May 20, 2022

Monday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 1/3/2022

State tax collections continue topping expectations

Florida lawmakers got another boost Thursday as they prepare to start the 2022 legislative session and draw up a new state budget. The state in November collected $398.8 million more in general-revenue taxes than expected, continuing a series of months of higher-than-projected revenues, according to a report released by state economists. That is good news for lawmakers, in part, because general revenue plays a critical role in paying for schools, health care and prisons. [Source: News Service of Florida]

Florida scientists are finding new income sources for shellfish aquafarmers

A new research project is expected to help Florida's shellfish aquaculture industry, which has taken a hit due to COVID-19 and algae blooms. The data collected will be the first of its kind in this state. There are 720 shellfish leases spread across 16 coastal Florida counties, which were all affected when the eateries they sold to were closed during the pandemic lockdown. They were also hit by red tide recently. [Source: WUSF]

Omicron will peak in next two weeks, Florida health expert says

According to CDC data, Florida leads the country in new coronavirus cases. Its numbers show the Sunshine State recorded more than 250,000 COVID-positive cases in the last week. “Ever since omicron really started rearing its ugly head in the first week of December, our cases numbers have been doubling every two to three days," Dr. Thomas Unnasch, a distinguished health professor at the University of South Florida, said. Unnasch says the case count will continue to trend up over the next two weeks until omicron hits its peak in mid-January. [Source: WFTS]

Orlando theme parks draw huge New Year’s crowds amid COVID surge

Even amid a state and nationwide spike in COVID cases because of the omicron variant, tourists and locals packed Orlando’s theme parks as New Year’s weekend closed the holiday season. Single-day tickets and annual pass reservations were sold out at all four Walt Disney World parks on Thursday and Friday, the company’s website showed. Universal sold out Thursday, with single-park tickets for Friday costing $159.  [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Vandals set fire to Key West’s most famous landmark, causing ‘extensive damage’ 

In the early hours of New Year’s Day, two people vandalized Key West’s famous Southernmost Point buoy landmark by setting a fire right beside it. The blaze left a large part of the colorful giant buoy — right where it reads “90 miles to Cuba, Southernmost Point, Continental U.S.A.” — charred. There was “extensive damage” to the buoy after the fire set between 3 and 3:30 a.m., police spokeswoman Alyson Crean said in a statement early Saturday morning. [Source: Miami Herald]

ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:

› Miami’s slate of professional services workers, including in hot tech sector, soars to record number
The pandemic continues to remake the U.S. economy in numerous ways. And Greater Miami, which has witnessed an unprecedented influx of wealth and highly educated professionals to its environs, is among the regions seeing the most acute changes.  

› Bradenton company plans to turn bamboo into big business in Florida
Very few people get excited when they talk about giant bamboo, but Russell Smith is one of them. From precision farming techniques to stalks with diameters as big as telephone poles, Smith knows a lot about bamboo. Smith, president and CEO of Bradenton-headquartered Rizome, believes he can turn bamboo into big business in Florida – if he can get enough farmers to plant the crop.

› Heide Gabriella to chair Florida veteran business group 
Heide Gabriella recently was named chair of the Florida Association of Veteran-Owned Businesses Inc. Gabriella is chief executive officer and founder of Cape Canaveral-based Skyra and a former system safety engineer for NASA. She was an air traffic controller for the U.S. Navy from 1998 to 2002. She is a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

› 5 environmental stories that affected Tampa Bay in 2021 and what’s ahead in 2022
The environment dominated headlines this spring and summer in Tampa Bay, despite the enduring coronavirus pandemic, as back-to-back crises threatened the region’s namesake waterway. Some headlines felt like they had been written before, as old problems resurfaced this year.

Go to page 2 for more stories ...

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Boeing Starliner successfully launches for the International Space Station
Boeing Starliner successfully launches for the International Space Station

Boeing successfully launched its multi-billion dollar Starliner space capsule from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Thursday evening.

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