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Heard On Sundial: The Effects Of Coronavirus On Public Transportation Riders And Black Communities

Dr. Armen Henderson, left, a University of Miami internist, conducts a COVID-19 test on Barry Alston in Miami's Overtown neighborhood on March 27.

On this Thursday, April 16, episode of Sundial:

What does public transit look like during coronavirus? 

Thousands of essential workers in South Florida continue to use public transportation every single day to get to and from work.

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“I totally depend on public transportation every single day,” says bus rider Manuel Cespedes of West Kendall. “I wish there were more routes.”

Overcrowded busses are a challenge the county is facing. It can be extremely difficult to socially distance when there isn’t enough room to spread out on a bus or train. And as streets see less vehicular traffic, more people are turning to public transportation.

"We have reduced the number of vehicles," says Alice Bravo, director of Miami-Dade County’s Office of Public Transportation. "Essential trips only."

Bravo’s been meeting with county leaders over the past month and joined host Luis Hernandez on Sundial to talk about how she’s working to keep public transit running during this crisis while keeping riders safe.

Why coronavirus is hitting black Americans the hardest

Black Americans are disproportionately impacted by this coronavirus. States and cities have shared preliminary data that shows people of color are at high risk for the virus. In Louisiana, black people account for 70 percent of the deaths but 33 percent of the population.

“Black people are not immune to COVID-19. Period,” said Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbertin a video.“Black Americans, this risk is ours to own. COVID-19 does not recognize race, ethnicity, sex, age or religion and it does not discriminate.”

Gilbert and local leaders are leading efforts to debunk misinformation that’s been circulating within minority communities about COVID-19. 

Sundial talked to Dr. Roderick K. King, chief executive officer, Florida Institute for Health Innovation at the University of Miami; and Dr. Tameka Bradley Hobbs, an associate professor of history at Florida Memorial University and the author of “Democracy Abroad, Lynching at Home: Racial Violence in Florida.” They joined host Luis Hernandez for an in-depth discussion about what factors have a direct impact on minority populations in South Florida and why racial profiling contributes to health risks.

CORRECTION: The original version of this conversation suggested that Doctor Henderson was handcuffed while providing free coronavirus testing for homeless people in downtown Miami. He actually was handcuffed when an officer believed he was illegally dumping and was subsequently released once he provided proper identification. We apologize for the error as we always strive for accuracy.