Florida Contact Tracing, Homestead Detention Center Reopening, And The Miami Open
Florida is spending millions on a contact tracing app, although Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn't quite believe in the practice. One Democrat has broken ranks on the fate of Homestead's childhood detention center. And how is the Miami Open keeping players and fans safe as the pandemic continues?
On this Tuesday, March 30, episode of Sundial:
Florida has invested at least $4 million into contact tracing, as part of a multi-pronged strategy to limit the spread of COVID-19.
“Contact tracing is one of the oldest, tried and true methods of disease control. It's been used by public health agencies going back centuries. It involves interviewing someone who contracts an illness or disease or virus or bacteria in which the overall community wants to keep that from spreading," said Steve Contorno, the Tampa Bay Times' political editor. "They'll determine the source of the illness, and also help them build a list of contacts of people who they may have infected or passed along the virus to in the time between contraction and interview."
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Gov. Ron DeSantis says contact tracing isn’t working — even though the state continues to pay a hefty sum to a contact tracing app developer.
“The company's [Healthy Together] founder, his father is a hedge fund manager based in Palm Beach. The father is also a Trump donor. Right before this company created the app, or right before they started getting contracts, the founder's father held a fundraiser for Trump at his Palm Beach estate in which a couple had to pay $500,000 for dinner,” Contorno said.
Gov. DeSantis’ office has said that there was no political influence that went into the selection of Healthy Together for the state's contact tracing efforts.
You can read more of Contorno’s reporting here.
Homestead Detention Center Reopening
The situation at the United States-Mexico border continues to escalate — U.S. government estimates show roughly 18 to 20,000 children could cross the border in April alone. The issue remains a difficult question for President Biden's Administration.
Democratic Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, who represents northern Miami-Dade County and Miami Gardens, recently broke with her party in suggesting the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Minors should be reopened after it was closed for lacking a proper hurricane evacuation plan — among other issues.
“Her [Wilson’s] position on this is rooted in that there are thousands of immigrant children who are coming across the border, especially in the last few months since Biden was inaugurated. The existing facilities that are run by Customs and Border Patrol, which are ultimately controlled by the Department of Homeland Security, are currently full," said Alex Daugherty, a reporter for the Miami Herald based in McClatchy's Washington D.C. bureau. "Part of that is related to COVID-19 and the limits on social distancing, but also more so that thousands of people come across."
We reached out to Congresswoman Wilson's office but her press secretary said the congresswoman was unavailable for an interview.
“She [Wilson] visited the facility and is on record back in 2019, criticizing the way that facility was run and the way access was given to that facility. Her argument is that Joe Biden's position on immigration, and on immigration and compassion toward immigrants, compared to Donald Trump is what makes her more comfortable with this facility reopening,” said Daugherty.
The Miami Open tennis tournament is well underway — with some of the greatest tennis players across the globe at Hard Rock Stadium. Star player Naomi Osaka, who trained and spent much of her childhood in South Florida, has made her way to the quarterfinals for the first time in her young career.
The tournament was forced to adapt to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We spoke with Donna Kelso, tour supervisor for the Women’s Tennis Association, about the unique challenge of preparing for this year’s event.
“Everybody who is part of the tournament needs to test [for COVID-19] before coming into the controlled environment. Then for those that are in the functional group, which comprises the players and their team members and those who are working directly with the athletes, we're all tested every four days. We can only travel between the hotels and the venue and nowhere else,” Kelso said.
South Florida is home to a number of elite tennis stars, who migrate to Palm Beach and Broward County for year-round warm weather and training opportunities.