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Caitlin Switalski

Caitie Switalski is a rising senior at the University of Florida. She's worked for WFSU-FM in Tallahassee as an intern and reporter. When she's in Gainesville for school, Caitie is an anchor and producer for local Morning Edition content at WUFT-FM, as well as a digital editor for the station's website. 
 
Her favorite stories are politically driven, about how politicians, laws and policies effect local communities. 
 
Once she graduates with a dual degree in Journalism and English, Caitie hopes to make a career continuing to report and produce for NPR stations in the sunshine state. 
 
When she's not following what's happening with changing laws, you can catch Caitie lounging in local coffee shops, at the beach, or watching Love Actually for the hundredth time. 
 

On Friday, March 13, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence stood in the White House Rose Garden to declare COVID-19 a national emergency. But the risk of the disease, Pence told the nation, remained low. 

“We don’t want everybody taking this test; it’s totally unnecessary,” Trump assured Americans. “This will pass.”

Two years ago, a group of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and their teacher worked together to finish making a yearbook after tragedy.

This year, some of the same students are putting out another yearbook, again, under circumstances that are anything but normal. The coronavirus pandemic. 

 

Two Holland America cruise ships, the Zaandam and Rotterdam, are in the process of docking and clearing passengers at Port Everglades.

There are are total of 13 people with COVID-19 (10 on the Zaandam and three on the Rotterdam) who are listed in the plan as needing critical care, according to the final plan. Only the most critical will be taken to hospitals in the Broward Health System, a spokesperson confirmed to WLRN. 

The emergency alert text message you received over the weekend — warning you to social distance — was from the state. 

Lori Alhadeff picked up a mallet and banged a small, colorful drum. At one point, she closed her eyes to feel the rhythm of the others in the small circle, who were also improvising with percussion instruments.

Alhadeff, who lost her daughter, Alyssa, two years ago in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, joined in during the music therapy activity at Pine Trails Park in Parkland Friday afternoon. 

Every time you open the Waze app on your smartphone to navigate around traffic on your commute – there's a map editor behind making sure you have an accurate and efficient route to work. 

These volunteers for the company review and respond to user reports for everything from obstacles on the road, to construction to accidents. They also solve routing issues and add places to the ever-changing map.

Simply because they enjoy helping with traffic.

About 1,000 middle and high school students and teachers from 27 schools came together for the second annual Broward Youth Climate Summit in Fort Lauderdale. 

Students had the chance to participate in a Broward County version of 'Game of Floods,' an interactive scenario. They also heard panels on how sea level rise will impact politics, art, economics, law and how they can advocate for policy change. The day-long event took place at the Museum of Discovery and Science.

6:30 p.m.

In his speech, Trump also spoke out against abortion and in favor of pro-life policies and other conservative Christian agenda issues such as prayer in schools and on college campuses. His address included a personal assurance for his evangelical audience: "I really do believe we have God on our side."

The confessed Parkland shooter was back in a Broward County courtroom Thursday afternoon for his last scheduled hearing of 2019. He wore large glasses and sat with his attorneys in the courtroom.

Nikolas Cruz's trial will not begin in January of 2020 as it was scheduled to. Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer postponed the start of the trial until at least the summer of 2020.

The confessed Parkland shooter was in a Broward County courtroom Tuesday for a hearing. 

 

Florida's Department of Transportation announced Thursday an immediate directive for more rail safety measures across the state as well as a new education initiative about rail safety called Operation STRIDE. 

As more than 10,000 supporters of President Donald Trump awaited his arrival at the BB&T Center in Sunrise for a campaign rally Tuesday night, Brock Cline showed up to the exceedingly red party in a green kilt and a bagpipe in hand.

"We just wanna come here and play and see if President Trump will let us play inside in front of everybody,” said the Boca Raton resident. He and his wife Toni broke out into song, playing Amazing Grace for a crowd that gathered around.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week in a case that could end the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA). 

 

In the more than 20 months since the deadly shooting in Parkland, the state has passed a number of laws to address school safety, including the controversial measure allowing teachers to be armed. 

A date has been set for trial in the case of confessed Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz versus the State of Florida. 

Judge Elizabeth Scherer issued an order on Thursday announcing the pretrial motions will begin on January 13, 2020 and jury selection will start on January 27. 

"In February, 2019, this Court put all parties on notice that the trial in this matter would commence in January, 2020," the order states. 

This story was updated with additional information about potential legal action from the Southern Poverty Law Center at 1:03 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission wrapped up its two-day meeting in Orlando a couple hours earlier than planned on Wednesday. 

Skyrocketing prices of insulin in recent years have increased medical costs for the millions of people living with diabetes around the country and in Florida. 

Broward County has the fastest-growing population of people over 85 in the country. One of the growing problems they face is social isolation, which can lead to depression, loneliness and safety issues for those living alone. 

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri
SAM TURKEN / WLRN

South Florida is heading back to school. Palm Beach County students started classes on Monday. Broward and Monroe Counties start Wednesday, and students in Miami-Dade go back Aug. 19.

Safety and security are still on the minds of teachers, parents, students and state officials at this start to the second school year since the Parkland shooting. Several school districts in the state — most of which are in South Florida — were found over the summer to still not be in compliance with state safety laws.

Florida agencies are increasing the number of python huntersand the amount of land they're allowed to hunt on. 

The confessed-Parkland school shooter, Nikolas Cruz, had a bandage across the bridge of his nose as he stood and raised his handcuffed hand to address a Broward County Courtroom on Wednesday afternoon. 

 

Updated at 6:28 p.m. Saturday. 

At least 23 people were injured after an explosion rocked a shopping center in Plantation just before 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. 

Police completed their search for victims, as well as a secondary sweep by late afternoon Saturday.  

There are no reported fatalities. One person suffered potentially life-threatening injuries. They were taken to the trauma center at Broward Health Medical Center.  While 18 others with injuries were taken to local hospitals, according to the Plantation Police Dept.

 


Several immigrant-rights groups gathered in front of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Miramar Tuesday morning, chanting "Melt the ICE!" and "Shut it down!"

Getting older is not easy. Yet aging in South Florida brings its own challenges, including affordable housing, new technology, transportation, and specific issues that LGBTQ seniors face — like discrimination in nursing homes.

We now know which Democratic presidential candidates will face off during the upcoming debates in Miami. NBC announced the matchups Friday, which were decided by drawing names in New York City.

The number of people spending more money than they should on housing in Broward County, keeps going up. 

 

When Hurricane Irma made landfall in South Florida nearly two years ago, it knocked out power across the region — in some areas for up to 10 days. A dozen people in the Rehabilitation Center At Hollywood Hills died after the storm, due to heat-related issues from lack of air-conditioning.

"Veto! Veto! Veto!"

A group of about two dozen protesters chanted in front of the Tri-Rail station in Hollywood Tuesday. Together, they represented a handful of environmental groups that have been writing letters and calling Gov. Ron DeSantis's office, asking him to veto two bills on his desk.

Mazie Ford was the only verified super-centenarian in Florida. That’s someone who’s over 110 years old. 

Ford died earlier this week. Her family said she died peacefully at her condo in Hallandale Beach. She was just seven weeks shy of her 113th birthday in June.

Leaders from civil and voters' rights groups in Florida testified before members of Congress Monday in Fort Lauderdale about the barriers that minority groups face when voting in the state. 

The Subcommittee on Elections of the U.S. House held the hearing inside the Broward County Commission chambers to evaluate whether claims of voter suppression need federal action. 

 

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