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Monday, 27 April 2020 12:47

Covid-19 Latest numbers!

By the Numbers:

Corona Flu as of 12:01am April 27th, 2020 ... there are 2,994,436 cases worldwide so far with 878,707 people that have had total recoveries and 206,973 deaths in the whole world!

In the USA there have been 987,160 total cases..... 55,413 deaths and 118,781 complete recoveries. In the USA there are currently 812,966 active Corona Flu cases with only 15,143 out of almost 813,000 of those are in serious or critical condition! That is 0.01862% ............!!! This percentage had come down significantly!

Comparison to the 2009-2010 SWINE FLU:

In 2009, there were up to 1.4 billion worldwide cases of the Swine Flu in the flu season of 09-10 (less than 3 million cases so far w/Covid-19... yes we all know this number will go up but it is a far cry from 1.4 Billion) it was a global pandemic with 575.000 deaths worldwide.

We are in SW Florida, toilet paper is plentiful at WalMart and most stores like Aldi's and Publix too... they all are also getting their shelves stocked up with essentials and cleaning products so there is no need to hoard them! Be Smart, Be Safe, Wash your hands !

Fort Myers Beach town council has just voted to open the beach to residents from 7 am till 10 am starting tomorrow morning!!! .... WELL it's a start. Dogs are ok, biking, walking but no swimming? The town doesn't own the water so how can they not allow swimming? No towels or chairs... keep moving!!!

They will discuss expanding the hours this Friday! BUT for now...They want you to wear a mask! I recall when I first went to Italy, the motorcycle riders would wear a helmet on their arm to satisfy the law of "wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle"

So I will be wearing my mask on my arm! Not encouraging you to do the same but that is how I will comply... see you on the beach!

 

Just so you will remember come next time these guys come up for reelection Mayor Murphy and Veech voted to not open the beach!

 

 

They will also be discussing business/restaurants reopening on Friday when the Governor's executive order expires on "dining in" restaurants.

And the meeting is still going on...

Fort Myers Beach town council has just voted to open the beach to residents from 7 am till 10 am starting tomorrow morning!!! .... WELL it's a start.

They will discuss expanding the hours this Friday! BUT...They want you to wear a mask! I recall when I first went to Italy, the motorcycle riders would wear a helmet on their arm to satisfy the law of "wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle" So I will be wearing my mask on my arm! Not encouraging you to do the same but that is how I will comply... see you on the beach! Just so you will remember come next time these guys come up for reelection Mayor Murphy and Veech voted to not open the beach!

They will also be discussing business/restaurants reopening on Friday when the Governor's executive order expires on "dining in" restaurants.

And the meeting is still going on...

Fort Myers Beach town council has just voted to open the beach to residents from 7 am till 10 am starting tomorrow morning!!! .... WELL it's a start.

They will discuss expanding the hours this Friday! BUT...They want you to wear a mask! I recall when I first went to Italy, the motorcycle riders would wear a helmet on their arm to satisfy the law of "wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle" So I will be wearing my mask on my arm! Not encouraging you to do the same but that is how I will comply... see you on the beach! Just so you will remember come next time these guys come up for reelection Mayor Murphy and Veech voted to not open the beach!

They will also be discussing business/restaurants reopening on Friday when the Governor's executive order expires on "dining in" restaurants.

And the meeting is still going on...

Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier delivered some good news and some bad news Friday to business leaders planning the state’s post-pandemic recovery.

The good news, he said, is businesses may not see employee health insurance premiums increase because, with the health care system almost exclusively focused on combating COVID-19, insurers are seeing fewer claims in other areas.

The bad news is financial losses attributed to pandemics are not are covered under most “business interruption policies,” Altmaier told the 30-member Re-Open Florida Task Force Industry Working Group on Agriculture, Finance, Government, Healthcare, Management and Professional Service.

 

The group, led by Senate President-designate Wilton Simpson, R-Longwood, is one of four panels identifying obstructions and forwarding ideas to the task force’s 22-member executive committee.

The executive committee was expected to present Gov. Ron DeSantis with a statewide reopening plan by Friday but is not likely to do so until next week.

Executive Committee Chair Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez asked working group members to email suggestions to the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget by Sunday.

