And Politico reports that Jacksonville could make a pitch to serve as host.  Mayor Lenny Curry told Playbook that he’s interested in the convention and that his city has already shown it is ready, according to reporters Gary Fineout and Matt Dixon.  Meantime, Jamie Dupree reports that Democrats still haven’t figured out what they’re doing in Milwaukee in August. 
  • A woman apologized for calling the police on a black man Monday after the two argued about her unleashed dog in New York City’s Central Park. Part of the confrontation between Amy Cooper and Christian Cooper -- who are not related -- was recorded on Christian Cooper’s cellphone in a wooded area of Central Park known as the Ramble, CNN reported. He posted the video on Facebook. His sister, Melody Cooper, also posted the encounter on Twitter. “I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way,” Amy Cooper, who is white. told CNN. She added that she wanted to “publicly apologize to everyone.” The Ramble is a wildlife habitat where dogs tend to disturb birds, which is why Christian Cooper commented about the unleashed dog to Amy Cooper, WABC reported. Dogs are supposed to be leashed in that area of Central Park, according to the park’s website. “She was actually standing right next to the sign that says dogs in the Ramble have to be leashed at all times,” Christian Cooper told the television station. As Christian Cooper began recording, Amy Cooper asked him to stop and approached the man, WPIX reported. “I’m taking a picture and calling the cops,” Amy Cooper is heard in the video. “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.” ”My thinking was, I can sort of capitulate to this racial intimidation, or I could just do what I’m doing and continue recording,' Christian Cooper told WABC. As Christian Cooper continued to record the exchange, Amy Cooper is shown making a telephone call. “There is an African American man. I am in Central Park,” she said as she struggles to control the dog. 'He is recording me and threatening myself and my dog. ... I’m being threatened by a man in the Ramble. Please send the cops immediately.” Police responded to the park after the 8:10 a.m. call, officials told WPIX. “Upon arrival, police determined two individuals had engaged in a verbal dispute,” an NYPD spokesperson told the television station. “There were no arrests or summonses issued and both parties went on their way.” Amy Cooper surrendered the dog to the shelter where he had been adopted from while the dispute is being investigated, according to  Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Inc. “The dog is now in our rescue’s care and he is safe and in good health,” the post stated. “I think I was just scared,” Amy Cooper told CNN, adding that her “entire life is being destroyed right now.” “When you’re alone in the Ramble, you don’t know what’s happening,' she told the network. 'It’s not excusable, it’s not defensible.” Amy Cooper has been placed on administrative leave by her employer, investment company Franklin Templeton. “We take these matters very seriously, and we do not condone racism of any kind. While we are in the process of investigating the situation, the employee involved has been put on administrative leave,” the company’s statement read. New York City Councilman Mark Levine called the incident “disgusting.” “Filling a false police report is a crime,” he tweeted. “Being racist is reprehensible. There needs to be accountability for this.”

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