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Heard On Sundial: Florida COVID-19 Cases Pass 100,000, Foster Care, Film Projects Restart In Miami

Soo Oh and Gabriel Hongsdusit
Reveal News
Officials in Miami Dade and Broward counties mobilized quickly while Gov. Ron DeSantis embraced a laissez faire approach to the pandemic.

On this Monday, June 22, episode of Sundial:

COVID-19 Cases In Florida Pass 100,000

Florida reached a grim milestone on Monday with a total of more than 100,000 COVID-19 cases. Half of those are in South Florida.

Last week, there were four consecutive days with at least 3,000 new people testing positive each day. It’s not just new cases that are raising concerns. Hospitalizations, the rate of infection and deaths all come together to give us a full picture.

“Experts do think that at the moment Florida has the ICU hospital bed capacity to handle any surge in cases,” said WLRN health care reporter, Veronica Zaragovia. “But if there is a huge spike that continues in cases and not a containment measure, then it’s possible that the hospital system will be overwhelmed.”

We spoke with Zaragovia about the numbers and which data you should be focusing on. 

How The Pandemic Affects Foster Care

Tens of thousands of children live in foster homes across Florida, awaiting adoption and the pandemic has upended that process for families. The pandemic has also prevented thousands of children from leaving neglected and abusive homes for foster care, the state found 10,000 fewer children were admitted in May of this year compared to last year.

There’s also a grave concern for virus spread within these facilities. Last week, the Miami Herald reported eleven children and seven staff members tested positive for COVID-19 at His House, the largest foster home in the state.

“It’s been an area that I’ve been concerned about as the CEO and president of the coalition,” said Kurt Kelly, with the Florida Coalition for Children, about COVID-19 testing. “We are now starting to get more access to testing. It’s more available but not at the level I think it should be.”

We spoke with Kelly about what’s being done to protect foster children during this time.

Film Projects Return To Miami-Dade County 

In recent years, South Florida has welcomed a number of high profile film projects, from the Oscar-winning film Moonlight to the return of the Bad Boys franchise with Will Smith. 

It’s big business in Florida. From 2010 to 2016, about $1.25 billion was spent on nearly 300 productions in the state — according to the state's office of film and entertainment.

The pandemic put that on hold, until very recently.

“It has to be a lot more pre-production, so a lot more pre-planning involved,” said Miami-Dade County’s Film and Entertainment Commissioner Sandy Lighterman. “They worked with the hotels to talk to them about making their hotels basically a studio, a backlot so-to-speak, having the production stay there, having them shoot on location, they are building their sets in the ballroom.”

We spoke with Lighterman about filming in South Florida during a pandemic.

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.