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Friday's Afternoon Update

Florida weekly jobless claims dip

The U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday estimated 7,694 first-time unemployment claims were filed in Florida during the week that ended Jan. 15, down from a revised count of 10,103 claims the previous week. The Labor Department had initially estimated 9,705 applications were filed in Florida during the week that ended Jan. 8. In all, the department reported Thursday that 286,000 first-time claims were filed nationally last week. That was up 55,000 from the previous week and put the average over the past four weeks at 231,000 claims. More from the News Service of Florida.

Florida’s omicron wave could be worse than data shows

Florida has recorded nearly 1.5 million COVID-19 infections since the first case of the omicron variant was identified in the state six weeks ago. Last week the state hit a record 61,500 infections a day. But the true number of infections is likely much higher. “Throughout the pandemic we’ve never really known the true rate of spread of the infection,” said Jason Salemi, an epidemiologist at the University of South Florida. More from the Tampa Bay Times.

New ‘digital-first’ bank aims to help small businesses overlooked in pandemic

There’s a new “digital-first” bank in town that’s pledged to help provide the fuel to sustain small businesses. Freshly chartered Locality Bank of Fort Lauderdale says it finished its first week in business Thursday with a long list of prospective clients who want to start an account or secure some financial help in the form of a business loan. More from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

OneWeb Satellites cranking out two satellites per day at Kennedy Space Center factory

Walk into the OneWeb Satellites visitor lobby, and you'll notice a throwback wall plaque displaying a black-and-white photo of a Ford Model T, the rudimentary car that debuted in 1908. What gives? Technicians on this futuristic factory floor at Kennedy Space Center's Exploration Park use artificial-intelligence software and geolocation-equipped torque wrenches to carefully assemble satellites — completing two per day — for launch into low-Earth orbit. More from Florida Today.

DeSantis steers $2.3 miillion to training programs for commercial drivers, nurses

Flanked by line workers holding signs that said, “Truck Yeah,” Gov. Ron DeSantis announced $2.3 million in funding Thursday for six state colleges offering commercial driver’s license and nursing certification programs. The additional funding furthers the goal of Florida becoming the top state in workforce education by 2030, DeSantis said. More from the Tampa Bay Times.

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Meet Jada Vidal, Tampa’s newest popup chef

floridaJada Vidal grew up watching celebrity chefs duke it out on competition-style cooking shows. She never imagined she’d one day get the chance to watch herself compete. In spring 2021, the 19-year-old Tampa native battled three other contestants on Guy’s Grocery Games — and won. “It’s a really weird feeling when you’re watching the show for so long and then seeing yourself in it,” she said.

» Read more from the Tampa Bay Times.