Florida COVID-19 cases surge to highest one-day total
Florida new daily COVID count soared to a one-day record on Saturday with its highest case load during the entire pandemic. The state reported 21,683 new cases, a big jump over the previous one-day record, 19,334, set during the post-holiday surge in early January. The number of daily deaths, already on an upward trajectory in July, stood at 108 in Saturday’s report, the highest number since the Florida Department of Health reported 148 deaths on July 22. More from the South Floriida Sun-Sentinel, the Tampa Bay Times, and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
There’s hope for the unemployed seeking to reclaim federal benefits
Favorable court decisions in three states could be a sign of hope for unemployed Floridians seeking to reinstate federal benefits cut off by the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis. In a lawsuit filed last week, 10 unemployed workers in Broward County alleged DeSantis and Dane Eagle, director of Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity, stopped the flow of benefits from Washington “for purely partisan and political purposes.” In separate cases in Arkansas, Indiana and Maryland, state court judges have already ordered their unemployment insurance agencies to resume participation in the federal program. Other lawsuits demanding reinstatements are pending in Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
Florida has disbursed 2 percent of rent aid as eviction moratorium ending
The state of Florida has received more than $870 million from the federal government to make landlords whole and keep renters in their homes during the pandemic, and expects to receive a grand total of more than $1.56 billion as more money is distributed. It’s given out around 2 percent of what it’s gotten so far. For the first time in about 15 months, starting at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, there will be no barrier to Florida evictions moving forward. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
Florida’s back-to-school sales tax holiday returns
Florida's back-to-school sales tax holiday returned this weekend with residents getting the levies waived for purchases of school supplies, clothing and computers. The sales tax holiday on school-related items runs through Aug. 9. Florida’s sales tax is 6%, but that can be higher based on added county taxes. Florida shoppers are expected to save $69.4 million during the sales tax holiday, up from $41.8 million last year, $41.7 million in 2019 and $32.7 million in 2018, according to a legislative analysis. [Source: AP]
Publix orders all employees to wear masks again starting Monday
Publix Super Markets will require employees to wear face coverings regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status beginning Monday. The Lakeland-based grocery chain announced the policy Friday afternoon. Publix had previously allowed employees who were vaccinated to go without masks in stores. The announcement follows a change in guidance this week from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending that people in areas of substantial or high transmission risk wear face coverings in public, indoor spaces, even if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› For Orlando’s entertainment industry, $57 million in relief [Orlando Sentinel]
If you hear cheers coming from theaters, concert halls and movie theaters, they aren’t necessarily for the shows: The joy is over the financial help now flooding into Central Florida’s battered entertainment industry — nearly $57 million worth. The federal government’s Small Business Administration has started announcing recipients of its Shuttered Venue Operators Grants — including $10 million for Orlando’s Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and $7.6 million for the nearby Amway Center.
› Cruise industry restarts at Port Canaveral with 'huge milestone' sailing of Mardi Gras [Florida Today]
As Carnival Cruise Line's Mardi Gras sailed out Port Canaveral's Cruise Terminal 3 Saturday evening for a seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruise, it marked the official return of an industry that had been sidelined for 16½ months locally by the coronavirus pandemic. "It's a huge milestone," Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Murray said. "We've got a brand-new ship and a brand-new terminal. That's exciting for us and exciting for Carnival Cruise Line."
› Disney requires all non-union U.S. employees to get COVID-19 vaccinations [Orlando Sentinel]
The Walt Disney Co., Central Florida’s largest employer, is requiring all of its non-union hourly and salaried employees across the U.S. to get the coronavirus vaccine. Staffers who work on-site will have 60 days from Friday to complete getting vaccinated, and those who work from home will need to provide verification of vaccination before returning to work with certain limited exceptions, an unsigned statement released by the company on Friday said. New hires will need to be fully vaccinated before starting.
› Raymond James sees $1 trillion in client assets — again [Tampa Bay Times]
Raymond James Financial in St. Petersburg posted strong growth in quarterly earnings this week and a plan to expand in England. The financial services company “achieved record results for the first nine months of the fiscal year,” chairman and CEO Paul Reilly said in a statement released Wednesday. That includes upping the total amount of money it oversees — known as assets under administration — to $1.17 trillion. Assets overseen by its private client group, which accounts for two-thirds of Raymond James’ revenue, sits at $1.1 trillion.
UF Research spending reached a record $942.2 million in fiscal year 2020, despite a two-month pause in most operations due to the pandemic. According to a new report to the National Science Foundation, research expenditures supported by the federal government increased to $397.2 million, while state and local expenditures increased to $169.2 million. Learn about ongoing UF research in areas such as Alzheimer’s, early childhood learning and agriculture.
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› Stained glass studio in Fort Myers inspired by love of art, perfection [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
Ken Casola and the artisans he employs at Casola Stained Glass Studio in Fort Myers are among the last of the European-style, stained-glass craftsmen in the United States. Casola acquired the skills and artistry with which he created, for instance, the panels of a 60-foot-wide church window in Palm Beach Gardens, from a man who had been making stained glass for seven decades before they met.
› Sprouts Farmers Market announces opening dates for Dania Beach and Boynton Beach stores [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Organic grocery chain Sprouts Farmers Market has announced grand opening dates for stores currently under construction in Boynton Beach and Dania Beach. The chain’s 26,00-square-foot store at 9850 South Job Road in Boynton Beach is scheduled to open Sept. 29. Opening of a new 29,500-square-foot store at 139 S. Compass Way in Dania Beach will follow on Oct. 20, according to a news release.
› Goodwill Manasota names new president [Business Observer]
Goodwill Industries Manasota recently named a new president following a nationwide search. Donn Githens assumed the role of president July 1. He succeeds President and CEO Bob Rosinsky who will remain CEO until his retirement in June 2022. Rosinsky will assist Githens and the company’s board of directors with strategic planning, organizational development, project management and the transition, according to a statement.
› DIA to begin negotiations with MOSH for move to Northbank [Jacksonville Daily Record]
The Downtown Investment Authority and the Museum of Science and History can begin talks to finalize a location for MOSH’s plan to relocate to the Shipyards. The DIA board voted 8-0 on July 29 to authorize CEO Lori Boyer to negotiate with MOSH leadership for a site at the city-owned 21.7-acre Shipyards parcel on the Northbank of the St. Johns River. MOSH has said it wants about 4 acres of space.