Friday's Daily Pulse
What you need to know about Florida today
Florida jobless assistance claims drop to new pandemic low. State still fighting fraud
Amid still-rising counts of jobless assistance claims flagged for fraud detection, Florida tallied its lowest level of new unemployment applications since the outset of the pandemic. The U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that the state saw 16,100 new claims for the week ending Feb. 20, down from 21,564 the week before. It is the lowest new-claims count since March 14, 2020. The lower count may be the result of fewer claims being officially counted as they are verified as legitimate. More from the Miami Herald, the News Servicce of Florida, and the Tampa Bay Times.
Check out the top news-to-know with Florida Trend's brand new, headline-focused video newsbrief, hosted by digital content specialist Aimée Alexander.
Vaccine should be available to younger people in March, DeSantis says
Floridians under age 65 should have access to a COVID-19 vaccine in March, and it should be widely distributed the month after, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday. DeSantis made the prediction during an appearance at Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, where he also announced new vaccination sites, including Broward College, for hard-to-reach populations. DeSantis said the focus remains on seniors, but he sees other ages becoming eligible soon with 47% of seniors now vaccinated. More from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Tampa Bay Times.
Florida ports lose millions as Disney, Carnival cruise ships stay docked through spring
The open waters are more open than ever nowadays as cruise ships remain docked. Passengers' plans of setting sail faced yet another setback Wednesday when both Disney and Carnival cruise lines announced they're canceling cruises through the end of May. "Cruising is one of those industries that has a massive trickledown effect. I'm talking hotels, airlines, airports, taxis, Uber drivers, farmers are being impacted," Florida Ports Council President Doug Wheeler said. [Source: WTVT]
Catching a Lyft is about to get easier in Florida
It'll now be easier than ever for people to get a ride with Lyft in cities across Florida. On Thursday, the rideshare app announced it would add a service in the Sunshine State that lets people who don't have the app call for a ride. The ride doesn't have to be for you, you can use the phone number to book rides for your loved ones too. Lyft says it's perfect for seniors and anyone who might not have access to the app. [Source: WTSP]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› SeaWorld attendance dives 53% in final quarter of 2020, but stock soars
The pandemic’s rollercoaster plunge on SeaWorld Entertainment’s park attendance continued, as visits fell 53% to 2.2 million for the final quarter of 2020. Despite the COVID challenges, SeaWorld beat Wall Street estimates and by late Thursday morning, the stock (SEAS) shot up to more than $46 a share, the highest price since the Orlando-based SeaWorld Entertainment became publicly traded in 2013.
› Macquarie Group adds Jacksonville operation
Macquarie Group said last week it established a U.S. Office Technology Leasing Division based in Jacksonville. The Australia-based company established a global financial services office in Jacksonville in 2015. The company said in late 2019 that office in the Riverplace Tower at 1301 Riverplace Blvd. on the Southbank had 272 employees.
› Florida Supreme Court strikes down Hillsborough transportation tax
The Florida Supreme Court struck down Hillsborough County’s voter-approved one-cent transportation sales tax in a ruling posted Thursday. Justices declared unconstitutional the restrictions in the charter amendment on how revenue from the tax could be spent.
› Franklin County bucks Florida's tourism downturn
Tourism is down in Florida but you wouldn’t know it from looking at Franklin County. In the first two months of the 2020-21 fiscal year, October and November, the county is running more than 58 percent ahead of 2019 numbers, with record or near-record totals in each of those months. Numbers shared with the county commission by Tourist Development Council Director John Solomon show that in October, the county’s lodging providers brought in about $147,500 in lodging tax money, close to $60,000 more than the year before.
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