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COVID-19’s Impact on Young Floridians And Re-Imagining South Florida’s Economy

COVID-19 drive thru testing
Al Diaz
Miami Herald
Coronavirus testing continues at Marlins Park.

A recent New York Times investigation finds the number of young people dying from COVID-19 in Florida is on the rise. Plus, urbanist Richard Florida explains how South Florida's economy needs to evolve to be less dependent on tourism.

On this Tuesday, Aug. 25 episode of Sundial.

COVID-19’s Impact on Young Floridians

State officials have repeatedly said that Florida’s coronavirus crisis is largely sickening and killing our elderly population. And the data largely reflect that trend with 80 percent of the state’s coronavirus deaths being attributed to residents over the age of 65.

But a recent investigation from the New York Times found that there’s been a recent shift in who is dying from this virus. The surge of COVID-19 infections over the summer has had a devastating impact on younger populations.

More people under 65 years old died in July from COVID-19 compared to people over the age of 90. And more people from the ages of 25 to 44 died in that month compared to the previous four months of the pandemic combined.

“We are seeing on a national level above 4,000 people in that age range die from coronavirus. And that would make coronavirus one of the leading causes of deaths in that age range, it’s a very serious thing for young people,” said Danielle Ivory, investigative reporter for the New York Times.

The investigation found Black people have been particularly susceptible to the virus in Florida, with 25-44 year olds making up only 18 percent of the population in that age group but accounting for 44 percent of total virus deaths.

We spoke with Ivory about the investigation and misconceptions about where young people may be contracting the virus.

Re-Imagining South Florida’s Economy

Florida has a long road ahead in its economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest unemployment numbers released last week found 11.3 percent of residents remain unemployed, roughly 1.1 million people. That’s up from 10.2 percent in July.

While certain sectors like financial services and education are attempting to return to work, many industries are still continuing to reel from the virus — like leisure and hospitality.

There’s fewer than 254,400 jobs in tourism and hospitality compared to a year ago and many of those jobs are part of the bedrock of South Florida’s economy. Urbanist and researcher Richard Florida sees this as an opportunity for fundamental change.

“South Florida and all American communities are failing to think strategically about economic recovery. This is like a natural disaster like a hurricane has hit the entire country," he said. "[Thinking strategically] means repositioning our economy from a tourism, hospitality and real estate economy that’s based on deal making to a real knowledge economy that’s based on some stable economic sectors like startups, finance, headquarters and that’s a real lift for our region."

Florida is a professor at the University of Toronto’s School of Cities and Rotman School of Management. He spends half his year in South Florida and has extensively studied the economic factors impacting our region.

He spoke with Sundial about the opportunities for our economy to evolve from the crisis and create job opportunities for the post COVID-19 world.

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.