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Black Voters In Florida, Nursing Shortages, Miami-Dade Buses Ready For A Redesign

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PATRICK FARRELL
/
Miami Herald
Terrell Samuels cleans buses at the Rosa Parks Central Bus Transportation Building on Wednesday, September 23, 2015.

On this Wednesday, Oct. 14, episode of Sundial:

Black Voters In Florida

Florida remains the critical prize for the presidential election, with both candidates spending significant time campaigning here.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will return Thursday after two events in Broward County Tuesday — both President Trump and Vice President Pence plan to be in Miami tomorrow in separate campaign events.

WLRN is committed to providing South Florida with trusted news and information. In these uncertain times, our mission is more vital than ever. Your support makes it possible. Please donate today. Thank you.

One of the key issues this election year for voters has been the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Black community has been disproportionately affected by the virus — how will it impact their vote?

“There’s a diversity. Black voters are not a monolith and that is a realization that many of us in media are learning as we try to capture the breadth of the black vote at the moment and that is also what these parties are tapping into,” said Kenya Evelyn, a national correspondent for The Guardian U.S..

She worked on a new series at The Guardian that looks at the Black vote.

Evelyn said that alongside the liberal-leaning youth movement in the Black community, there is also an increase in independents, Republicans and moderates who feel that the Democratic party doesn’t speak for them.

We spoke with Evelyn, who traveled the state speaking with Black female voters, to better understand how the virus is impacting their plans for the November election.

Black Voters in Florida
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Nursing Shortages

Nurses are among the frontline workers that have been impacted the most by COVID-19.

According to a report from National Nurses United, one of the largest nursing unions in the country, 1,700 healthcare workers have died from the virus. More than 200 were registered nurses.

Prior to the start of the pandemic, healthcare industry leaders were raising concerns about the expanded need for nurses in the coming decade and now the pandemic has made things worse.

“As long as we are having to deal with this pandemic the need for nurses is going to be high. And of course, with students not being able to go in and do their clinicals on site as readily as they could — although hospitals would like them to — then we’re concerned that our pipeline into nursing may slow down,” said Dr. Ora Strickland, the dean of the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Florida International University.

She adds that nationally, 12% of new nurses were not able to take their licensure exams because of social distancing and capacity restrictions.

We spoke with Strickland about a projected nursing shortage over the next decade which could have severe implications for our healthcare system.

Nursing Shortages
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Miami-Dade Buses Ready For A Redesign

Miami-Dade County’s bus network hasn’t been updated since 1986 and it’s no secret that the county’s public transit options are limited and inefficient.

If you’ve ever waited for a bus in Miami-Dade County, you know this. And if you get around only by car, then take a second to ask yourself why that is.

The Better Bus Project plan to redesign the county’s bus network is expected to be on the county commission agenda for approval as soon as Oct. 20.

“Even if you’re a driver, look around you and think about all of the services and all of the places you visit in your daily life and how for that person behind the desk, for that person behind the counter, for that person behind the register, for that person behind the mask that would be transit rider who — without this system working for them — our whole society just doesn’t function in the same way that it does as compared to having effective public transit,” said Azhar Chougle, the executive director of Transit Alliance Miami, the mobility advocacy organization behind the redesign plan.

We spoke with Chougle about the Better Bus Project and how they have adjusted the redesign to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 on public buses.

Better Bus Project
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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.