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Capital Report: 4-17-2020

As expected, the latest Florida jobless numbers that were released by the State Department of Economic Opportunity this morning, painted a grim picture.  The official March unemployment rate was pegged at four-point-three percent, reflecting a massive increase in the number of people filing for jobless benefits.  But that only reflected those who were actually able to navigate the deeply flawed online process and sign up.

And as Florida’s unemployment benefits system essentially collapsed under the onslaught, Governor DeSantis took action.  He hired hundreds more state workers, he brought in additional computer servers.  He added an old-school paper registration option. But still, massive problems persist in the online state system for signing up for and ultimately obtaining jobless benefits.  As Steve Bousquet reports, the governor moved to shake things up this week.

Not all of the bad news for the unemployed and their former employers has been confined to Florida, of course...

The debate in Congress rages as Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on what should be included when appropriating more relief funds for small businesses.  As we were putting this edition of Capital Report together, the Federal Paycheck Protection Program was still out of money.  That meant banks could no longer process new applications.  Robbie Gaffney reports some banks in Florida are still holding onto customer applications in the hopes a CARES Act Part Two wil pass.

With Floridians largely staying at home, bars closed and restaurants restricted in their operations, the hospitality industry has taken a massive hit from COVID-19’s impact.  Ryan Dailey reports one Florida State University researcher says an uphill climb is certain.  But also says the industry is built to make a comeback.

Florida Taxwatch President/CEO Dominic Calabro talks to Tom Flanigan about a proposal for the Legislature to shift the burden of collecting and remitting sales taxes from online purchases from the buyers to the out-of-state companies making the sales.

Florida’s latest COVID-19 report shows the elderly make up 82 percent of the state’s nearly 700 deaths from the virus.  Twenty percent of cases are found in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. The state has been reluctant to provide a list of which facilities are the most affected. As Blaise Gainey reports, advocates are calling for more information to be made public.

As Floridians stay at home to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, some worry about another potential threat - the increased threat of domestic violence. We get that story from Regan McCarthy.