DeSantis praised the work of the four industry groups Friday after each met for more than 20 hours over the week in teleconferences.

“A lot of great ideas culled and presented,” he said. “We’re going to figure out a way to get back. That will be a bright spot – the fact that we were thoughtful and methodical in doing this.”

Among moves being made to help businesses reopen, Altmaier said, is the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) works with insurers on developing protocols for employers to test workers. Insurers have waived cost-sharing for testing, with more than half paying co-pays for treatment through at least June, he said.

 

Altmaier said OIR is closely monitoring litigation trends and emergent risks for the insurance sector, adding he supports granting liability exemptions for businesses that reopen and comply with all protocols and best practices.

Unfortunately, Altmaier said, there’s little state insurance regulators can do for businesses only now realizing insurance policies covering financial losses stemming from involuntary and emergency shutdowns do not include pandemics.

Insurers would suffer catastrophic financial losses if required to retroactively pay out pandemic claims, he said.

“A lot of (insurers) have rejected retroactive coverage. They did not intend for that to be covered and did not provide dollars for that.” Altmaier said. “Policymakers around the world grapple with this issue. It is an issue not only in Florida but nationwide.”

Florida Dental Association President Dr. Rudy Liddell said his constituents are eager for DeSantis to lift the state’s ban on elective procedures and to designate dentistry as essential.

He said about a quarter of Florida dentists surveyed by the association said they would not be able to reopen their practices if they remain closed through May. Nearly half would go out of business if they could not reopen before July 1, he said.

“If these dentists can’t reopen their practices, this could hurt dental access for years to come,” Liddell said.

The state association and its national affiliate has developed protocols for workers and patients that include prescreening questions, temperature checks and quick COVID-19 tests, Liddell said, adding patients will be required to call ahead to reduce waiting room times and “patient-to-patient interaction.”

“My message isn’t one of gloom and doom but optimism and assurance that Florida’s dentists are ready to get back,” Liddell said.

John Haughey

The Center Square

Medical marijuana sales surged nationwide during the first few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, but have tailed off since mid-March, according to Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics.

Not so in Florida, where the state’s 239 dispensaries, including three scheduled to open Monday to coincide with since-canceled “4/20” celebrations nationwide, are experiencing sustained brisk sales.

Florida’s medical marijuana dispensaries recorded about $500 million in 2019 sales and are projected by Arcview and BDS to top $1.2 billion in 2020 sales. They are among businesses deemed essential under Gov. Ron DeSantis’ emergency orders.

 

On March 24, Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott A. Rivkees allowed the state’s 2,537 registered medical cannabis physicians to conduct telehealth appointments for “existing qualified patients” to receive medical marijuana IDs.

According to the state’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU), between March 6 and April 17, nearly 13,000 Floridians received new medical marijuana ID cards, boosting the state’s registry of patients to more than 336,380.

During the week of April 10-17, OMMU reported 33,313 ounces of smokable marijuana was sold statewide – the second-highest weekly volume recorded since state lawmakers allowed the sale of smokable marijuana in March 2019.

Florida’s highest weekly volume of smokable marijuana occurred during the week of March 13-20, when 36,386 ounces were sold statewide, 40 percent more than average.

Sales of smokable marijuana remain brisk despite physicians and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) suggesting patients avoid smoking marijuana, which some fear could weaken lung capacity and make patients potentially more vulnerable to COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

NORMAL recommends patients "either limit or altogether avoid their exposure to combustive smoke of any kind” and instead use edibles and tinctures.

Nationwide, BDS documented surging sales through much of March, but mostly below average sales in April, attributing the spike to patients “stocking up” with larger than usual purchases and the decline in sales to many patients being out of work.

 

From March 13-20, cannabis sales shot up 28 percent nationwide, said BDS, a Colorado-based marijuana market research firm.

Since then, sales have flattened, BDS said, citing job loss as the most likely reason. In states where it's legal, 32 percent of cannabis patients have incomes below $35,000 and 54 percent have full-time employment, according to BDS.

Florida's largest dispensary operator, Trulieve, opened its 46th storefront Monday in Titusville, but did so without planned “4/20” celebrations. It was one of three dispensaries green-lighted to open this week by the OMMU.

