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Fri-Apr-2020 With theme parks sitting empty, Disney will furlough employees ‘whose jobs aren’t necessary’

Without a clear end to the coronavirus pandemic in sight, Disney has announced that it will furlough employees. …

Fri-Apr-2020 DeSantis says he knows Florida's unemployment assistance website sucks

Paper applications for jobless benefits will soon be accepted as Florida’s rapidly growing ranks of out-of-work people have overwhelmed the online unemployment-compensation system.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday expanded the way people can file applications for benefits while directing agency heads from throughout state government to find employees – many now working from home because of the novel coronavirus – to “beef up” unemployment assistance call centers.

He also directed Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Ken Lawson to purchase software to add capacity to the online system.

“We’re in a situation where this system is not handling the needs of the people of Florida in an adequate way,” DeSantis told reporters at the Capitol. “So, we need to do more to be able to get relief to the people of Florida.”

DeSantis also issued an executive order to provide temporary relief from certain mortgage foreclosures and evictions for 45 days.

“I’m not sure that you’re going to rent out a lot of new places right now anyways, but nevertheless you just never know how people are going to act,” DeSantis said.

The Department of Economic Opportunity has received more than 348,000 unemployment applications in the past two weeks, with an additional 2.1 million telephone calls for assistance in navigating the online system and the requirements to qualify for benefits.

In all of 2019, the Department of Economic Opportunity received just over 307,000 applications for benefits.…

Fri-Apr-2020 Florida's long-term care providers prepare for COVID-19

Florida health officials said Thursday that preventing “community spread” of the novel coronavirus through the state’s long-term care industry has become a top concern.

To that end, long-term care providers were told to quickly report to county health departments any positive or suspected cases of COVID-19, the deadly respiratory disease caused by the virus. They also were advised that the Florida Department of Health will authorize tests for the transfer of hospitalized residents back to nursing facilities.

“If a resident goes into a hospital and they test positive, it is very important that you report this to your local health department so that they can work with the staff and work with your facility to ensure all the necessary precautions are in place,” Department of Health Deputy Secretary Shamarial Roberson said on a Thursday afternoon conference call with long-term care providers.

“In addition to that, even if residents are presenting with symptoms and you are getting them tested or facilitating care, we still would like you to communicate that to county health departments, so we can better help serve you,” she said.…

Thu-Apr-2020 Ron DeSantis is blocking local Florida officials from issuing stricter stay-at-home guidance than his own

Last night, while sitting behind his desk in front of millions of online viewers and people tuning in to the Florida Channel, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order issuing a statewide stay-at-home order, a fourth-quarter Hail Mary to help establish blanket rules across all 67 counties as new coronavirus cases spike.  …

Thu-Apr-2020 A mobile refrigerated morgue trailer will be stationed at every VA hospital in Florida, including Orlando's

As confirmed cases of novel coronavirus rapidly mount in Florida, the state’s medical centers operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are reportedly now in the process of purchasing “refrigerated mobile morgue trailers.” According to documents obtained by Quartz, the trailers will be stationed at all seven of Florida’s VA medical centers, with an eighth being sent to Puerto Rico, to help provide more space, which suggests the hospitals are expecting a large influx of dead bodies related to COVID-19.  …

Wed-Apr-2020 Business owners can now add themselves to Orlando Weekly's searchable list of restaurants offering takeout and delivery

Great news for local business owners and my tired fingers: We've updated our Good To-Go Orlando system to add a way for restaurants and other local businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic to submit their information. 

I told you last week about the update to our restaurant database that allowed us to note restaurants offering takeout, curbside pickup, online ordering and alcohol delivery – but, some may have noticed, I've had a hard time keeping up with the influx of data entry, for reasons.

Now, our angelic developer has created a self-submit feature. Click on the orange bar that says "Add Your Restaurant to Good To-Go Orlando" to access your location and enter updated information – maybe you just added a new delivery service, or you've decided to cease alcohol delivery – or, if you aren't already there, to add your local business information.

(Note: When you go in, the only box pre-clicked will be "Good To-Go" — just because you don't see any others checked in the self-submit form doesn't mean they aren't marked in our system; this is more like a blank form for those options.) Your information will go into a pending queue for me to approve – gotta screen out the bots and make sure y'all aren't submitting duplicates.…

Wed-Apr-2020 Florida rapper Plies thinks Publix employees should 'get paid like they risking their fucking life'

Employees at Publix, one of the Southeast’s most popular grocery chains, have tested positive for the coronavirus, and one Florida man is loudly saying what so many of us think about that.

That man is Algernod Lanier Washington.

