May 26, 2020

Tuesday's Daily Pulse

Photo: Dirk Shadd \ Tampa Bay TImes

Tuesday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 4/28/2020

Florida will reopen in ‘baby steps,' Ron DeSantis says

Florida, and Hillsborough County especially, is slowing the coronavirus outbreak better than anyone could have expected, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday. But he cautioned that a quick restart of Florida’s economy is unlikely. Speaking from Tampa General Hospital, DeSantis reiterated what he has emphasized for more than a week: Florida is flattening the curve. Hospitals here are far from overwhelmed, he said, as the end of the state’s stay-at-home period approaches Thursday. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Coronavirus could alter how Florida responds to hurricanes

Florida officials are considering adjusting the state’s hurricane-response plans to prepare for the possibility of an early storm season intersecting with the COVID-19 pandemic, Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz said Friday. If storms threaten Florida in June or July, the state might need to rethink the use of mass shelters, shuttles to evacuate people and the way it recruits volunteers to help with storm recovery, Moskowitz said. [Source: WUSF]

Florida's gas prices remain at 4-year lows

Last week was a crazy week for oil. A global shortage in demand means there is a huge supply and pretty much nowhere to even store it all. It's bad news for oil companies as at one point May estimates were trading in the negatives, but it's good news in the short term for consumers, as gas prices are way down. In Florida, gas prices have reached 4-year lows at $1.78 per gallon as the state average. More from WFTS and WPLG.

Sea rise won’t sink all of Florida’s real estate market, experts say. Just parts of it.

Florida’s first-ever — and short-lived — climate change czar set a clear priority for the state: Protect the real estate market. Before she left for a White House job, Chief Resilience Officer Julia Nesheiwat drafted a report to Gov. Ron DeSantis about what steps Florida should take to deal with rising seas and temperatures by 2030. [Source: Miami Herald]

Publix buys 430,000 pounds of produce from farmers to donate to the hungry, but one grower says it’s not enough to save his crop

Publix is donating hundreds of thousands of pounds of produce and milk to food banks that the grocery store giant purchased from farmers who are struggling because of coronavirus. Hank Scott, president of Zellwood’s Long & Scott Farms, said Thursday 48,000 pounds of his cucumbers were going to the Publix initiative, a “drop in the bucket” compared with the 3 million pounds he’s been forced to leave unharvested in his 400 acres of cucumber fields. “Donation is a wonderful thing,” Scott said. “It will never keep you in business.” [Source: Orlando Sentinel]


› Manatee County company rejects $2.7 million SBA crisis loan
It Works, a Manatee County-based direct sales business behind a variety of beauty, personal care and wellness products, declined a $2.7 million loan it was approved for under the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program. The company applied for and was approved for the PPP loan but continues to “see stable and growing sales in April. To that end, the company opted not to close on the loan and hasn't faced any furloughs or layoffs during the COVID-19 crisis.”

› Orlando City Council OKs small business aid for Main Streets
With small businesses throughout the city struggling to weather the coronavirus pandemic, the Orlando City Council signed off on changes to make dollars available to some of the city’s business clusters such as College Park and Mills 50. Now, a $10,000 grant that once would have been used for aesthetic upgrades such as murals or new trees can be used to directly aid small businesses within designated “Main Street” districts.

› Environmentalists hope to raise funds for North Port scrub jay habitat
The Environmental Conservancy of North Port is hoping to cash in on a second chance to buy two lots from Sarasota County to use as scrub jay habitat. The nonprofit, which raised $5,000 earlier this year in its quest to buy escheated lots from the county, originally lost out on its bids for five lots. But after the winning bidders on two of those lots changed their minds, the conservancy hopes to close the deal.

› Hillsborough buys 543 acres in Keystone for $11.6 million
It’s a part of Hillsborough County where pasture land, equestrian lifestyles and “wildlife crossing’’ signs coexist amid winding narrow roads wrapping around neighborhoods filled with lakefront McMansions. Hillsborough commissioners recently moved to save a little bit more of the rural flavor of the northwest portion of the county by making a little bit less of the open land in the Keystone and Odessa area available for potential development.

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