Pertussis – a.k.a whooping cough – is on the rise in Escambia County, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Pertussis is an endemic – or common -- disease in the United States, with frequent outbreaks and peaks every 3-5 years. In 2012, 48,000 cases were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But many cases are not diagnosed and therefore not reported. DOH-Escambia reports four confirmed cases this year – including two in the same household.

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the importance of the Fourth of July holiday weekend to local beach tourism and his latest viewpoint on wage growth.

First, visitors and locals alike will be celebrating Independence Day across the gulf coast this weekend.

According to Harper, the forward looking indicators are very strong.

“We’re seeing low gas prices, lowest they’ve been really in about five years,” he said. “We’re also seeing job growth.”

Many Americans will celebrate the nation’s 239th birthday this weekend with two holiday staples: cookouts and fireworks. Officials are urging everyone to use caution around both.

Dorothy Lee with the Escambia County Extension Service says keeping it safe at that summer cookout begins with the basics.

“Making sure that your hands are clean, all utensils are clean, cooking surfaces are clean,” said Lee. “Bacteria multiplies rapidly at room temperature, and most food-borne illness-causing bacteria cannot grow at temperatures below 40 degrees, or above 140 degrees.”

Danielle Freeman

Americans will be celebrating the nation’s 239th birthday this weekend; many will be headed to the beach. The Okaloosa Beach Safety Unit shared some tips on how to enjoy the sun, sand and surf in a safe way.

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center /

Five Gulf Coast states, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, will share $18.7 billion from BP in the largest court settlement in U.S. history. If approved, this would end years of litigation over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

University of West Florida

  The University of West Florida officially announced a new partnership Quint and Rishy Studer to bring a new business incubator to Pensacola. 

Photo via Flickr// Karen Dorsett /

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office is hosting a special conference Thursday, on “Security in the Place of Worship.”

In the wake of the shooting that killed nine worshipers inside Emanuel AME Church, fires at six other churches with African-American ties have been reported in the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida.

Bob Barrett / WUWF News

If you’re heading to the beach this holiday weekend, remember you’re not just sharing the shoreline with friends, family and fish. Take the time to watch out for shore birds.

Photo via Flickr// haljackey /

The number of  Americans hitting the road this Independence Day weekend is expected to be up 0.07% compared to last year, according to AAA.

The auto club projects 41.9 million people will travel 50 miles or more from their homes during the holiday weekend, which runs from Wednesday July 1 to Sunday July 5. AAA’s Mark Jenkins says 85%, or about 35 million travelers, will drive to their destinations.

Three firms seeking to develop Hawkshaw, a two-acre vacant lot in downtown Pensacola, will pitch their ideas to the City Council on July 1st. The Council will be acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency.

The three finalists are the ITEX Group from Port Arthur, Texas and two local companies: Granger Development and Whitesell-Green/H+H Building Group. The CRA issued a request for proposals (an RFP) last year for plans and bids for purchase. The three firms are offering between $1 million and $1.3 million to buy the property, which has been appraised at $1.8 million.