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Florida Chamber Weekly COVID-19 Update: Sept. 3, 2020

September 03, 2020
Facts Not Fear
COVID-19 Weekly Update: September 3, 2020
A Message from Chamber President & CEO Mark Wilson:
It's Week 27 (day 185) since Florida's first confirmed case of COVID-19. As we head into the Labor Day holiday weekend, it is important to reflect on the progress we have made since beginning to reopen and relaunch Florida safe and smart under the guidance of, and alignment with, state and federal health officials. We have seen positive results over the past several weeks, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned earlier this week that Labor Day weekend could play a major role when it comes to slowing COVID-19 ahead of the looming cool temperatures of fall. Dr. Fauci said Monday that the holiday weekend will determine the country’s chances at having a “running start” when it comes to containing the virus. He added that he has a “great deal of faith in the American people” that they will follow CDC recommendations of masks, hand washing, social distancing and avoiding crowds - guidelines that have been consistently endorsed by Governor DeSantis and Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees. These guidelines, and the business community's adherence to them, have protected Florida's most vulnerable and we need to continue to do so. The Governor suggested earlier this week that Florida may be inching toward a Phase 3 reopening, and we do not want to set ourselves back with the numbers Florida saw following a much more active Fourth of July weekend. If your company still needs to download our Safety Council’s free, downloadable “Returning to Work Safely During COVID-19 Playbook” and haven’t see our free video, please download it here
For weeks Florida has seen a steady downward trend of daily average COVID cases. That number went slightly back up this week, but it was quickly attributed to data that had apparently been withheld for months. It was noted that while these numbers have historical significance, the numbers are not a reflection of the current state of the pandemic. I speak regularly to Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees and I couldn’t be more impressed with his command of the situation.  
While we cannot control the shortcomings of unreported data, we can control how we move forward. I want to echo Dr. Fauci's insistence that continuing to take precautions and remain vigilant during the Labor Day weekend is vital in keeping Florida's economy going. I am proud that Florida businesses are uniting in their efforts to stop the spread, and we need to keep it up.
Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish and our research team continue to analyze COVID-19 data and report on it daily at 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. 27 (Reported):
  • Florida Cases: 24,720
  • Avg. Daily New Cases: 3,528.2
  • Hospitalized: 1,754
  • Total People Tested:  201,182
  • Percent Positive: 6.68%
  • Florida Reported Deaths: 768
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.
The Florida Chamber is proud to have had U.S. Senator Marco Rubio join us for an exclusive call earlier this week where he provided Chamber members with a federal update and forecast including the prospects of Phase 4 recovery legislation. Senator Rubio was insistent that liability protections for businesses during COVID-19 - which the Florida Chamber continues to fight for - remains a top priority. Many personal injury trial lawyers are looking to take advantage of Congress and state legislatures not yet providing safety-harbor protections for businesses that are following public health and safety guidelines. The vast majority of Florida Chamber members are safely operating and they should be held harmless if an employee or customer happens to contract the virus without any known connection to the business other than they visited the business recently. This is common sense, and Congress and each state legislature should immediately protect local businesses from these billboard trial lawyers and their payday schemes to capitalize on the pandemic. Perhaps the Florida bar will create emergency guidance prohibiting practicing Florida trial lawyers who advertise on TV, radio and billboards from these un-American predatory type lawsuits against local businesses, but let’s not hold our breath. Instead, let’s encourage our elected officials to ensure Main Street stays open and employees keep getting paid. 
The Senator noted Republican and Democrats remain divided on the cost of the proposed legislation, with Democrats insisting on upwards of $3 trillion new spending while many Republicans favor a pared down bill between $1-$1.5 trillion.
