Monday's Daily Pulse
What you need to know about Florida today
Florida’s fourth COVID surge came fast and strong. Here’s what the omicron wave tells us about what’s ahead.
By now, scientists expected the omicron surge in Florida to be nearly over. Instead, omicron lingers, ensuring its place in the pandemic as the wave that infects more Floridians than all previous waves. The new forecast projects about four more weeks before the omicron wave diminishes to give Floridians a respite. While no one knows exactly what COVID-19 is going to do next, most experts see hope in the much larger immune population in the state. Between those who caught the virus during the omicron surge and the increasing number of people who are vaccinated and boosted, much of Florida should have some protection against future variants. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
Legislation that would change Florida’s rooftop solar industry gets pushback
Rooftop solar panels may cost more to hook up under a bill moving through the Florida House. It may also have utility companies paying less for extra energy. Opponents say the legislation would hurt the rooftop solar industry and lead to thousands of jobs being lost. [Source: WFSU]
Opinion: The two big water issues that will dominate Florida in 2022
As another year begins, conversation on issues surrounding Florida’s water continue — and there might be some legitimate opportunities to make progress. This sort of optimism, of course, comes with an important caveat: Progress depends on the willingness of both lawmakers and agencies to remain committed to problem solving, rather than creating — or merely identifying — additional problems. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Florida food banks struggle to feed needy as pandemic keeps volunteers away
Food pantries report that less than half of their volunteers have returned since the pandemic began to spread across Florida in early 2020, even as they experienced their biggest surge of people needing food during that time. This is part of a trend seen in food banks nationwide, with the highly contagious omicron variant scaring volunteers from returning to their shifts. [Source: Palm Beach Post]
Astra Space scrubs attempt for 1st Cape Canaveral launch, no retry until at least Monday
The company based in Alameda, California, received a new type of launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration on Friday that allows for more frequent launches, and clearing the way for its attempt from Space Launch Complex 46. Much smaller than established rockets like the SpaceX Falcon 9 or United Launch Alliance Atlas V, Astra Space’s hardware stands only 38 feet tall and has a payload capacity of 331 pounds. The company is looking to fill a market that allows for small payloads. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› SeaWorld ramps up care for threatened Florida manatees
The SeaWorld theme park in Orlando is opening new pools to care for Florida manatees that are dying from starvation due to poor water quality in their normal habitat. The lovable, round-tailed marine mammals had their worst die-off last year, more than 1,100 of them, and there are federal and state efforts ongoing to save the threatened creatures. One of these efforts is to have a place like SeaWorld, with the marine assets it has, provide rehabilitation to those that can be rescued.
› Building a sustainable campus to prepare Miami teens for film production careers
Creative Media will invest $60,000 developing its Upper East Side Miami arts campus built with shipping containers on an open tract. Plans call for a July opening. In conversations with local real estate agents, Taylor frequently heard much higher prices close to $500,000 to buy a single-family home to convert into space that would meet the needs of her film production training enterprise.
› Tampa’s Westshore Marina District went from weedy lot to upscale waterfront
Barely five years ago, the 52-acre lot near the corner of Gandy and West Shore boulevards was bereft of all but the shuttered sales center for a doomed development. Today, it is a thriving community with high-end apartments, townhomes and a bayview condo tower well underway. In the cute town center, you can get your hair styled, buy a swimsuit and dine on tuna tartare and truffle fries.
› Ryan starting $21 million JEA build-out at new headquarters
Ryan Companies US Inc. is starting the interior build-out of JEA’s new corporate headquarters in Jacksonville. The city issued a permit Feb. 3 for the almost $21.2 million tenant improvement job for the seven-story office building. Minneapolis-based Ryan owns the 1.54-acre Downtown site. The city-owned JEA electric and water utility will lease the completed building.
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