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Stephanie Colombini

Reporter

Stephanie Colombini joined WUSF Public Media in December 2016 as Producer of Florida Matters, WUSF’s public affairs show. She’s also a reporter for WUSF’s Health News Florida project.

Stephanie was born and raised just outside New York City. She graduated from Fordham University in the Bronx, where she got her start in radio at NPR member station WFUV in 2012. In addition to reporting and anchoring, Stephanie helped launch the news department’s first podcast series, Issues Tank.

Prior to joining the WUSF family, Stephanie spent a year reporting for CBS Radio’s flagship station WCBS Newsradio 880 in Manhattan. Her assignments included breaking news stories such as the 2016 bombings in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood and Seaside Park, NJ and political campaigns. As part of her job there, she was forced to – and survived – a night of reporting on New Year’s Eve in Times Square.

Her work in feature reporting and podcast production has earned her awards from the Public Radio News Directors, Inc. and the Alliance for Women in Media.

While off-the-clock, you might catch Stephanie at a rock concert, on a fishing boat or anywhere that serves delicious food.

Contact Stephanie by emailing her at scolombini@wusf.org or follow her on Twitter @steph_colombini.

Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton
Pinellas County

After a  long meeting that highlighted confusion about the statewide stay-at-home order Gov. Ron DeSantis issued Wednesday, Pinellas County Commissioners voted Thursday to close non-essential businesses in order to comply.

But as they put that plan into effect, officials say they'll seek guidance from the state about the scope of DeSantis' order.

Orange County firefighters hold up signs that read "We stay here for you, please stay home for us."
Orange County Fire Rescue Facebook page

Hundreds of first responders across the state are in quarantine after being exposed to people who may have the coronavirus. And some have tested positive for COVID-19, including a Tampa police officer and firefighters in Sarasota and Orange counties.


Gov. Ron DeSantis
GOVERNOR'S PRESS OFFICE

As cities and counties across the state are putting stay-at-home orders in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to defy calls for a statewide order.

affordable care act website
healthcare.gov

Eleven states are allowing people without health insurance to sign up for Obamacare in light of the coronavirus pandemic. But that may not be a reality in Florida.


Health workers in protective gear collect swabs from patients who drove up to the testing site.
Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

Hillsborough County will open drive-thru coronavirus testing sites at Raymond James Stadium and the Florida State Fairgrounds – as soon as necessary supplies comes in.

Drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in St. Petersburg
Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

As Florida ramps up its efforts to screen for coronavirus, it's starting to open drive-thru testing sites across the state. But there's still challenges with supplies and testing availability.


A voter filling in a ballot.
Wikipedia Commons

Concerns about the coronavirus pandemic dampened voter turnout across the state of Florida for Tuesday’s presidential primary election.

With federal health experts warning the country may not turn a corner on containing this virus until the summer, some election officials are preparing for an August election that involves nobody going to the polls.


Tampa General Hospital
Tampa General Hospital

As the country tries to meet the growing demand for coronavirus tests, some area hospitals like Tampa General Hospital are doing their own in-house testing.

Dr. Douglas Holt with the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough briefs county commissioners and local mayors on the coronavirus.
Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

Hillsborough County commissioners declared a local state of emergency for coronavirus, postponed area events -- but not WrestleMania -- and raised concerns about the lack of widespread testing during an emergency policy meeting Thursday.


Dr. Andrew Myers with USF Health and Tampa General Hospital
Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

As more cases of the coronavirus are found in Florida, there are questions about whether it is being spread from person to person within the community.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is taking special precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus nationally as it treats a patient who tested positive for COVID-19  in Palo Alto, California.

Marijuana plants
Mark, flickr

Calls to cap THC levels in Florida's medical marijuana products are drawing outcry from cannabis advocates.


Gene Popiolek (l) and his father Bernie sit in an assisted living facility bedroom.
Stephanie Colombini / American Homefront

The VA Aid and Attendance benefit can help some vets and spouses pay for nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home health care. But the application process is often long and complicated.

Gov. Ron DeSantis
Governor's Press Office

Retired and active duty members of the military have a new incentive to put down roots in Florida.


Woman with search dog stands, speaking into microphones.
Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

Cadaver dogs and archaeologists began searching Tuesday for a lost cemetery that may be located in an area of MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

It's the latest effort to find an unmarked, mainly African American burial ground, a number of which have been discovered recently throughout Florida. 

Clinical Contact Center employee Ruth Banilbo stands at her work station with a headset on for answering calls
VA Sunshine Healthcare Network (VISN 8)

Thousands of veterans are getting VA health care from the comfort of their homes.


Researchers at the Tampa veterans’ hospital are training computers how to diagnose cancer. It’s one example of how the Department of Veterans Affairs is expanding artificial intelligence development.

  

Though hepatitis A cases are continuing to pop up throughout Florida, numbers in most counties are lower than they were at the peak of the outbreak last year.

The reduction has led Pinellas County, once a hotbed for the disease, to stop offering the vaccine to all residents for free.   

A new study from the University of South Florida shows federal data on fatal overdose rates underestimates which drugs caused the deaths.

Florida lawmakers are considering companion bills in the House and Senate that would establish a "Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights."

Florida lawmakers are considering a bill that would give survivors of childhood sexual assault a "look back window" to address previously unreported claims. It would allow them one year to open cases with an expired statute of limitations.


MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa was placed on lockdown early Friday morning amid concerns of an armed suspect on or near the base. Authorities eventually learned there was no threat, but the incident had some residents fearing the worst.

The mayors of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater talked about how to grow as a region during a "State of the Bay" conversation hosted by the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club Thursday.

Climate change and transportation received a lot of attention while the future of the Tampa Bay Rays remains a mystery.


Patrick Carter spent most of his childhood in Newtown, one of the first African American communities in Sarasota. He left to play college football at Florida State University before moving on to the NFL. While he still remains involved in the Newtown community, particularly through sports mentorship, he chose to live in Bradenton instead.

As part of our Telling Tampa Bay Stories series on Newtown, Carter shares some of his fond memories growing up in the community and explains why he decided not to return.

The VA has eliminated the designated smoking areas at its hospitals, clinics, and other buildings. Many are celebrating the ban for creating a healthier environment at the VA, but the transition has been difficult for some patients and workers.

LISTEN:


This week on Florida Matters, we share some of our favorite discussions about plants, animals and environmental challenges facing our state.

Newtown resident Johnny Hunter grew up in the Sarasota community and plans to spend the rest of his life there. He left the area for a while, but returned as an adult and went on to co-publish Tempo News, a weekly African American newspaper that has been in the Sarasota-Manatee region since 1987.

Harriet Moore is principal of McIntosh Middle School in Sarasota and grew up in the Newtown neighborhood during the 1960’s and ‘70’s. She spent much of her childhood hanging around her parent’s grocery store.

As part of our Telling Tampa Bay Stories series on Newtown, Moore paints a picture of what the business community was like back then.

Fredd Atkins grew up in Sarasota’s Newtown neighborhood during segregation. He went on to become the city’s first African American mayor in the 1980’s, while serving on the city commission in the Newtown district seat, which was created several years prior following a federal lawsuit by the NAACP.

As part of our Telling Tampa Bay Stories series on Newtown, Atkins talks about some of the ways African Americans struggled in the community and the progress they have made since.

It was a year full of politics, historic anniversaries and ever changing industries here in Florida. This week on Florida Matters, we take a look back at a few stories that helped shape our area in 2019.

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