June 21: UF in the News 6/17/21-6/21/21

Taking the kids: As Orlando reopens — MSN, 6/17/21
The demand for normalcy at Florida’s amusement parks is clearly there. Expedia data indicates Orlando is the most searched destination through the end of the year. And on June 5, the day Universal Orlando reopened, hundreds of cars were lined up at 7:30 a.m. waiting to get into the park’s parking garage. 

Still, is it safe? UF professor Dr. Mobeen Rathore at UF Health’s Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology weighs in. 

Like cruising? These people are totally wild about it — AARP, 6/17/21
Some devoted cruisers, undaunted by COVID-19, can't wait to get back onboard. 

A recent survey by UF found that 30 percent of Americans would consider cruising next year. Among avid cruisers, 30 percent said they were ready to sail last April, and 46 percent said they would sail next year.

California and Florida took dramatically divergent pandemic paths. Who did better? — KQED, 6/17/21
From the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, the governors of California and Florida have taken almost polar opposite approaches to managing an unprecedented health crisis: California Gov. Gavin Newsom shut down his state early, prioritizing public health; Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis largely kept his state open for business, prioritizing the economy.

California just fully reopened on Tuesday, while Florida has been open all year, save for a short lockdown last spring. UF Epidemiologist Cindy Prins explains why it’s hard to judge success.  

Termites pose significant risk to South Florida during hurricane season, UF researchers say — WSVN, 6/17/21
Formosan and Asian subterranean termites, called “super termites" because they do more damage than the dry wood variety, are wreaking havoc in South Florida.

Thomas Chouvenc, UF/IFAS urban entomologist, and Rudolf Scheffrahn, UF professor of entomology, discuss termites and how to address them. 

Florida was one of the first to cut back to weekly COVID reports. Did it move too soon? — The Miami Herald, 6/18/21
About two weeks after Florida health officials discontinued publicly reporting some data and stopped issuing their daily COVID-19 summaries detailing cases, test positivity and vaccinations, some researchers remain concerned that the moves were made too early.

Marco Salemi, a professor of experimental pathology at UF, weighs in. 

How to find the right insect repellent, according to experts — NBC News, 6/18/21
Along with beach reads, swimsuits and sunscreen, the summer is also traditionally known as mosquito season — and bug bites are a sometimes unfortunate consequence of spending time outdoors.

Eva Buckner, a medical entomology extension specialist at UF/IFAS, discusses DEET-free alternatives. 

Gardening tips for the summer heat — News4JAX, 6/18/21 
Beth Marlowe, UF/IFAS Urban Garden Program Assistant, speaks with News4JAX about how to improve vegetable garden soil over Florida’s hottest months and prepare for fall gardening.

Florida probably won’t hit Biden’s 70% vaccinated goal by July 4 — The Orlando Sentinel, 6/18/21
While 14 states have reached the target vaccine threshold and several others are on track to in the coming weeks, Florida won’t likely be one of them and could be several months away from vaccinating enough people.

Still, Florida is outperforming most of its Southern neighbors. Cindy Prins, UF epidemiologist, shares her thoughts on where Florida stands. 

Examining the end of bipartisanship — Sinclair, 6/18/21
According to a new Pew study, only about 25% of Americans say they can trust the government in Washington to do what is right. Some of that sentiment is rooted in Congress being unable to strike a deal on major issues.

Sharon Austin, a professor of political science at UF, points to demographic shifts and the emergency of culture war issues as contributing factors. 

The 15 most beautiful insects in the world — MSN, 6/18/21
At any given moment, it’s estimated that 10 quintillion individual insects are alive and kicking on planet Earth. From blush-pink mantises to golden beetles, hummingbird-like moths to painterly stink bugs, the world is full of insects that wouldn’t look out of place in an art museum. 

But why do insects have different colors and patterns? Bugs have evolved with unique appearances for a few key reasons: camouflage, mating, and protection, explains Akito Y. Kawahara, associate professor and curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History at UF. 

UF scientists brewing up a new crop for Florida farmers — WFTS, 6/18/21
UF scientists have been working for five years to successfully grow hops at UF/IFAS’ Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Wimauma.

UF/IFAS Horticulture Assistant Professor Shinsuke Agehara shares why growing hops in Florida is challenging. 

What you need to know: Marion County families prepare for the advanced child tax credit — The Ocala Star-Banner, 6/18/21
Advanced monthly payments under a new Child Tax Credit program will be hitting bank accounts of qualifying parents with children younger than 18 in less than a month, and Marion County families have mixed opinions on taking the money now or opting for later. 

Steven Willis, professor of law at UF, helped answer some questions local families had about the new monthly payments. 

Space agencies are learning how to make food on Mars and the Moon — NBC Miami, 6/20/21
Whether from continent to continent or coast to coast, people have always made their big moves together with plants. Traveling away from Earth would be no different. Our success on other worlds will rest, in part, on the supple stems of plants.

"Plants are things that we take with us as explorers," says Anna-Lisa Paul, researcher and co-director of the UF Space Plants Lab. "They're part of our core heritage whether we think of it or not."