While the federal government remains divided, Senator Rubio praised the work that 501(c)(6) organizations such as chambers of commerce are doing to keep businesses informed. #ChamberStrong He stated these organizations' inclusion in Phase 4 legislation PPP fund eligibility also remains a priority. The Florida Chamber's entire webinar and presentation slides are available for download. DOWNLOAD HERE>
This Labor Day weekend, a group with the words “Socialists of America” in its name will be holding rallies around Florida in FAVOR of Amendment 2. Florida will have American’s first, state level constitutionally mandated $15 per hour (and ever increasing each year) minimum wage unless businesses act right now to inform employees, family, and vendors of this incredibly harmful amendment. The deceptive title of this amendment is simply “Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage"…who wouldn’t want that? The same personal injury trial lawyers who are looking to sue small businesses during COVID-19 have paid over $5 million - much of this to out of state professional paid signature gatherers - to get Amendment 2 on the ballot in November. This amendment will raise Florida's minimum wage to $15 per hour and then it will increase forever with an annual so-called cost of living adjustment. Now is not the time to raise Florida's minimum wage when in some sectors, more than a quarter of small businesses may close permanently due to the financial hardship and uncertainty caused by the COVID pandemic.
Florida Chamber Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish: "One in five leisure and hospitality jobs that were in Florida last year are no longer there. And then when you add a high minimum wage when we are trying to bring those folks back to work, it just makes it more difficult on businesses." READ MORE>
Vote "No" on 2 and keep $15/hour mandatory wage out of Florida's constitution. The Chamber is fighting to ensure Florida keeps moving forward. More on this in the weeks to come.
The Trump administration is ordering a halt on evictions nationwide through December for people who have lost work during the pandemic and don't have other good housing options. The new eviction ban is being enacted through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The goal is to stem the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, which the agency says in its order "presents a historic threat to public health." READ MORE>
Engage with us at these
Upcoming Chamber Events
Unveiling of New Statewide Tool for 3rd Grade Reading Scores
Thursday, September 10
10:00 a.m. EST
Currently, 58% of Florida's 3rd grade students read at grade level. It is the goal of the Florida Chamber Foundation to improve this to 100% by 2030 as we work to secure Florida's future.
The Florida Chamber Foundation Business Alliance for Early Learning will be unveiling a new statewide tool for 3rd grade reading scores. Presentation will include: an overview of the tool and demonstration, 3rd grade reading scores and other relevant data, and Q&A with key stakeholders. RSVP here
September Board of Governors Relaunch Florida Webinar
Monday, September 21
2:00 p.m. EDT
2020 Virtual Future of Florida Forum

October 20-22
1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Early Bird Registration
Ends Tomorrow
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 ***
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
Government Affairs News and Updates
To Withhold, or Not to Withhold?
The IRS and U.S. Treasury issued guidance last week on President Donald Trump’s Executive Order allowing for the suspension of the employee portion of social security payroll taxes. Unfortunately, this guidance left more questions than answers on the logistical and financial implications related to the Executive Order. This voluntary program allows for social security payroll taxes to be suspended from September 1- December 31, 2020, applies to employees who earn $4000 or less biweekly, and requires employers to recoup the taxes between January 1- April 30, 2021. For a summary and FAQ from our friends at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, click here.
  • Last week, the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), which files workers’ compensation rates on behalf of insurers in the state, filed an average 5.7 percent rate decrease to take effect January 1, 2021 for new and renewal policies. This decrease mirrors a national trend in declining frequency and severity of workers’ comp claims and in turn, means workplaces are getting safer. This filing does not include the recent impact of COVID-19 on the workers’ comp system, which will be examined at a later date. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation will hold a public rate hearing prior to approving, denying or modifying the rate filing. 
  • As a part of relief efforts related to COVID-19, Governor Ron DeSantis delayed the renewal deadline through December 31, 2020 for licenses and permits issued by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation related to the manufacturing, sale, or distribution of alcoholic beverages. This relief is intended to assist an industry that has largely been shuttered since the start of COVID-19. For the full language found in EO 20-210, click HERE.
  • Governor Ron DeSantis additionally extended the moratorium on mortgage foreclosures and evictions through October 1, 2020. This executive order halts the final orders for foreclosures and evictions if someone has been impacted by the COVID-19 emergency, but does not apply when a lease expires or the nonpayment was due to a different situation than COVID-19. Executive Order 20-211 extends Executive Order 20-180 and only applies to residential properties. For the full language of EO 20-211, click HERE.
