Overlapping, highly contagious COVID subvariants are spreading fast in Florida
There are plenty of warning signs that Florida may be in the grip of another COVID-19 surge. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations is up, too, by nearly 20%. The state’s positivity rate is nearly 20%, the highest rate in four months. Florida recorded 71,797 infections in the past week — an average of 10,257 cases per day. That’s up 7.5% from the week before. More from the Tampa Bay Times and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Rating agency says pressures continue for Florida insurers
The financial-rating agency AM Best said Friday that changes passed during a special legislative session last month “are unlikely to alleviate immediate financial pressures” on Florida property insurers. A three-page commentary pointed, in part, to insurers facing difficulties purchasing reinsurance, which is crucial backup coverage for such things as hurricane claims. [Source: News Service of Florida]
Report: 1 in 5 Florida corporations paid no income tax on 2020 revenue
One in five of the wealthiest corporations in Florida paid zero corporate income tax in 2020, according to a report published Thursday by the Florida Policy Institute. The institute reported that 475 corporations — that earned over $50 million in 2020 — paid no corporate income tax, according to data acquired via a public record request from the state Department of Revenue. What's more, roughly 20% of corporations generating more than $250 million in revenue paid no corporate income tax either. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
Florida's red-flag law is eyed in the debate over gun access
As a national debate rages over gun laws after last month’s mass shooting at a Texas elementary school, proponents of “red-flag” policies point to a Florida law as a model for states seeking to strip deadly weapons from people who could cause harm. The Florida law, which allows authorities to take guns from people found to pose a “significant danger” to themselves or others, has drawn pushback from Second Amendment advocates and some law-enforcement officials. But supporters say the law --- used thousands of times since the Republican-controlled Legislature approved it in 2018 --- has saved an untold number of lives. [Source: WFSU]
A new Latino media group is buying up — and shaking up — Spanish-language radio
Two Latina entrepreneurs — backed by a slew of investors — have negotiated a $60 million deal with TelevisaUnivision to buy 18 Spanish-language radio stations across 10 U.S. cities, including Miami’s Radio Mambi, a fixture of South Florida’s conservative Cuban community. The massive buy is the first for the newly created Latino Media Network, a Latina-owned and operated media company that has raised close to $80 million, a figure the group says amounts to the largest capital raised by a Latina-led startup in U.S. history More from the Miami Herald and WLRN.
Did you know that Florida’s high school graduating class misses out on more than $300 million in Pell Grants every year because they don’t complete the FAFSA? The deadline to submit a FAFSA is June 30, so don’t let students in your community miss out on federal aid that doesn’t have to be paid back. Visit Florida College Access Network’s Cash for College page for help filling out the FAFSA.
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Investors say Miami crypto whiz kid took them to the cleaners [Miami Herald]
Alberto Rivera’s cryptocurrency nightmare began in the most unlikely of settings: a Cub Scout camping trip. He says another scouting dad, Ryan “Brody” Crawford, was cooking breakfast for the pack at Camp Elmore in Davie. Rivera says Crawford began regaling him with tales of his crypto riches, how he and his family had made a fortune. He was building a new investment platform that harnessed artificial intelligence to give him and his clients an edge. He was also creating his own crypto coin. Did Rivera want in?
› UCF researchers tapped again for NASA moon mission, set to explore mysterious domes [Orlando Sentinel]
A team of researchers from the University of Central Florida will be exploring an unknown and mysterious region of the moon. Two UCF planetary scientists, Kerri Donaldson Hanna and Adrienne Dove, have been asked to lead a $35 million mission which would land a spacecraft over the Gruithuisen Domes — an unexplored part of the moon that has left NASA scientists scratching their heads, according to a NASA press release.
› Tourism experts expect busy summer in Orlando [Spectrum News 13]
Local experts are expecting a busy summer for tourism in Central Florida. A recent report from the Tourist Development Tax Collections showed Orange County received a 103.1% increase this April compared to last year. Those numbers are promising, with the Special Olympics kicking off this weekend, and businesses on I-Drive say they’re ready for the next few months.
› Pinellas County returns to spotlight in streaming series [Business Observer]
If you enjoyed “Life’s Rewards,” the 2021 Visit St. Pete/Clearwater marketing vehicle disguised as a scripted TV “dramedy,” get ready to tune in for a second season. Streaming on the Amazon Prime Video platform, the show’s first-season episodes were viewed more than 341,000 times, resulting in nearly 30 million advertising impressions, according to a news release. That exceeded goals set by Visit St. Pete/Clearwater and its partners on the project, the St. Pete/Clearwater Film Commission and Visit Florida.
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› Vintage, boho and eclectic: Central Florida women debut a joint art collection [Lakeland Ledger]
This time last year Ashley Cassens and Nicki Turner would not have imagined working together on an art collection. The pair met in March through a mutual friend and on June 10 will debut their collaborative collection, "Florescence" in Winter Haven at the Summer Nights Market hosted by Babes in Business Florida.
› SeaWorld announces another roller coaster [Orlando Sentinel]
SeaWorld Orlando confirmed the construction of its seventh roller coaster on Friday afternoon. It is scheduled to open in 2023, SeaWorld said, but the announcement shared few other details. Construction has been underway at the theme park for months in the area formerly known as Bayside Pathway, the area where special events such as Halloween Spootakular and holiday celebrations have been staged. The work extends into the main parking lot for SeaWorld Orlando. Coaster watchers have spied segments of steel rail nearby.
› Highly anticipated container park to open in Tampa suburb [Business Observer]
Under construction for two years, Krate, an ambitious container park concept, is set to open Saturday at the Grove at Wesley shopping center. Krate’s 94 containers, according to a news release, house 46 one-of-a-kind restaurants and retail shops. It was developed by Mishorim Gold Properties, which bought the Grove at Wesley Chapel complex for $64 million in September 2019 and invested $110 million in renovations and upgrades, including a miniature golf course that’s slated to open later this year.
› Jacksonville City Council to schedule special election for sheriff [Jacksonville Daily Record]
The Jacksonville City Council will meet in special session at noon June 6 at City Hall to call for a special election for Duval County sheriff. The single agenda item, Resolution 2022-430, comes after Sheriff Mike Williams announced that he is retiring effective June 10. The resolution specifies a candidate qualifying period beginning at noon June 10 and ending at noon June 17.