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  • Florida Chamber Weekly COVID-19 Update: Oct. 1, 2020

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    October 01, 2020
     
     
    COVID-19 Weekly Update: October 1, 2020
     
     
    Register: 2020 Virtual Florida Chamber Annual Meeting and Future of Florida Forum
     
     
     
    A Message from Chamber President & CEO Mark Wilson:
     
     
     
     
     
     
    It's Week 31 (day 213) and Florida has now entered Phase 3 of reopening. Last Friday, Governor DeSantis signed an executive order which prevents local governments from fully shutting down businesses through emergency executive orders and allows restaurants to open at 100 percent capacity. From day one, the Chamber has continued to follow the facts and not fear and I commend Governor DeSantis for making the decision to allow businesses to enter Phase 3 based on data and trends we're all seeing. For weeks Florida has seen a downward trend in the daily average of new COVID-19 cases, and hospitalizations have also been on the decline. I attribute this to the dedication of most of Florida's business community in following the recommended guidelines to reopen safe and smart by having their employees, customers and vendors wear masks, maintain physical distance, and avoid large crowds. Let's continue to do what is necessary to keep Florida moving in the right direction. The last thing we need is a second wave like we've seen in other countries.
     
    While it is important to be cognizant of the virus moving forward as we continue to reopen safe and smart, it is even more important to know where Florida is headed and where we go from here. Our 2020 Future of Florida Forum and Annual Meeting - on a professional virtual platform - is going to be one of the biggest and most important forums we have ever had. We have more than three dozen speakers including Governor DeSantis, National Economic Advisor to the President, Larry Kudlow; Senator Marco Rubio; former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino aka "Astro Mike"; Barbara Humpton, President & CEO, Siemens USA; Pastor Miles McPherson, Founder, Rock Church San Diego and former NFL Player; Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis; Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody; and many more distinguished speakers. Please register yourself or your team today and join us as we relaunch and reimagine Florida.
     
    The 2020 general election is just a month away and the Florida Chamber political team will also be providing attendees with an overview of the election - one that can greatly alter the direction of Florida. COVID-19 has been a major setback but we can get Florida back on track as we continue to work to unite Florida's business community for good. If you haven't already, take a moment to download our 2020 Election Guide and share with your employees, vendors, family and friends.
     
     
    Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish and our research team will continue to analyze COVID-19 data and report on it daily at TheFloridaScoreCard.org. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter where we also post the latest COVID numbers each day.
     
     
    Please find the latest cumulative COVID-19 numbers below:
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    7-Day COVID Numbers (Sept. 24 - 30):
    • Florida Cases: 16,017
    • 7-Day Avg. Daily New Cases: 2,288.1
    • Hospitalized: 1,167
    • Total People Tested: 145,219
    • Florida Reported Deaths: 699
     
     
     
    PANEL TO DISCUSS COVID-19 VACCINE AT THE FLORIDA CHAMBER FOUNDATION'S FUTURE OF FLORIDA FORUM
     
    As Florida and the rest of the country work toward reopening and getting the economy back on track, one of the biggest factors in the long-term success of a post-COVID economy is the development of a safe and effective vaccine. PhRMA, which represents the country’s leading biopharmaceutical research companies and supports the search for new treatments and cures, is sponsoring a dynamic panel on the future of a vaccine for COVID-19. Panelists include:
     
    • Lori Reilly, COO, PhRMA
    • Freda Lewis-Hall, M.D., DFAPA, Senior Medical Advisor, Pfizer
    • Cathy Mayfield, Founder, Lawson Mayfield Memorial Foundation
    • Richard Nettles, M.D., Vice President, Medical Affairs, Janssen Infectious Diseases, Janssen Scientific Affairs, LLC
     
    This is just one of the many important topics that will be discussed at what promises to be one of the biggest Future of Florida Forums we have ever had. This year's Forum has moved to a virtual platform, which means more of your management team can participate; plus, the content has never been more relevant or important as we get Floridians back to work and unite the business community for good. I encourage you and your management teams to register today for this event happening Oct. 20-22 so you don't miss out on the conversation that will chart Florida's path to being the 10th largest economy in the world by 2030 if we were a nation.
     
