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  • Thousands of convicted felons will be eligible to vote in Florida after a federal court ruled that a law that created wealth-based hurdles to voting is unconstitutional. The law, SB 7066, required people with past convictions to pay all outstanding legal fees, costs, fines and restitution before regaining their right to vote. The law undermined Floridians’ 2018 passage of Amendment 4, which restored voting rights to more than a million people who completed the terms of their sentence, including parole or probation. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle found that conditioning voting on payment of legal financial obligations a person is unable to pay violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment by discriminating on the basis of wealth. He said that requiring the payment of costs and fees violates the 24th Amendment, which prohibits poll taxes and violates the National Voter Registration Act. “This is a historic win for voting rights. Judge Hinkle told the state of Florida what the rest of America already knows. You can’t make wealth a prerequisite for voting. This ruling opens the way for hundreds of thousands of Floridians to exercise their fundamental right to vote this November, and our democracy will be stronger for their participation,' said Sean Morales-Doyle, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice.
  • A temporary field hospital built for $21 million as the coronavirus outbreak threatened to overrun medical facilities in New York has closed without ever seeing a patient. Plans to transform the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal into a temporary 670-bed hospital were announced March 31, a day after the USNS Comfort hospital ship arrived to help coronavirus patients. Officials also announced a tennis center in Queens would be converted into a 350-bed facility. At that time, there were about 8,400 patients in hospitals citywide being treated for the coronavirus, The City reported. The tennis center opened as a medical facility April 11 when there were 12,184 patients in hospital beds being treated across the city. It cost $19.8 million to renovate and revert the tennis center. It closed earlier this month after taking in 79 patients. The Brooklyn hospital, built by SLSCO, a Texas-based construction company, was supposed to open in April but was not ready for patients until May 4, The City reported. By then, hospital use had been sliced in half, to about 6,000 patients. It closed last week without ever having a patient. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to pay the costs for both hospitals. The two field hospitals were not the only emergency medical facilities in New York that saw limited use. The Comfort left New York after about a month and treating 182 patients, of which about 70% had the coronavirus. Several other field hospitals were built across New York for nearly $350 million. They closed in April without seeing any patients, The Associated Press reported. Built for worst-case scenarios, some of the unused facilities will be kept on stand by for a possible second wave. “As part of our hospital surge, we expanded capacity at a breakneck speed, ensuring our hospital infrastructure would be prepared to handle the very worst. We did so only with a single-minded focus: saving lives,” city spokesperson Avery Cohen told The New York Post. 'Over the past few months, social distancing, face coverings, and other precautionary measures have flattened the curve drastically, and we remain squarely focused on taking that progress even further.” The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Country musician Morgan Wallen was arrested for disorderly conduct after getting kicked out of Kid Rock's bar Saturday night, police said. Wallen, known for the songs 'The Way I Talk' and 'Whiskey Glasses,' was kicked out of the Broadway bar by security for kicking glass items inside, WSMV reported. Wallen, who smelled strongly of alcohol, was given the chance to leave with friends but refused and was taken into custody by police, WSMV reported. Wallen was arrested and charged with public intoxication and disorderly conduct, WSMV reported. “Hey y’all just wanted to clear the air,” Wallen said Sunday afternoon on social media. “I went out downtown last night with a few old friends. After a couple bar stops, we were horse-playing with each other. We didn’t mean any harm, and we want to say sorry to any bar staff or anyone that was affected.”
  • Two hairstylists who tested positive for COVID-19 may have exposed 140 customers to the virus. The stylists worked at the same Great Clips salon location in Springfield, Missouri. One COVID-positive stylist continued going to work despite experiencing symptoms of the virus for eight days, exposing 84 clients and seven colleagues, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department announced Friday. A second COVID-positive stylist at the salon “potentially directly exposed” 56 more clients after working for five days while “experiencing very mild symptoms,' health department officials said. The business was legally open in accordance with Missouri’s reopening guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic. The stylists and their clients were wearing face coverings, a policy that was enforced by the Great Clips staff. A team of contact tracers are working to contact anyone else the stylists might have come in close contact with. According to the county health department, the stylist who first tested positive for the virus also visited a local Dairy Queen, a Walmart and a gym. “This scenario is well within our capacity of our staff to contact trace and hopefully contain,” Clay Goddard, Springfield-Greene County Health Department director, said in a news conference. “But I’m going to be honest with you, we can’t have many more of these. We can’t make this a regular habit or our capability as a community will be strained and we will have to reevaluate what things look like going forward.” The salon closed temporarily for a deep cleaning.
  • A 19-year-old woman was attacked by a machete-wielding homeless man Saturday night while she was working at a Little Caeser's Pizza restaurant, police said. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office said a man, believed to be a transient named Tyrone, walked into the pizza shop around 9 p.m. and asked about a job, WVUE reported. Authorities said he pulled out a machete moments later and attacked Jazmyn Fradieu. She was taken to a hospital, where she is recovering from severe injuries to her face, back and shoulders, WVUE reported.
  • Ahead of June’s Pride Month, the company that owns Skittles announced the candymaker will release a limited-edition colorless version of the fruity flavored treats. Mars Inc. said the company will produce colorless Pride Packs. The normally rainbow packaging will be a gray-white, and the candies will be too. The move is in support of the LGBTQ+ community, which is often represented by a rainbow flag. The monotone candy serves to highlight that “during Pride, only [one rainbow] matters,' officials wrote in a press release. For every pack sold during the month of June, Skittles will donate $1 to GLAAD, an LGBTQ+ media advocacy group, up to $100,000. “This Pride month, Skittles is removing its rainbow, but replacing it with much-needed conversations about the LGBTQ+ community and a visible stand of solidarity,” said GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “The funding that GLAAD receives from the Skittles Pride Packs will support our news and campaigns program, which tells culture-changing stories of LGBTQ+ people and issues across the media year-round. This year when many LGBTQ+ people will be unable to gather at large Pride events, it’s so important that brands, notables, and other allies find authentic and creative ways to show that they stand with our community.” Despite being colorless, the special edition Skittles will still be full of flavor. Consumers can still expect the standard grape, lemon, orange, green apple and strawberry offerings. While the Give the Rainbow campaign is new in the U.S., it has previously run in Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom. The campaign received mixed reviews in those locations. “Skittles is passionate about showing its support for the LGBTQ+ community,” said Hank Izzo, vice president of marketing, Mars Wrigley U.S. “We believe that giving up our rainbow means so much more than just removing the colors from our Skittles packs and we’re excited to do our part in making a difference for the LGBTQ+ community through our partnership with GLAAD, not only in June, but all year long.” According to Marketing Dive, the Skittles Pride Packs will be sold at select CVS and Walmart stores.