• Florida Chamber Weekly COVID-19 Update: Aug. 27, 2020

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    August 27, 2020
     
     
    COVID-19 Weekly Update: August 27, 2020
     
     
    A Message from Chamber President & CEO Mark Wilson:
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Category 4 Hurricane Laura has made landfall on our neighbors in Louisiana and Texas and our thoughts and prayers are with them. I spoke to the President of the Louisiana Chamber late last evening and pledged our partnership once Stephen knows the needs. We’ve been reporting on the potential challenges of storm sheltering during the pandemic and we’re hoping leaders in Louisiana and Texas have struck the right balance. Well over 1,000 utility workers left Florida and are preparing to help restore power, and we’re praying for their safety as well.  
     
     
    It's Week 26 (day 178) since Florida's first confirmed case of COVID-19. For more than half of this calendar year Florida has been dealing with this virus. Governor Ron DeSantis joined the Florida Chamber earlier this week for our monthly Relaunch Florida Board of Governors membership Zoom meeting where he discussed the resiliency of Floridians and the success we have had protecting our most vulnerable. As a result of continuing to wear masks, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and frequently sanitizing our workplaces, we have seen the daily average number of new cases trend down significantly over the past several weeks. These guidelines, and a majority of our population adhering to these guidelines, is making the difference - and we need to keep up this momentum. With schools opening across Florida in recent weeks, we may see an uptick in new cases, but only time will tell. Governor DeSantis is confident school districts are getting the materials and training they need to keep Florida's children safe.
     
    In addition to the daily number of average cases decreasing, you can see in the chart below that the number of those currently hospitalized with COVID-19 is also significantly decreasing. As of yesterday, there are currently 4,405 individuals hospitalized due to complications from COVID. This is less than half of those hospitalized at its peak on July 21.
     
     
     
     
    Public health officials look to the positivity rate to determine if a society has curbed the spread of infection. They agree the percent positive should be below 10 percent to declare cases on the decline - and Florida is currently at a 9.33% positive rate of COVID-19 cases. As I stated, as more of our state begins to reopen, these numbers are not to be taken for granted. Remain vigilant and keep taking the proper precautions to keep your employees and customers safe. We are watching this daily and will keep you informed as Florida is still in “Phase 2” and we’re all trying to safely move into Phase 3, when ready.  
     
     
    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 also post the latest COVID numbers each day.
     
     
    Please find the latest cumulative COVID-19 numbers below:
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    7-Day COVID Numbers Since Aug. 20:
    • Florida Cases: 24,675
    • Avg. Daily New Cases: 3,525
    • Hospitalized: 2,204
    • Total People Tested:  186,736
    • Percent Positive: 9.33%
    • Florida Reported Deaths: 801
     
    It is important to know how your county is trending. Our COVID-19 County Level Tracker is free and available 24-7, and is based on the latest data available.
     
     
     
    FDA GIVES GO-AHEAD TO FAST $5 CORONAVIRUS TEST THAT DOESN'T REQUIRE LAB EQUIPMENT
     
    The Food and Drug Administration has authorized emergency use of a coronavirus test that costs $5 and can produce results in 15 minutes without the use of any lab equipment.
     
    Test-maker Abbott says it could soon manufacture 50 million of the rapid antigen tests per month, which could ease the country's testing bottleneck by greatly increasing overall capacity and the speed at which results arrive. The United States has tested about 22 million people in the last month. READ MORE>
     
     
     
    GOP SET TO PROPOSE SMALLER CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS BILL
     
    The GOP is mulling a roughly $500 billion proposal that addresses only areas of bipartisan support: expanded unemployment insurance, a new authorization of small business loans, and money for schools and Covid-19 testing, treatment and vaccines. The plan would not include another direct payment to Americans.
     
    It would set enhanced jobless benefits at roughly $300 to $400 per week. The figure would be less than the $600 per week approved in March, which Democrats want to reinstate after it expired at the end of July.
     
    While Republicans appear intent on putting more pressure on Democrats, the legislation is unlikely to become law. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., still does not plan to restart stalled pandemic aid talks with the White House until the GOP agrees to double the price tag of its existing, roughly $1 trillion proposal. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows echoed that pessimism Wednesday calling prospects of a negotiated bill reaching the President’s desk “unlikely” before the end of September when the federal fiscal year draws to a close. READ MORE>
     
     
     
    FAUCI WARNS AGAINST EMERGENCY COVID VACCINE APPROVAL BEFORE WIDESPREAD TESTING
     
    Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, is warning against prematurely distributing a potential coronavirus vaccine through an emergency use authorization, saying it could negatively harm the testing for other vaccines.
     