  • Florida’s high school students are able to earn the merit-based Bright Futures Scholarship through academic excellence and part of that academic calculation is each student’s SAT or ACT score. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SAT/ACT testing centers were closed during the Spring of 2020 therefore inhibiting the ability of students to qualify for the scholarship. In response to that reality, Governor DeSantis has issued EO-20-212 that extends the testing window until December 1, 2020 for students that graduate in the 2019-2020 calendar year. The full language can be found HERE. For a full list and summaries of the governor’s executive orders filed in response to COVID-19, check out the Florida Chamber’s guide
  • Our good friend and President & CEO of VISIT FLORIDA, Dana Young, recently joined Governor DeSantis to announce the launch of a new marketing campaigning leading into the Labor Day holiday weekend. Florida’s tourism economy accounts for more than 1.5 million jobs and $91 billion in annual revenue. However, Florida visitation has dropped by more than 60 percent year-over-year in the second quarter of 2020 due to the pandemic . This new in-state marketing campaign to remind Floridians of the world-class tourism experience here in the Sunshine state will help support the state’s economic recovery. VISIT FLORIDA expects to begin marketing to attract travelers from outside of Florida in the near future. To learn more about VISIT FLORIDA’s in-state travel campaign, click here. To view the first advertisements for the campaign, click here and here
  • Lastly, a hearty congratulations to House Majority Leader Dane Eagle for his appointment by Governor DeSantis to lead the Department of Economic Opportunity. We wish outgoing Executive Director Ken Lawson, a true public servant who has given much of his time and talent to driving Florida forward, well in his next adventure. Leader Eagle is a lifetime “A” (95%) legislator according to the Florida Chamber’s annual report card, and will take his experience and connections in the legislature to a department highly involved in the relaunch of Florida’s economy.
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)
Some best practices for working from home during COVID-19
By Diego A. Sanchez, CSP, ASP, CHST, OHST
Some of us may think that we won't be as productive working from home compared to working from the office, but that doesn’t always have to be the case, depending on your situation and your approach. Yes, we may encounter more distractions working from home like pets, kids, and family in general, but we must learn how to manage those things so we can be as productive as if we were at the office.
One of the most important things we can do while working from home is to find the right place; look for a space in your home that can be quiet (for the most part) with good lighting and the right temperature. Ensure that your home office is free from tripping hazards and that your workstation is ergonomically set-up. Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time; get-up and stretch as often as needed, walk around for a few minutes, and then continue working.
Ensure that your workstation is comfortable, adjust your chair as necessary to find the right posture, ensure that your monitor and keyboard are placed correctly. The ultimate goal of a workstation set-up is to keep your body in a neutral position while working.
Since there will be less in-person interaction with colleagues, ensure that you find a way to connect with them. Video conferences, phone calls, and even email are excellent ways to stay in touch and continue productivity as always. Remember it is up to us not to feel isolated; connect, call, and be part of the team. This will become our new 'normal', and we have to do everything in our power to adjust accordingly, so it doesn't feel as awkward to be working remotely.
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 or contact
Diego Sanchez, Senior Safety Manager at
Free Enterprise in Action During COVID-19
VyStar@Work Mentors Students and Parents at Don’t Miss a Beat Summer Camp
During the pandemic, Vystar Credit Union is promoting financial literacy to families in the Jacksonville area. VyStar recently sponsored the Don’t Miss a Beat (DMAB) summer camp where VyStar@Work Manager Kemal Gasper visited the campus on August 17th to mentor students and their parents about financial literacy. The six-week program, which started on June 15th, focused on daily immersion in the arts. Students were able to indulge their creative sides by participating in activities such as painting a mural in Woodstock Park, visiting a local theatre to find out what goes on behind the scenes of a production and learning choreographed dance routines. The routines were performed at the camp’s finale showcase on July 25th. Not only does DMAB set out to inspire creativity in students at a young age, it also connects with and provides support to the families of students by offering resources and job skills training for parents. To help with this initiative, Kemal held a seminar on behalf of the VyStar@Work program with students and their parents to talk about the importance of budgeting, managing debt and how to avoid common money mistakes. Each student received a Target gift card from VyStar, and parents had the opportunity to join VyStar through their on-site enrollment process. 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
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
My best,
Mark Wilson
President & CEO
Florida Chamber of Commerce
Florida Chamber of Commerce | 136 S. Bronough Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301
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