    Register Today
     
     
     
     
    FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH BEGINS RELEASING DATA ON COVID-19 IN SCHOOLS
     
    In Florida's fight against COVID-19, following the data has become one of the greatest tools we have to track this virus and make smart decisions as we reopen Florida's economy. Starting Tuesday, the Florida Department of Health began releasing data showing COVID-19 cases in schools across the state. The 13-page document lists schools and colleges that have had COVID-19 cases. Per the report, the data will be updated every Tuesday and is intended to provide transparency to parents as schools reopen for in-person instruction.
    READ MORE>
     
     
     
    WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT WHY AMENDMENT 2 IS BAD FOR FLORIDA AND MUST BE STOPPED? -- REIGSTER FOR OUR 3-PART WEBINAR SERIES
     
    For over a year, the Florida Chamber of Commerce has been fighting against Ballot Amendment 2, which would be America’s first constitutionally mandated statewide $15 minimum wage that will be part of Florida’s November General Election ballot. (NOTE: Once we hit $15 per hour, it goes up with no ceiling…$20, $30, $40…trial lawyer language behind the amendment forever raises the minimum wage with no provision for recessions, hurricanes, pandemics or wars.)  
     
    If passed, this amendment would make Florida the first and only state in the nation with a $15 an hour wage mandate in its state constitution, ensuring jobs lost due to the pandemic will not return, and businesses already devastated by the effects of COVID-19 may never bounce back. This will slow Florida’s economic recovery and hurt the very people the special interests behind this scam claim it helps.
    Chamber members are invited to join the Florida Chamber in October for a 3-part Webinar Series on the negative impacts of Amendment 2. Throughout the series, I will be joined by Dr. Parrish and other special guests as we discuss the Amendment’s impact on Florida’s economy.
     
     October 5: 2:00-3:00 p.m.
    Part 1: Jobs, Economy & Education
     Special Guests Rep. Tommy Gregory and Glenda Hood, Chair, Florida Chamber Small Business Council
     
    October 14: 10:00-11:00 a.m.
    Part 2: Cost of Living for Seniors and Families
     
    October 30: 11:00 a.m.-12 p.m.
    Part 3: Equality of Opportunity
    Register for the Webinar Series
     
     
    #ChamberStrong - Many chambers throughout Florida have committed their support to help stop amendment 2. For the sake of Florida's economy, working families, small businesses, seniors and our entry-level workforce, please sign up today to aid our efforts.
    Engage with us at these
    Upcoming Chamber Events
     
     
     
    UP NEXT:
     
    Amendment 2:
    3-Part Webinar Series
     
    Part 1: Jobs, Economy & Education
    October 5 - 2:00 p.m. EDT
     
    Join Florida Chamber CEO Mark Wilson, Florida Chamber Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish, VP of Political Operations Nick Catroppo, and Special Guests Representative Tommy Gregory and Glenda Hood, Chair, Florida Chamber Small Business Council, for this 3-part series on why amendment 2 is bad for Florida, and even worse for Floridians, and what you can do to stop Florida from being the first state to have a $15 per hour minimum wage mandate in their state constitution.
     
    Register for this FREE Informative Series
     
     
     
    REGISTER TODAY:
     
    2020 Virtual Future of Florida Forum
    
    October 20-22
    1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
     
    DEADLINE TO REGISTER OCTOBER 15
     
    View Our List of More than 3 Dozen Dynamic Speakers!
     
    Topics will include:
     
    • COVID-19 and the Future of a Vaccine
    • Florida’s Economic Outlook
    • Industry Diversification
    • Talent and Workforce Innovation
    • The Future of Florida Tourism
    • Small Business Solutions
    • Equity Gaps in Florida
    • Ending Inequality of Opportunity 
    • The Future of Transportation and Infrastructure in Florida
    • Decision 2020: The Road to the White House 
    • Safety and Healthcare 
     
    ...and much more
     
    Register Yourself or Your Team TODAY!
     
    *** Encourage your management teams and partners to participate! Download our
    Marketing Kit ***
     
     
     
    SAVE THE DATE:
     
    2020 Virtual Insurance Summit
     
    November 5 & 6
    Join us for two days of engaging presentations, unique networking opportunities and insight from Florida’s top insurance leaders and elected officials.
     
    Become a Sponsor
     
    contact Faye Brainard at
    fbrainard@flchamber.com
     
     
     
     
     
    Legislative News and Recovery Updates
     
     
    Federal Updates:
     
    House Prepares to Advance New Relief Package Absent Negotiations Breakthrough
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin continue negotiations on Covid-19 response legislation. Absent a breakthrough, House Democrats plan to move forward today with their most recent offering – a $2.2 trillion relief package introduced earlier this week. A copy of that 2,000+ page legislation may be found HERE and a summary HERE. The House’s new COVID-19 relief package revives the expired $600 a week in unemployment benefits through January and also provides another round of $1,200 stimulus checks to Americans, with an additional $500 per dependent. $25 billion in funding for airlines is included, as is funding for the United States Postal Service (USPS), which Democrats have argued is necessary before Election Day in order to maintain integrity and prevent fraud in the voting process. The package also includes $436 billion for state and local governments, a 15 percent increase in food-stamp benefits, and an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which expired on August 8. $28 billion in vaccine funding is included, with $20 billion for procurement, $7 billion for distribution and $1 billion for a public awareness campaign.
     
