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Sundial

COVID Surge And The Pandemic’s Effects On Latinos, Surfside Update, Baby Sharks

SurfsideCleared_07202021.jpeg
COURTESY JASON PIZZO
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A photo posted by Florida Sen. Jason Pizzo, D-North Miami Beach, on July 20 via Twitter. It appears to show the Champlain Towers South site cleared after the condo building's collapse on June 24, 2021.

COVID-19 cases are on the rise and some hospitals are changing visitation rules. How the pandemic has affected the Latino community. Plus, what's next for the Surfside condo collapse site? And baby hammerhead sharks are making Miami their home.

On this, Thursday, July 22, episode of Sundial.

COVID Surge And The Pandemic’s Effects On Latinos

COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are rising at an alarming rate in South Florida.

Vaccination rates are lower than public health officials hope. Plus, lax masking and the highly contagious delta variant are all contributing to this uptick.

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The numbers have led some local hospitals to restrict visitations.

“It's very difficult for us to do that. We are a patient and family-centered environment,” said Leah Carpenter, the chief operating officer of Memorial Healthcare System in Broward County. “At this point, we really have no choice with the volumes going through the roof as they have.”

Memorial Healthcare System is meeting Thursday to discuss what visitation restrictions will look like for the time being.

“My expectation is that we will go to what we call a ‘red status visitation,’ where we will allow visitation for labor and delivery — one person — obviously, someone who's having a baby needs that support," said Carpenter. "We will then go to vaccinated visitors only and we will only allow it for a very short period of time."

She said the only other exception for visitations would be when death is imminent.

Miami-Dade’s Jackson Health System started suspending visitations at some of its facilities Wednesday.

Carpenter added that the numbers are still not as high as they were last summer, but hospitalizations are occurring at an exponentially higher rate than one year ago. Over the past month, the hospital system saw a 161% increase in COVID inpatients. And 98% of the patients admitted for COVID are unvaccinated.

Latino Community And COVID-19

The Latino community is among the more vulnerable populations still lagging in vaccinations as the pandemic continues to disproportionately impact Latinos here in South Florida and nationally.

A new report from the Pew Research Center explores the way the virus has hurt the health and livelihoods of Hispanics.

“About half of Latino adults in our survey said a family member or close friend had been hospitalized or died from COVID-19,” said Jens Manuel Krogstad, one of the authors of the report. “About half of Latinos in our survey [also] said that someone in their household had lost a job or taken a pay cut since the start of the pandemic. And again, this is something that's affecting Latinos of all walks of life. Really, Latinos across the country and across backgrounds are reporting widespread financial and health impacts from the coronavirus pandemic.”

Despite this hardship, many remain optimistic about the future for the country, the survey found.

During this time, the Latino community has also seen grassroots organizations and community support groups emerge to respond to the underserved communities and close the education gap on the best practices to prevent the spread of COVID.

“The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, they immediately got to work trying to translate some of the signs that were going up about washing your hands frequently, about some of the precautions that people should be taking due to the pandemic, trying to bring any information they could through the radio waves to people,” said Manuel Bojorquez, CBS News Correspondent based in Miami, who worked on the documentary “Pandemia: Latinos in Crisis.”

COVID Surge And The Pandemic’s Effects On Latinos
Nurse comforting patient in hospital

Surfside Update

It’s been a month since the Champlain Towers South collapsed in Surfside, claiming the lives of 97 people.

Miami-Dade officials identified another victim last night.

As the search and rescue operation comes to a close, the legal arguments about what should happen to the property have just begun.

“You have people that believe that it should just be hallowed ground and never touched again. You have other people that believe it should be a memorial or a memorial park," said Miami Herald reporter David Ovalle. "I mean, there was a woman yesterday who is a survivor and said ‘I couldn't live in a building there. It's a gravesite.’ And there's other people that are completely fine with it being turned into a brand new condo or something so that they could get money to try to help them rebuild or make their lives just a little bit more whole."

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman heard from family members and public officials earlier this week about a possible sale and how funds would be distributed.

Surfside Update
Family members hold vigil last month for the deceased victims and people who are missing from the condo collapse in Surfside, Fla.

Baby Sharks

Every now and then folks will see manatees swimming around the waters near downtown in Biscayne Bay.

Well, another species that’s being found in larger numbers in the area include baby hammerhead sharks.

Turns out there’s a nursery in the area. Researchers are going to tag the sharks so they can follow them and study them as they grow into adulthood.

“We know that sharks are mating in the bay, giving birth in the bay, that they find food in the bay and. We can do things that make Miami a better home for the wildlife that we share space with,” said Catherine Macdonald, the director of Field School, an independent research group. “The thing that I hope people take away is that if they care about clean, healthy water, if they care about the opportunity to fish recreationally or even to fish for dinner, all of that starts with a healthy ecosystem.”

Macdonald is also a lecturer at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Baby Sharks
Great hammerhead shark

Leslie Ovalle produces WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.