Thursday's Daily Pulse
What you need to know about Florida today
Lawmakers grapple over jobless system, benefits as session nears end
A year after Florida’s unemployment system ground to a halt, delaying claims for millions laid off due to the coronavirus pandemic, lawmakers remain at odds whether to increase the state’s maximum weekly benefit of $275, one of the lowest in the nation. The House on Wednesday approved a bill, HB 1463, to update the system to a cloud-based system designed to efficiently process claims and to impose more accountability and reporting by the Department of Economic Opportunity, the state agency in charge of the unemployment program. The vote was unanimous, but Democrats bemoaned a “missed opportunity” to go further since the bill doesn’t increase benefits and reduce eligibility hurdles. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
Port-bound cruise industry looks at oversees sailings
South Florida’s cruise industry continues to feel the pandemic’s wrath as US port departure cancellations are extended through November. Earlier this month, Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line announced extended cancelations as they continue to monitor and measure science-backed protocols. “We know that this is very disappointing to our guests who continue to be eager to sail, and we remain committed to working with the administration and the CDC to find a workable solution that best serves the interest of public health,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. [Source: Miami Today]
Florida COVID vaccine supply to stay same next week with J&J decision to come
The federal supply of COVID-19 vaccines will remain the same next week unless a decision is made on allowing Johnson & Johnson back in the mix. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said on Sunday he expects the U.S. will move to resume J&J vaccines this week. Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet on Friday to discuss next steps. The CDC and FDA recommended last week to pause J&J vaccine distribution as it investigated reports of blood clots in less than 10 people in the U.S. from among more than 7 million doses given. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
'Extremely hazardous pesticide' blocked by Florida agriculture officials for use on citrus
Florida agriculture officials have denied a company's registration application to use a known neurotoxin on the state's citrus groves. The pesticide aldicarb has been banned in about 125 countries but was approved in January by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to be used on up to 100,000 acres of oranges and grapefruits for three years. That's as Florida's citrus industry continues to battle the Asian citrus psyllid, an insect spreading the devastating greening disease. More from WJCT and Politico.
Art museums shift toward in-person events
While technology is still essential to bring programming to the community, most museums agree there’s nothing like experiencing art in person. After almost a full year of providing digital content and opening toward the end of last year, art institutions are now looking into slowly reintroducing in-person events and social activities, possibly by fall. “This past year has been truly transformational for museums,” said Silvia Karman Cubiñá, executive director and chief curator for The Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach. [Source: Miami Today]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› New streaming series doubles as a tourism video for Pinellas County
Life’s Rewards is neither a television series nor a marketing video. It’s a hybrid of the two that Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater is hailing as “a brand-new genre of television marketing” by a taxpayer-funded tourism organization. “Its entertainment-first content aims to build destination engagement with viewers and spark a desire to travel,” a media release said.
› NASA delays SpaceX Dragon launch to ISS until Friday
NASA announced bad weather is putting a hold on the SpaceX Dragon launch from Kennedy Space Center until at least Friday. The agency said unfavorable weather conditions along the flight path were the reason for the one-day delay. Now NASA and commercial crew partner SpaceX are eyeing 5:49 a.m. Friday for liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Crew Dragon Endeavour with NASA’s Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, AkihikoÃ¢?¯Hoshide of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency and ThomasÃ¢?¯Pesquet from the European Space Agency.
› Delayed Florida State Fair opens Thursday: What to know before you go
The Florida State Fair pushed back its start date by two months as a pandemic precaution, but now we’re ready for funnel cake. The fair, which was first held in Tampa in 1904, returns Thursday for a 12-day run. And while many old traditions remain, things will look a bit different this year.
› ‘Ghost kitchens’ are popping up in Miami parking lots. More could be coming
More parking lots could soon host mobile kitchens, should city of Miami commissioners pass a new ordinance brought by Mayor Francis Suarez to create formal regulations for these so-called ghost kitchens. Up for a vote Thursday, the legislation would allow a year-long pilot program championed by the Miami-based billion-dollar technology and real estate company, REEF Technology, that owns or leases many such lots and operates the kitchens.
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