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Huckabees join lawsuit over beach’s closure

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and his wife Janet are among 15 parties in a federal lawsuit claiming they can’t use their “backyards” because of a county government’s order to close Santa Rosa Beach fronting their Gulf Coast mansion. Walton County joined other county governments in Florida in closing sections of beaches along the Gulf and the Atlantic coasts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus after Gov. Ron DeSantis refused to issue statewide orders. Filed in federal district court in Pensacola, the lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction against the county’s ordinance. The case has been set for a hearing by telephone at 9:30 a.m. Monday before U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson. Huckabee, who served as Arkansas’ governor from 1996 to 2007, was a candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2008 and 2016. He also is a former host of a talk show on Fox News. Not long after moving to Florida in 2010, the Huckabees bought the Santa Rosa property for $800,000 and built a $2.2 million, 11,188-square-foot home in 2011, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has reported, citing county permits. The beachfront property is between Santa Rosa Beach and Grayton Beach State Park, east of Destin, Fla. Huckabee and some of his neighbors have been in property-rights fights over the past couple of years to restrict public access to the beaches fronting their property. Walton County passed the ordinance last week as a public-health emergency, but the Huckabees and their neighbors primarily contend the issue is an unconstitutional... Read More

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Santa Rosa County coronavirus patient dies

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Department of Health has announced updates regarding the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Florida. Two people have died, including a patient from Santa Rosa County, and two new presumptive positive cases have been identified in Broward County. Who died from COVID-19? A previously announced COVID-19 patient in Santa Rosa County has died, after an international trip. Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday morning that an elderly man with a history of international travel and pre-existing health conditions was being tested for COVID-19. Baptist Hospital officials confirmed later that the hospital was treating the patient identified by the governor. Local health departments have released no information about where the infected individual has been and who he may have been in contact with, citing patient privacy regulations. The departments have, however, indicated they are in the process of tracking down those contacts. Baptist Health Care CEO Mark Faulkner said his team is focused purely on treating the virus, and that Baptist patients, visitors and employees are not at risk. Read More