Alysia Cruz


Alysia Cruz is a reporter for WUSF after previously serving as the Stephen Noble news intern for the fall 2019 semester. She earned her Master’s in Digital Journalism & Design, along with a graduate certificate in Food Writing & Photography, from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

Outside of WUSF she works on her passion for local food reporting, hoping to expand food journalism within public media.

In her free time, Alysia is a collector of many things: Pop! dolls, board games, Disney pins, and novelty mugs, to name a few. 

Contact Alysia by email or following her on all social media @alysiamcruz.

Gov. Ron DeSantis at the podium
Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

Vice President Mike Pence was in Tampa Thursday for a meeting with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, where the pair discussed the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as the number of cases continued to skyrocket.

Tampa fireworks show

Fourth of July celebrations across the country are being cancelled amidst the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, and most of the Tampa Bay region is following suit.

But some communities have found alternative ways to keep their events going while still following social distancing and other coronavirus prevention guidelines.

People casting their votes at polling booths
WUSF Staff

As coronavirus cases continue to rise in Florida, people are looking for alternate ways to vote in the upcoming primary and general elections.

With almost 3 million registered voters in Tampa Bay, many are turning to vote-by-mail to avoid long lines and possible spread at polling locations.

Children in a classroom

Florida school districts have begun to release their plans to bring students back to school in August amid the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, Florida, as well as the Tampa Bay area, posted record high daily increases in new cases of COVID-19.  

WUSF asked about your thoughts on this issue: How Should Florida Schools Proceed With Reopening In The Fall? Here are some of your responses.

Gov. Ron DeSantis wearing a face mask

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday the state will be moving forward carefully and encouraged Floridians to continue following social distancing guidelines while coronavirus cases spike.

A chart of the three models with a photo of a man in the bottom left corner.
Hillsborough County Public Schools

As Hillsborough County students prepare for school in August, the district is working on what that return will look like.

During a school board workshop on Tuesday, Superintendent Addison Davis presented three models for reopening, each linked to different levels of spread of the disease.

Tampa General Hospital
Tampa General Hospital

Though a state dashboard shows some hospitals are nearing capacity, Gov. Ron DeSantis and health care executives from around Florida said Friday there are more than enough hospital beds to deal with a surge in COVID-19 cases.

A line graph showing the a drastic increase in the daily number of coronavirus cases in Hillsborough.
PolicyLab / Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

According to an updated model by PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Florida has the potential to be the next epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

The projections point to the rising number of cases in Hillsborough County and surrounding areas over the past few weeks.

WUSF will be providing the latest news and information on coronavirus in Tampa Bay and across the state. Here are the latest developments:

man wearing a mask
Rick Kriseman Facebook Page

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is continuing to ease restrictions related to the coronavirus, despite the state seeing record increases in new cases of COVID-19.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman responded with an order on Wednesday requiring workers inside city limits to wear a mask starting Friday at 5 p.m.

Pinellas County Sheriff  Bob Gualtieri
Julio Ochoa / WUSF Public Media

Amidst continued protests against police brutality across the Tampa Bay area, law enforcement agencies in Pinellas County say they are working together to address concerns about their use-of-force policies.

Thomas Iacobucci/WUSF Public Media

The deadline for candidates to qualify in Florida for state senator and representative races was noon today. Here's a list of the candidates who qualified for both federal and state elections ahead of the party primaries on Aug. 18. The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 3. (Note: This list will be updated throughout the day as election offices make more information available.)

Woman presents man with a plaque at a podium while surrounded by others
Alysia Cruz / WUSF Public Media

On the first anniversary of the death of Hezekiah Walters, Hillsborough County Public Schools announced new training protocols and safety procedures aimed at preventing heat-related illnesses.

Walters, 14, collapsed and died June 11, 2019, after participating in summer football conditioning at Middleton High School.

