State News

NASA said SpaceX is GO for launch Wednesday. The private company will attempt to launch two NASA astronauts from Kennedy Space Center — a first from the U.S. since the end of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

Tuesday update: The Flood Watch has been extended through Tuesday evening for Southeast Florida as more rounds of showers and thunderstorms are expected. The Weather Prediction Center has placed the region in a marginal risk for excessive rainfall today (risk level 1 out of 4) which could trigger isolated flash flooding in localized areas.

A Florida judge is allowing a third of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence Foundation’s assets to be used for victim services. A court-appointed receiver is overseeing the finances of the organization after questionable spending by its founder and CEO.

St. Pete Pride has canceled its 2020 event due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a news release.

Distilleries are among the many businesses that are struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. They’re asking Gov. Ron DeSantis for help. 

A data breach has occurred at Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity. The Department says it notified individuals that were part of the incident associated with unemployment claims. Exactly how many people are impacted has not been released.

In a letter to the department's head, Dem. Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) asked how many people are affected, what information was released, how the breach occurred, and what is being done to make sure it won't happen again.

NOAA Says a Busy Hurricane Season is Likely

May 21, 2020

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) anticipates an above-normal hurricane season this year for the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

Acting NOAA Administrator Neil Jacobs announced the forecast Wednesday.

There’s a better-than-average chance that the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season will produce an above-average number of storms.

Governor Ron DeSantis says the woman ousted from the Florida Department of Health over what the state says was “insubordination” was not the person who designed the state’s COVID-19 database.

That runs counter to a feature on Rebekah Jones out of Syracuse University, her alma mater, published earlier this year.

Memorial Day is usually a busy time in Clearwater. City leaders say this year will be no different.

A new survey shows one out of four people in the state have had their work hours cut because of the pandemic - and nearly 18 percent have been laid off from work.

The Sunshine State Survey of 600 people was done by Nielsen and the University of South Florida. According to USF assistant professor Joshua Scacco, six out of 10 respondents said they are concerned about the effect the economic shutdown is having on their finances.

The US Forest Service is reopening the Springhill Motorcycle Trail and Trout Pond Recreation Area in the Apalachicola National Forest. The spaces will be open to visitors starting Thursday morning—just in time for the long weekend.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is deflecting criticism for the state's unemployment system by blaming those who apply for reemployment assistance. He says it's up to applicants to fill out their form correctly and says most claims brought to him by the media are from ineligible applicants. However, some ineligible people still have to go through Florida's system to get federal aid.

For the first time in four years, “ultra-rare” metallic blue bees have been spotted in Central Florida.

Tampa Bay Comic Con announced on Facebook it still plans to hold its annual convention at the Tampa Convention Center from July 10-12, with mixed reactions from fans.

With a holiday weekend coming up, some popular South Florida vacation destinations aren’t fully reopening tourist spots until after Memorial Day.

Miami-Dade and Broward counties are the last two in Florida to join the rest of the state in Governor Ron DeSantis’ "Phase One" of reopening. But with Memorial Day weekend fast approaching, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez says reopenings won’t include beaches and other entertainment options until after the holiday. That’s in an effort to avoid an influx of vacationers.

The man overseeing the state's unemployment system is advising Floridians not to hang up the phone when calling to inquire about their benefits. Jonathan Satter acknowledges the wait is long—up to an hour and 39 minutes on Monday.

"It's really long, and that's why we've scaled up from about 40 people answering the phone to 6,000. We have hundreds of people that are in different stages of training so that we can get those wait times down," Satter says.

Update at 8:51 p.m. ET

A scientist who created a dashboard for monitoring Florida's rising number of COVID-19 cases said she's been fired for refusing to manipulate the data.

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa will reopen on Thursday, after being closed for about two months due to the coronavirus.

State university system Chancellor Marshall Criser next week will present guidelines for reopening university campuses in the fall, after students were sent home in March to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday that most remaining unsettled claims in the state’s heavily criticized unemployment system are due to incomplete applications.

With summer classes starting online Monday, University of South Florida officials continue to work on plans for the fall – and there is at least one surprising statistic they are keeping in mind when making any decisions.

A space plane is on a secret mission for the U.S. Space Force after launching from Cape Canaveral Sunday.

Gov. Ron DeSantis says he sees “a light at the end of the tunnel” as Floridians continue battling the spread of the coronavirus. DeSantis sent out a Tweet Sunday thanking everyone who is involved in that fight.

Tropical Storm Arthur began to strengthen Sunday, and it is forecast to continue doing so as it brushes by the Mid-Atlantic states Monday.

Tropical Storm Arthur was located about 310 miles south-southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, according to the National Hur

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis responds to a question at a news conference at the Urban League of Broward County, during the new coronavirus pandemic, Friday, April 17, 2020, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Lynne Sladky / Associated Press

Since late March, Florida hotels have been allowed to operate without state restrictions, while rental properties across the street or even in the same building have gathered dust.

Saturday 11 pm EDT Update: Hurricane hunters have found the tropical depression east of #Florida has strengthened into Tropical Storm #Arthur. Forecast track shifted slightly east, farther off the coast of the Carolinas.

Original story Saturday afternoon:  The first tropical depression of the year has formed just east of Florida, sixteen days prior to the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season.

As jobless rates skyrocket, filing for unemployment benefits in Florida can feel like a seemingly impossible task. Many filers have reported website crashes and several hours spent waiting on hold. Governor Ron DeSantis has added more workers, new servers, and made other changes to the system in an attempt to address the issues. Now as some unemployed Floridians are finalizing their applications, they’re turning their focus to another issue – getting approved for those benefits.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Ascension St. Vincent's staff.
City of Jacksonville

Governor Ron DeSantis says Florida will be in full Phase 1 of reopening by Monday, after the state was effectively shut down to stop the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus.

When Tracks Close, Where Do Greyhounds Go?

May 15, 2020

At the Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track in Bonita Springs, the dogs ran their last races on Sunday May 3. A greyhound racing ban was passed by an overwhelming majority in the November 2018 election. Greyhound racing is now active in just three states: Iowa, Texas and West Virginia, and it is being actively phased out in Arkansas.

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