    The legislation has faced criticism from Senate Republicans, as it is roughly five times as expensive as the proposal the Senate GOP offered last month and $1 trillion larger than what the Administration has previously signaled it would accept.
     
    The House Rules Committee met earlier this week to prepare the package for floor action as early as yesterday. If there is going to be an agreement on additional relief between House and Administration negotiators, it likely must materialize ahead of that vote, which may be delayed if a breakthrough occurs.
     
     
    Short Term Government Operations Funding Extension
    The Senate approved a relatively clean House-passed short-term spending bill to avoid a government shutdown Tuesday evening. The measure funds the government through December 11. The President is expected to sign the measure into law upon receipt.
     
     
    U.S. to Start Forgiving PPP Loans
    The Treasury Department said Tuesday it would begin forgiving loans granted to small business owners under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), following banks’ and borrowers’ complaints that the process had been bogged down. The government expects to approve and pay forgiveness requests by late this week or early next. The applications are generally expected to be approved quickly, with the exception of loans above $2 million that will get added scrutiny.
     
     
    Rule Changes to Fair Labor Standards Act
    Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a proposed rule to clarify employee and independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The proposed regulation would identify independent contractors as workers who are in business for themselves as opposed to being economically dependent on the potential employer. Economic dependence under the proposed rule would be determined through core factors, including the nature and degree of the worker’s control over the work, and if the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss is based on initiative and/or investment. There are other factors that might also be used when determining employee status. Comments to the U.S. Department of Labor are due by October 26, 2020. Click here to read the proposed rule and submit comments.
     
     
    Florida Chamber Provides Comments on Reopening Cruise Industry
    Last week, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) closed public comment on how best to reopen the cruise industry. The Florida Chamber of Commerce provided specific policy recommendations based on feedback we have received from Florida ports, cruise lines, and our other members. Of course, safety was our primary concern. The Florida Chamber recommended that the CDC continue to prioritize frequent cleanings, encourage social distancing especially at the terminals, and seek tailored standards rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. As before, the Florida Chamber of Commerce opposed suggestions that businesses need to be responsible for the transportation and housing of individuals that have been denied entry due to infection concerns. The Florida Chamber will continue to monitor these and other developments at the CDC.
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Florida Updates:
     
    Florida Enters Phase 3 of Reopening
    On Friday, the State of Florida entered Phase 3 of Florida’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic per Executive Order 20-244.  The executive order prevents local governments from fully shutting down businesses through emergency executive orders and allows restaurants to open at 100 percent capacity. A local emergency order cannot shut restaurants to less than 50 percent of indoor capacity, and if they are limited to less than 100 percent of indoor capacity, the order must quantify the impact of the limitation or requirement on restaurants and why the limitation or requirement is necessary for public health. Finally, the executive order suspends the collection of fines and penalties on individuals related to COVID-19. However, the EO still allows for businesses to be fined by local governments for not complying with local COVID-19 requirements, and at least one local jurisdiction has suggested it will continue issuing individual fines, but not collect them until the order expires. Click HERE for a copy of all Executive Orders to date and HERE for a comprehensive collection of active local mask ordinances.
     
     
    Local Government Meetings and Mortgage Foreclosure and Eviction Relief
    Late yesterday, the Governor signed Executive Order 20-246 to allow local governments with an additional month to conduct meetings virtually. The Governor also allowed Executive Order 20-211 to expire, pertaining to mortgage foreclosure and eviction relief. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has enacted a nationwide evictions order that allows renters to submit a declaration to their landlord regarding the inability to pay rent. The Governor allowed his previous order to expire to avoid any confusion. View a copy of the CDC evictions order and the evictions declaration, and click here for a copy of all state Executive Orders to date.  
     
     
    General Revenue and Sales Tax Collections Improving
    On Friday, the Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) issued the General Revenue report for August showing collections exceeded estimates by $177.5 million. EDR updated general revenue estimates in August to account for the impact that COVID-19 is having on the economy, and without these updated numbers, Florida would have been $83.1 million below the previous estimates from January. The updated estimates were built into the Long Range Financial Outlook that the legislature will use to guide budget decisions. If collections continue to improve, the budget picture for FY 2021-2022 will not be as dire as originally projected.
     
     
    Florida Corporate Income Tax Rate Remains at 4.458%
    The Florida Department of Revenue issued an alert that the Florida corporate income tax and franchise tax rate will continue to be 4.458% for the taxable year that began January 1, 2020 and will revert to 5.5% after January 1, 2022. There is potential for a further tax rate reduction for the 2021 tax year. This is due to Florida Chamber-backed legislation as a result of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). An inadvertent result of the TCJA was an expansion of the tax base at the state level, and at the Florida Chamber’s urging, the legislature acted to return excess tax collections back to taxpayers through a reduced corporate income tax rate and tax refunds.
     
