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Your Sunday Update: Orange County Distributing PPE To Small Businesses, Changes To Unemployment Process

Floridians can apply for unemployment benefits online at FloridaJobs.org. Photo: File / Brendan Byrne

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Floridians requesting unemployment must claim benefits every two weeks

Brendan Byrne, WMFE

Starting May 10, Floridians requesting unemployment benefits must log in every two weeks to “claim their weeks.” The requirement was previously waived by Governor DeSantis. Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity said the change was made to comply with federal law.

Every two weeks, an applicant must sign into Florida’s CONNECT system to confirm they are still unemployed and requesting benefits. DEO said even if a claim is still pending, applicants must update their CONNECT profile every two weeks.

More than 1.2 million Floridians have filed unique unemployment claims. Only about 40 percent have received benefits.

Governor DeSanits has asked the DEO to continue waiving job search and work registration requirements through May 30.

DOE provided a step-by-step guide (PDF) to help navigate the new requirement.

Orange County distributing PPE to small businesses

Brendan Byrne, WMFE

Orange County is distributing 1 million face masks and 200,000 travel-sized bottles of hand sanitizers to small businesses. It’s part of the county’s efforts to keep employees and customers safe as the state begins reopening.

Last week, Governor Ron DeSantis allowed some businesses in Florida to start reopening. Orange County’s PPE program aim to help those small business owners reopen safely and provide needed supplies to employees.

The supplies come at no cost to business owners employing between 3 and 40 individuals. “We realize those are the types of businesses in our community that really need the help,” said Orange County’s Danny Banks. “They’re the one that need 50 or 100 masks for their employees and they just can’t find it anywhere.”

Orange County took aggressive steps early on to stop the spread of COVID-19 like instituting a county-wide curfew. DeSantis instated a “safer at home” order which shuttered many local businesses.

“We were responsible for telling them to shut down,” said Banks. “We know the economic impact that caused to them. Now we feel a responsibility to help them get reopen. Supplying the PPE is one of our measures to do so.”

Business owners can pick up supplies at six drive-through locations throughout the county starting Monday, but must make an appointment first at www.ocfl.net/ppe.

Campaign to lure tourist back to Florida set to launch

Regan McCarthy, WFSU

As some of the rules to stop the spread of COVID-19 begin to lift, some are wondering how to help Florida’s tourism industry bounce back.

Florida’s tourism development arm Visit Florida is preparing to launch an unprecedented campaign.

“Once we begin to see that people are open to travel and residents are open to visitors as well as there is a critical mass of Florida experiences available to travelers we’re going to move into phase two,” said Visit Florida CEO Staci Mellman.

“Phase two is going to be an instate marketing effort that will promote travel within the state. That’s unique because we’ve never done something like that before, but this is a time that we’ve never seen before.”

Data suggests as travel resumes, people will be most likely to visit nearby places first. A plan to start marketing to visitors across the country and globe is likely a ways off.

US virus patients and businesses sue China over outbreak

Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Lawsuits are starting to pile up around the U.S. seeking to hold China accountable for the coronavirus pandemic. The complaints claim that Chinese authorities did not do enough to corral the virus initially, tried to hide what was happening and engaged in a cover-up to conceal their actions and what they knew.

The Chinese foreign ministry says the country has been transparent and that the lawsuits have no factual basis.

The cases face an uphill climb because of a 1976 federal law stating that foreign governments are immune from U.S. lawsuits with certain exceptions.

Florida reports 650 coronavirus deaths at nursing homes

Associated Press

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Florida is reporting that more than 650 patients have died from the coronavirus at the state’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

The state Department of Health released figures late Friday showing that 656 patients and eight employees have died at Florida facilities. That’s almost 40% of the state’s 1,669 confirmed deaths from COVID-19. One facility near St. Petersburg has had 23 deaths with 13 others in Florida reporting at least 10.

People over 65 and those with underlying health conditions are particularly endangered by the disease, making nursing homes especially vulnerable to outbreaks. The state now has more than 40,000 confirmed cases of the disease.


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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Are We There Yet?' Host

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration. He also helps produce WMFE's public affairs show "Intersection," working with host ... Read Full Bio »

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