May 10: UF in the News 5/7/21-5/10/21

In-Depth: Tracking COVID-19 variants in Florida — WFTS, 5/7/21
While the fight against COVID-19 carries on, health experts are working to track mutations of the virus.

“We have the UK variant which is spreading widely and the Brazilian variant and the South African variant. And the Brazilian variant, P1, is quite a bit of concern as it’s increasing the most,” said Ira Longini, Ph.D., a professor of biostatistics at UF. 

New COVID Variant Found in Florida As State Reports Over 10,000 'Variant of Concern' Cases — Newsweek, 5/7/21
A new COVID variant of concern (VOC) has been detected in Florida, according to the state's Department of Health.

"Variants themselves keep accumulating mutations," Marco Salemi, from the University of Florida's Emerging Pathogens Institute, told the Florida Sun-Sentinel. "This mutation might act differently and it might not."

Facebook Won’t Apologize for Instagram Youth — Bloomberg, 5/7/21
Facebook will have to convince skeptical parents as it plans a children’s version of Instagram, its flagship photo-sharing app. The standard version requires users to be 13, but Facebook says the new app will give preteens access to most of the same features, which probably means the ability to post and share photos and videos, like and follow accounts and use photo filters. 

Stacey Steinberg, director of the University of Florida law school's Center on Children and Families, praises the idea of a more limited social media environment to help young users navigate the online world. 

“Unlike so many other aspects of family life, there [are] no training wheels when it comes to social media,” she says. “I don’t think the answer is shutting the internet off completely for them.” 

Survey of Alachua County residents shows signs of vaccine hesitancy — The Gainesville Sun, 5/8/21
A recent survey of Alachua County residents suggests that coronavirus vaccine hesitancy is a problem among locals — which could impact chances of reaching herd immunity.  

Dr. Michael Lauzardo, an epidemiologist and deputy director of the University of Florida's Emerging Pathogens Institute, said he’s still seeing J&J hesitance in the community, but he sees the pause as a sign of success. 

Massive turnout, voters of color — new data fill in the details on Biden's election win — Los Angeles Times, 5/10/21 
The release of census data on who voted last year, as well as a new analysis of the results from a leading Democratic data firm, has filled in many of the details of Biden's victory, providing numbers to fuel the continuing debate within the party about who deserves the most credit for the win and what policies would make a repeat most likely.

"Turnout rates went up for everyone," said Michael McDonald, a political science professor at UF and the nation's leading expert on the topic.