Florida hospital CEOs tell DeSantis what they are seeing during latest COVID-19 spike
Faced with falling poll numbers, rising COVID-19 cases and attacks from potential 2022 challengers, Gov. Ron DeSantis held a virtual roundtable with hospital leaders across the state on Wednesday morning to talk about how they are dealing with the influx of COVID-19 patients in recent weeks as the delta variant takes hold.
Jacksonville mayor to announce new round of federal funding for rent & utility assistance
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor Lenny Curry said he will be announcing a new round of federal funding for rent and utility assistance for Jacksonville residents who meet certain qualifications. The mayor said the announcement will be at noon Monday. “COVID-19 continues to financially impact our neighbors, and I’m pleased to let you know more help is on the way,” Curry tweeted Sunday.
Jacksonville NAACP continues to push for vaccinations in underserved communities
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP sent a letter to Mayor Lenny Curry and City Council President Tommy Hazouri calling for more COVID-19 vaccination sites in neighborhoods that have been overlooked in the past. Rumlin writes that plan should consider the fact that the statistics show COVID-19 has disproportionately affected communities of color. “The Curry Administration and City Council Members who represent these communities should reach out to aggressively and with urgency to vaccinate these communities,” reads the letter, dated Feb. 9. AdREAD: Letter to mayor and City Council president from Jacksonville NAACPThe letter was also signed by the presidents of the Jacksonville Urban League, Northeast Florida Medical Society Foundation and First Coast Black Nurses Association. The State of Florida determines who receives the vaccine supply and they have their own distribution chains that we do not control.
Former Kids Hope Alliance CEO calls Mayor Curry’s administration ‘toxic’
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Joe Peppers, the former CEO of the city’s Kids Hope Alliance, broke his silence Tuesday on WJCT radio. Appearing on First Coast Connect, Peppers called Mayor Lenny Curry’s administration “toxic” and accused the mayor and his staff of seeking out “enablers” to execute what Peppers alleged is a corrupt and flawed agenda. And it was a toxic, toxic culture.”Peppers resigned in May of 2020 from his leadership of CEO of KHA, nine months after he was placed on administrative leave during an investigation of workplace misconduct y the city’s Inspector General’s Office. Peppers said he believes the federal grand jury report into the failed attempt to privatize JEA will bolster his claims. So it was it was absolutely a talk, a conversation that was that was circulating amongst the administration.
Mayor Curry pushes back against concerns that Lot J project is being rushed
Curry sat down with News4Jax on Wednesday and talked about Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s plans with the city to develop Lot J. “I believe this is a big, bold, visionary project,” Curry said. This is another big 50-50 partnership that will really make a huge difference in our downtown quality of life.”As a 50-50 partnership, the city’s investment would be $233 million to support the entertainment complex. “I hope the City Council ultimately gets their questions -- they’ll get their questions answered. The City Council hopes to start getting more of those answers at 5 p.m. Thursday when the second hearing for the Lot J project begins.
JEA consultant says controversial baseball trip was just a social outing
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Another player in the JEA saga was questioned about what happened during the city-owned utility’s failed sales attempt. Tim Baker, a political consultant for Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, was questioned last month by an attorney for the City Council investigative committee about the role he played in the botched JEA sale. Zahn said that he flew to Atlanta on a plane provided by Conventus, LLC, a company co-managed by Baker. Sam Mousa, who recently retired from that position and is listed in public records as a co-manager of Conventus LLC, was also there. The testimony is being reviewed by a City Council committee looking into JEA and the practices surrounding the potential sale.
