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Steve Newborn

Assistant News Director

Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.

He’s been with WUSF since 2001, and has covered events such as President George W. Bush’s speech in Sarasota as the Sept. 11 attacks unfolded; the ongoing drama over whether the feeding tube should be removed from Terri Schiavo; the arrest and terrorism trial of USF professor Sami Al-Arian; how the BP Deepwater Horizon spill affected Florida; and he followed the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition through the state - twice.

Before joining WUSF, he covered environmental and Polk County news for the Tampa Tribune and worked for NASA at the Kennedy Space Center during the early days of the space shuttle.

Ways to Connect

Contact tracing chart
Katie Lepri / WLRN

Hillsborough County's move to track down who has been around people who have contracted the coronavirus is set to ramp up in the next month.

The county's "contact tracing" program looks to get in touch with anyone who has been around people with the virus, and have them self-isolate to prevent its spread.

Face masks on table
iStock

Businesses in Hillsborough County that fail to enforce rules for customers to wear masks indoors will no longer face criminal penalties.

Victoria Mejia
Zoom

On Florida Matters this week, we're taking a look at life behind the front lines - the front lines of the war on the coronavirus.

Many first responders - doctors, nurses and people just willing to lend a hand - have forsaken the relative comfort of their own hometowns and ventured into the epicenter of the virus outbreak.

people posing for a photo on a couch in a business
Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

This week on Florida Matters, we hear why Black Americans get arrested at a rate higher than other groups.

It's a very complex issue, and there there are many reasons - some believe they're overpoliced or targeted by police for no reason. One professor says it's the result of centuries of discrimination that are built into our culture.

people wearing face masks
iStock

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said Thursday she'll enact an ordinance requring people working with the public to wear masks to prevent transmission of the coronavirus. It would also require anyone walking into a business in the city to wear masks.

Marriott Hotel in downtown Tampa
GOOGLE maps

Hotels in the Tampa Bay area had their second best month ever in February. But, what a difference a month makes.

Marriott Hotel in downtown Tampa
GOOGLE maps

Hotels in the Tampa Bay area had their second-best month ever in February.

But, what a difference a month makes.

Chart showing COVID-19 cases trending upward in Hillsborough County
Florida Department of Health

New coronavirus cases are spiking across the state, with Florida recording another high for new coronavirus cases reported in a single day on Thursday.

Hillsborough County officials are trying to get the word out that we still need to keep our distance from each other.

Many studies are showing the coronavirus has sickened and killed black Americans at a disproportionately high rate. One study found that the 22% of U.S. counties that are majority black account for nearly half of coronavirus cases - and almost 60 percent of deaths from COVID-19.

DAYLINA MILLER/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

Many studies are showing the coronavirus has sickened and killed black Americans at a disproportionately high rate. One study found that the 22 percent of U.S. counties that are majority black account for nearly half of coronavirus cases - and almost 60 percent of deaths from Covid-19.

Coronavirus mask
iStock

People do not have a right to wear a mask to ward off the coronavirus if a business owner says they can't.

That's the decision of the Hillsborough Emergency Policy Group, after their members voted 5 to 3 Thursday to defeat a motion by County Commissioner Kimberly Overman to give people the right to wear a mask any time they want.

Protesters at Cyrus Green Park in Tampa
DAYLINA MILLER/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

Brian Butler is a former Army officer, president and CEO of his own Tampa company - and African American.

Protesters at Cyrus Green Park in Tampa
Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

Brian Butler is a former Army officer, president and CEO of his own Tampa company, and African American.

That last definition has defined much of his life - including being stopped several times for no reason other than his color. In the wake of protests and riots after George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer, Butler was moved to write an opinion piece in the Tampa Bay Times.

Florida Matters talks to Butler about whether he's grown accustomed to being profiled and whether he harbors any bitterness because of it.

Covid-19 Testing
IStock

Hillsborough County officials have announced the opening of three more public testing sites for Covid-19.

Gene Early, with the county's department of healthcare services, said they have been working with Suncoast Community Health Centers to partner with the state Department of Health to provide testing in Brandon.

Sara Nelms playing guitar
SRQLive

The toll the coronavirus is taking on all of us can be measured in different ways. Jobs that are lost. The money troubles that come with it. The isolation.

WUSF Public Media wanted to go beyond the headlines and hear from you. Or at least those who filled out a survey form we sent out a while back to see how you're doing in these unique times.

So on this edition of Florida Matters, we're going to hear from several of those people - in their own words, via "audio postcards."

Woman wearing mask
U.S. Army photo

A new survey shows one out of four people in the state have had their work hours cut because of the pandemic - and nearly 18 percent have been laid off from work.

