Greg Allen

San Jorge Children's Hospital is Puerto Rico's largest pediatric hospital, drawing patients from throughout the Caribbean. It's a bustling facility in San Juan, with specialties in surgery, rheumatology and oncology. It also has brightly colored live parrots at every entrance.

"It just sends a message to the patient that they're in a friendly place," explains San Jorge's vice president of operations, Domingo Cruz Vivaldi. "That they're here to be treated, but they're also going to have a good time."

The Zika virus is a health threat not just to Latin America, but also to parts of the U.S. It's already a problem in Puerto Rico where there are nearly 120 cases so far, including five pregnant women. That's a concern, because Zika may be involved in causing birth defects.

The Zika virus now has a foothold in a U.S. territory. Puerto Rico is reporting at least 117 Zika cases, including at least five pregnant women. That's of special concern because of Zika's possible link to birth defects.

In Bayamon, a San Juan suburb, Monica Figueroa is waiting in line at a lunch truck. She's a nurse who works at a nearby clinic and she is pregnant — "about five months and a few weeks, something like that," she says in Spanish. Figueroa knows about Zika. She says she's wearing mosquito repellent but is not especially worried.

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When people talk about Florida's Everglades, they often use superlatives: It's the largest protected wilderness east of the Mississippi River, and it's the biggest subtropical wetland in North America.

But it is also the site of a joint federal-state plan that is the largest ecosystem restoration effort ever attempted — one that is beginning to pay off after decades of work.

Florida is one of several U.S. states now reporting a few isolated cases of people infected with the Zika virus. In response, Florida's Gov. Rick Scott has declared a public health emergency in five counties in hopes of getting ahead of the virus's spread.

So far, just 12 cases of the mosquito-borne illness have been reported to health authorities in Florida, all of them among travelers who contracted the disease outside the U.S. But Scott figures it's only a matter of time before the virus starts showing up among mosquitoes in some regions of the state, too.

Florida's highest court on Tuesday will hear a case that may determine the fate of some 390 people on the state's death row. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Florida's system for imposing the death penalty is unconstitutional.

Florida has an execution set for next week. The state's highest court now must decide whether it can go forward.

The rapid spread of the Zika virus has raised interest in a British company that has developed a genetically modified mosquito. Oxitec has produced a genetically engineered line of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the mosquito that carries dengue fever and chikungunya. Those tropical diseases have become common in Latin America and are now showing up in Florida.

Aedes aegypti also carries Zika, a disease whose symptoms include fever, like dengue. It has also been linked to a birth defect, microcephaly in children born to women infected with Zika.

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It won't be long until passengers will be able to take a ferry to Cuba from Miami, an idea that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago in a city that's home to Cuban exiles who fled from the Castro regime. The Obama administration approved licenses last year to companies that want to run ferries to Cuba. Several are interested. Still, it came as a surprise last week when the port of Miami said it's considering building a new ferry terminal on land that had been slated for development.

Hundreds of people were lined up when the gun show opened at the fairgrounds in Miami. It was mostly men, but there were quite a few women and even some kids. Winter is a busy time for gun sales in Florida. But this gun show was busier than usual.

Even before President Obama announced actions aimed at tightening controls on gun purchases, sales were up — partly in reaction to terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernadino.

There was an unusual scene at Florida's Capitol building in Tallahassee this week. To comply with a court order, legislative staffers used a computer program to randomly assign new numbers to Florida's 40 state Senate districts.

It's the latest in a series of moves that have reshaped politics in the Sunshine State. The political ground shifted recently when the courts approved new maps for congressional districts and the state Senate. The maps are the result of laws that aim to eliminate gerrymandering: drawing districts to benefit one political party or another.

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There's been a breakthrough in an impasse that's left several thousand Cuban migrants stranded in Central America.

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In Latin American cultures, Christmas Eve is Noche Buena and time for a big family celebration, often featuring a pig roast. There are lots of ways to cook a whole pig. But at Noche Buena parties in South Florida and, increasingly, around the country, the preferred method for roasting a pig involves something known as a "China box."

Since President Obama opened a door to Cuba, there's been progress in the past year. Americans can travel there. The two countries reopened their embassies and have agreed to re-establish commercial air travel.

But on the financial front, progress has been slow. After a year, there's just one U.S. financial institution doing business with Cuba — and it's a small bank in Pompano Beach, Fla.

Florida's Everglades has an ecosystem known for its sawgrass, cypress trees, alligators — and perhaps soon, oil wells.

Oil drilling isn't allowed in the 1.5 million-acre Everglades National Park, but the ecosystem extends far beyond the park's boundaries — and drilling is allowed in Big Cypress National Preserve, an adjacent protected area about half the size of the park.

While others are thinking about the holidays, in Florida November is the beginning of citrus season. Grower Jeff Schorner sells citrus fruit gift boxes by mail order and at his store, Al's Family Farm in Fort Pierce.

"We began our harvest about three weeks ago," he says. "And we'll harvest all the way about until the beginning of June." Right now, it's navel oranges. Next come tangerines, ruby red grapefruit and the popular honeybell tangelos.

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With their garish blooms, there's something special about orchids, and in the U.S., no place has more native species than Fakahatchee Strand Preserve. The state park in Southwest Florida was the setting for the 1998 book The Orchid Thief. Scientists there are working to bring back varieties lost through the years to poachers and habitat destruction.

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Jeb Bush is trying to jump-start his campaign this week, with a new focus and a new slogan: "Jeb Can Fix It."

That's meant to highlight his two terms as governor of Florida, but it might also apply to his lackluster campaign.

Bush's hopes to dominate the race as front-runner are a distant memory, with outsider candidates like Donald Trump and Ben Carson leading the field since the summer.

But lately, Bush has been fighting more fiercely with a man he once mentored, Marco Rubio. When Bush was governor, Rubio served as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

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Three and a half million people live in Puerto Rico. But many more Puerto Ricans, about 5.2 million, live on the U.S. mainland. Over the last decade, crime, the struggling economy and a fiscal crisis have prompted tens of thousands to leave the island each year. Many land in Florida.

At a community center in Orlando this week, Puerto Rican leaders from all over the U.S. gathered at a conference with an ambitious goal: to forge a national political agenda — and flex some political muscle.

White sand, waves, water and cars?

People have been driving on the hard-packed sand of Daytona Beach for more than a century. Races were held on the beach until they were moved to the Daytona International Speedway in 1959.

After the racers left, cars and trucks continued to cruise on the sand. But now, there's a debate raging about whether it's finally time to ban vehicles on Daytona Beach.

Like many locals, Cassie Brown has a favorite spot on Daytona Beach — one she visits almost every day in her car.

Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., is running for speaker of the House. His chances are not good, but a look at his career explains why he's the choice of the House Freedom Caucus.

Those conservatives in the House say they want a speaker who will not be a top-down leader, but will give members more of a say in what legislation sees action on the floor and who controls committees.

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