Mayor Curry, Shad Khan unveil long-awaited plans for Lot J
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Standing on the Jacksonville Jaguars indoor practice field Monday, Jaguars owner Shad Khan and Mayor Lenny Curry announced new plans for the development at Lot J, a project that has been years in the making. The total direct public investment from the city will be over $152 million which includes $77.7 million for city-owned infrastructure, Curry said. “This project will provide an immediate boost to our economy with the creation of 2,300 construction jobs,” Curry said. “We have a lot of other priorities in the city and they are going to cost some money so I don’t want to pit Lot J against those other needs. Rendering of Lot J development (Copyright 2020 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)
Curry extends Jacksonville mask mandate for 30 more days
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor Lenny Curry has extended a mask mandate for Jacksonville for another 30 days, a city spokesperson confirmed to News4Jax on Monday. The order mandates masks indoors for people over 6 years old when they are unable to practice social distancing. Curry initially issued the mask mandate in June, after first saying he didn’t think mandates were prudent. pic.twitter.com/fZv1NAAOam — City of Jacksonville (COJ) (@CityofJax) June 30, 2020The order comes after Gov. St. Augustine and Nassau County, which also had mask mandates, rescinded theirs.
Former city administrator: There was no plot to sell JEA
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Testimony released Wednesday reveals what Mayor Lenny Curry and his staff may have known prior to the plan to try and sell JEA. Curry’s former Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa was interviewed for that committee and he said there was no plot by the mayor to sell JEA outright. SPECIAL SECTION | Tracking the JEA sagaMousa was questioned by an attorney hired by the investigative committee looking into JEA. Mousa said Curry never said at any time that he was going to sell JEA. One JEA employee was reprimanded for leaking some confidential documents to City Council members and JEA has made changes in how those documents are stored.
Former Kids Hope Alliance CEO had sex with subordinate, misused position, investigation finds
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A city investigation into Joe Peppers, the former head of the Kids Hope Alliance, uncovered he was having an intimate relationship with a senior leadership team member that went sour while they both worked at the city-funded office. The letter outlined concerns involving KHA operations, senior leadership, mismanagement within the organization and allegations of inappropriate relationships involving Peppers. Through interviews, investigators found that Peppers had a consensual sexual relationship with an unnamed senior leadership team member who directly reported to him from Aug. 2018 until Feb. 2019. The senior leadership team member said Peppers “crossed the line” when he mentioned her child, according to the investigation. The text message came a few months after the senior leadership team member told Peppers she planned to resign in August of 2019.
Mayor Curry wants to expand Cure Violence program to other neighborhoods
On Wednesday he addressed Cure Violence, a program he started last year. Now, Curry wants to expand Cure Violence to other neighborhoods. Curry said it suggests that the program is showing promise and that is one reason why he added $1.7 million to his budget for Cure Violence. “We are applying a Cure Violence Band-Aid to a massive and open hemorrhaging wound,” said Ben Frazier. “I think we have to examine how the money is being spent in Cure Violence.
Mayor Curry ‘cautiously optimistic’ about Jacksonville’s coronavirus numbers
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said Tuesday he was “cautiously optimistic” about local coronavirus numbers as the Florida Department of Health reported 191 additional COVID-19 deaths, the most the state has announced in a day since the start of the pandemic. Curry said the state Department of Health reported, as of Tuesday morning, Duval County had an overall positive percentage of 10.76%. The mayor said local hospitals are reporting 481 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 and 106 people are in intensive care. With the threat of a tropical system impacting Jacksonville in the coming days, the mayor and other leaders are looking ahead. We are in uncertain times, times like we’ve never seen, unpredictable times.
Jacksonville leaders monitoring disturbance in Atlantic
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Steve Woodard, director of the city’s Emergency Preparedness Division, said during a virtual news conference Tuesday that they are monitoring a disturbance that the National Hurricane Center said is forecast to become a tropical storm before reaching the Leeward Islands. I’ve said it before, we’ve been through multiple storms, hurricanes together the five years that I’ve been in office. “That will likely require us to open more shelters, but we have that excess capacity. Depending on the numbers, if we have to open specific shelters just for COVID patients, we’ll do that,” Woodard said. “So to remind people, this is a good time to get your kids ready, be prepared for a storm.
City Council President: Jacksonville dodged a bullet with RNC cancellation
On Friday the full City Council met to talk about what happened. The council president said the city dodged a bullet. And I think it ended up, like I said, a happy ending for Republicans and Democrats and above all the citizens of Jacksonville, said City Council President Tommy Hazouri. Councilman Garrett Dennis said he wants to make sure in the future the city council would have some say in bringing events like the RNC to Jacksonville. Now the focus for the city council is the city budget and the effect that COVID-19 will have on the bottom line.
