January 16, 2019

Thursday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 6/14/2018

Why Florida is struggling with an unusually severe HIV/AIDS problem

Miami had the highest new infection rate per capita of any U.S. and the rest of the state isn't faring much better. Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Jacksonville also made the list of top 10 U.S. cities for rate of new HIV diagnoses. And more HIV infections progress to AIDS here than in any other state. Mario Stevenson, a virologist who heads the infectious disease department at the University of Miami (UM) Miller School of Medicine, said, "There's no abatement in our upward slope." [Source: Science]

Vanilla spice could be extra nice for Florida farmers

vanilla spice flower

Vanilla goes with everything. That’s what helps give the versatile spice such mass appeal. But what about having the ability to source or even grow fresh vanilla beans? University of Florida researchers are exploring the possibilities to make that a reality for U.S. consumers as well as local growers looking for another new alternative crop choice. Full story from Growing Produce, here.

SunPass apologies for glitches in overhauled online system

Florida’s SunPass toll program is apologizing that customers are having “difficulties accessing the SunPass website.” Customers had to tolerate nearly a week of frozen accounts during a system overhaul. When the system came back to life earlier this week, it performed badly with speeds that were slow to stalled. See the letter - with an apology - that SunPass sent to its customers, here. Also read more at the Orlando Sentinel.

Florida's conservation cowboy

Jim Strickland's family has been raising cattle in Florida since the Civil War, and after his father passed away unexpectedly when he was 17, he inherited the family business. Yet deeply seated within Strickland's ranching roots is a desire to preserve the wild Florida he grew up with, an area he's seen chipped away over the last 60 years by land development and population growth from all directions. [Source: US News & World Report]

Zika is a threat that Florida hasn’t taken seriously, study finds

female Aedes aegypti mosquito

Miami was ground zero during the peak of Zika outbreaks in the U.S. in 2016, which made Florida residents more susceptible than others to contracting the virus. While Floridians were nearly twice as likely as residents in other states to take precautions against the mosquito-borne virus, fewer than half did, according to a new study. See a summary of the study from the Annenberg Public Policy Center here. Also read more at the Tampa Bay Times.


› Accounting error could cost Pinellas County and 109 employees about $500,000
When Pinellas County started offering domestic-partner benefits in 2013, it never paid taxes on the perk or included them in year-end wage records used by employees to file tax returns. That error could now cost the county — and employees — a combined $500,000.

› Parkland shooter's brother gets behind 24/7 anti-bullying hotline and non-profit
The toll-free 24/7 hotline, dubbed “We Isolate No-one,” will be open to any student who feels isolated or bullied. Intake counselors, who are trained to handle crisis situations, will log and report each call.

› Naples contractor, nearing $50 million in sales, names new CEO
Conditioned Air Co. has named Tim Dupre president and CEO. Dupre has served as president and COO of the company since 2015. He will replace longtime CEO and partner Theo Etzel III, who will continue with the company as chairman.

› Almost 400 new jobs coming to Panama City
A final contract has been approved allowing the first Triumph Gulf Coast grant of $10 million to be spent on a major expansion of the Port of Panama City. The Triumph board at its Tuesday meeting in Pensacola approved of the final contract.

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