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Wednesday's Daily Pulse

Researchers: Florida’s omicron cases may peak soon but not before infecting majority of state

Omicron cases in Florida will likely peak this week if they haven’t already, according to a report released from the University of Florida. Once omicron recedes, researchers expect low COVID-19 cases for a few months, barring a more infectious variant. There are many variants floating around but only a few have the ability to spread throughout the population. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Florida Trend Exclusive

Florida Icon: Christopher Still

The painter and Florida native tells us: "Our first house was in a grapefruit grove. Then, when we moved from there to Tallahassee, we lived in an apartment house near a creek and some woods, where I would explore and catch newts under rocks. When we came back to Largo, the grove was gone, developed. When we got back to Tallahassee, the creek was gone. A mall was on top of it." [Source: Florida Trend]

Florida recorded most lightning deaths in 2021, all of them along Gulf Coast

As it often does, Florida recorded more deaths from lightning strikes than any other state in 2021. What’s different this year is a surprising decline in the number of deaths nationwide, due perhaps to training in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and a slow decline in the number of agricultural workers, authorities say. Only 11 people died from lightning strikes last year in the United States, the lowest number since 17 deaths were recorded in 2020 and just one-third of the 15-year average of 36 deaths a year. More from the Tampa Bay Times and the Orlando Sentinel.

Florida has a big decision coming up on the chance to catch a really big fish

The public has two chances this week to give input on a proposal to open up goliath grouper for harvest for the first time in more than 30 years. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission could give final approval in March to a plan that would allow up to 200 goliath groupers to be caught each year. Permits that could cost $500 would be awarded by lottery. Each person could only take one of the massive fish, which can grow to more than 8 feet long and weigh 800 pounds. [Source: WLRN]

Not ‘Lost in Space’: Legislation seeks to boost Florida for launch business

What if a company could launch a rocket into space from Florida and pay no sales tax on the rocket, its payload, its fuel or even the concrete, steel and equipment needed to create the launch pad? That would be the reality if lawmakers this Session approve legislation from Sen. Tom Wright and Rep. Tyler Sirois (SB 1466, HB 65). [Source: Florida Politics]


› This major TV industry event was going to take place in Miami Beach. COVID shut it down
If you were planning to attend The National Association of Television Program Executives, commonly known as NATPE, make other plans. The annual meeting, which brings together TV executives, actors, content producers, distributors, streamers in one place has been canceled thanks to the rise in COVID cases. Roughly 2,500 participants were expected to show from Jan. 18-20 at The Fontainebleau. Miami Beach has been the host location since 2010 after moving from Las Vegas.

› In Tampa Bay, these ‘best jobs’ pay as well as anywhere in America
Are you an actuary? A credit counselor? A sound engineering technician? If so, Tampa Bay’s not a bad place to live. Those three careers all made U.S. News and World Report’s annual “best jobs” survey for 2022, and Tampa Bay is among the metropolitan areas that pay the best for each one.

› Darden Restaurants’ next CEO doesn’t expect many changes
Darden Restaurants’ next CEO Rick Cardenas doesn’t expect many changes after he takes the helm in May at the business that owns Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse. Cardenas, the Orlando-based company’s current president and chief operating officer, commented on the transition during a virtual ICR Conference. Darden CEO Gene Lee is retiring in May.

› New JEA headquarters on schedule for September 2022 completion in downtown Jacksonville
Construction is nearing the final stages of the new JEA headquarters office tower and parking garage in downtown Jacksonville. Two years after it began, the multi-million dollar project is on schedule to be completed in September 2022, Karen McAllister, JEA media relations manager, told the Times-Union.

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› Coconut Grove struggles to house wave of New Yorkers
As the inventory of homes on the market in Coconut Grove has steadily declined and the price of condominiums, townhouses and single-family homes has skyrocketed, the real estate market is struggling to keep up with a wave of New Yorkers coming to South Florida and choosing the bohemian submarket, home to marinas, boating clubs and splendid displays of Mediterranean and contemporary style.

› Tampa Bay CEOs pen letter supporting Rays split season. What about the fans?
In the fifteen years of often stalled and, sometimes acrimonious, discussions about a new ballpark for Tampa Bay’s major-league team, the depth of support in the business community for the sponsorships and season ticket packages has often been a question mark. The crash and burn of the Tampa Bay Rays’ 2018 plan to build a $892 million domed stadium in Ybor City was partially blamed on a lack of business support.

› RISE building-out headquarters in Jacksonville
Jacksonville gained another headquarters as RISE: A Real Estate Company moved to Deerwood Park and is renovating space and hiring. “Jacksonville is a growing and diverse economy with strong leadership. While Northeast Florida is a focus of ours, RISE will continue to develop throughout Florida,” RISE Vice President of Development Matthew Marshall said Dec. 28 by email.

› Polk County embraces red-hot industrial market
Pinpointing 2021 milestones and projecting 2022 highlights should be easy in Polk County, where the population has increased more than 20% since 2010 and its location straddling Interstate 4 between Tampa and Orlando sustains job-generating growth in manufacturing, distribution and logistics. But distinguishing between drops in a deluge is easier said than done.