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11 more Covid deaths reported in Pinellas County

The Florida Department of Health reported another 296 cases of Covid-19 in Pinellas County Tuesday and 11 additional deaths, bringing the cumulative county total since March to 57,493 cases and 1,263 deaths. The two-week percent positivity rate now stands at 7.36 percent. As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 348 people hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of Covid-19 in Pinellas County's acute-care hospitals, with 22.7 percent of adult ICU beds available. More than 65,000 people have been vaccinated against the virus countywide. To view an interactive ZIP code map of Covid cases in Pinellas County, click here

USF online graduate programs earn high rankings from U.S. News and World Report

The University of South Florida has earned high rankings for several of its online graduate programs, according to new rankings by U.S. News and World Report. USF’s online MBA program in the Muma College of Business ranks No. 26, up 69 spots from the previous year. USF's online MBA program also ranked No. 35 in the nation for veterans. Additionally, two other USF programs are ranked in the top 50, including Computer Information Technology at No. 12 and Engineering at No. 34. USF offers nearly 65 fully or primarily online graduate degree programs.

St. Pete/Clearwater named one of best places to live and work as a moviemaker

St. Pete/Clearwater has made MovieMaker magazine's list of 2021 Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker. It's the first Florida destination other than Miami, which was ranked eighth, to ever make the list. MovieMaker, a publication focused on the art and business of filmmaking, determined the winners using surveys, research on tax incentives and recent productions and personal visits to most of the locations on the list, as well as the best available information on how destinations are coping with the pandemic. Visit St. Pete/Clearwater Film Commissioner Tony Armer has put an emphasis on luring independent films to the area while also developing the local film community via workshops and supporting local film festivals. The rankings will be featured in Moviemaker's Winter 2020 edition, available Feb. 2.

Tampa pharmaceutical company faces eviction from office building

Romark Laboratories has been sued in Hillsborough County Circuit Court by its landlord, Chicago-based GEM Realty Capital, for allegedly failing to pay $260,964 in rent for the space it leases at Bayport Plaza, an 11-story office tower in Tampa. GEM also seeks to have Romark, a biopharmaceutical company that’s working on a treatment for Covid-19, evicted from the property. Founded in 1994, Romark has leased space at Bayport Plaza, located at 3000 Bayport Dr., since 2003. It also has a manufacturing facility in Puerto Rico that employs 100 people. 

The Factory St. Pete to host American Stage’s youth classes

American Stage's youth theatre art classes for grades K-12 have been re-located to The Factory St. Pete, where they will take place both virtually and at the facility's large, outdoor garden and learning space. Enrollment is open through Feb. 1 for Florida Safari On Stage (grades K-5) and Shakespeare's Travels (grades 6-12). Class details and enrollment information can be found here.

Pizzeria to open at long-vacant site in South Tampa

Palazzo Pizza will hold a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony at 1 p.m. Thursday and give away a free slice of pizza to anyone who arrives wearing a mask and Gasparilla beads. The restaurant is opening at 1818 W. Platt St., a South Tampa property that has sat vacant for the past 10 years, according to a news release. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and members of the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce are expected to attend. 

Agency to conduct aerial surveys of Tampa ahead of Super Bowl

People who live or work in downtown Tampa might notice an unusual amount of helicopter traffic between Feb. 1 and 3 as the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration conducts aerial surveys to get a sense of the area’s levels of naturally occurring background radiation. The low-altitude flights are part of standard security preparations for major public events such as the Super Bowl, which takes place Feb. 7 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. By calculating the normal amount of radiation occurring in an area, the NNSA’s Nuclear Emergency Support Team is able to quickly recognize unusual levels before, during or after an event.

28 more Covid deaths reported in Pinellas County

The Florida Department of Health reported another 162 cases of Covid-19 in Pinellas County Monday and 28 additional deaths, bringing the cumulative county total since March to 57,197 cases and 1,252 deaths. The two-week percent positivity rate now stands at 7.43 percent. As of Monday afternoon, there were 347 people hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of Covid-19 in Pinellas County's acute-care hospitals, with 22.7 percent of adult ICU beds available. More than 65,000 people have been vaccinated against the virus countywide. To view an interactive ZIP code map of Covid cases in Pinellas County, click here

Bayfront Health to gradually increase starting wage to $15 per hour

Bayfront Health St. Petersburg and parent company, Orlando Health, have announced a raise in the company’s starting wages to at least $15 an hour in a multi-step process. Beginning January 31, 2021, the organization’s minimum wage will increase from $11 to $13. The minimum $15 an hour will go into in effect in 2023. The increase represents an annual investment in its team members of over $4 million by Orlando Health. The change from $11 an hour to $13 an hour represents a more than $4,000 annual increase for full-time team members. They'll start seeing the increase in their February 22 paychecks. 

Pinellas County launches Pinellas Trail Visioning Survey

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Pinellas Trail, Pinellas County has launched a survey that seeks public input to help guide trail development and enhancements over the next 30 years. The Trail Visioning Survey will run for one week through Friday, Jan. 29 and can be accessed by clicking here. A second survey, which will run from February 2 - 9, will seek public input on updates to the Pinellas Trail logo. All residents and visitors who use the trail in any way or have thoughts about its value to the community are encouraged to participate.

USF College of Marine Science receives $3 million gift

The University of South Florida has announced a $3 million gift to the USF Foundation that will benefit students in the College of Marine Science. The estate gift from Anne Von Rosenstiel, who passed away in December 2019, will be divided between two existing endowments established by Von Rosenstiel and her late husband, Werner. The Anne and Werner Von Rosenstiel Fellowship in Marine Science facilitates the research of graduate students who are working on projects exploring biological, chemical, geological or physical aspects of ocean/atmospheric systems. Meanwhile, the Von Rosenstiel Innovation Fund for Marine Science enables graduate students to explore ideas that have the potential to advance the field of marine science. The two endowments have benefited more than 80 graduate students since first being formed in 1993.

Bucs book ticket to Super Bowl with win over Packers

Thanks to their 31-26 victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game on Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will make history as the first NFL team to play in a Super Bowl at their home stadium. It will be the 10th Super Bowl appearance for quarterback Tom Brady, 43, who’s in his first season with the Bucs after spending 20 years with the New England Patriots. The Bucs will face the Kansas City Chiefs, the defending Super Bowl champions, on Feb. 7 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. The Chiefs, led by star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, defeated the Buffalo Bills 38-24 on Sunday to claim the AFC championship. 

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