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Tuesday's Daily Pulse

Coronavirus Florida: New cases at lowest level in 6 weeks

New COVID-19 cases plunged to the lowest level in six weeks on Monday, but the number of tests reported were also far below normal, according to the Florida Department of Health. An additional 4,155 people were diagnosed with the highly contagious respiratory disease, the lowest number since June 23. The new cases mean 536,961 people in Florida have been stricken since the pandemic began sweeping the state in March. A total of only 49,411 tests were reported. That is the lowest number since July 8. Whether the drop was because state-run testing centers were closed for days in light of Hurricane Isaias is unclear. More from the Palm Beach Post and the Miami Herald.

NOAA Report: Florida on pace for hottest year on record

Temperatures soared higher than normal across much of the nation in June and through the first six months of 2020, putting the country on track for what could be another one of its warmest years on record. In Florida, the year-to-date average daily temperature on June 30 was 71 degrees, 3.5 degrees warmer than normal. In Florida, this June’s average temperature — 81 — was 1.5 degrees warmer than the previous century’s average. [Source: Palm Beach Post]

Gov. Ron DeSantis pushes for college sports to play this fall

With the Mid-American Conference canceling its football season this fall and Big Ten presidents voting against playing in the fall, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is still hopeful that other Power Five conferences will be able to play. "The Big Ten college presidents may have a little different sense of this. I think the Southeastern Conference, ACC, most of those institutions want to play because I think they see how important it is for the well-being of their student-athletes," DeSantis said Monday on Fox Sports Radio. "I'm 100 percent in favor of it." More from USA Today and the Tallhassee Democrat.

Many landmark restaurants, bars in Florida won’t reopen after virus

La Tropicana Cafe has been a cornerstone of Tampa’s historic Latin-influenced Ybor City neighborhood since the 1960s, well known as a gathering spot where movers and shakers and even mobsters mixed with construction workers over Cuban coffee and sandwiches. Now its doors are likely closed for good, like so many other bars and restaurants done in by the coronavirus pandemic. Every neighborhood loses something precious when local eateries and hangouts get shuttered, but as infections spread and the economic fallout continues, the loss of iconic establishments like La Tropicana is particularly hard to swallow. More from the AP and WMFE.

Will IAAPA Expo happen this year? Some vendors cancel amid safety and travel concerns

Every year, a group roughly the size of a small city — about 40,000 people from 100 countries — flock to the Orange County Convention Center for what has become the epicenter of the theme park industry. At the IAAPA annual expo, vendors show off new roller coasters or the latest recipe for fried carnival fare. Disney, Universal or SeaWorld executives often announce updates to crowds of bloggers, journalists and industry leaders. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]


› New affordable senior housing coming to Newtown in Sarasota
With a mix of one- and two-bedroom units, the 84-unit three story senior apartments will house people 62 and older. Forty-two units are set aside for households earning less than 60% of the area median income. The other 42 units will be subsidized for low- and extremely low-income residents.

› Busch Gardens, SeaWorld attendance drops 96 percent due to coronavirus
The company that owns Busch Gardens, Adventure Island and SeaWorld saw nearly 96 percent drops in attendance and revenue during the second quarter of 2020. SeaWorld Entertainment executives announced the dismal numbers for April, May and June during a conference call with investors on Monday, saying the coronavirus pandemic led to a net loss of $131 million at its 12 parks.

› Investors are searching for hotels in distress. This one in Hialeah just sold for $15.25M
South Miami-based multifamily developer The Estate Companies has purchased the Ramada Hotel in Hialeah for $15.25 million. “The distressed hotel sector has created investment opportunities that firms like ours are ready and able to capitalize on,” said Jeffrey Ardizon in a statement, a principal of The Estate Companies.

› Former White House official joins Tampa cybersecurity firm’s advisory board
Earl Crane, a former White House and Department of Homeland Security official, has joined the board of advisors of Abacode, a Tampa-based cybersecurity and compliance firm. Crane, according to a press release, was a member of the White House National Security Council. He also served as director of cybersecurity strategy for the Department of Homeland Security.

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› St. Petersburg bank, on strength of PPP loans, doubles net income in second quarter
As of June 30, First Home Bank had processed $831 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans, which boosted its net income for the second quarter to $2.345 million, a 106% increase from the same period last year, when its net income was $1.138 million. The St. Petersburg-based bank, in a press release, says its PPP loans also increased its total assets, as of June 30, to $1.470 billion. At the end of 2019, the bank’s total assets were $531 million.

› Pasco grants 3 percent employee raises
Pasco County commissioners voted unanimously last week to give their employees 3 percent pay raises after all. Earlier this year, as the financial impacts of COVID-19 were just beginning to show up, county administrator Dan Biles built in 2 percent employee raises. Not only were revenues going to be lower than expected, but others in the Pasco community were facing hard times, he explained.

› Business CARES Act applications now open in Alachua County
Applications for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act funds from Alachua County are now available online. Small and medium-sized businesses with up to 50 employees that can document financial hardships caused by COVID-19 are eligible to apply for funding. Businesses with 25 or fewer employees can receive up to $10,000, while businesses that have between 26 and 50 employees can receive up to $15,000.

› SeaWorld delays new roller coasters until 2021 but keeps holiday events on schedule
Iron Gwazi and Ice Breaker were supposed to be the two newest roller coasters coming to Central Florida this spring, but instead they are the latest fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Orlando-based SeaWorld Entertainment plans to push back the opening dates to 2021 the company reported Monday, as it revealed a net loss of $131 million in the second quarter when the theme parks were closed for the majority of time.