Trulieve and other dispensary operations are doing business under COVID-19 safety protocols, Trulieve chief sales officer Tim Morey told Florida TODAY.

"The customer experience during the pandemic obviously has shifted significantly," Morey said. "We encourage everybody to order online ahead of time. And when they come into the location, they'll be met by one of our Tru hosts that will have an iPad.”

Patients are asked to remain outside until they receive a text to pick up their order, he said.

ALTMED, which operates 19 Florida dispensaries, has adopted a “no guests” policy, admitting only patients and requiring them to wait outside after registering with receptionists and closing the stores on Sundays “to facilitate deep cleaning and sanitizing.”

Curaleaf, which operates 28 dispensaries across the state, has waived delivery fees and is offering an express pickup service.

“We understand that access to our dispensaries offer a real benefit to our customers’ health, so we want to ensure that those experiences are as safe as possible,” Curaleaf President Joe Bayern said.

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New data on initial unemployment claims show that 4.4 million American workers filed for unemployment insurance in the week ending April 18, according to the Department of Labor. That brings the total count of initial unemployment claims up to 26.4 million in the last five weeks of Department of Labor data, an unprecedented rate of job loss for the American economy.

The U.S. real-time unemployment rate climbed to 21.4 percent on the initial claims data, based upon 50 Economy labor market estimates. The current crisis demands public policy innovation to clear out hurdles to business formation and new employment opportunities.

Initial claims have decreased week-over-week for three weeks in a row. But the total count of unemployed American workers continues to climb rapidly even as initial claims slow down.

 

The real-time unemployment rate is calculated using March BLS data as a baseline. However, the BLS data are adjusted to count more than 1 million March work force dropouts as unemployed, recognizing that they technically categorized as out of the workforce but they are effectively unemployed. This baseline unemployment count is combined with 5 weeks of initial unemployment claims from the Department of Labor to arrive at the total count of unemployed. In sum, 35 million Americans are estimated to be unemployed by this calculation.

 

The federal CARES Act was signed into law in late March and provided more generous unemployment insurance benefits for a broader set of workers. The federal portion of the unemployment benefit was increased to a more generous $600 per week, and self-employed and gig-economy workers were allowed to use the program. These changes increased the number of claims made because workers have more incentive to apply for more generous benefits, and more workers are eligible for the benefits. In addition, unemployed workers face long odds of finding a new job now during the business shutdown.

State unemployment insurance trust funds risk insolvency as a result of incredibly weak economic conditions and increased incentives to use the program.

The coronavirus pandemic is dramatically depressing economic activity, consistent with economic research that showed the 1918 influenza pandemic depressed local economies where the virus spread most. The best case scenario for American families and businesses is that federal benefits can carry them through the worst of the crisis, and then safe strategies can be executed to reopen the economy. Americans can then resume their past economic activities and work on new jobs and businesses.

Re-opening strategies should be coupled with public policy packages that make it easy to start businesses and find new jobs. State and local red tape that has grown up around the modern economy needs to be cleaved back, and the tax code needs to be configured to incentivize new investment. Private sector disruption should be offset by public policy innovation so that the private economy can eventually come back stronger than ever.

 Michael Lucci 

President and publisher of 50economy.org

The Center Square

 

 

 

 

 

The real obstacle in rebuilding Florida's post-pandemic tourism economy will be convincing visitors that attractions and businesses are safe, hospitality and restaurant industry leaders said Tuesday.

Among ways to do that, Visit Florida President and CEO Dana Young said, is a four-phase rebound strategy that will tout industry standards being developed in restaurants and hotels tailored to specific groups.

“We are in phase one now. Phase two is when the stay-at-home order is lifted,” Young said during a teleconference of the Re-Open Florida Task Force’s 35-member Working Group on Tourism, Construction, Real Estate, Recreation, Retail and Transportation.

When Gov. Ron DeSantis’ safer-at-home order is lifted, Young said, tourists are not going to immediately flock to the state because the COVID-19 crisis “has changed consumer behavior and psychology.”

They’ll need to be induced, she said, and need to see businesses are open and attractions are safe. To do that, she said, the state should enlist Floridians to show the Sunshine State is open for business.

