March 2, 2021

Thursday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 1/21/2021

With little backup and COVID spread, Florida hospitals could feel staffing squeeze soon

Worrying hospital leaders: the combination of post-holiday infection surges, seasonal bumps in patients from January to March even in non-COVID years, and the unpredictability of new coronavirus variants that are thought to be more infectious. Unlike the rise in COVID-19 cases over the summer, when hospitals could easily hire travel nurses to fly into Florida for backup, brutal surges across the country in recent weeks have made it harder to hire more nurses. [Source: Miami Herald]

Florida economist to lawmakers: Strong growth not enough to cover budget deficit caused by COVID-19

Florida leaders have known the state’s financial picture would be bad—the warnings were clear back in August when the two-year outlook plunged from a growth trend, to a negative of $5.4 billion. It’s gotten better, since then. Now, Florida appears to be only $3.3 billion in the hole. That’s bad, but not AS bad. “When we came back in December…the picture had improved, and we were able to restore, between this year and next, $2.4 billion," Florida chief economist Amy Baker told the Senate's Appropriations Committee last week. "The bulk of that [increased revenue] was a result of this summer, with sales tax collections, doc stamps [increasing]," she said. [Source: WUSF]

Florida Delegation wants investigation into Mexico’s trade policies

Late last week, members of the Florida congressional delegation sent letters to Lisa Barton, the secretary to the US International Trade Commission (ITC), on Mexico’s agricultural trade practices, accusing them of being unfair. Florida’s two US senators —Republicans Marco Rubio and Rick Scott– were joined by other Florida Republican US Representatives. In the letter, the Florida Republicans called for the ITC to investigate how Mexico’s trade policies are hurting strawberry and bell pepper growers in the Sunshine State. [Source: Fresh Plaza]

How will $1 million in artificial intelligence research impact Florida industry?

The University of Florida announced a $1 million investment into artificial intelligence. Twenty faculty teams will study wide-ranging uses on data analysis in a range of fields from agriculture to education. The research will make use of a $60 million gift from NVIDIA and co-founder Chris Malachowsky, a UF alumnus. The funding has been used to increase computing capabilities at the Gainesville school. [Source: Florida Politics]

As poverty rises, South Florida organization for the homeless starts feeding neighbors, too

A rise in poverty and homelessness has become a major concern as the pandemic recession has caused millions of people to lose their jobs. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach area ranks among the top metro areas for food scarcity and housing insecurity. The organization HOPE South Florida assists homeless people in the area with finding housing, food, employment and more. [Source: Marketplace]

ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:

› Trump’s pardons full of Florida scammers, rappers and well-connected
An eye doctor convicted in the biggest Medicare fraud in the nation’s history. A Miami developer charged in the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal. And five executives accused of defrauding the state of Florida. That’s a sampling of the people with Florida ties who received one of President Donald Trump’s last-minute pardons just before he left the White House.

› More than 200 Publix stores in Florida have COVID vaccines. Here is the growing list
More than 240 Publix stores across Florida now have COVID-19 vaccines available, including locations in Palm Beach and Monroe counties. Miami-Dade and Broward stores still aren’t on the list but because Florida doesn’t have a statewide residency requirement, seniors 65 and older can go to another county to get the vaccine.

› Filming grant may put Miami on Love Map
A romantic comedy movie expected to air on the Lifetime Network about a relationship guru finding love in unlikely places is seeking a $50,000 county grant to shoot here this month. In its application, Holiday Films said it plans to shoot 12 of 15 days in Miami-Dade, where it will spend $530,000 on production, employ at least 20 county residents and hire “above 70%” of the vendors it uses locally.

› More clean energy is on its way to the Panhandle, along with a boost to the local economy
“I think solar is great, but not in my front door,” long-time Calhoun County resident Byron Allen said. There was controversy at the Calhoun County Planning Commission Meeting Tuesday night and Allen was among those expressing concerns. Florida Power and Light was seeking approval for two solar farms they say will benefit the community.

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