Friday's Afternoon Update
What you need to know about Florida today
More-contagious COVID-19 variant is spreading in Florida. What does it mean?
About 10 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, a more contagious variant of the virus first detected in the United Kingdom could soon become the dominant virus in the U.S. — and more cases have been reported in Florida than anywhere else in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health experts say the variant is likely already more common here than the CDC has yet detected, due to the amount of community transmission already occurring throughout Florida, and the nationwide lack of robust surveillance of various strands of the virus. More from the Orlando Sentinel.
Here’s when Brightline trains are expected to restart service
After a hiatus that started nine months ago, Brightline’s high-speed rail service is likely to come to life again in South Florida toward the end of this year, the company now says. The rail line, which halted service among the downtowns of Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami last March due to COVID-19, has used the down time to firm up new plans for local stations and build out its 170-mile expansion to Orlando, said spokesman Ben Porritt. More from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Major investment firm acquires stake in Tampa Bay area company
A global investment firm with $584 billion in assets under management has put a major vote of confidence in one area firm. In late December, funds managed by Blackstone Tactical Opportunities acquired a significant stake in Bradenton-based Sunz Holdings LLC. Sunz Holdings is the parent company of Sunz Insurance, a fast-growing national workers’ compensation insurance firm. The 350-employee firm has grown revenue 203% since 2016, from $137 million to $415.02 million in 2019. More from the Business Observer.
Florida Democrats file medical marijuana employee protection bill
While medical marijuana is legal in Florida, it can still cause a public employee to lose their job. South Florida Democrats Senator Tina Polsky and Representative Nicholas Duran, are trying to change that. Boca Raton Democratic Senator Tina Polsky says when the state-approved medical marijuana, lawmakers left what she says is a loophole. "So you’re allowed to use medical marijuana if you have a proper license but if you get drug tested at work having nothing to do with your performance you can be fired for using a legal substance," said Polsky. More from WLRN.
As tech world descends on Miami, latest Knight investment supports local entrepreneurship
As tech companies and entrepreneurs from across the nation sweep into South Florida, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is staking efforts to ensure locals get their share of bounty. On Thursday, the foundation announced a $665,000 investment in four Miami organizations working to connect local talent with South Florida companies, ensure equitable access to opportunities and provide resources for entrepreneurs and innovators. More from the Miami Herald.
Super Bowl 55 will have fans, including vaccinated health care workers
Super Bowl 55 will be played in front of 22,000 fans at Raymond James Stadium, including 7,500 vaccinated health care workers who will receive free tickets to the game. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced Friday the health care workers will be selected from all 32 NFL cities. But the majority will come from hospitals and health care systems in Tampa and the central Florida area.
» More from the Tampa Bay Times.
Livin’ on the veg: Winter Park Biscuit Co. celebrates the South, sans sausage gravy
Lines around the building at Orlando’s East End Market aren’t a new thing. What is new is that the line isn’t for cookies! “We’ve actually had to put signs up outside letting people know this was not the line for Gideon’s Bakehouse,” Mary Westfall says with a laugh. She and her husband, Neil, soft-opened the Winter Park Biscuit Co. back in November and have been enjoying mad love from folks intent on trying their plant-based comfort food, which leans decidedly Southern.
» Read more from the Orlando Sentinel.
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