Mayor agrees Jacksonville is not ready to provide security for RNC
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Mayor Lenny Curry said Tuesday he was not surprised that Sheriff Mike Williams warned Monday that the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office is not prepared to provide adequate security for the Republican National Convention. Williams was absent from Tuesdays news conference, and the question was posed to Undersheriff Pat Ivey: How many personnel will be needed to provide adequate security? Im pretty sure they can handle security at an event like the RNC in their city, Trump Campaign Communications Director Tim Murtaugh said on CNN. But your security plan is set. For the security plan to be solid, you allot for those changes.
Jacksonville mayor presents $1.34B budget to City Council
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry on Wednesday laid out his upcoming budget to the City Council, and right now, it does not call for a tax or fee increase. Some Jacksonville City Council members are already saying it’s a possibility. City Council would certainly have the ability to change that if they like.”City Council President Tommy Hazouri and others talked about that possibility. READ: Proposed annual budget for fiscal year 2020-21 | Jacksonville mayor’s budget address to City CouncilLast year’s budgetLast year, the mayor proposed a $1.37 billion budget. The budget approved by the City Council was $1.2 billion.
COVID-19 testing site opening at Mandarin Senior Center
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. The city of Jacksonville, in partnership with Logistics Health, will open a COVID-19 testing site Wednesday at the Mandarin Senior Center on Hartley Road. Those are in addition to a new testing site that opened Monday in East Arlington and a new site that will open Thursday at the beaches. Next, the team at that site will move to the beaches and operate a walk-up testing site at the former Kmart shopping center on Atlantic Boulevard in Neptune Beach. The longest-running and largest testing site in Jacksonville -- Lot J outside TIAA Bank Field -- will close at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The Regency site, which was originally a federal site, which will remain open as a state-run testing site with an inside option at the old Sears building.
Curry: Hospitals ready to take action if rise in COVID-19 patients threatens capacity
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Duval County hospitals were reporting a total of 548 hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients, 113 of whom were in intensive care units, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said Tuesday. Local hospital CEOs have assured me if we experience a rise in COVID positive patients that threatens capacity, they are ready to take action and increase bed space and availability for patients, Curry said. So people need to be aware if they have an existing health issue, they need to take additional behavior and action to protect themselves. There were seven additional coronavirus-related deaths reported Tuesday in Northeast Florida. Clay County has now had 39 deaths from COVID-19.
Mayor Curry: Amid COVID-19 surge in Jacksonville, most people arent going to ICUs
Its the increase in testing like this that Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said is causing the countys positive number of COVID-19 cases to increase. But with the latest surge, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said most people are not going to the hospital. During a Monday press conference, Curry took issue with reports regarding hospitals and full ICU beds when in fact only a very small number of those beds have COVID-19 patients. Curry said Monday there are 14 patients in ICUs around Jacksonville. So News4Jax did just that, contacting the five major hospitals in Jacksonville.
Curry says he wont mandate face masks in Jacksonville
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said Monday he does not plan to issue mandatory face mask requirements despite rising COVID-19 cases in Duval County and calls from residents. On Monday, Florida surpassed 100,000 reported COVID-19 cases. A one-day record of more than 4,000 new COVID-19 cases was reported Saturday. Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began recommending that everyone wears a face mask in public in April, there is no federal mandate requiring people to do so. Ron DeSantis said last week that he also will not face coverings statewide, citing similar reasons referenced by Curry on Monday.
Mayor Curry appoints new Chief of Staff, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Mayor Lenny Curry has appointed Jordan Elsbury as the new Chief of Staff of the City of Jacksonville, the city announced Monday. Chief of Staff is an integral part of my administration, said Curry in a press release. Leeann Krieg will take Elsburys former job as the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. Prior to joining the Intergovernmental Affairs team in 2018, Krieg served as the Executive Council Assistant to Group 4 At-Large Council Member, Greg Anderson. Before joining the City of Jacksonville in 2012, Krieg worked for the State of Florida.
