• Florida Chamber Weekly COVID-19 Update: Sept. 24, 2020

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    September 24, 2020
    Facts Not Fear
     
     
    COVID-19 Weekly Update: September 24, 2020
     
     
    Register for Future of Florida Forum
     
     
     
    A Message from Chamber President & CEO Mark Wilson:
     
     
     
     
     
     
    It's Week 30 (day 206) since Florida's first confirmed cases of COVID-19. Earlier this week on our monthly Florida Chamber Business Leaders Zoom call, which you can watch here if you missed it, we discussed the significant progress that has been made with flattening the curve of COVID-19 and getting Florida's economy and businesses reopen safe and smart. Thanks in large part to the cooperation of business leaders across the state with encouraging the wearing of masks, physical distancing and the minimizing of crowds in their establishments, Florida has protected our most vulnerable. In fact, I want to highlight Miami-Dade and Broward counties - so-called "hotspots" at the start of the pandemic - have now entered "Phase 2" of reopening and are seeing a significant decrease in the weekly percentage of positive cases with Broward currently at 3.35% and Miami-Dade at 4.49%.
     
    Some counties like Leon and Hillsborough have seen an uptick in cases in recent weeks which highlights the importance of knowing how your county is trending so you can exercise the proper precautions. Our COVID-19 County Level Tracker is free and available 24-7, and is based on the latest data available.
     
    Getting the virus under control is important, but how we proceed as a state from here is even more vital. With the November election just around the corner, Florida is shaping up to be the biggest battleground state for the election. As our Chief Economist Dr. Parrish pointed out in our meeting earlier this week, although the unemployment percentage is decreasing, we still have 750,000 Floridians looking for jobs right now. Progress has been made, but there is still a long way to go. Please be sure you have downloaded and shared our free 2020 Election Guide with your employees, families, and friends so that they can make informed decisions when casting their vote and making sure impractical gimmicks like the inclusion of Amendment 2 (a $15 minimum wage mandate in the Florida constitution) does not do further harm to a Florida economy that is working to repair itself. If you have any questions about the November election, please reach out to me or any member of our dedicated staff for assistance.
     
     
    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. 17 - 23):
    • Florida Cases: 19,298
    • 7-Day Avg. Daily New Cases: 2,756.9
    • Hospitalized: 1,090
    • Total People Tested: 172,032
    • Florida Reported Deaths: 679
     
     
     
    DESANTIS ISSUES $225M IN FEDERAL COVID-19 RELIEF TO 55 FLORIDA COUNTIES
     
    Florida will disperse $255 million in a second round of federal Coronavirus Relief Fund allocations across 55 of the state’s 67 counties, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office announced. Congress approved $150 billion for state and local governments when it adopted the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
     
    Florida received about $8.33 billion from the CARES Act for government assistance. Under the bill, 55 percent was reserved for the state and 45 percent reserved for direct payments to municipalities. Of the $3.75 billion earmarked for counties and cities, more than $2.47 billion was distributed in direct payments from the U.S. Treasury to the 12 urban Florida counties with populations greater than 500,000 people. READ MORE>
     
     
     
    THERE'S A JOB-KILLING AMENDMENT ON THE NOVEMBER BALLOT -- STAND WITH THE FLORIDA CHAMBER AGAINST IT
     
    COVID-19 has ravaged Florida's business community causing tens of thousands of small businesses to close their doors permanently and causing hundreds of thousands of Floridians to lose their jobs. Now, in the same year businesses are reeling from a pandemic, personal injury trial lawyers have paid millions to put Amendment 2 on the November ballot.
     
    The passing of Amendment 2 would be America's first state-level constitutionally mandated $15 per hour (and ever increasing each year after that) minimum wage unless local businesses act right now to inform employees, family, and vendors of this incredibly harmful amendment. Please help us raise awareness to the negative impacts of Amendment 2 by sharing our tool kit - complete with a fact sheet, social media posts and images - with your employees, members and partners, and by visiting our website to sign our petition supporting free enterprise without job killing mandates 
     
    Now is not the time to put a $15 mandate in Florida's constitution.
     
    #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.
     
    Join the Fight Against Amendment 2
     
    The Florida Chamber is hosting a FREE informative webinar series on the damaging affects of a $15/hr wage mandate if Amendment 2 were to pass. Be sure to join us for this series starting October 5.
     
     
     
    CDC DIRECTOR WARNS MORE THAN 90 PERCENT OF AMERICANS ARE STILL SUSCEPTIBLE TO CORONAVIRUS
     
    The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed Wednesday that more than 90 percent of the American population remains susceptible to COVID-19, despite the fact that the U.S. has had the most reported cases of any country in the world.
     
    Dr. Robert Redfield joined other top health officials in testifying in front of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to discuss federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. The hearing took place Wednesday, just one day after the U.S. surpassed 200,000 virus-related fatalities, according to data published by Johns Hopkins University.
    READ MORE>
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    UP NEXT:
     
    Amendment 2
    Webinar Series
     
    Part 1 - October 5
    2:00 p.m. EDT
     
    Join Florida Chamber CEO Mark Wilson, Florida Chamber Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish, and VP of Political Operations Nick Catroppo 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.
     
