Here are some of the top stories from the past week from NBC 6 News:
PolitiFact: Why Haitians Are Crossing Into the U.S. in Texas, and Not Somewhere Closer
The images and news reports of migrants gathered under a border bridge are the latest immigration challenge facing the Biden administration. The reports have also prompted some social media users to raise questions about how Haitians ended up crossing into Texas, rather than Florida, which is much closer to Haiti.
"Am I the only one that wonders how 14,000 Haitians traveled 2,000 miles to end up under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas?" stated one Facebook post showing a straight red line from Haiti, across the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico to Texas. "I doubt that they walked."
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The short answer is that the Haitians did not come directly from Haiti to Texas. These migrants were traveling from South America, where they had lived in recent years.
"That’s why they have ended up in Texas, not Florida. They are coming from South American countries, through Central America and Mexico, and ultimately to the U.S.-Mexico border," said Jessica Bolter, a policy analyst at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. "They walk this route, as well as take buses and sometimes other forms of land transportation."
Miami-Dade Schools Change Quarantine Policy; Superintendent Vents About Missing Money
Miami-Dade County Public Schools announced a change in its quarantine policy Wednesday. Starting Monday, Oct. 11, middle school students will be under the same rule currently used for high school students, but despite pressure from the state, the district will not be relaxing its mandatory mask mandate.
Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said Wednesday that data shows the district’s COVID prevention protocols are working, and school administrators tell us they’ve received almost zero pushback from parents.
“Families are feeling safer sending the children to school with their masks,” said Aillette Rodriguez-Diaz, assistant principal at iPrep Academy. “They have told me this, and they’ve expressed sincere appreciation for the mask mandate.”
Carvalho held a news conference in which he displayed a series of graphs showing how the COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates have dropped significantly in Miami-Dade County.
That data led him to announce that asymptomatic middle schools students would now only have to quarantine five days after direct exposure with an infected person instead of the previous 10-day quarantine standard. That still doesn’t meet the state’s demand that parents should be able to decide whether to keep their COVD-exposed kids home from school.
EXPLAINER: Why King Tides Aren't Expected to be As Bad in 2021 Across South Florida
It's a yearly occurrence that has costal cities across Miami-Dade and Broward counties worried: the annual King Tide flooding that sends water into city streets.
The week-long window starts Tuesday and some cities are asking residents to be prepared.
But, forecasters are saying the tides in 2021 could end up not being as bad as years past.
The Florida Current’s transport is running relatively high right now while the lunar nodal cycle (the lunar orbit is on a different plane than Earth’s orbit around the Sun) is suppressing gravitational pull right now.
“During the most rapid downward phase of the lunar nodal cycle – like we’re in right now – we have a bit of a reprieve in the observed rate of sea level rise, all other things being equal," said Brian McNoldy from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.
So, unless we get a strong onshore flow, I don’t think we’ll see much more than the usual boat ramp and dock floods. Getting water onto the streets like in other years is going to be harder in 2021.
King Tide will return October 20th and 21st along with November 3rd-9th.
FBI Investigating Doral Officers' Potential Involvement With PPP Loan Money
Four South Florida law enforcement officers are off the street as federal agents look into their potential involvement with loan money intended to aid workers impacted by the pandemic.
The officers have not been on the street since early June. While the FBI would not comment to NBC 6, we learned the probe involves the Paycheck Protection Program — or PPP — which aids business workers and employees who took a financial hit due to COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the City of Opa-locka's payroll records show its Deputy Chief Nikeya Jenkins made an application for a PPP loan and that she did see a reduction from more than $20,000 in off-duty pay in 2019 to $10,000 dollars in 2020, and $7,500 so far this year.
Jenkins did not respond to our multiple attempts to speak with her Thursday. A spokesperson for Opa-locka said she has repaid the full amount.
Opa-locka also said Jenkins didn’t break any of its rules in applying for the money.
The City said it has zero knowledge of Jenkins being investigated by any law enforcement agency. A check of the state’s records showed multiple businesses in North Miami-Dade under the name Nikeya Jenkins, which the city said that’s something an employee is allowed to do.
Miami Beach Police Crack Down on Businesses Illegally Renting Out Slingshots
A joint operation on Miami Beach is hitting the brakes on illegal business in South Florida. At the center of the busts? Scooters and those three-wheel "slingshots."
Tourists love them, and residents hate them. But police say it's illegal for businesses to rent them in Miami Beach. And, this week, they found a spot where some of them are being stored.
Police found 23 slingshots, at least 80 scooters and seven golf carts all stored at the Ocean Steps Condo Garage on 15th and Collins. Police say a makeshift repair area was also inside.
“We’ve seen in the past few months videos, countless videos, of these types of slingshots operating recklessly," Officer Ernesto Rodriguez said.
In March, a driver in a slingshot hit four bicyclists on a sidewalk on the side of the McArthur Causeway. A woman was rushed to the hospital with head trauma — and the causeway was shut down for hours.
“It’s a balance because we are a tourist destination, but we want to be a responsible tourist destination, and we want to have responsible operators here renting to these tourists here to have a good time,” Rodriguez said.
Police say this week’s crackdown revealed how serious a problem slingshot rentals are. They issued 22 violations and fined seven businesses for illegally operating on Miami Beach.
‘It Takes Courage': Colombian Nurse Tackles Pandemic Head-on in South Florida
Miguel Hernandez has always had a passion for helping others and has been a trailblazer for Hispanics in the field of nursing.
"Nursing is something that was nurtured in me," said Hernandez, a nurse manager of med telemetry with Memorial Healthcare System.
Hernandez is now leading the way as a nurse, but he made a lot of sacrifices along the way as he left his native Colombia to come to the United States.
He's been in the country for over 16 years, and since he arrived at just 19 years old, he has hit the ground running, juggling multiple jobs and school. He says his Abuela, who has since passed away, was the driving force that motivated him every step of the way.
"I was able to graduate with my nursing degree while I was working full time as well. Sometimes I had to work two jobs, but it was doable and with God's help, it was always possible," said Hernandez.
The devoted nurse has worked his way up the ranks and has been with Memorial Healthcare System for seven years. The past year and a half, he saw the realities of the COVID-19 crisis head-on as he treated patients on his floor, which was temporarily converted to a COVID unit.