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COVID-19 And Children, Mega Warehouse Plans In Palm Beach Face Opposition, And Police Use Of Facial Recognition

First-graders at Redland Elementary in Homestead are led into the classroom by their teacher after being dropped off by their parents on Oct. 5, 2020.
Miami Herald
First-graders at Redland Elementary in Homestead are led into the classroom by their teacher after being dropped off by their parents on Oct. 5, 2020. It’s the first day of school reopenings for in-person classes at Miami-Dade County Public Schools. On Monday, only students in pre-K, kindergarten and first grade, plus students with disabilities, were welcomed back to schools; other students will return on Wednesday and Friday.

Kids, masks and COVID-19. A fight in Palm Beach County over the construction of a giant warehouse. Plus, a new investigation explores facial recognition software — and the police departments that are using it.

On this Tuesday, April 13, episode of Sundial:

COVID-19 in Children

Despite guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are some medical researchers questioning the impact of the virus on children.

New research from the University of Miami found kids are contracting the virus and spreading it at home.

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This research comes as schools prepare to fully reopen in the fall. The Broward and Palm Beach School Districts both announced there will be no simultaneous virtual learning — kids will need to be in the classroom by this fall.

“Although it doesn't affect children the way it does with adults, we are seeing kids get sicker. And we're not quite sure what those reasons are. We know that the variants that are out in the community now are extremely infectious and aggressive,” said Dr. Lisa Gwyn, an associate professor of clinical pediatrics and public health sciences at the UM's Miller School of Medicine.

“So it really brings the point home, the importance of continuing public health measures, mitigation measures to reduce infection through mask wearing and through distancing and so forth. And also for all of us to get vaccinated so that the communities, those that can get vaccinated will protect the others that cannot yet be vaccinated.”

The latest research comes after Gov. Ron DeSantis held a panel discussion in March with former White House physician Scott Atlas and researchers from Harvard and Oxford — they questioned mandatory shutdowns and public health guidance on masks for kids.

Then, YouTube pulled the video from their site because it violated its standards about “COVID-19 medical misinformation."

“It's definitely not the first time one of these experts has landed in hot water with the expert class,” said Kirby Wilson, state government reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald.

“You could say, 'Well, DeSantis is spreading misinformation’ and that's bad. Or you could say, ‘Why is YouTube governing what the governor can put or who can put a video of the governor up on YouTube?’ I think there's a lot of layers to this. And even though what was said at the initial roundtable that got taken off of Youtube was misinformation, I still think there are thornier public discourse questions raised by the incident,” he said.

COVID-19 And Children
Parents need to make sure their kids' masks fit snugly and cover their mouths and noses.

'Amazon-Style' Warehouse in Palm Beach

Kushner Companies wants to build a distribution facility in Southern Palm Beach County and the "Amazon-style" warehouse is receiving major opposition from locals.

“It's a very agricultural area and it's in the AG Reserve, which is part of the Palm Beach County comprehensive plan. The intent for the AG Reserve is for crops, equestrian farming, things that support farming and residential, definitely not large scale industrial ... it's a very special and sensitive area,” said Beth Rappaport, who is the president of COBWRA, a coalition of residential associations in the area.

Many local residents have also cited traffic congestion as a concern about the distribution center.

“[It’s] just awful on Atlantic Avenue ... they [Kushner Companies] say that they're willing to work and accommodate with the county and with other organizations to meet their concerns, but I don’t know how they can fix the congestion issue,” said reporter Mike Diamond, who’s been following the story for the Palm Beach Post.

Read Diamond’s reporting here.

Mega Warehouse Plans In Palm Beach Face Opposition

Police Use of Facial Recognition

A new Buzzfeed investigation found more than 1,800 law enforcement agencies across the country are using a lesser-known facial recognition software called Clearview.

This includes agencies in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. They have all either tried the controversial software or are actively using it.

“Most facial recognition companies pull pictures from the DMV or mug shot databases. But Clearview claims to have scraped three billion pictures from social media. So really, anybody could be in this database. As far as Florida goes, according to the data that we reviewed, 111 agencies are listed as having used Clearview,”said Buzzfeed technology reporter Caroline Haskins.

Buzzfeed has developed a tool where you can see whether your local department is using the tech. Use of this software has raised concerns about privacy, especially involving social media accounts.

“What Clearview did [is it] violated the terms of service of various platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram … they all sent Clearview a cease and desist. But it's unclear if Clearview has complied with any of them,” Haskins said.

We reached out to have Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo Ramirez join us on the program but he was unavailable. The offer stands for Ramirez to join Sundial at a later date.

Police Use Of Facial Recognition

Suria is Sundial's fall 2020 high school intern and a production assistant.
Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.