    9 Hours of speakers, breakout sessions and virtual networking!
     
    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
     
     
    Unemployment Compensation Benefits
     
    The Department of Economic Opportunity made several announcements this week regarding unemployment compensation benefits this week. First, unemployed Floridians that have exhausted state benefits and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) can apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). These Floridians would receive up to 39 weeks of benefits total, or an additional 14 weeks of unemployment after state and PEUC benefits are exhausted. Additionally, Extended Benefits, a federal program implemented by the state, has been triggered “on”, adding an additional 6 weeks of benefits after PUA has been exhausted. Lastly, DEO announced that additional weeks of unemployment compensation, will be determined according to state statute based off the unemployment compensation rate of the third quarter of this year. The July, August and September unemployment rates will be averaged to determine the number of weeks of unemployment beginning in January 2021 for the year.
     
    Governor DeSantis Backs Liability Protections Amid Pandemic
    
    In remarks after Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Governor Ron DeSantis said he supports COVID-19 related liability protections and said he hopes the legislature takes up legislation when they return to Tallahassee for organizational session in November. Afterward, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis also voiced his support for liability protections. In order for the legislature to take up the issue in November, a special session will need to be called, either by the Governor, or jointly by the House Speaker and Senate President. The Florida Chamber and its Litigation and Regulatory Reform Center have been actively engaged in fighting for liability protections since the onset of the pandemic, both at the state and federal level. For more information on the Florida Chamber’s efforts, visit here.       
     
     
     
     
     
     
    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.
     
    In light of COVID-19, the Florida Chamber has gone to great lengths virtually interviewing candidates to ensure they will advance commonsense, pro-business efforts to further economic opportunity for everyone. With hundreds of millions of dollars being spent to influence your vote in Florida, you deserve a nonpartisan look at moving Florida forward.
     
    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)
    Wearing a Mask
    By Diego A. Sanchez, CSP, ASP, CHST, OHST
     
    As part of the daily preventive actions against COVID-19, the mask is an additional step to reduce the spread of the virus. We should wear a mask when we are in public and when unable to maintain 6 feet apart from other people as part of the common preventive protocol.
     
    To wear your mask correctly, ensure that you wash your hands before putting the mask on; verify that the mask covers your nose and mouth and that the mask is fitting snugly against your face. Avoid masks that are too tight around your face, as this can make it difficult for you to breathe.
     
    Please do not put your mask around your neck or wear it below your nose; this will render the mask ineffective against the spread of COVID-19. Do not touch your mask; if you have to touch your mask, remember to wash your hands afterward or use hand sanitizer.
     
    When removing your mask at home, handle the mask solely by the strings or the ear loops, fold the mask from the four corners and place it in the washing machine if your mask is washable; if your mask is disposable, then dispose of it properly. It is crucial to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing your mask.
     
    Remember that cloth masks and non-surgical masks are very effective against the spread of COVID-19; these masks act as barriers and help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling through the air and onto other people. As a means of source control, wearing a mask not only protects you, but it also protects others around you. It is also essential to keep in mind that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend using a mask with exhalation valves or vents for means of source control.
     
     
     
     
     
     
    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
     
     
     
     
     
    AT&T Donates $100,000 to fund to support communities impacted by Sally
     
    Florida Chamber member AT&T will present a $100,000 contribution to the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund (GERF) in Alabama to aid communities impacted by Hurricane Sally. GERF was created after Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina and continues today to support unmet needs for individuals and families recovering from severe weather and natural disasters in Alabama. This contribution will enable GERF to enhance its support in responding to the catastrophic destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Sally. AT&T has also activated its Text to Give feature for customers who can text HURRICANES to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross to help those affected by Hurricane Sally in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. 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
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Time – and money – at stake in Florida-led proposal to extend daylight saving 
    Daylight saving time could be extended for one year if a fast tracked federal bill is adopted by Nov. 1. READ MORE>
     
    Florida's Unemployment Rate Falls to 7.4 Percent
    Florida's unemployment rate dropped a whooping four points in August, bringing it to 7.4 percent. The significant drop represents a sign that Florida's economy is starting to pick up steam. The two-page bill will extend daylight saving time through Nov. 7, 2021, eliminating the requirement to push clocks back an hour in fall and forward an hour in spring for one year.
    READ MORE>
     
    Florida Chamber focuses on presidential race, state Senate contests during business leader call
    The Florida Chamber of Commerce outlined the state of play in the 2020 elections along with a rundown of the state's current economic and COVID-19 benchmarks during a call Monday.
    READ MORE>
     
    A Prime-time read of what's going down in Florida politics
    Republican Rep. Tommy Gregory is going all in to defeat Amendment 2, which would raise the state minimum wage to $15 by 2026. Gregory’s stance mirrors that of Florida’s major business interests, which have come out strong against the ballot proposal in recent weeks. Florida Chamber of Commerce President Mark Wilson has said the amendment is “bad for Florida and worse for Floridians” and last week the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association released a tool calculating the amendment’s impact on businesses’ payroll costs.
    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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