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Palm Beach County Voting, Flu Vaccinations For Children And Indigenous Peoples' Day

People look on at a celebration of Indigenous Peoples' Day in 2016 at Seattle's City Hall. Seattle began observing Indigenous Peoples' Day two years earlier to promote the well-being and growth of Seattle's Indigenous community.
Elaine Thompson

A record number, 70 percent of voters, in Palm Beach County are expected to cast their ballot this year ahead of the November election. Plus, the importance of getting a flu vaccine during COVID-19. And a conversation about Indigenous Peoples' Day with artist and activist Houston Cypress.

On this Monday, Oct. 12, Episode of Sundial

Record-setting Vote by Mail in Palm Beach County

Hundreds of thousands of voters in Palm Beach County have already mailed in their ballots for the November election. WLRN Palm Beach County reporter Wilkine Brutus spoke with Palm Beach County supervisor of elections Wendy Sartory Link.

She said her office is preparing for a record breaking 70 percent of ballots being mailed in this year.

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“Election officials began tabulating votes on Saturday. Of the 450,000 vote by mail requests, nearly 145,000 have been returned so far,” Brutus said.

With mail-in voting, a small percentage of ballots are rejected each year for a variety of different issues, including whether the signature on the back of the envelope matches the signature the elections office has on file.

Link says the number of rejected ballots is close to half a percent, but in a state where elections are decided on incredibly thin margins, her office is trying to get that number closer to zero.

Brutus discussed how Palm Beach County is preparing for the November election as well as the Biden campaign’s visit to South Florida, and the Democratic nominee's strategy to win over Haitian-American voters.

Palm Beach County Voting
Joe Biden speaking at the Jose Marti Gym in Miami's Little Havana on October 5.

Flu Vaccinations Among Children

Thousands of students have returned to classrooms across South Florida, with Miami-Dade and Broward counties launching in-person teaching last week. Both school districts have web platforms for parents to monitor the number of coronavirus cases, which showed dozens testing positive in Broward along witheight students and one faculty member in Miami-Dade as of Monday.

It’s difficult for healthcare professionals to tell whether children who’ve contracted COVID-19 are sick with the virus or the common flu, since the symptoms for both are so similar. However, the impact of the virus on children has proven much different.

“While the flu virus tends to be prevalent among children, COVID is not as prevalent among children, at least the severity of the illness as it has in other adults,” said Dr. Mayrene Hernandez, senior chief health officer with UnitedHealthcare of Florida.

Dr. Hernandez explained it’s important for children to get their flu vaccinations because there could be a compounding effect if a child were to contract both viruses simultaneously. She also stressed the importance of MMR vaccines, as the long term health consequences of contracting measles, mumps or rubella can be severe.

“A lot of folks don’t realize that mumps in a young adolescent male can lead to infertility later on in adulthood, ” Hernandez said.

Flu Vaccinations Among Children
Young kids are sitting in a school cafeteria several feet apart from each other during the first week of schools reopening in Miami-Dade County.

Indigenous Peoples' Day

More than a dozen states and Washington D.C. have replaced the federal holiday Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day. Florida is not among them.

Numerous cities across the region, including Lake Worth Beach, have called to change the name. For activist and artist Houston Cypress, with the Miccosukee Tribe, the fight for indigenous rights is part of a “beautiful struggle.”

“The reason that we're struggling for these things and fighting and showing up for each other — not just for indigenous people and not just for our siblings in the Black community — but we show up for each other because we're struggling for joy,” said Cypress on Sundial. “When we get together for our ceremonies and celebrate our own special holidays and why we are trying to save the Everglades — because of the joy that’s inherent in the land.”

Cypress is on the board of directors for We Love the Everglades Movement and a member of the Unity Coalition, a non-profit organization that advocates for LGBTQ+ rights.

We spoke with Cypress about Indigenous Peoples' Day and about a special event at Dezerland Park Wednesday night benefiting the Unity Coalition, a screening of the film Two Eyes.

Indigenous Peoples' Day
People look on at a celebration of Indigenous Peoples' Day in 2016 at Seattle's City Hall. Seattle began observing Indigenous Peoples' Day two years earlier to promote the well-being and growth of Seattle's Indigenous community.

Chris knew he wanted to work in public radio beginning in middle school, as WHYY played in his car rides to and from school in New Jersey. He’s freelanced for All Things Considered and was a desk associate for CBS Radio News in New York City. Most recently, he was producing for Capital Public Radio’s Insight booking guests, conducting research and leading special projects at Sacramento’s NPR affiliate.