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  • Florida Chamber Weekly COVID-19 Update: Oct. 8, 2020

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    October 08, 2020
    COVID-19 Weekly Update: October 8, 2020
    If You Haven't Registered for the 2020 Virtual Future of Florida Forum and Florida Chamber Annual Meeting -- Click Here
    A Message from Chamber President & CEO Mark Wilson:
    It's Week 32 (day 220) and since the last issue of our COVID newsletter President Trump and the First Lady contracted COVID-19. Fortunately, it looks like they experienced mild symptoms and are on the road to recovery. This is a reminder to all of us that this virus is out there and no one is immune from contracting it. This is why the Florida Chamber continues to encourage Florida's business leaders to keep wearing masks, be sure you are physically distancing and avoiding large crowds. The President made a statement earlier this week that we should not allow the virus to control our lives. While there was criticism toward this sentiment, I believe that it is important to realize that until there is a readily available vaccine, we are not going to be entirely free from the uncertainties of COVID-19. That being said, the dedication a majority of Florida's business leaders have shown to reopening safe and smart so that we can keep Florida moving forward is commendable. It is also what can be attributed to the flattening of the curve that has remained despite the reopening of schools and Florida moving into Phase 3 of reopening.
    The upcoming election that could alter the trajectory of Florida's economy is less than a month away. The landscape of many industries due to the effects of the pandemic have changed. The way we do business, go to work and interact with one another has been altered. The time is now to unite Florida business for good, and if you haven't registered for our 2020 Virtual Future of Florida Forum and Florida Chamber Annual Meeting please consider joining us for what is going to be one of the biggest and most important forums we have ever had. We have a lineup of more than 40 speakers including elected officials, national figures, and leaders of business and industry. This includes an update from Governor DeSantis, a national economic outlook from President Trump's Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow, and presentations from leaders of some of Florida's biggest industries and initiatives. All content is relevant and timely as we chart our course to relaunch and reimagine Florida.
    The time to plan for Florida's future is now, and I ask that you and your management teams make plans to join us. Social injustice, racial inequality, fixing Florida’s broken lawsuit abuse problem, enacting COVID-19 liability protections, COVID testing and vaccine futures, infrastructure, the state budget options, the future of ports and al things autonomous…these are just a few of the important “future of Florida” discussions we’ll be having at the 2020 Forum. Registration closes soon so please register you and your team today.
    Register Here
    Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish and our research team 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 post the latest COVID numbers each day. As cases vary regionally, we also offer a breakdown of data by county so you can know how COVID-19 is trending in your community. Stay vigilant and informed to continue protecting our most vulnerable, our families, customers, and employees.
    Please find the latest cumulative COVID-19 numbers below:
    7-Day COVID Numbers (Oct. 1 - 7):
    • Florida Cases: 16,191
    • 7-Day Avg. Daily New Cases: 2,313
    • Hospitalized: 1,151
    • Total People Tested: 158,583
    • Florida Reported Deaths: 587
    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released tougher new guidelines Tuesday outlining what’s required for the emergency authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine. The stricter guidance makes it unlikely that a vaccine could be approved — even for emergency use — before Election Day on Nov. 3, something President Trump has been pushing for. One guideline asks vaccine makers to hold filing for authorization until they have enough doses to distribute. READ MORE>
    The Florida Chamber isn’t just fighting for COVID-19 liability protections during these unprecedented times, but is also working on other opportunities to move Florida’s bottom 5 legal climate into the top 12 in the country. Today, the Chamber team is closely monitoring oral arguments in Wilsonart v. Lopez, a trucking accident case that has important implications for Florida’s summary judgment standard. The Florida Chamber Litigation and Regulatory Reform Center submitted an amicus brief alongside our partners at the U.S. Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform in this case, urging the Florida Supreme Court to adopt the federal summary judgment standard. This could help move cases more quickly through the judicial process, saving not only time but money spent in defense costs that job creators in many other states don't have to waste. The U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform estimates that Florida’s legal climate costs the average family an extra $4,442 a year in increased costs.
    Speaking from a medical facility in The Villages, Governor DeSantis announced Tuesday 60,000 testing kits that can diagnose COVID-19 within 15 minutes or less are being sent to school districts throughout the state of Florida this week. Governor DeSantis said Florida is currently receiving its initial shipment of rapid COVID-19 antigen testing kits from the federal government, and is in the process of distributing them across the state.
    The BiNax NOW test from Abbott Laboratories uses a nasal swab to determine within 15 minutes if someone is infected with COVID-19. READ MORE>
    COVID-19 forced millions who were still able to work to work from home. Many businesses in the U.S. - especially the big tech companies - have opted to switch to a remote workforce permanently. Just this week, the German government announced it is set to push forward with a controversial proposal that would give people the legal right to work from home where possible.
    As in many other places, the coronavirus pandemic has seen a massive shift to home working in Germany. Around 18% of employees were already regularly working from home, but, when the crisis hit, that proportion more than doubled, according to a study by health insurance company DAK that found most workers saw the shift as boosting productivity and improving their work-life balance.
