January 21, 2021

Tuesday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 8/4/2020

Florida has lost a greater share of revenue than many states due to COVID-19

The state's revenue shortfall has ballooned to nearly $2.1 billion since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Unemployment in the state has soared to Depression-era levels and Medicaid rolls have swelled. Only some of the cuts are being supplanted by federal relief funds. From March To May, Tax Revenue Was Down 26% In Florida Compared With Last Year [Source: WUSF]

Publix’s sales soar by $2.5 billion because of coronavirus pandemic

At least one Central Florida company has been able to make money during the pandemic: Publix said Monday it has generated an estimated $2.5 billion more in sales because of coronavirus in the first half of the year. The Lakeland-based chain of more than 1,250 grocery stores reported that sales for the three months ending June 27 were $11.4 billion, up 21.8% from $9.3 billion in the same quarter last year. Comparable store sales were up 19.9%. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Floridians continue pulling the plug on traditional phones

Cell phones are seemingly never out of reach. Meanwhile, people rely more and more on internet technology. And the result is the same each year: Florida residents and businesses continue to ditch traditional wireline phone service as they look to other ways to make calls. The Florida Public Service Commission on Monday released an annual report that showed a 15.7% drop in wireline service in 2019. More broadly, wirelines were down 51%, or nearly 1.7 million lines, over the past five years. [Source: CBS Miami]

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Fried launches ‘SMART Florida’ coronavirus protection campaign

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried wants to make coronavirus protection as familiar as the “Click it or Ticket” slogan promoting safety belts. On Monday, the only statewide elected Democrat launched a “SMART Florida” public awareness campaign on guarding against COVID-19 during a press conference in Tallahassee. The SMART message — social distancing, masking up, avoiding crowds, remembering to wash hands and throwing away disposable gloves, wipes and masks — will be relayed by professional athletes, members of Congress and community leaders. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]

As Isaias moves on from Florida, forecasters are watching another system

As Tropical Storm Isaias, which largely spared Florida, is expected to strengthen into a hurricane again as it nears the Carolinas, forecasters are also watching another system that could develop into a tropical depression later this week. The disturbance is a few hundred miles north of the northern Leeward Islands and while it is not well organized “environmental conditions could allow for some slow development during the next several days,” according to the National Hurricane Center’s 2 a.m. advisory. [Source: Miami Herald]

ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:

› Specialty grocer continues expansion in Tampa Bay area with three new locations
Sprouts Farmers Market, a Phoenix-based chain of specialty grocery stores, plans to open a new store in New Tampa on Aug. 12, followed by another expansion, in Westchase, in October. According to a press release, the company has also secured a site in the new Tampa Heights development, north of downtown Tampa, and will open a store there in 2021.

› Southwest Florida banks boost lending
Southwest Florida’s community banks grew their loan portfolios during the second quarter but also prepared for future loan problems from the coronavirus pandemic. Gulfside Bank of Sarasota, the region’s newest lender, posted its first-ever net profit, “well ahead” of its projections, said president/CEO Dennis Murphy.

› Suncoast businesses still having difficulty hiring back staff
It has been two months since Florida entered phase two of Governor DeSantis' 'Safe. Smart. Step-by-step' plan. Almost all businesses in the state have been able to operate at at least 50% capacity indoors, and full capacity outdoors, since then. However, this has not been enough to keep businesses afloat. Even in places like the City of Sarasota, where local leaders have allowed additional space outside without permits to give these places a chance to serve more customers, it's not the capacity that is the biggest problem - it's the staff.

› U.S. Sailing Olympic Team has 9 members either from or training in Florida for Tokyo 2021
The Tokyo Olympic Games are just a little under a year away, but one group of athletes has already begun its countdown to medal competition. Recently, U.S. Sailing named 23 members to its team scheduled to compete in 10 sailing events during the games. Earlier this summer, the Tokyo games were postponed to summer 2021 because of the COVID-19 global pandemic. This Olympic sailing team has a distinctly Florida flavor. Nine of its members are either from Florida or are training here.

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