The Sunshine State Survey of 600 people was done by Nielsen and the University of South Florida. According to USF assistant professor Joshua Scacco, six out of 10 respondents said they are concerned about the effect the economic shutdown is having on their finances.

Photo showing Hurricanes Katia, Irma, and Jose
NOAA

While most of us are still sheltering in place, trying to ride out the storm of coronavirus, well -- guess what -- a real storm may be just around the corner.

people wearing face masks
iStock

A new survey shows a majority of respondents favor requiring people to wear face masks in public. But a large portion says the responses to the pandemic could be worse than the disease.

Jennifer Rominieki
Courtesy Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Not only small businesses and restaurants have been hurt by the pandemic. Many nonprofits are having an existential crisis, as donors hold on to their wallets and government help begins drying up.

One of the nonprofits affected is Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota.  Florida Matters' Steve Newborn talks with president and CEO Jennifer Rominiecki about how the community is coming to the aid of nonprofits like hers.

Empty chairs at Tampa International Airport
Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

When almost everybody is staying at home, that obviously doesn't bode well for the state's tourism industry. And for all those tourists flying into some of the nation's biggest tourist destinations -- well, they're not. Some estimates have airport traffic down to a trickle. The not-so-friendly skies has had a ripple effect on businesses that rely on airports for their livelihoods. Other restrictions are being slowly lifted, so we'll start to get a feel for how businesses are going to recover.

Joe Biden on the screen
YouTube

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden took to the internet with his first "virtual" rally late Thursday, billed as being from Tampa. But this new way of campaigning in the age of coronavirus could use a bit of tweaking.

As we transition back to normal, Florida Matters looked for some analysis on the unique challenges Tampa Bay businesses, non-profits and the economy will be facing as we transition from stay-at-home orders to heading back to work again.

So we got some insight with Balaji Padmanabhan, the Anderson Professor of Global Management, the Director of the Center for Analytics & Creativity and a professor in the Information Systems and Decision Sciences Department at the University of South Florida Muma College of Business.

Daylina Miller/WUSF Public Media

When almost everybody is staying at home, that obviously doesn't bode well for the state's tourism industry. And for all those tourists flying into some of the nation's biggest tourist destinations -- well, they're not. Some estimates have airport traffic down to a trickle. The not-so-friendly skies has had a ripple effect on businesses that rely on airports for their livelihoods. Other restrictions are being slowly lifted, so we'll start to get a feel for how businesses are going to recover.

Gov. Ron DeSantis tapped several task forces to look at how and when we should be going back to business as normal.  One of the business leaders who was part of the Re-Open Florida Task Force is Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano.

CARL LISCIANDRELLO/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

Members of the Hillsborough Emergency Policy Group voted Thursday to rescind its stay-at-home order, beginning at midnight Monday. But it won't mean the end of social distancing - the governor's revised policy takes effect then.

In addition, some Hillsborough County parks, preserves and trails will be reopening within the next week.

Clara Reynolds in front of the crisis center
Twitter

We're all living in a whole new world out there - the world of COVID-19, coronavirus or social distancing. Whatever you call it, it's a world of isolation.

The changes in our daily routines and the resulting isolation can affect people's mental health in a lot of ways. Whether you're home alone, with a sick family member or with kids out of school - isolation can increase stress and anxiety.

So just what is happening out there? And is there anything we can do about our mental health? On this week's Florida Matters, we get a little insight from Clara Reynolds, president and CEO of the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.

Sign on Bayshore Boulevard says 6 Feet Apart
DAYLINA MILLER/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

Members of the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group are slowly moving toward reopening the county for business.

A testing supply tent set up outside Raymond James Stadium
Hillsborough County

Hillsborough County has been notified it will receive $256 million from the federal government though the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The county also plans to open on Wednesday three more coronavirus testing sites: at Lee Davis Community Center, South Shore Community Center and Plant City Community Center.

Firefighting boats attempt to put out the blaze at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig
U.S. Coast Guard

April 20 marks 10 years since the BP oil spill began off the Louisiana coast when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded. Over the next six months, more than 200 million gallons of crude spilled into the Gulf.

It's considered to be the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

Sign on Bayshore Boulevard says Safer At Home
DAYLINA MILLER/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

Hillsborough County will no longer be under a curfew.

The Hillsborough Emergency Policy Group on Thursday voted unanimously to rescind the curfew, which had gone into effect Monday night.

UPDATE: The Hillsborough Emergency Policy Group on Thursday voted unanimously to rescind the curfew. [Read more]

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