    Labor minister Hubertus Heil told the Financial Times that a right to work from home was needed to "turn technological progress into social progress," and a draft law would be proposed in the next few weeks. READ MORE>
    The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) has named the Ocala Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership as the winner of the 2020 Chamber of the Year. This is the only globally recognized industry award that honors top chambers. ACCE was established in 1914 to support and develop chamber professionals to lead businesses and their communities. This is a true testament to the work being done in their community, and in Florida, to secure Florida's future. Chambers of Commerce across the country continue to fight for businesses during the COVID pandemic and it is a great accomplishment for a chamber in Florida to be recognized by the ACCE. #Chamberstrong
    Engage with us at these
    Upcoming Chamber Events
    UP NEXT:
    Amendment 2:
    3-Part Webinar Series
    Part 2: Cost of Living for Seniors and Families
    October 14
    10:00 a.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 Mel Ponder and Erika Donalds, former Collier County School Board Member for Part 2 discussing why Amendment 2 is bad for Florida, and even worse for seniors and working families on a fixed income. Learn 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
    2020 Virtual Future of Florida Forum
    October 20-22
    1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
    View Our List of More than 40 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 ***
    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.
    Register Today
    Become a Sponsor
    contact Faye Brainard at
    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.
    Just this week, even the Tampa Bay Times published an analysis on the amendment and concluded, “Despite its appeal, Amendment 2 is too much, too soon. The risk of unintended consequences outweighs the upside, enough to tip the balance. On Amendment 2, the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board recommends voting No.”
    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. If you joined us for Part 1 you are already registered for Parts 2 and 3. If you missed it, you can catch up on Part 1: Jobs, Economy and Education and register for Parts 2 and 3 below.
    Amendment 2 Webinar Part1 10-5-20
    October 14: 10:00-11:00 a.m.
    Part 2: Cost of Living for Seniors and Families
    w/ special guests Representative Mel Ponder and Erika Donalds, former Collier County School Board Member
    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.
    Legislative News and Recovery Updates
    President Puts Brakes on COVID Relief Package Negotiations
    Following his departure from Walter Reed National Medical Center on Monday evening where he was hospitalized over the weekend after testing positive for COVID-19, President Trump appeared to call off stimulus talks Tuesday afternoon, tweeting that he had instructed his representatives to stop negotiating until after the election. The directive appeared to end ongoing discussions between Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin on a COVID-19 relief package prior to the election. 
    Later that night, the President again began tweeting, calling for stand-alone relief bills for the airline industry, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and another round of $1,200 direct economic income assistance payments. The President indicated he would like to see $25 billion in support to the airlines and $135 billion for PPP, all of which would be paid for with unused funds from the CARES Act. Democrats have previously been opposed to passing piecemeal legislation, pushing instead for a more comprehensive agreement. 
    The calls from the President to halt negotiations came hours after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned of dire economic consequences if Congress and the White House fail to provide additional support to American families and businesses impacted by the pandemic. The President's decision was impacted in part by information he received on a call Tuesday afternoon with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sec. Mnuchin, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). During the call, Leader McConnell indicated any deal reached by Speaker Pelosi and Sec. Mnuchin would have a difficult time passing the Senate. House Democrats passed their original $2.2 trillion relief package, known as Heroes 2.0, late last week, despite defections from members of their own conference and signals that the proposal would be dead on arrival in the Senate. The status of future negotiations resuming remains uncertain, but legislation reaching the President’s desk ahead of the election appears increasingly unlikely.
    COVID Complicates Congressional Calendars
    The House and the Senate are both out of session this week. The Senate was originally scheduled to meet this week, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the decision over the weekend to move into pro forma session following the news that at least three Republican Senators have tested positive for COVID-19. All previously scheduled floor activity will be postponed until after October 19. Committee hearings will continue as planned, and the Senate will move forward with previous plans to begin confirmation hearings in the Judiciary Committee on October 12 for Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court. The House is also out of session this week but will conduct committee hearings. 
    FL Chamber Hosts Roundtable with U.S. EXIM Bank Chair Kimberly Reed
    Chairman and President Kimberly A. Reed of the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of the United States visited Tallahassee this week, where she held a roundtable with business leaders hosted by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Bankers Association, gave a keynote address at the Economic Club of Florida, and announced a new initiative with Florida Chamber President and Council of State Chambers (COSC) Chair Mark Wilson between the EXIM Bank and the national association for state chambers. Here in Florida, we are helping to grow Florida to a top 5 state for manufacturing jobs as well as significantly increasing our Florida exports, and the EXIM Bank is one of American’s most important tools to compete globally. 115 nations have an export financing mechanism and ours is focused on all the right things, and Florida can leverage this if we focus on the opportunity to grow manufacturing jobs. At the roundtable, Chairman Reed discussed the role that the EXIM Bank can play in increasing international trade and manufacturing jobs, which is in alignment with the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2030 goal to rank Florida’s economic diversification in the top-12 nationally. For her speech at the Economic Club of Florida, she was introduced by Florida Chamber Policy Director Christopher Emmanuel, spoke to research conducted by Florida Chamber Chief Economist Jerry Parrish, and welcomed Mark Wilson to the podium to make the joint announcement. Florida Chamber members can expect more information on how the EXIM Bank can continue helping Florida become the tenth largest economy by 2030 through expanding trade.