The 43-year-old Florida rapper better known as Plies went on Twitter yesterday to post a minute-long video wondering why the hell Publix employees — plus other non-healthcare frontline workers like bank tellers, flight attendants and even “fucking doctors” — don’t get paid like they’re risking their lives.

I personally listened to the minute-long video three full times while transcribing it, and there’s no way around Plies’ argument. He absolutely gets it.

“I woke up this morning, and I thought about it... this shit about, ‘We the richest country in the world,’ I get all of that,” Plies said before diving into some math.…

Wed-Apr-2020 Florida's statewide stay-at-home order still allows gathering in places of worship during coronavirus outbreak

Earlier this week, a Tampa pastor was arrested after defying state and county emergency restrictions regarding the coronavirus pandemic, but now an executive order issued today from Gov. Ron DeSantis says attending church services in person is perfectly fine.

After weeks of criticism from lawmakers and the public, DeSantis finally announced an executive order calling for a statewide 30-day stay-at-home order to go into effect this Friday; the order limits movement only to essential businesses and essential activities.

The order, which you can read for yourself right here, also lists essential activities that are permitted during the 30-day period, and includes things like exercising, taking care of pets, assisting a loved one, and "religious services conducted in churches, synagogues and houses of worship."

This is notable, because on Monday evangelical pastor and diehard Trump supporter Rodney Howard-Browne of the the River Tampa Bay Church was arrested after the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office urged him not to hold two Sunday services at his megachurch, which he has previously claimed is the “most sterile building in America.

Technically, Howard-Browne's church is now deemed "essential," which is a title he's long lobbied for.

However, he still must limit his congregation to just 10 people or less to comply with a previous statewide executive order.…

Wed-Apr-2020 DeSantis announces plans to issue a statewide stay-at-home order

Updated at 2:15 p.m. After weeks of criticism from both lawmakers and the public, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that he will finally issue a statewide stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking at a press conference Wednesday afternoon, DeSantis said the issue will go into effect Thursday night, April 2, at midnight.…

Wed-Apr-2020 Op-ed: The Florida Commission on Human Relations urges everyone to know their rights guaranteed by the Federal Fair Housing Act

“We have come some of the way, not near all of it. There is much yet to do.”  These were the words spoken by President Lyndon B. Johnson on April 11, 1968, as he signed the Federal Fair Housing Act.…

Wed-Apr-2020 Florida's education commissioner calls for keeping schools closed until May

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran on Tuesday called for all school districts to extend campus closures through May 1 as part of efforts to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus across the state.

“While we work together to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, one constant remains – students can and will continue to receive a great education in Florida.…

Wed-Apr-2020 Florida could speed up road projects while traffic is sparse

Florida might speed up some infrastructure projects, taking advantage of motorists staying off roads because of the novel coronavirus, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday.…

Tue-Mar-2020 Shirtless YouTuber Joe Winko gives a tour of Orlando's Lake Eola Park

YouTuber Joe Winko, the self-described "Autistic Guy" and "Your Favorite Hawaiian Guy," recently visited Orlando, where he posted a review and historical tour of Lake Eola Park.

Don't take it too seriously.

The tour begins with the always-shirtless Winko explaining how the park came to exist. His on-camera story, sourced to Wikipedia by way of his phone, begins with the land gift that started it all.

"There was this really, really rich guy, his name was Summerlin.…

Tue-Mar-2020 Shaquille O'Neal knows you have questions about his appearance in 'Tiger King'

Business mogul and former Orlando Magic center Shaquille O'Neal makes a brief but memorable appearance in the new Netflix documentary Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.

Some fans are asking why, and in his podcast, the Big Man explains his appearance in the film, and his love of big cats.

"Speaking of Netflix, have you seen the show Tiger King?" O'Neal asked, about four minutes into "The Big Podcast with Shaq," which was released on March 25.

"Let me clear up myself right now.…

Tue-Mar-2020 Gov. Ron DeSantis says Florida hospitals are getting COVID-19 tests with five-minute results

At his Tuesday afternoon press conference, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said rapid-result COVID-19 tests are on the way to Florida. Apparently not on the way, however, is a statewide stay-at-home order.

Calling them "instant tests," DeSantis said the new coronavirus tests, made by pharmaceutical company Avid, take 5 to 15 minutes to give results.

DeSantis said there are 2,000 of the tests on the way to Florida, to be spread out to hospitals across the state.…

Tue-Mar-2020 Publix now says they will offer paid sick leave for employees who test positive for coronavirus

Over the last week, three Publix employees have tested positive for coronavirus, and today the Lakeland-area grocer says they will start offering paid sick leave to associates who test positive for the virus.

Speaking with Creative Loafing Tamp Bay, Publix Director of Communication Maria Brous said employees at all locations who test positive for coronavirus will now get 14 days of paid sick leave to quarantine and recover from the illness.