    More than 100 possible vaccines to fight off the coronavirus are being developed around the world. Drug manufactures including Moderna, AstraZeneca and Pfizer have all developed candidates that are now in phase 3 clinical trials. The Maryland-based firm Novavax announced last week it was beginning phase 2 tests after early trials showed positive signs.
    READ MORE>
     
     
     
    COVID IMPACT ON THE 150 ZIP CODES WHERE 50% OF FLORIDA'S CHILDREN IN POVERTY LIVE
     
    Our Florida Chamber Foundation's Prosperity Initiative is leading a statewide effort in Florida to create equality of opportunity and end generational poverty one zip code at a time. With the economic hardships caused by the virus, the number of children living in poverty is likely to only increase.Over the past several week's we have hosted a 5-Part webinar series on ending inequality of opportunity in Florida and closing the equity gaps. In case you missed it, or would like to share with your management teams, all parts of the webinar series are now available. We hope you will join us in making lasting, influential, and meaningful change for our neighborhoods, our state, our nation, and our shared beliefs. WATCH>
    Engage with us at these
    Upcoming Chamber Events
     
     
     
    SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:
     
    Exclusive Zoom Call w/ Senator Marco Rubio
     
    Tuesday, September 1
    11:00 a.m. - Noon EDT
     
    Join the Florida Chamber for a special Florida Chamber Business Leaders Zoom Call featuring an important federal update from Senator Marco Rubio. Senator Rubio will also answer your questions on all things COVID-19.
    Registration is free for Florida Chamber members and Florida Chamber Foundation Trustees. 
    Free Registration
     
     
     
     
    REGISTER:
     
    2020 Virtual Future of Florida Forum
     
    October 20-22
    1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
     
    This year has been unlike any other in our history and while COVID-19 may have slightly diverted the course, our mission remains focused on securing Florida’s future. It is more important than ever. Join the Florida Chamber Foundation for
    9 hours of content over the span of three days which includes insight from some of the leading voices in Florida and the nation.
     
    Details and Registration
     
    *** 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 Updates
     
     
    FLORIDA CHAMBER CONTINUES TO URGE A "NO" VOTE ON MANDATED $15 MINIMUM WAGE -- A "YES" VOTE ON FLAWED AMENDMENT 2 IN NOVEMBER COULD BE DEVASTATING ONE-TWO PUNCH FOR FLORIDA'S LOCAL BUSINESSES
     
     
    Still reeling from the devastating effects of COVID-19, many small businesses are doing what they can to keep their doors open and employees paid. Now, some of the same personal injury trial lawyers who sue local businesses have worked to get Amendment 2 on the ballot in November. This extremely flawed amendment which would raise Florida's minimum wage to $15 an hour would clearly slow progress Florida's economy has made since reopening in phases during COVID-19. In the coming weeks, we will be providing Chamber members with post-COVID data that supports the vital need to vote "No" on this amendment. Voting "Yes" on this Amendment would slow Florida's economy which we are in the process of rebuilding. Aside from negatively impacting those on fixed incomes by driving up inflation, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would ultimately do away with hundreds of thousands of entry-level training jobs while pushing certain jobs to neighboring states or - in the case of McDonald's - to automation. Please sign our petition supporting free enterprise without job killing mandates such as Amendment 2.
     
     
    Sign the Petition
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    FLORIDA RECOVERY UPDATES
     
     
    • Governor Ron DeSantis announced this week that the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), the state’s administrator of unemployment compensation, will be applying for the federal Lost Wages Assistance Program. If Florida’s application is approved, this will provide an additional $300 to unemployment compensation recipients that receive at least $100 in state benefits. DEO is preparing to implement the program as quickly as possible. For more information, visit here.
     
    • On Monday 2nd Circuit Judge Charles Dodson issued a temporary injunction as he sided with the Florida Education Association and the Orange County Teachers Union in their challenge to an emergency reopening order issued by Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. The following day, attorneys for Commissioner Corcoran and Governor DeSantis filed a notice appealing Dodson’s ruling to the 1st District Court of Appeal. The appeal automatically triggered a stay of Judge Dodson’s ruling which the teachers unions immediately asked the Leon County circuit judge to lift. Judge Dodson’s ruling can be found HERE
     
    • The state revenue picture in Florida was a little rosier this month when the Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) released its monthly revenue report for July 2020. For the first time since the pandemic began in March, revenue collections were slightly above estimate with a gain of $2.5 million. This was despite a sales tax revenue loss of $165.2 million below estimates, due to a drop in receipts in the Tourism sales tax category of 37.1 percent. Corporate Income Tax collections were up $134.7 million, in part due to state orders delaying payment. These collections were compared to estimates that were made in January 2020. Next month’s revenue report will be based on updated estimates that were made August 14th, when EDR projected $3.4 billion less in revenue this current fiscal year compared to its previous estimate. 
     
