Photo: Eve Edelheit \ Tampa Bay Times
Friday's Daily Pulse
What you need to know about Florida today
Coronavirus could create ‘compound disaster’ in Florida as hurricane season looms
Florida emergency managers are accustomed to planning for hurricanes. But as the June 1 start of the season grows closer and the state’s coronavirus outbreak lingers on, questions and uncertainties are nagging at the people preparing for the worst-case scenario. Will a stretched-thin FEMA be ready to respond? What will shelters look like in the age of social distancing? And if shelters open ahead of a hurricane, will vulnerable people leave their homes? [Source: Miami Herald]
Gone but not for good: Restaurants try to keep in touch with furloughed workers
Furloughing workers is usually a short-term fix for employers. Often, it means workers still have access health-care benefits, in addition to qualifying for unemployment benefits. Furloughs make it easier for employers to bring back workers — as long as they haven’t moved on and the business hasn’t shuttered permanently. [Source: CNBC]
April citrus forecasts dip across the board
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released an updated forecast for the citrus growing season. Mark Hudson, a statistician for the USDA, issued the April update on a Thursday conference call. Forecasts trended slightly downward through March for oranges, tangelos, and grapefruit, with state trends mirroring the citrus industry writ large. [Source: Florida Politics]
Central Florida drought may last months, forecasters say
While this is the dry season for much of the state, only 6 percent of Florida was in drought status this time last year. Most of the state is at level of moderate drought, while a section of Panhandle is in severe drought, and a coastal area along Miami and Fort Lauderdale is not in drought status but is deemed to be abnormally dry. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
Emergency loans were supposed to prop up Florida’s small businesses. They’re still in limbo.
Still waiting for a loan under the government’s $350 billion emergency Paycheck Protection Program? Get in line. Despite Trump administration reassurances that the PPP program would serve as an immediate source of funding for small businesses whose revenue streams have stopped cold, firms find themselves in limbo as they wait for funds. [Source: Miami Herald]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Lawsuit blaming OUC coal plants for contamination moves forward
A federal lawsuit blaming Orlando’s electric utility and home builders for coal-related contamination of east Orange County neighborhoods is a major step closer to trial with a judge’s order. The home-building giants U.S. Home Corp. and Lennar Corp. have contended in Orlando federal court that east Orange County residents were too late in filing their lawsuit in late 2018.
› Jeff Vinik gives $50,000 to help USF students through the coronavirus
The University of South Florida has received $50,000 from the Vinik Family Foundation to help students afford basic necessities like rent, food and toiletries through the coronavirus pandemic. The foundation is led by Lightning owner and philanthropist Jeff Vinik and his wife, Penny. Their gift is to the USF United Support Fund, recently established by university president Steve Currall in response to the virus.
› Food service equipment maker to close plants, reduce workforce
Welbilt Inc. (NYSE: WBT), a $1.6 billion maker of food service equipment, has seen a drop in demand because of the COVID-19 crisis and has taken steps to reduce costs, including layoffs and plant closures. In a press release, the New Port Richey company says it will shutter five of its 10 North American plants for one to two weeks, as well as three of its six facilities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
› SportsEdTV, a Miami-based startup, raises $3 million
COVID-19 will no doubt slow the venture capital flow, but for now at least, funding continues to roll into South Florida startups. The latest recipient is SportsEdTV, a Miami-based sports education media venture. The startup announced that it closed a $3 million Series A funding round. SportsEdTV provides learning tools to allow athletes, coaches and parents to improve in their chosen sport.
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