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

map of Florida area codes

State regulators voted Tuesday to create a new area code for Hillsborough County and parts of Pinellas and Pasco counties. That's because the county is set to run out of telephone numbers in two years.

Aerial view of the Yuengling Center at USF Tampa
Wikimedia Commons

Hillsborough County took additional steps Monday to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, as it continues its first week of an enforced stay-at-home policy.

The county has gotten another 1,500 testing collection kits from the state and will reopen its testing site at Raymond James Stadium for three days beginning Wednesday. It will be open from 8 to 11 a.m. through Friday.

Shelter in place sign

There will be no curfew in Hillsborough County, after all.

But starting at 10 p.m. Friday, county residents will be asked to "shelter at home" - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The Tampa skyline
Thomas Iacobucci / WUSF Public Media

Hillsborough County could soon be under a weekend and weeknight curfew -- as early as Friday.

On Wednesday, members of the county's Emergency Policy Group unanimously approved setting up a vote for the curfew during their next meeting  at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

The move to limit the spread of coronavirus would set up a countywide curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. weeknights; and from 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.

Sandra Murman and Jane Castor

On Wednesday, an emergency policy group of Hillsborough County officials is expected to vote on enacting an overnight curfew. It comes two days after the group voted down a plan by Tampa Mayor Jane Castor to issue a shelter-in-place order for county residents.

She decided Tuesday to go it alone and issue that order for city residents.

Jane Castor at podium
Facebook Live

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said she plans to enact a stay-at-home policy for the city. It would be enacted Wednesday morning and be enforced beginning at 11:59 p.m. that night.

Hillsborough County Center building
Hillsborough County

An order for everyone in Hillsborough County to abide by a curfew between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. may be voted on as soon as Thursday, after a countywide emergency policy group postponed a decision on Monday. 

The group, made up of county commissioners, three city mayors, the sheriff and head of the county school board. also indicated it may not issue a shelter-in place order for Hillsborough residents right away.

USF St. Petersburg
Nicole Slaughter Graham / WUSF Public Media

The first University of South Florida student to be found with COVID-19 was diagnosed over the weekend. The student attends USF St. Petersburg, according to University President Steve Currall.

Currall said in a statement the student is being monitored by the Florida Department of Health’s Pinellas County division and is in self-isolation. The student has not been on the campus since late February.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

There will be no "shelter-in-place" order for Floridians to stay at home, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Sunday afternoon, although state like New York, California and Illinois are telling its residents to leave home only for emergencies.

Bernie Sanders at podium

Political Scientist Susan MacManus said few people really expected Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to do well in Florida's presidential primary, with the state's mix of older, more conservative voters and Hispanics who are well versed with the effects of socialism in places like Cuba and Venezuela.

Poll worker sits alone
Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

Former Vice President Joe Biden cruised to a commanding win in Tuesday's Florida presidential primary Tuesday over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. But the biggest issue at the polls had little to do with politics.


Few delays were reported at polling places in Pinellas County today, even after about 300 poll workers didn't show up this morning over fears about COVID-19.

Tampa skyline

Hillsborough County is joining the list of cities and counties limiting the hours restaurants and bars operate and how many people can congregate in them at one time.

Late Monday, Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill issued an Administrator Order that will take effect at noon Tuesday.

A woman with short hair sits at a desk
Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

Concerns about the coronavirus are expected to have an effect at the ballot box during Tuesday's presidential primary.

Gov. DeSantis at the podium
Florida Channel

Gov. Ron DeSantis says a drive-through testing site for COVID-19 will be set up this week in Broward County, which has been hit particularly hard by coronavirus. He said during a press conference Sunday night in Tallahassee it will be manned by Florida National Guard troops.

Blonde woman in red ballcap and blue dress stands before microphone
Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

While much of the nation's attention has focused on the Democratic candidates for president, there is also a Republican primary in Florida next week. During a recent luncheon hosted by Women For Trump Florida in Manatee County, even though some expressed concern about the president's past dealings with women, they say their focus is strictly on the future.

