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CDC Fixes Florida’s COVID Numbers, Back To School, And Climate Report Takeaways

COVID testing.jpeg
The Miami Herald
Brenda gets tested via nasal swab for the novel coronavirus at the Xera Med Research COVID-19 molecular/PCR testing site at it’s new Wynwood drive-thru location behind the Mana Convention Center in Miami, Florida on Monday, August 24, 2020.

Florida and the CDC are at odds over COVID-19 numbers and school boards are pushing back against the governor. Plus, the new UN climate report paints a grim future. Is it too late to reverse the course?

On this, Wednesday, Aug. 11, episode of Sundial. 

CDC Fixes Florida’s COVID Numbers

Florida remains a hotspot for the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state’s case total Monday accounted for more than 16% of the total new cases nationwide.

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But the Florida Department of Health took issue with those statistics.

In a series of tweets published Monday night, the state argued the CDC was getting the Florida stats wrong and misleading the public.

“It seems like there's a day off almost in what the health department tweeted were the weekend's cases and then what the CDC actually said happened over the weekend. What would really help is if either agency or, you know, kind of put somebody up on a podium and give this kind of clarity. But we really haven't heard much at all from either,” said Stephanie Colombini, a reporter with Health News Florida.

She added that Gov. Ron DeSantis hinted at a recent press conference that the state could return to reporting daily COVID cases.

On the continued fight against COVID, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently expanded the emergency use authorization for monoclonal antibodies, a treatment that has proven to be effective at preventing serious illness caused by COVID-19.

“The vaccine is still the most effective tool at curbing the spread and preventing severe illness,” said Colombini.

Find more of her reporting on that treatment here.

08-11-2021 SUNDIAL SEG A FL Infection Rates.mp3

Back To School

School is back in parts of South Florida. In Palm Beach County, students were back yesterday. It’s the first fully in-person school year since the pandemic shutdowns happened in 2020. This mass return to in-person learning comes in the midst of a surge in COVID-19 cases and the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

“I saw a lot more kids on campus than I ever did last year,” said Sonja Isger, an education reporter for the Palm Beach Post. “A lot of them were wearing masks — almost all of them were wearing masks.”

The school district is requiring that all staff and students wear masks while indoors and in school buses. There is an opt-out option for parents, all they need to do is write a note to their child’s teacher.

Staff members don't have the opt-out option.

Find more of Isger’s reporting on the start of the school year in Palm Beach County here.

08-11-2021 SUNDIAL SEG B School Reopen Rules.mp3

Climate Report Takeaways

The most comprehensive report on climate change ever released has a very clear message — humans are causing a warming planet and the impacts will be devastating.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released their latest report Monday.

The evidence collected by hundreds of scientists from around the globe paints a grim picture, especially in South Florida.

"The IPCC report is designed to inform governments how to respond," said Ben Kirtman, a professor in the department of atmospheric sciences at the University of Miami. "But that's still not enough, the state of Florida should be doing a Florida climate assessment."

He added that leaders should be asking themselves tough questions about the best policy changes to make, because local decisions will make a big difference.

08-11-2021 SUNDIAL SEG C Climate Change Report.mp3
Coastal communities are racing to restore marshes, like these in San Francisco Bay, to create a barrier against storm surges and sea level rise.

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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.