Greg Allen

First in a series of reports looking at Joe Biden's potential running mates


Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., has a rising national profile.

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Thirteen-foot-high floodwalls could line part of Miami's waterfront, under a proposed Army Corps of Engineers plan being developed to protect the area from storm surge. The $4.6 billion plan is one of several drafted by the Corps of Engineers to protect coastal areas in the U.S, which face increased flood risks stoked by climate change. Similar projects are already underway in Norfolk, VA and Charleston, SC.

Over the last week, Florida has seen rising numbers of new COVID-19 cases. Since last Tuesday, the number of people who tested positive for the coronavirus totaled more than 1,000 each day. Saturday's total of 1,426 positive tests was the most since early April.

A similar rise in new cases is happening in other states, including North Carolina, Texas and California. It's leading to worries that as businesses reopen and stay-at-home orders are lifted, relaxed guidelines could lead to new outbreaks and even a second wave of infections.

Several theme parks in Florida will open their doors to guests again over the next few weeks and have crafted plans they hope will keep employees and others safe from spread of the coronavirus.

SeaWorld received approval for its plan to reopen its parks on June 11. The plans are expected to be quickly approved by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Universal Orlando has already received the go-ahead from local and state officials for its plan to reopen its parks on June 5.

Update at 8:51 p.m. ET

A scientist who created a dashboard for monitoring Florida's rising number of COVID-19 cases said she's been fired for refusing to manipulate the data.

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In the pantheon of great NFL coaches, Don Shula stands at the top. He had 347 career wins, more than any other coach in NFL history. Shula has died at the age of 90, according to his longtime team the Miami Dolphins.

In his 33 seasons as a head coach, first with the Baltimore Colts and then later with the Dolphins, Shula took his teams to six Super Bowls. With the Dolphins, Shula recorded the NFL's only perfect season ever.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

Carnival Cruise Line says it's making plans to resume sailing Aug. 1. Carnival and all cruise lines have been banned from sailing from U.S. ports since March when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a No Sail Order. The order was later extended to July 24 or when "the Secretary of Health and Human Services' declares that COVID-19 no longer constitutes a public health emergency."

Congress is investigating Carnival Cruise Line for its response to the coronavirus pandemic. A House committee wants to know why Carnival didn't act sooner to protect the health of passengers and staff.

A federal judge in Miami has ordered U.S. immigration authorities to begin releasing detainees held at three facilities in South Florida.

In an order issued Thursday, U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke said crowded conditions exposing detainees to the coronavirus violate their constitutional rights, including protections from "cruel and unusual punishment."

About 1,200 people are being held in the three detention centers in conditions that Cooke said places them at a heightened risk of contracting COVID-19.

Hurricane forecasters and the models they depend on failed to anticipate the strength and impact of last year's deadliest storm. Hurricane Dorian caused catastrophic damage to islands in the Northern Bahamas, killing more than 200 people and causing billions of dollars in damage.

The last cruise ship carrying passengers finally docked this week. On Tuesday, the Costa Deliziosa disembarked passengers in Genoa, Italy, allowing more than 1,500 people to return home after a 113-day voyage.

Under an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it will be another three months — at least — until cruise ships will once again be able to sail from U.S. ports. In the meantime, cruise lines are dealing with a host of lawsuits filed by passengers and crew who accuse the companies of negligence in exposing them to the coronavirus.

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Last night, as President Trump announced new federal guidelines on reopening the country, he said it's governors who will lead the way.

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Jacksonville, Fla., Mayor Lenny Curry announced Thursday that parks and beaches in Duval County would reopen Friday at 5 p.m. with certain restrictions. The mayor said restrictions would allow "essential activities" only, as defined in an executive order signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Those "essential activities" include walking, biking, hiking, fishing, running, swimming, taking care of pets and surfing, as long as they're done within social distancing guidelines. Sunbathing is still prohibited.

The structure of a compensation fund for victims of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein now rests with the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands, where Epstein had a home.