Bob Buckhorn and Joe Biden
Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday morning, he was Michael Bloomberg's Florida campaign co-chair. By noon, former Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn was backing Joe Biden for president.

Buckhorn is disappointed - but not surprised - by Bloomberg dropping out of the race. But he said it's the best way to concentrate Democrats on their main goal: making Donald Trump a one-term president.

Early Voting

Anyone wanting to get a jump on the voting for Florida's presidential primary can go to the polls beginning Monday for the next two weeks.

Henry Plant

Historian Canter Brown takes a look at the man who literally put Tampa on the map. He has written a new book, Henry Bradley Plant: Gilded Age Dreams for Florida and the New South." 

Brian Auld at the podium

Tampa Bay Rays President Brian Auld made his case for splitting the team's home season with Montreal during an appearance Thursday at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club in St. Petersburg.

Auld said despite the obvious challenges of building two stadiums in two countries, it's a fight worth fighting.

Suncoast Parkway
Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

Three of the biggest toll road expansions ever planned for Florida could have a big impact on much of the state. Planners have released a graphic showing areas that they'll avoid. But  opponents aren't being swayed.

Mike Bloomberg meetup
Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

While Iowa and New Hampshire have captured most of the attention of the Democratic nominees for president, Florida is lurking in the background as one of the biggest prizes of all.

Elizabeth Warren's campaign started canvassing two weeks ago, and volunteers with Michael Bloomberg opened an Orlando field office in early February and another one in Tampa this past Saturday.

PIttman holds book
Cameron Pittman

Florida's state animal has never had it very good. The Florida Panther was shot at, run off its hunting grounds and hemmed in by roads and development. It got so bad that by the early 1990s, only a handful remained. The tale of how the panther was led back on the road to recovery has several twists and turns, including a "happy ending" that has taken 20 years to materialize.

The story is told by environmental reporter Craig Pittman in his new book, "Cat Tale: The Wild, Weird Battle To Save The Florida Panther." He talks about the book with WUSF's Florida Matters host Robin Sussingham.

treating sea turtle
Steve Newborn / WUSF News

The threats to sea turtles are as big as the ocean they inhabit: red tide, overfishing, rising seas swamping their nesting grounds and being stunned by the winter cold. But a rehabilitation facility in Apollo Beach that opened last year is giving a new lease on life to many endangered turtles.

Our nation's democratic elections are being threatened like never before. Florida Matters this week takes a look at how our ballots are being protected - both nationally and around the state. WUSF's Robin Sussingham talks with Brian Corley, supervisor of elections with Pasco County, and Miles Parks, a reporter with National Public Radio in Washington, D.C.

Elizabeth Warren canvassers
Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

Most candidates for president are focusing on today's Iowa caucuses, so Florida has been relegated to the background. One of the few Democrats with a robust ground game in the state is Elizabeth Warren. Her campaign opened an office in Orlando this weekend, and they also kicked off their canvassing campaign in Tampa Sunday.

Vice President Mike Pence
Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

Vice President Mike Pence made his first campaign trip of the year to Florida Thursday, targeting voters inside the highly competitive I-4 corridor. His stops in Tampa and Kissimmee are a sign of who President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign is targeting: older voters and Hispanic residents.

Vice President Mike Pence during a recent visit to NASA

The Florida primary is more than a month away, but it could still be a decisive election in the race for president. On Thursday, the vice president will come to Central Florida to stump for President Trump.

Mike Pence is targeting two key constituencies during his visit: senior citizens during a stop in New Tampa, and Hispanics in Kissimmee.

Mike Pence

Vice President Mike Pence won't be going to Wimauma next week after all - but he will be going to New Tampa.

People on the front lines of climate change gathered Tuesday in St. Petersburg.  The meeting was hosted by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, which was the driving force in organizing and forming the Tampa Bay Regional Resiliency Council to address the problems posted by climate change.