    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
    Free Enterprise In Action During COVID-19
    The cost in terms of both employee wellness and productivity for deferred healthcare due to the COVID-19 pandemic can be severe. As leaders of the business community, we must all do our part to encourage our employees, friends and family to remain vigilant about their own ongoing health needs .  In an effort to encourage patients to prioritize their health, Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies has launched ‘My Health Can’t Wait,’ a U.S. campaign and global resource hub that provides patients with key resources and information to communicate with their healthcare providers about prioritizing needed care. The concern created by a recent Harris Poll showing more than two-thirds of Americans surveyed have delayed healthcare due to the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the fact that many states in the U.S. paused elective surgeries, has served as the inspiration for Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies to launch this campaign and create an online hub at www.MyHealthCantWait.com to help patients feel more comfortable pursuing healthcare needs. To read more and share this important resource with your network, click here.
    Navy Federal Credit Union, Pensacola’s largest private
    sector employer, on Wednesday announced a $100,000 donation to support United Way of West Florida’s Hurricane Sally Relief Fund.
    “Escambia and Santa Rosa counties are home for 95 percent of our Greater Pensacola Operations team,” said Keith Hoskins, senior vice president for Navy Federal Credit Union. “The damage caused by Hurricane Sally has made an impact on them as well as our entire community. We have already seen our employees step up to help each other and clean up debris for our friends and neighbors. It’s an honor to continue to provide help in the efforts to rebuild and recover together.”
    Donations made to United Way of West Florida’s Hurricane Sally Relief Fund will be used to
    provide assistance to those impacted by the storm, particularly those community members who
    do not have insurance or who are underinsured. READ MORE>
    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)
    Reporting work-related COVID-19 cases to OSHA
    By Diego A. Sanchez, CSP, ASP, CHST, OHST
    As if OSHA’s injury and illness reporting wasn't complicated enough, we now have to add another variable to our reporting. As most of you already know, work-related COVID-19 infections are reportable illnesses. The difficult aspect of COVID-19 reporting is determining whether the infection is work-related or not, but it is still the employer's responsibility to assess and determine whether the employee was infected at work, or if the infections are in any way work-related.
    Employers are required to report COVID-19 infections if they meet the following OSHA criteria.
    • The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC);
    • The case is work-related as defined by 29 CFR § 1904.5; and
    • The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria outlined in 29 CFR § 1904.7.
    Because of the difficulty with determining work-relatedness, OSHA exercises enforcement discretion to assess employers' efforts in making work-related determinations. OSHA has implemented interim guidelines for its Compliance Safety & Health Officers [CHSOs] to decide whether the employers have complied with all the obligations, and made a reasonable effort to define the worker's work-relatedness infection.
    OSHA does not expect small employers to undertake extensive medical inquiries regarding the worker's infection's relatedness. Still, it is expected that employers will investigate the level of workers' exposure without infringing on the worker's privacy concerns.
    Employers are required to make a determination based on the information and evidence available to them and conduct their inquires in good faith. In all events, it is essential as a matter of worker health and safety and public health, for an employer to examine COVID-19 cases among their workers and respond appropriately to protect workers, regardless of whether a case is ultimately determined to be work-related.
    All workers' health and safety should be paramount to all employers regardless of the organization's size. Although OSHA has implemented leaner enforcement requirements for their Inspectors regarding COVID-19 work-related infections, it is important to remember that employers must demonstrate a reasonable effort in determining if the infection was, in fact, work-related.
    If you have any questions regarding OSHA recordkeeping, whether it is COVID-19 related or not, we are here to help. Please contact the Florida Chamber Safety Council with your questions or to schedule any safety-related training, including OSHA's recordkeeping standards.  
    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
    Florida Chamber of Commerce, State Rep. Warn Voters About Minimum Wage Raise Proposal
    The Florida Chamber of Commerce is joining the chorus of business-backed groups opposing a $15 per hour minimum wage amendment. Chamber CEO Mark Wilson is telling businesses to talk to their customers and friends. Wilson believes the minimum wage hike would give businesses more reason to turn to automation, it would make it harder for teen workers to get jobs, and that some businesses will leave Florida to avoid having to pay workers more than minimum wage in nearby states.
    Chamber Poll Shows Joe Biden Ahead in Florida by 5 Points, Just Outside the Margin of Error
    Joe Biden holds a small lead among likely Florida voters, according to the latest poll from the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Florida remains a highly watched battleground, and that's no surprise, as the Chamber survey found Floridians evenly divided on the direction of their own state. READ MORE>
    The Florida Chamber Safety Council Adds Ryder to its Advisory Board: Sandy Hodes Joins the Florida Chamber Safety Council
    The Florida Chamber Safety Council announced Sandy Hodes will join its advisory board. Sandy Hodes is the senior vice president and deputy general counsel at Ryder System, Inc. He joins a council dedicated to helping small businesses foster safe and healthy workplaces. 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
    Florida Chamber of Commerce | 136 S. Bronough Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301
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