Tuesday's Afternoon Update
What you need to know about Florida today
New omicron variant is likely in Florida, but it will take some time to confirm that
Omicron may already be circulating in the populous Sunshine State where international travelers, cruise passengers and snowbirds abound in the winter months. While the new omicron variant likely is in Florida by now, it could be weeks before it gets confirmed, said Dr. Glenn Morris, director of the University of Florida Emerging Pathogens Institute. Researchers are testing COVID samples and wastewater to monitor for its presence, but so far, such surveillance hasn’t found the variant present in Florida. More from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Busy 2021 hurricane season comes to a close
With a collective sigh of relief from electric companies and their power restoration teams, the spin cycle of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season has come to an end. After 21 named storms, from Ana to Wanda, the storm season proved to be a doozy for scientists recording the year as the third most active Atlantic hurricane season in history, whipping off of the tailwinds of the most active season just last year; and 2005 as the second most active. More from the Orlando Sentinel.
Citizens Insurance sees jump in lawsuits
The state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. was hit with 7,899 lawsuits during the first nine months of 2021, as it saw an increase in new and pending cases, according to an executive summary prepared for a committee of the Citizens Board of Governors. The average of 878 new lawsuits a month from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30 was a 45 percent increase over the same period in 2020. Also, as of Sept. 30, Citizens had 16,240 pending lawsuits, a 34 percent increase from a year earlier. More from the News Service of Florida.
O Tannenbaum, where have you gone? Christmas trees fly off the stands in Orlando
While the COVID-19 pandemic and shipping issues have bedeviled the holiday gift shopping season, the problem with fresh-cut Christmas trees goes back further. The trees take years to reach their ideal festive heights, and higher prices and quicker sellouts have sparked concerns from Orlando vendors in recent years. More from the Orlando Sentinel.
St. Petersburg reaches milestone in new rapid-transit project
The long-awaited SunRunner bus rapid transit (BRT) system, scheduled to begin in summer 2022 in St. Petersburg, has taken a big step forward with the delivery of a fleet of nine hybrid-electric buses. Manufactured by Gillig, the 40-foot buses will offer free Wi-Fi, onboard bike space and level boarding at all doors, according to a news release. Their livery will feature the Mr. Sun image created by local artist Chad Mize. More from the Business Observer.
Carrie Meek, pioneering Miami congresswoman and champion of Black communities, dies at 95
Former U.S. Congresswoman Carrie Pittman Meek, the first Black person to represent Florida in Congress since the post-Civil War Reconstruction and a fierce advocate for South Florida’s Black communities, Haitian immigrants and the working poor, died Sunday at her home in Miami after a long illness, her family said. She was 95.
» More from the Miami Herald.
How much toxin from algae blooms makes people sick? A Florida university aims to find out
Scientists know that red tide and other harmful algae blooms can kill marine life and make pets and people sick. Certain types of algae produce toxins that can cause respiratory problems, liver failure and nervous system issues. People and animals can be exposed by simply breathing in the air around a bloom or having skin contact. But how much toxin is too much? And who is more at risk?
» Read more from Phys.org.
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