Florida Trend Exclusive
Florida crime continued to fall during pandemic
Not since the mid-1960s has the crime rate — crimes per person — been this low. The total number of what are called “index” crimes — murders, rapes, robberies and other categories counted by the FBI — in Florida last year was 464,805, the lowest number since 1973, when Florida’s population was a third of what it is now. “We’re living in some of the safest times that we’ve ever seen — not just in our city but in our country,” says Armando R. Aguilar, Miami assistant chief of police, who oversees the criminal investigations division. “It’s sometimes difficult for people to believe that because I think they just have so much more access to information than we had before.” [Source: Florida Trend]
COVID-19 hospital visitor rules: Families want more access
A year and a half into a pandemic that has killed 700,000 people in the U.S., hospitals in at least a half-dozen states have loosened restrictions governing visits to COVID patients. Others, however, are standing firm, backed by studies and industry groups that indicate such policies have been crucial to keeping hospital-acquired infections low. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
Education eyed to address health care worker shortages
Industry leaders warned the Senate Committee on Health Policy on Wednesday that worker shortages are driving up costs and leading to employee burnout. “Staffing has been and continues to be one of the biggest challenges,” Florida Hospital Association president and CEO Mary Mayhew told the Senate panel. “So as hospitals have the ability to bring in beds, to convert space, to convert cafeterias, to convert conference rooms --- you still have to have the nurses and the doctors to staff those beds, to meet the needs of those patients.” [Source: News Service of Florida]
Citizens Insurance chief details trouble ahead for Florida policies
Pointing to a “sea of red ink,” the head of the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. described a private insurance industry Wednesday that is losing gobs of money while homeowners face soaring rates and trouble finding coverage. ”The consistency of loss across the entire marketplace is absolutely staggering,” Citizens President and CEO Barry Gilway told the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee. “It’s not a decision that one or two companies are making. The reality is that what is occurring in the marketplace is impacting every single company in the market.” [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
Governor, secretary of state confirm 2020 election has already been audited in Florida
Secretary of State Laurel Lee, the state’s chief elections official, told the Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee that Florida, by law, conducts audits after every election. "We have already completed an audit of all 67 counties," Lee said. "And that audit demonstrated an exceedingly high level of election integrity and, again, demonstrated that our results were accurate, reliable." [Source: WTVT]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Signs indicate housing market may be cooling off, economists say [WJXT]
The housing boom that fueled a major increase in home prices during the coronavirus pandemic may finally be cooling off. Meanwhile, price to rent continues to climb.
› Central Florida expecting tourism boost as US, Canada border reopens [WESH]
Fully vaccinated Canadians will soon be allowed to travel to the United States through land and ferry border crossings
› Lee County approves a $2.5 million grant to add sand to Little Hickory Island [WGCU]
The Lee Board of County Commissioners voted to accept grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). The funding will pay for design, permitting, and placement of sand added to the north end of Little Hickory Island.
› Lawmakers learn of ‘technological revolution’ coming to Florida’s farms [Florida Politics]
Florida’s farmers are readying for a “technological revolution,” according to a Wednesday morning presentation in the Senate Agriculture Committee.
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› Challenge to air ambulance billing law rejected [News Service of Florida]
A federal judge has rejected a challenge to a 2020 state law that limits amounts that air-ambulance services can charge for transporting patients.
› Southwest Florida Fishing Report: Lane snapper closing; goliath grouper opening? [Naples Daily News]
Spectacular would best describe the conditions for anglers wetting a line both shallow and deep. Cooler mornings, light winds and favorable tides have prevailed, making the catching enjoyable and exciting.
› Florida citrus forecast points to a difficult season for growers [WKMG]
US Department of Agriculture estimates 11% drop in orange production.