“People who live in the state will be incredibly important. The entire tourism industry needs to encourage Floridians to take an in-state vacation,” Young said, calling on the group to appeal to “state patriotism that Floridians already have in abundance.”

Phase three will target national travelers, and phase four will be “expanding these efforts globally,” she said.

There are indications the state’s tourism and hospitality industries may recover sooner than later, Young said, citing an 11-fold recent increase in visitors to Visit Florida’s website, which now includes a dashboard charting the shutdown’s impact on the state’s largest industry.

The questions industry leaders must answer is how to develop a “data-driven approach” and protocols “for employees in the public space” in businesses now shuttered as nonessential.

Fontainebleau Miami Beach President and COO Philip Goldfarb said among the first items that could be addressed is encouraging business travel as a precursor to leisure travel.

“Consumer confidence is going be at the root,” Goldfarb said, asking officials “to encourage the media to donate more time to public service messaging.”

Tim Petrillo, co-founder and CEO of The Restaurant People, which operates 45 restaurants nationwide and 25 in Florida, said business owners are concerned about supply chains.

“There will be significant strain on supply chains as everybody tries to get open” at the same time, he said.

Employers need “a clear path” in how they can operate safely.

“What does outdoor dining look like? How do we enforce social distancing on our guests?” Petrillo asked.

“These guidelines have to be easy to follow,” said Cody Khan, owner of Holiday Inn Resort in Panama City Beach. “We don’t have PHDs cleaning rooms and washing dishes.”

The framework may already be in place, such as measures being implemented by Restaurant Brands International, which operates 18,000 Burger King restaurants, 4,500 Popeyes restaurants and 4,000 Tim Horton’s restaurants globally, CEO Jose Cil said.

The company developed protocols with the CDC to screen employees before shifts with a short questionnaire and a temperature check that is logged daily. The company also has adopted a paid sick leave policy.

“We made it a policy early on, anybody who comes down with this, go home to get better. We will pay sick leave for 14 days,” he said.

Hoteliers said protocols developed in Singapore and Las Vegas, including electrostatic deep cleaning and other standardized best practices should be incorporated into the state’s marketing plan.

The hospitality industry must now consider, “What does the guest room of tomorrow look like?” Boca Resort and Club President and Managing Director John Tolbert said.

“If we are going to reopen, we have to have amenities,” Goldfarb said, adding he is “hearing through the grapevine” that south Florida beaches may not open for months. “I think that is a big mistake.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis will call on lawmakers in 2021 to divest state investments in Chinese-owned companies and “hold China accountable” for withholding information about the COVID-19 outbreak until it was spreading across the globe.

DeSantis told reporters he will push Florida to “put our flag into the ground” and incentivize companies now operating in China, especially pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturers, to come to the Sunshine State.

“If you have life-saving equipment that is being manufactured, do not manufacture it in China anymore. We need to bring this stuff back to the United States, and Florida would be a great place to do it,” he said. “If you want a good, business friendly environment, come talk to me. We can work something out.”

DeSantis said Florida is likely to file its own lawsuit against the Chinese Communist Party seeking compensation for the economic damage caused by the pandemic shutdown or sign onto one filed this week by Missouri and Mississippi.

“I want to see if Florida can be involved in that,” he said.

DeSantis’ comments came as President Donald Trump and Congress are considering whether, and how, the U.S, can penalize China for failing to alert the world to the Wuhan COVID-19 outbreak.

In a letter sent Wednesday to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis asked for “technical assistance” from the U.S. State Department in providing a list of Chinese-based or Chinese-bought companies and their subsidiaries that operate in Florida.

Patronis said the state’s Department of Financial Services' Division of Unclaimed Property has $2 billion in unclaimed assets, some of which could belong to Chinese companies or the Chinese Communist Party.

“Clearly, if another nation attacked our country, and inflicted the kind of economic harm that is being brought to the American economy, we would demand restitution,” Patronis wrote. “I am of the opinion that China has a debt to pay to our country, and the state of Florida, for their negligence and deceptive practices.”

The Department of Financial Services could turn names over to the Board of Administration, which manages state investments, including those made on behalf of the Florida Retirement System (FRS), the nation’s fourth-largest public pension fund.