Mayor Curry, Sheriff Williams walk with community, promise change
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Mayor Lenny Curry told hundreds gathered Tuesday morning to march with Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette from Jacksonville City Hall to the Duval County Courthouse that he was listening to their voices. "Were not going to agree on everything -- thats just not human history, human nature. Weve got to find common ground.Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams and many of his officers joined the short walk to the Courthouse. Curry said he felt he would be a distraction for law enforcement and could put others in danger if he marched this weekend. There are times where I put law enforcement resources at risk because they have to focus on me if Im there which isnt responsible, Curry said.
Mayor Curry to walk with community, announce new policy initiatives next week
“I will participate in a walk next week with our community,” Curry tweeted. Curry also said he plans to announce policy initiatives he will take to “address racial inequality.”I will participate in a walk next week with our community. I will also announce policy initiatives and actions I will take to bring our city together and address racial inequality. It was not immediately clear when Curry planned to walk with the community or the policy issues he planned to announce. Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette announced Friday that he plans to hold a peaceful protest walk in Jacksonville on Tuesday.
Mayor says Jacksonville would host Republican National Convention responsibly
On Thursday, News4Jax asked Mayor Lenny Curry whether Jacksonville could afford to host the convention given the cost of extra security and health precautions that the city would have to take to make sure its safe. Sheriff Mike Williams added: I will tell you that this is not just a JSO (Jacksonville Sheriffs Office) event. As far as the pandemic, Curry has been pushing for safe practices. But some are asking whether inviting the convention to Jacksonville would be a step backward. There are no certainties, but weve demonstrated the ability in the city over a number of years to host events and moving forward responsibly," the mayor said.
'We hear you’: City leaders call for peace, change after protests rock Jacksonville
'We hear you’: City leaders call for peace, change after protests rock JacksonvillePublished: May 31, 2020, 10:35 pmJacksonville’s elected leaders gathered Sunday for a virtual meeting to discuss what comes next in the wake of a violent clash Saturday night between protesters and police downtown.
Jacksonville police monitoring hot spots across town after riots
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. A heavy police presence was posted near the St. Johns Town Center on Saturday night in anticipation that rioters who clashed with police downtown earlier in the day might travel there next. Although there was a visibly heightened level of police activity at the Town Center, News4Jax crews saw no sign of the hostile crowds that packed the streets across town hours earlier. The violence erupted about 6:30 p.m. as a group of roughly 200 people stuck around after a protest earlier Saturday afternoon, Williams said. He said rioters confronted police, flinging rocks and water bottles at officers and vandalizing police vehicles in their path. In response, police lobbed flash bangs, tear gas and other crowd control devices as part of an effort to scatter the rioters.
City pools to remain closed over Memorial Day weekend
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. It looks like Jacksonville wont be making a splash this Memorial Day weekend, as city pools will remain closed because of the coronavirus. Usually pools are opening this weekend, and I wish they were, but theyre not at this moment in time, Mayor Lenny Curry said Thursday. He said thats another issue that the city is working through as Jacksonville moves into the next phase of reopening. Both are booked for Memorial Day weekend, but are excepting reservations for other times for campers moving forward," Curry said. The city will also be hosting a virtual Memorial Day Observance, which will include honoring veterans at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Wall.
Jacksonville mayor says city offices set to reopen by June
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor Lenny Curry on Monday night highlighted a Jacksonville restaurant that he said is reopening in a “safe and responsible way" and announced that most city government offices are expected to reopen by June 1. By Monday, June 1, he expects most city government offices will be open, with safety measures in place. Curry also stressed the importance of increasing COVID-19 testing capacity. He said part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding that the city received will go toward setting up additional testing locations throughout Jacksonville for a six-month period. More information on these locations and a map of available testing sites throughout Jacksonville can be found at COJ.net/COVID19Testing.