U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise George went to court in January to block the executors of Epstein's estate from setting up a fund to compensate his alleged victims. Dozens of women have accused Epstein of sexually abusing them at his estates in Palm Beach, Fla., and in the Virgin Islands. Epstein owned two islands in the U.S. territory and lived in a lavish estate on one of them.

Updated at 6 p.m. ET

With an election year pandemic, mail-in ballots may become an increasingly popular way to vote, especially in states like Florida that allow any voter to use them.

The nation's counties say they are facing major challenges meeting the demands of the coronavirus pandemic. Local governments are seeing a steep rise in the number of people seeking help from programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Updated at 2 a.m. ET Tuesday

In New York City, as the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic continues increasing, officials say the city may have to temporarily bury some of the dead at a public cemetery in Long Island Sound.

New York City Councilman Mark Levine says that if the death toll doesn't level off soon, the city will likely start doing "temporary interment." New York City's data indicate that total deaths in the city averaged nearly 150 per day before the pandemic. On one day recently, the city reported that 806 people died in a single day.

The fast-growing number of cases of COVID-19 around the country is also bringing a surge in the number of deaths. In New York City alone, the death toll is in the thousands and rising steeply every day.

There, and in places such as Detroit, Seattle and New Orleans, funeral directors are struggling to meet the increased demand. Joseph Lucchese, who owns and directs a funeral home in the Bronx, says it's unlike anything he's ever seen and it's dispelled any doubts he once had about the severity of the coronavirus pandemic.

Florida has now joined the list of states that are ordering residents to remain in their homes for all but essential activities to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made the announcement at an afternoon briefing. It was just a few hours after he spoke to President Trump. DeSantis said he's issuing an executive order that will direct "all Floridians to limit movements and personal interactions outside the home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or essential activities."

People in coronavirus hotspots are being told not to travel to other parts of the country, for fear they'll bring the infection with them. Those who do so anyway might find themselves in a forced quarantine.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday that he had authorized law enforcement officers to begin setting up checkpoints in the state's panhandle to screen people coming from the New Orleans area.

"There's a fear as New Orleans becomes more of a hotspot, that you could have an influx of people into the Florida panhandle from Louisiana," DeSantis said.

The Coast Guard is overseeing medical evacuations of crew members from two cruise ships off of Miami. The ships, the Costa Magica and the Costa Favolosa, don't have any passengers on board. As many as 13 crew members on the two ships are being transported ashore on small boats and taken to area hospitals. According to Carnival, the parent company of the Costa line, as many as 30 crew members on the two ships have flu-like symptoms. According to a spokesperson with the Port of Miami, those being transported ashore have respiratory symptoms consistent with pneumonia and bronchitis.

In Florida, local officials are trying to decide whether to allow a cruise ship to dock that has dozens of passengers and crew aboard possibly infected with the coronavirus. The Holland America ship, Zaandam, left Valparaiso, Chile over the weekend and is headed to Ft. Lauderdale where it expects to arrive March 30.

Updated at 6:47 p.m. ET

A drive-through site to test for the coronavirus has been set up for golf carts at a massive retirement community in central Florida. More than 125,000 people live in The Villages, north of Orlando. Because the elderly are particularly vulnerable to the virus, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he was concerned about getting protections in place for the senior citizens who live there.

Updated on March 16 at 8:42 p.m. ET

Long before condominiums lined the shoreline in Miami Beach, before air conditioning, many thousands of years before Columbus, people lived along Florida's coastline.

Archaeologists say the remains of their settlements are particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels as a result of climate change.

In Florida's Palm Beach County researchers are planning how best to protect and preserve the ancient sites most at risk from rising seas.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Florida is planning a major expansion of its highways with a series of toll roads that would open new parts of the state to development.

Exactly where the roads will go hasn't been announced yet, but opposition to the highways is growing in rural areas such as Jefferson County in North Florida. Mike Willis' family has lived there since before Florida became a state. He likes to refer to it as "the other Florida."

"Most people think of Florida as palm trees, white sandy beaches," he says. "We have rolling clay hills and beautiful pine forests."

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