     
     
     
     
     
    HELP SHAPE FLORIDA'S BUSINESS AGENDA FOR THE COMING LEGISLATIVE SESSION
    Take Brief Survey
     
     
     
    Our full-time business advocacy team is already immersed and focused on building the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s 2021 legislative and competitiveness agenda. Our team is seeking your important input in a time when a united business community around one agenda to "Relaunch and Recover" Florida’s economy is more important than ever. 
     
    Each year, the Florida Chamber presents the Legislature and Executive Branch with a policy roadmap for how to grow Florida’s economy. Florida’s Business Agenda is a member-driven, pro-jobs agenda based on sound policy and built by thousands of chamber members, research from our research foundation, local chambers, and partnering associations. Please complete our short survey and help us set Florida’s 2021 Business Agenda today.
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Safety Resources
     
     
    FREE Downloadable Returning to Work Safety 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)
    Are you stressed during COVID-19?
     
    Well, you may not be the only one. During the time of COVID-19 and these unprecedented times, it’s easy to be stressed; the uncertainty, the isolation, the loneliness can be harmful to many people. There are combinations of issues that can help build anxiety and fear among the public.
     
    These feelings can be overwhelming and can weigh you down; one of the most important things you can do is recognize and be prepared to face the reality of the times we live in. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are a few indications of stress and may display as the following:
     
    • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, your financial situation or job, or loss of support services you rely on.
    • Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
    • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
    • Worsening of chronic health problems.
    • Worsening of mental health conditions.
    • Increased use of tobacco and/or alcohol and other substances.
     
    Understand that we are unique in every aspect, and mental health and stress may be displayed differently by all of us, everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. READ MORE>
     
     
     
     
     
     
    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
     
     
     
     
     
    Free Enterprise in Action During COVID-19
     
     
     
     
     
    Qurate Retail Group Features Black-Owned Companies in New Phase of Small Business Spotlight
     
    Qurate Retail Group is using its production resources, television broadcasts, and digital platforms to help 40 Black-owned businesses gain more visibility through our Small Business Spotlight, a collaboration with the National Retail Federation (NRF) Foundation to help small businesses navigate today’s challenging retail environment.This new phase of Small Business Spotlight is part of Qurate Retail Group’s commitment to continuing to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within their company and in society at large. None of these businesses are current Qurate Retail Group vendors. READ MORE>
     
     
     
     
     
     
    USAA Commits $30 Million to Assist Servicemembers, Veterans and Their Families Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic
     
    USAA announced its commitment of an additional $30 million to benefit 24 organizations assisting military families during these challenging economic times. The donation is part of USAA’s long standing mission to support military and veterans’ families, and in recognition of the specific impact the COVID-19 health crisis has had on the military community.The $30 million commitment marks the largest one-time philanthropic contribution in USAA’s nearly 100-year history and awards $20 million to U.S. military aid societies and organizations. READ MORE>
     
     
     
     
     
     
    U.S. Sugar Donates 3,500 Backpacks to Elementary Students in Glades, Hendry and Martin Counties
     
    In preparation for the upcoming school year ahead and to assist families impacted by COVID-19,the people of U.S. Sugar this week donated 3,500 supply-filled backpacks to students in Hendry, Glades and Martin County. This follows the contribution of more than 5,000 filled backpacks supplied to the elementary schools in Western Palm Beach County. READ MORE>
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Walmart Expands Education Program for Associates
     
    Over the last few months, Walmart has committed to invest almost $1 billion in U.S. associate bonuses and today announced the expansion of Live Better U (LBU) education benefits to include in-demand skilled trade and digital skills programs, beyond their traditional college programs. LBU is designed to support working adult learners and meets associates where they are on their educational journey by focusing on degree completion through a number of supportive elements, free student coaching, college credit for Walmart training and career pathways for LBU graduates. READ MORE>
     
     
     
     
     
     
    If your company has a “best practice” that you believe fellow Florida Chamber members can replicate, please email your story to Daniel Daglis at ddaglis@flchamber.com
     
     
     
     
     
     
    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.
     
    Don't forget to join us for our important call on Tuesday, September 1 with Senator Marco Rubio where he will be answering your questions about COVID-19 and the latest in D.C. I look forward to your participation.
     
     
    My best,
     
    Mark Wilson
    President & CEO
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Florida Chamber of Commerce www.FloridaChamber.com/Coronavirus
     
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