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Friday's Daily Pulse

Florida coronavirus cases tick up in September, stalling progress

Florida’s coronavirus cases have risen again, if only slightly, and it’s not just an issue of college students. For the first time since early July, statewide numbers of new cases of the virus have increased throughout September — albeit a small uptick, nowhere near as sharp as the early summer. And current COVID-19 hospitalizations, one of the most timely ways to measure the spread in how many people are sick, are no longer dropping sharply but have instead flattened out. In a few large counties, the count is going back up again. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

DeSantis says he’ll lift restaurant capacity restrictions soon

Gov. Ron DeSantis said he’ll be lifting capacity restrictions on restaurants soon and prevent any local government from closing restaurants. “I don’t think that the closure of restaurants has been particularly effective,” DeSantis said Thursday in the Capitol. “They’re not going to be able to be closed by locals anymore, and they’ll be able to operate at the capacity that they’re comfortable with.” [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Enjoy the storm-free lull. It’s a La Niña year, when October and November are historically busy

Bask in this moment of tranquility, Florida. We’re still in the midst of one of the most active hurricane seasons in history and the relative calm in the Atlantic isn’t likely to last. Earlier this month, forecasters declared this a La Niña season, and that’s bad news as we move into the final two months. "Unfortunately,” said Dr. Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University, “those seasons tend to be longer, so they bleed more into October and November.” It’s not just the number of storms. A La Niña season also means conditions in the Caribbean and Atlantic are perfect to allow cyclones to get stronger. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

See also:
» Hurricane season 2020: One nonstop record-breaking year

Law school graduates wait, worry amid delays in Florida Bar exam

Thousands of prospective attorneys are left in limbo by the testing delays, despite a supervised practice program launched in August after Chief Justice Charles Canady apologized for failures that led to the Bar exam being postponed. The program allows applicants to work under the supervision of licensed Florida lawyers who’ve been practicing at least five years. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Darden Restaurants reduces corporate staff as sales remain down during pandemic

Darden Restaurants revealed Thursday it has cut 11% of its corporate workforce at its Orlando headquarters and in other leadership positions as the owner of Olive Garden continues to endure lower sales during the coronavirus pandemic. The company, which also owns LongHorn Steakhouse and other chains, said Thursday that same-restaurant sales were down 29% for the quarter ending Aug. 30 compared with the same quarter last year, but reported net earnings of $37 million from continuing operations. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Brooks Rehabilitation: 50 years of caring for our community

Brooks Rehabilitation has devoted 50 years of empowering people through recovery and beyond. We never imagined that an unprecedented global pandemic would occur during our golden anniversary. But, it has served as a reminder for why we do what we do. Brooks came together during this difficult time to ensure safety as our priority. [Sponsored report]


› Tampa International Airport, a perennial favorite, now ranks America’s second best
It’s been a brutal year for the air travel industry, but Tampa International Airport just got a bit of good news. The hub was named the second-best large airport in America in J.D. Power’s annual airport satisfaction survey, released Tuesday. It tied for the honor with John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif., a few points behind Dallas Love Field Airport.

› Southwest Florida lands retail discounters
Southwest Florida is poised for a pair of new discount retail offerings, in Bonita Springs and East Naples, respectively. In Bonita Springs, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet has opened in the Springs Plaza, backfilling a former Winn-Dixie supermarket space that the grocer vacated in 2019.

› Despite sagging economy, Seminole adopts larger budget for next year
Seminole County commissioners this week adopted a larger budget and kept the same decade-old property tax rate. But many residents will find themselves paying more in property taxes because the values of their homes rose this year.

› Six months after closing their doors, Miami hotels emerge with new funding, renovations
Renovating and reopening a hotel in the middle of a pandemic may seem like a monumental risk, but for self-proclaimed “eternal optimist” Michael Liebowitz, hotel partner at Mondrian South Beach, it’s a risk worth taking.

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› Hardware giant breaks ground on new facility in Tampa Bay area
Ace Hardware Corp. on Wednesday broke ground on its new retail support center (RSC) in Plant City, with construction set to commence in October. According to a press release, the Oak Brook, Ill.-based hardware giant’s Tampa RSC operations will be relocated to the new facility when it’s completed in November 2021. Since 1977, the Tampa RSC has served more than 200 Ace Hardware retail locations in the region.

› 30 former circus elephants find new home at Florida wildlife refuge
A Florida wildlife sanctuary is building a new 2,500-acre home for former circus elephants. The White Oak Conservation Center north of Jacksonville is expected to welcome 30 Asian elephants starting next year, the center announced Wednesday.

› Sarasota and Punta Gorda make list of Top 20 oldest cities in America
Florida reigns supreme as the top state for seniors, according to an analysis of census data. Coventry Direct, a marketing company that consults people on how to sell their life insurance policies for cash, did an analysis of U.S. Census data to determine the 20 oldest and youngest cities in America by resident age. Eleven out of the top 20 oldest cities in the U.S. are in Florida.

› Tampa Electric president and CEO Nancy Tower, brought in by new owners, will retire
After just three years at the helm of Tampa Electric Co., Nancy Tower is retiring. She will depart in mid-2021. In an announcement Thursday, Emera Inc., Tampa Electric’s Canadian parent company, said the longtime Emera executive’s retirement was planned.