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Friday's Afternoon Update

Visit Florida targets Ian 'misperceptions'

Visit Florida is set to move into the final phase of a $5 million marketing effort aimed at offsetting “negative” impressions the tourism-marketing agency says were created by media coverage of Hurricane Ian. Visit Florida President and CEO Dana Young said the effort’s third phase, expected to run through June, is narrowly focused on the five Southwest Florida counties --- Lee, Collier, Hardee, DeSoto and Charlotte --- most impacted by the deadly Category 4 storm, which made landfall Sept. 28 in the region. More from the News Service of Florida.

What does the end of the federal COVID emergency mean for your wallet in Florida?

The federal government plans to end its COVID-19 emergency in May, which means a wave of changes are on the horizon. Under the emergency declaration, people were given access to free COVID-19 tests, vaccines and treatments. Once it expires May 11, everyone, including those with health insurance, should expect some out-of-pocket costs for testing and treatments. While vaccines will likely stay free for those with insurance, those without insurance will have to pay if they want a shot. More from the Miami Herald.

Recreational pot proposal clears initial hurdle

Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow recreational use of marijuana have passed a preliminary hurdle to get on the 2024 ballot, submitting more than enough petition signatures to trigger a Florida Supreme Court review of the measure. The “Smart & Safe Florida” political committee, which has been bankrolled by the multistate cannabis operator Trulieve, had submitted 294,037 valid petition signatures as of Thursday afternoon, according to the state Division of Elections website. More from the News Service of Florida.

A travel website listed the 10 'deadliest' US beaches. 7 of them are in Florida

If you're dipping your toes in the surf off the beautiful beaches of New Smyrna Beach, Florida, keep an eye out for sharks. And riptides. And hurricanes. From 2010 to Jan. 13, 2023, New Smyrna Beach has seen twice as many shark attacks (32) as any other beach and 10 surf zone fatalities. The coastal town south of Daytona Beach also has been smacked with 120 hurricanes between 1851 and 2020, according to NOAA. In its defense, the list does say the beach isn't all bad and "the food scene is excellent."  More from the Gainesville Sun.

‘Fairness and diversity’ courses for Florida judges nixed

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday deleted part of a rule that has allowed judges to take courses in “fairness and diversity” to meet a continuing-education requirement. The change, backed by six justices, drew a strongly worded dissent from Justice Jorge Labarga, who wrote that it “paves the way for a complete dismantling of all fairness and diversity initiatives in the State Courts System.” The Supreme Court, which determines rules for the system, issued a decision that revised continuing-education requirements. Part of the decision dealt with a requirement that judges receive training in judicial ethics. More from the Orlando Sentinel.

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Florida Dining
Cuban flavors and a Celia mural: The most Miami ice cream shop opens near Kendall

There’s a new place to get your fill of Burn in Hell Fidel. Azucar, the gourmet ice cream company that specializes in Cuban-and-Miami-friendly flavors (hence Burn in Hell Fidel), has opened a new shop at the Suniland Shopping Center in Pinecrest. Creator Suzy Batlle, who opened the original store in Little Havana near Domino Park, says that the Pinecrest location is perfect for her. A native South Floridian, she appreciates a short commute when she gets one.

» Read more from the Miami Herald.