Thursday's Afternoon Update
What you need to know about Florida today
New jobless claims down in Florida
The first unemployment claims report of the new year saw a slight dip in the number of new unemployment claims filed in Florida, even as COVID cases rose to new levels. Floridians filed 21,441 new claims for the week ending Jan. 2, according to weekly data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor. That’s down from 26,533 new claims the week prior. Nationally, the figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 787,000, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week’s revised level. More from the Miami Herald.
Florida Legislature has bill that would protect some businesses from COVID suits
The Republican-led Legislature appears ready to fast-track a proposal that would provide immunity from coronavirus-related lawsuits to businesses that have “substantially” complied with public health guidelines. The House and Senate on Wednesday released identical bills for consideration during the 2021 legislative session, which will start March 2. Neither the House bill (HB 7) nor the Senate measure (SB 72) contains lawsuit protections for healthcare providers, which makes some healthcare lobbyists uneasy. More from the Miami Herald.
Florida’s COVID-19 surge could continue for weeks, experts say
Florida is in its darkest hours of coronavirus spread, as the winter’s surge of infections is not projected to let up for weeks — if not longer, health experts say. The peak of the pandemic is likely to surpass the state’s one-day record of 17,783 new COVID-19 cases reported on Wednesday, according to infectious disease specialists who have analyzed the data. So while Florida can’t get vaccines distributed to vulnerable residents fast enough, we haven’t even seen the expected spike of infections from gatherings to celebrate the arrival of the new year. More from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
International plastics association cancels convention at Orange County Convention Center
The largest plastics industry trade show in the Americas on Wednesday canceled its convention originally scheduled for May 17-21 at the Orange County Convention Center. The news about the event known as NPE: The Plastics Show comes as another big blow to the convention and hospitality industries in the Orlando area that have been hit hard by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. More from the Orlando Sentinel.
Cybersecurity firm OPSWAT moving headquarters to Tampa
San Francisco-based cybersecurity firm OPSWAT is moving its headquarters to Tampa. The 19-year-old company is the latest addition to the region’s cybersecurity sector, building on a trend that has ramped up in recent years. “My attempt here is to build something to last,” said Benny Czarny, CEO of OPSWAT. More from the Tampa Bay Times.
Out of the Box
Museum of Illusions Orlando
Believe your eyes. A new attraction debuts on International Drive this week, but it may mess with your head. Museum of Illusions Orlando has its grand opening at Icon Park on Saturday. Inside are 50 displays of optical illusions, photographic stunts and special effects. Some you stand in. Some are Instagram moments. Some you stare at and try to wrap your brain around without getting too woozy.
» More from the Orlando Sentinel.
Meet the Ohio grocer who now owns Tampa Bay’s Save A Lot stores
Tampa Bay’s 51 Save A Lot stores have a new owner, as the discount chain moves to a new wholesale business model. The local stores will remain Save A Lot locations, but were purchased by Fresh Encounters, Inc, an Ohio company that already oversees eight other store brands in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. The Tampa Bay Times caught up with Fresh Encounters CEO Michael Neelder, Jr. about his new investment in the Tampa Bay region and his licensing partnership with Save A Lot.
» Read more from the Tampa Bay Times.
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