Duval County beach restrictions lifted; zoo to reopen
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor Lenny Curry on Tuesday took the next steps to reopen Jacksonville, announcing that all Duval County beach restrictions would be lifted on Wednesday and the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens will be back open to the public this weekend. Curry said he collaborated with the mayors of Jacksonville, Neptune and Atlantic beaches to decide to reopen Duval County beaches without any restrictions on activities. Also among the changes Monday was that Duval County beaches opened 24/7 for exercise only -- walking, biking, hiking, fishing, running, swimming and surfing -- though that will change again on Wednesday when all activities will be allowed. When News4Jax went to Jacksonville Beach late Tuesday afternoon, beachgoers were already sunbathing before the restrictions were lifted. The Florida Department of Health reported Tuesday that there have been 26 coronavirus-related deaths and 1,084 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Duval County.
Jacksonville mayor: ‘It looks like we may have flattened the curve’
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said during his virtual news conference Tuesday that “it looks like we may have flattened the curve.”The mayor continued: “That’ll be more clear to us in the next week to a week and a half when the models tell us we will peak.”Curry went on to thank the people in the community for doing their part to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. “I’m proud of the people of this city, in this community, in the responsible way that you most of you have acted. Jared Moskowitz, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, echoed Curry’s words during a Tuesday news conference alongside Gov. “We have to stay the course.”The mayor said he’s as anxious as anyone for people to get back to work. Per the city charter, the emergency can only be imposed for 30 days, so it had to be extended.
Emergency bills allow retired Jacksonville first responders to return to work
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville City Council on Tuesday night passed two emergency bills that allow former Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department members and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office police and corrections officers to come out of retirement to help respond to the coronavirus crisis. The proposals, announced by Mayor Lenny Curry during a virtual news conference Tuesday afternoon, allow recently retired first responders to return to work without impacting their pensions. Both JSO and JFRD said those who opt for that will have to meet state certifications for fitness. RELATED | Former Jacksonville officer says he’ll leave retirement, join fight against COVID-19 if neededRetired Capt. I expect to go back to work anytime.”During Tuesday’s news conference, JFRD Chief Keith Powers also said two more JFRD members were placed in quarantine after showing symptoms, bringing the total of JFRD members in quarantine to 79.
Jacksonville City Council to consider small business relief program
Mayor Lenny Curry tweeted over the weekend that the Jacksonville City Council on Monday will consider the small business relief program legislation that he announced last week. In addition, the City of Jacksonville tweeted that more details regarding the program in partnership with VyStar Credit Union will be announced Monday. "It is my intention at the city portion of this program will be focused on small businesses with some elements tied to employee retention.”More details for the City’s Small Business Loan Program in partnership with @OfficialVyStar to be announced tomorrow. The credit union also said its working with the city to help keep Jacksonville businesses afloat. On the federal level, Congress’ Paycheck Protection Program enables small businesses to receive up to $10 million.
Mayor says city needs to 'keep an eye on’ hospital admissions
Those who are being tested will be notified and the city will get an overall number of cases. During a virtual news conference Wednesday, Mayor Lenny Curry said that area hospitals were not at capacity, but that’s something that they’re monitoring. That field hospital is still being set up inside the Prime Osborn Convention Center. The Prime Osborn site will be 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week while testing supplies last. First responders and health care workers do not need to show any symptoms to be tested at that site.
Curry asks state for $2M to keep pedestrians safe, fight violence, prevent veteran suicide
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor Lenny Curry made a pitch Wednesday to state lawmakers to bring more money into Jacksonville in order to keep pedestrians safe, help fight violence and work to prevent veterans from committing suicide. Curry asked for an additional $2 million to fund three programs that he believes are important to Jacksonville: pedestrian crossing installation, Cure Violence and “The Fire Watch." We’re seeking funding for pedestrian safety, funding for Cure Violence, which helps intervene in stopping violent crime, and money to help us in preventing veteran suicide,” Curry said. The mayor also wants an additional $750,000 from the state to fund an expansion of the Cure Violence program that began in June. The city will also plug in an additional $2.4 million to add an additional Cure Violence site between Edgewood Avenue and Interstate 295.