According to the state’s Department of Management Services (DMS), as of June 2019, FRS provided retirement income benefits to 647,942 active members, 4.425 million retirees and 32,670 others.

In October, the Trump administration blacklisted Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., one of the world’s largest video surveillance systems manufacturers, for providing the technology the Chinese Communist Party has used to repress western China’s Muslim population.

FRS was among American public pension programs that had invested in the company, owning 1.8 million shares in June 2019.

Divesting in Chinese companies is not, necessarily, the same as disentangling economically with China.

Enterprise Florida has operated offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai since 2014. The agency’s 2018 International Business Highlights report ranks China as Florida’s No. 1 import market and No. 3 merchandise trading partner. China is the Port of Miami’s top customer.

More than 200,000 Chinese tourists visit Florida annually, according to Enterprise Florida.

DeSantis touted his long opposition to the Chinese Communist Party and China’s trade practices, noting DC Think, a Beijing-based think tank administered by Tsinghua University, in a June 2019 U.S. Governors Report, warned Florida’s governor was not “friendly” to China’s interests.

“Where do you think I was” ranked he asked before answering his own question: “Hard-line against China.”

John Haughey

The Center Square

“No Shirt, No Shoes, No Mask, No Service.”

Get used to it. You may see it on storefronts and office doors soon.

The phrase was among the ideas presented during Thursday’s teleconference of the 23-member Re-Open Florida Task Force Industry Working Group on Administrative, Education, Information & Technology, Manufacturing, Utilities and Wholesale.

The group, led by state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, discussed reopening K-12 schools in August on Wednesday, with Thursday’s session mostly focused on manufacturing and information technology businesses.

Corcoran’s group is one of four subpanels set to forward ideas to the Re-Open Florida Task Force’s 22-member executive committee, which must present Gov. Ron DeSantis with a statewide reopening plan Friday.

Enterprise Florida Senior Vice President Manny Mencia said many manufacturers could restart production and meet safety protocols quickly if supply lines were restored.

“A large majority of (Florida manufacturers) have seen a sudden and steep decline in their sales and revenues,” Mencia said. “This is happening while they’ve also been experiencing a significant disruption in supply chains.”

Venice-based Tervis, which manufactures plastic drink tumblers, has not escaped the economic fallout from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but president Rogan Donnelly outlined how it plans to safely resume full operations.

Tervis plans to check employees’ temperatures before entering its plant, provide masks, disinfect regularly and impose social distancing in its workspaces, he said.

“We are investigating the use of temperature guns or thermal cameras,” Donnelly said.

The company is concerned about the reliable availability of thermometers, he said, noting they are “hard to find and are on back order.”

Tervis wants its employees properly trained, Donnelly said.

“Taking an employee’s temperature puts HR at higher risk, potentially exposing themselves to the virus,” he said. “Our HR team is not certified on how to actively take a temperature. So, we need to find someone who can train or certify our team, and to identify clear policies about which temperatures are too high, and what happens if a person has that temperature.”

Florida Technology Council Chief Executive Officer James Taylor offered suggested best practices for the IT industry that include daily self-screening for employees and clients; in-house social distancing; training on how to use personal protective equipment; a 30-day supply of personal protective equipment, sanitizer, soap, and other such supplies; disinfection and cleaning protocols; and signage.

His suggested sign: “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Mask, No Service.”

Taylor said the key to getting “the onus off the state and put it back on the businesses” to determine when they are ready to reopen is clear guidance and protocols.

“By meeting these different protocols, it allows them to say, ‘Yes we can do that. We’re in a position to open right now,’ ” he said.

Broward College President Greg Haile said economic crisis typically results in college and technical school enrollment boosts, but, with the COVID-19 pandemic, all bets are off.

“This is unlike anything we have ever seen,” Haile said.

Miami-Dade County Early Learning Coalition President Evelio Torres said with K-12 schools closed at least until August, any plan to reopen the economy must address child care and provide operators with resources to ensure they are safe.

“Full social distancing in a child care setting is practically impossible,” Torres said. “So the ones that are open may not have enough personal protection equipment due to the shortages. A lot of them are making do with what they have. But this is a concern to the staff, a concern to the parents, as well to owners and directors.”

John Haughey

The Center Square

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