Today’s roundup includes news about Bloomin’ Brands, Agora Edge, AdventHealth and Tampa General Hospital.
Off-premise dining is providing a much needed boost for Bloomin’ Brands (Nasdaq: BLMN), the Tampa-based parent company of Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill, Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Fleming’s.
Combined U.S. restaurant sales dropped 10.4 percent for the 13 weeks ended March 29, Bloomin’ said in a news release. But since pivoting to an off-premise only model on March 20, “We have nearly tripled our total off-premises business since the beginning of March,” David Deno, CEO, said in the release. “This is a testament to the strong affinity for our brands, and our decision to invest significantly into building a robust delivery network to complement our take-out business. These strong off-premises results have allowed us to keep substantially all of our locations open during this time.”
Bloomin’ has not terminated or furloughed any of its 90,000 employees as a result of Covid-19, Deno said, and has provided four weeks of relief pay to date and free meals for pick-up for hourly employees impacted by the closure of the dining rooms.
Deno has suspended his own salary and Bloomin’s board of directors has suspended its cash retainers.
Agora Edge, a St. Petersburg company that manufactures soft goods, is working with AdventHealth to produce 10,000 face shields and medical grade masks for use during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The face shields add an extra layer of protection to the masks team members use during their shifts, AdventHealth said in a news release. Agora Edge is using surgical material readily available in all AdventHealth hospitals to create the masks which have N95 barrier properties, the release said.
The health system is diligently focused on support to keep employees and patients safe, said Mike Schultz, president of and CEO of AdventHealth West Florida division. The partnership with Agora Edge is one of several ways AdventHealth is sourcing additional protective equipment, the news release said.
Tampa General Hospital is taking part in several research projects as part of the fight against Covid-19.
The hospital is enrolling health care workers in a national database, called the Healthcare Worker Exposure Response & Outcomes, or HERO Registry. That registry, which launched Monday, may ultimately determine whether an investigational drug, hydroxychloroquine, can help prevent Covid-19 infections, Tampa General said in a news release.
The hospital also is conducting independent research studies, including a trial of the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine to treat patients with Covid-19 and a project with USF Health to see whether nasal swabs created using a 3D printer are as effective as traditional swabs.
Other projects that Tampa General is participating in include research to see whether infusions of antibody-rich plasma from recovering Covid-19 patients can help treat patients who are severely ill, and trials of a monoclonal antibody in a new indication designed to modulate the body’s immune response so that it doesn’t damage the lungs and other organs.