Tracking COVID in wastewater is the future — but not in Florida
As COVID-19 testing continues to recede in Florida, it is far behind other states in tracking the virus with promising technology that relies on wastewater. The Florida Department of Health received more than $1.2 million from the federal government last summer to build a statewide system to detect the virus in wastewater. Eight months later, the state won’t say whether such a program exists. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
FAA to increase Florida air traffic controllers, work with airlines to avoid more flight disruptions
The Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday that it will “immediately” increase staffing at a major air traffic control center in Florida to handle airlines’ surging numbers of flights to the Sunshine State after passengers this year faced thousands of flight cancellations and delays. “Because representatives said Florida operations will continue increasing past 2019 levels, the FAA will immediately increase the number of authorized staff at Jacksonville Center and evaluate other Florida facilities,” the agency said in a statement. [Source: CNBC]
OPINION: In Florida, safe workplaces start with leadership
Workplace safety is more important now than ever. Between 2011 to 2018, Florida ranked 34th in the nation with 1,950 workplace fatalities, and nearly 28% of those fatalities occurring in construction alone. As chair of the Florida Chamber Safety Council and corporate safety leader with NextEra Energy, it’s been my experience that great safety performance is driven by great leadership at all levels of a company. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
Florida pension fund loses $200M in Russian investments
In the intervening months since Russia invaded Ukraine, oil prices have risen, inflation has increased, and the state of Florida has reportedly lost millions due to investment in Russia. Even before the losses, Florida Democrats had urged the state to divest itself from the money it’s invested in Russian companies. Now, Democrat Andrew Learned (D-Brandon) says the state’s pension fund has lost $200 million from its investments in Russia, following sanctions on the country due to the war. [Source: WFLA]
Florida prepares to resume manatee rescue efforts this winter
After providing more than 200,000 pounds of lettuce to starving manatees because of depleted seagrass beds in state waters, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Eric Sutton said Tuesday efforts are already underway to prepare for next winter. “The incident command that we share with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continues,” Sutton said during a commission meeting at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center in Gainesville. “Right now, we’re doing an after-action and looking at all the things that we did, get our notes together, get our act, you know, squared away based on what we’ve learned and preparing for next year, because this is a marathon.” [Source: News Service of Florida]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Black-owned bank helps Miami’s Black entrepreneurs tap small business loans [Miami Herald]
With the housing redevelopments in Miami like Liberty Square, Liberty City is gaining economic momentum. Now the largest Black-owned bank in America, which has a customer branch in the inner city neighborhood, has begun to support local Black entrepreneurs in accessing the financial resources needed to sustain their businesses.
› Tupperware struggles in Q1, taps new CFO [AP]
Tupperware's turnaround isn't exactly going as planned, with inflation, COVID-19 and Russia's invasion of Ukraine all weighing on the consumer products company. Sales dropped 16% in the first quarter, with Miguel Fernandez, President and CEO of Tupperware Brands, acknowledging that the company's turnaround still needs a lot more work.
› Crumbl Cookies is planning 3 additional locations in Jacksonville by the end of 2022 [Florida Times-Union]
Crumbl Cookies, the nationwide gourmet cookie and ice cream shop popular on TikTok, is expanding its footprint in the Jacksonville area. Three new stores, all from franchise owner Steve Seegmiller, will open by the end of year, bringing the number of the city's Crumbl Cookies to five.
› Tampa Electric, Duke Energy, seek approval for storm-project money [Tampa Bay Times]
As this year’s hurricane season gets ready to start June 1, major utilities have filed proposals that could lead to customers paying hundreds of millions of dollars in 2023 to help bolster electric systems against storms. Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric Co. filed the proposals Monday at the state Public Service Commission as part of efforts to add underground power lines, “harden” other parts of electric systems and reduce outage threats from trees and other vegetation.
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› Brevard County borrows playbook from Melbourne and effectively bans panhandling [Florida Today]
Brevard County officials Tuesday passed a law that prohibits individuals from loitering on the public right of ways along Space Coast roads and intersections. Commissioners claim it enhances pedestrian safety, but opponents believe the move's true purpose is to stamp out panhandling by the homeless and the needy in Brevard County.
› Largest free health care clinic in Florida to purchase first mobile clinic [WFLX]
The Caridad Center is the largest free health care clinic in Florida, and they are set to receive $1.1 million in federal funding. Caridad Center CEO Laura Kallus said the money will allow them to make some much needed upgrades, as well as build their first free mobile clinic. "As far as I know, this is the first one [in the county] for a free clinic," Kallus said.
› ‘Operational meltdown’: Spirit’s flight attendants demand better working conditions [Miami Herald]
Citing poor working conditions and airline operational “meltdowns,” a group of unionized Spirit Airlines flight attendants protested Tuesday by toting signs at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. A top union official cited instances of Spirit’s flight attendants having to sleep on airport floors after completing 20- to 30-hour shifts, only to return to duty shortly thereafter.
› Tampa Bay has the 3rd most ‘overvalued’ rent prices, study finds [Tampa Bay Times]
Florida is the center of the national rental surge, new research has found. The Florida Atlantic University College of Business in partnership with researchers at Florida Gulf Coast University and the University of Alabama analyzed U.S. rental markets to find which ones were the most overvalued, or priced above its historical trend, according to a media release.