Pinellas County Sheriff Gualtieri pictured standing at a podium surrounded by law enforcement officers.
WUSF Public Media

Despite court guidelines to release people accused of unlawful assembly, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri requested that more than 35 protesters arrested on that charge last week be held in jail until they could be seen by a judge.

Daylina Miller/WUSF Public Media

The second phase of Florida’s plan to reopen the economy following coronavirus stay-at-home orders has begun. It comes about 24 hours after the state recorded the highest number of coronavirus cases in Florida.

A portion of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge collapsed into Tampa Bay in May 1980 after it was struck by a cargo ship.
"The Skyway Bridge Disaster" / YouTube

A documentary about the 1980 Sunshine Skyway disaster has been released for on-demand audiences as the tragedy reaches its 40th anniversary. 

According to Feeding Tampa Bay, over 700,000 people in the region are food insecure, which means they don’t have access to affordable, nutritious food.

Some believe that food sovereignty is the answer.

A group of girls of all different races sitting in the lobby of an office building.

Minority girls and those in the LGBTQ community are facing increased rates of violence and victimization, but organizations in Florida meant to serve children are failing to address these issues.

That’s according to research from the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, a research and advocacy group for girls all over the world.

Gov. Ron DeSantis making speech
Florida Governor's Office

As part of efforts to combat illegal immigration, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Department of Corrections are preparing to deputize state correctional officers as federal immigration enforcement agents.

Since 2010, a wall of LED lights dancing between hues of blue, red, and purple has lit up downtown from above the main entrance to the Tampa Museum of Art.

Curator Joanna Robotham says most people don’t realize it’s a work of art, titled “Sky (Tampa)” by New York-based digital light artist Leo Villareal.

While the number of U.S. and Canadian tourists is growing, industry leaders say the slowing pace of Florida tourism is a major concern.

The most recent quarter, July through September, saw the lowest rise in visitors to Florida since 2010, with an increase of only 1.1 percent over the same period a year earlier. That's compared to the average quarterly gain of 6.2 percent for the last nine years.

Steven Currall was formally inaugurated as University of South Florida’s seventh president Thursday in a ceremony highlighting his career and the university’s successes.

Delegates from all three campuses and universities all over the world were in attendance to hear Currall’s vision for USF’s future.  

From medical professionals to law enforcement to recovering addicts, the opioid crisis has affected people from all walks of life.

At a University of South Florida symposium Wednesday, experts said it will take them all working together to end the opioid crisis.

A new study says allowing the estimated 750,000 undocumented immigrants living in Florida to obtain driver’s licenses would not only ease their lives, but also increase state revenue and public safety.

In 1939, opera singer Marian Anderson was denied access to perform at Washington D.C.'s Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution. The reason: the color of her skin.

Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

Sarasota County commissioners decided on Wednesday to side with residents and prevent the industrial rezoning of an area adjacent to the 400-acre Celery Fields wildlife reserve. 

Thirty years after her first novel, young adult author Lurlene McDaniel has decided her latest book, “The Girl with the Broken Heart,” will be her last.

A graduate of one of University of South Florida’s first classes in 1965, McDaniel will be returning to her alma mater to discuss her career and see an exhibition of her work at the Tampa campus library Thursday.

Florida Fish and Wildlife/Flikr

Less than 24 hours after the Trump administration pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord, the National Audubon Society released a report warning that two-thirds of North America's birds are in danger of extinction due to climate change.

While people across the southern United States value equity and diversity, white people and people of color have drastically different perceptions on the existence and impact of institutionalized discrimination in today’s society.

That’s according to a recent study by the E Pluribus Unum Fund, an organization founded by Mitch Landrieu, the former Mayor of New Orleans.

As a gift to the state of Florida, U.S. Air Force Band staff arranger Master Sergeant Tadd Russo put together an original march, “Okeechobee Pasodoble(e),” which references Florida’s history of Spanish settlement and its Native American roots -- and includes nods to songs he says should be well known to Floridians.

Playing it for the last time this weekend, the band will end its Florida tour with three concerts in the Tampa Bay area.