     
    Florida’s New “Get There” Workforce Education Initiative
    September is Workforce Development Month and accordingly Governor Ron DeSantis announced the launch of a new workforce education initiative aimed at raising awareness of short-term, but high-value, career and technical education programs. The new program, named the “Get There Florida Initiative”, utilizes funds from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Funding and through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. In coordination with each of the 28 Florida College System institutions and the 48 technical colleges, Get There Florida will accelerate students’ time to completion of an in-demand certification or postsecondary workforce credential. Get There Florida is an important tool to help achieve the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2030 goal that at least 60% of Floridians 25-64 years-old have a high-value postsecondary certificate, degree, or training experience.
     
    For more information on the Get There Florida Initiative, please visit GetThereFL.com or contact Matthew K. Choy at mchoy@flchamber.com.
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Florida Chamber 2020 Election Guide Available For You and Your Employees - Please Share With Your Employees Today
    Florida is shaping up to be the biggest battleground state for the November election. The Florida Chamber continues to unify the business community in Florida politics, and following a successful Primary Election for Florida’s business community, the Florida Chamber has released its 2020 General Election Voter Guide with endorsements for the State Senate, State House, and select Constitutional Amendments across Florida.
     
     
    Download Your Free Copy
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Safety Resources
     
     
    FREE Downloadable Returning to Work Safely During COVID-19 Playbook
     
     
     
    Returning to Work Safety During
    COVID-19 Webinar
     
    Return to Work Safely Webinar
     
     
     
    5-Step Action Plan for Handling Customers Who Refuse to Wear Masks
    (provided by Fisher Phillips)
    How to Clean Your Facility
    By Diego A. Sanchez, CSP, ASP, CHST, OHST
     
    As an initial precaution, remember that every time we are cleaning our facilities, it is essential to wear gloves. Surfaces can be cleaned using soap and water to remove dirt, and then we can disinfect the same surfaces to kill any germs. Creating a routine for cleaning and disinfecting can make it easier for the facility’s employees to know when and how to clean.
     
    During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is necessary to properly disinfect all surfaces that people may come in contact with; the use of household disinfectants included in the EPA’s N-list of disinfectants is fine as long as we are following all of the recommendations on the product’s label.
     
    If a household disinfectant is not available, a diluted bleach solution and water can be used to disinfect surfaces. Use 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) of bleach diluted in a gallon of water as a disinfectant. We must never mix bleach with ammonia, as this mixture can create hazardous fumes.
     
    Another option for disinfecting work or home surfaces is using an alcohol-based cleaner or solution with at least 70% alcohol. For your electronics, remember to wipe them down with alcohol-based wipes; this includes your cellphones, tablets, cash register, or any other mobile device used in your facility. Ensure these products are dry before using them again.
     
    Continue to educate your employees regarding COVID-19 and all of the precautions required to prevent the spread. Include cleaning and disinfecting your facility part of your training program.
     
     
     
     
     
     
    If your business is in need of safety training - including COVID-19 training - we're here to help. For more information on keeping your workers safe, visit flchambersafety.com or contact
    Diego Sanchez, Senior Safety Manager at dsanchez@flchamber.com
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Business Groups Back Ballot Measure to Undercut Future Constitutional Amendments
    The Florida Chamber of Commerce, along with some of Florida's other biggest business-lobbying groups are lining up behind a controversial measure on the November ballot that would make it harder to amend the Florida constitution. READ MORE>
     
    'Gap Map' Aims to Help Low Third Grade Reading Levels Tied to Poverty
    A new interactive tool called the "Florida Gap Map" aims to help third grade reading levels.
    READ MORE>
     
    GOP Chairman, Incoming House Speaker Fight Minimum Wage Hike
    Two state Republican leaders added their voices in opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment that would gradually boost the minimum wage to $15 an hour in Florida. Business groups, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, are fighting the proposed amendment. READ MORE>
     
    Questions remain on Florida toll road projects
    Task forces have been unable to determine if there is a need for three controversial toll-road projects they have been reviewing for more than a year. The Florida Chamber of Commerce, among others, supports the roads as they would prepare the state for future growth and aid in disaster evacuations.
    READ MORE>
     
     
     
     
     
     
    As we continue to reopen and relaunch Florida safe and smart, I am proud to work alongside all of you as we continue to come together to keep moving Florida forward. If there is anything you need from your dedicated Chamber Staff, or have questions at any time, I invite you to email me directly at mwilson@flchamber.com.
     
    My best,
     
    Mark Wilson
    President & CEO
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Florida Chamber of Commerce www.FloridaChamber.com/Coronavirus
     
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