Yesterday, Brous released a statement saying that Publix is also changing its policy to allow masks and gloves as an option to workers who aren’t normally required to wear them.

Typically, only full-time Publix employees receive paid sick leave.

This announcement came a week after the company said they would also install plexiglass barriers at registers, customer service desks and pharmacies.

This story originally appeared in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.

Please follow CDC guidelines and Orange County advisories to stay safe, and please support this free publication.…

Tue-Mar-2020 Florida gas prices 'plummet' below $2 per gallon

For the first time in four years, gasoline prices in Florida average less than $2 a gallon, according to the auto club AAA.

Regular unleaded gasoline averages $1.97 a gallon, down 78 cents from a year ago and down 40 cents in the past month.…

Tue-Mar-2020 Hillsborough sheriff says he now gets '6 tips a day' on 'Tiger King' cold case

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister says his office is now getting “six tips a day” regarding the 23-year-old cold case of Tampa resident Don Lewis, following the wild success of the Netflix docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday in a live virtual conference, Chronister said the show has reignited interest in the missing person case of Jack Donald "Don" Lewis, who was married to Big Cat Rescue CEO Carole Baskin. Baskin was the intended target of a failed murder-for-hire plot involving Oklahoma zoo owner Joe Exotic.…

Tue-Mar-2020 Orlando International Airport isn't responsible for how concession employees are treated. That's another company's job

As workers at Orlando International Airport (MCO) were laid off in March, many members of the public directed their anger at the airport itself, but the layoffs were thanks to a third-party vendor, HMSHost.

Like most airports, Orlando International Airport and its parent organization, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, make their money via lease agreements and fees.

Tue-Mar-2020 Two Florida Publix employees have now tested positive for coronavirus

Lakeland-based grocer Publix confirmed Monday that two employees at a southern Florida location have tested positive for the coronavirus.

According to a statement sent to the Miami Herald, the employees worked at a store located at 9420 SW 56th St. in Southwest Miami-Dade.

Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous told the paper that the store has since completed a “disinfection-level deep cleaning in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in addition to our daily cleaning and sanitation protocols."

“As part of Publix’s general response to COVID-19, the company has implemented a heightened disinfection program focusing on high-touch surfaces like touch pads, door and drawer handles, phones and computers,” added Brous.

Last week, Publix announced that an employee at a Georgia location had tested positive for COVID-19.…

Tue-Mar-2020 Tampa pastor who chose to hold services during coronavirus outbreak says he 'had no option'

Speaking to hundreds of thousands of people during a live webcast last night, Tampa pastor Rodney Howard-Browne said he had "no option" but to hold church services in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, which resulted in his arrest.

“I had no option.…

Tue-Mar-2020 Study shows evidence of COVID-19 spread in the Villages

University of Florida health experts say they see “initial” community spread of the novel coronavirus in The Villages.

The findings are predicated on the results of 2,280 people who were tested last week by UF Health Medical professionals at a testing site at the sprawling retirement community in Central Florida.…

Tue-Mar-2020 Publix finally allows employees to wear gloves and face masks during coronavirus outbreak

After employees claimed Publix would not allow them to wear masks and gloves because they could “scare away customers” during the coronavirus outbreak, the Lakeland-based grocery giant now says some associates will be allowed to wear personal protective equipment.

According to a statement sent out Monday afternoon, Publix director of communications Maria Brous says the company is changing its policy to allow masks and gloves as an option to workers who aren’t normally required to wear them.

“We are deeply proud of how our dedicated associates are taking care of our customers and each other through this unprecedented and challenging time,” reads the statement.
Publix says they’re still encouraging employees to wash their hands and avoid touching their eyes. They will also provide their employees with the gloves and masks, though they admit supplies are running low.…

Mon-Mar-2020 Coronavirus is forcing Florida-based cruise lines to face the consequences of their shady business practices

Prior to the approval of the multi-trillion-dollar economic stimulus package, there was much talk about how it would assist the cruise industry. Few sectors of the economy have been hit harder, or received more negative coronavirus-related press, than cruise lines.

The industry was hoping that after months of negative press, from the horrific weeks-long debacle of the Diamond Princess to cruise nightmare stories continuing to fill social media, some assistance via the stimulus package would bring relief.…

Mon-Mar-2020 Disney really has no clue what to expect, but neither does anyone else

Last week saw Universal Parks announce a reopening date of April 19, then a few days later, as pressure mounted for Disney to acknowledge their April 1 reopening was unlikely, the Mouse confirmed their U.S. parks will be closed indefinitely. Now, with the latest models showing coronavirus peaking in the nation just days ahead of the published reopening date at Universal, it’s clear the April 19 reopening will have to be pushed back.…

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