The first presidential debate is in the books, and a prominent Florida political expert weighs in on the verbal carnage.

Among those watching was Susan MacManus, a retired political scientist from the University of South Florida.

“It was uniform that it was a disastrous debate; embarrassing, unprofessional,” said MacManus. “And certainly demeaning to most voters who tuned in to really hear some dialogue about their policy positions on how to improve America.”

Mayra Heitman/WUWF

Wednesday, Sept. 30

235 dead in Escambia

As of 2 p.m., Escambia County has had 12,353 positive COVID-19 cases.

The total number of COVID-19-related deaths in Escambia County residents is 235 individuals.

Death toll at 14,315

From the state department of health:

Marco Verch/Flickr

Voter registration books for the November 3 General Election will close on Monday. 

Florida law mandates registration books close 29 days before an election. That leaves just a few days to register or make party-affiliation changes. Address changes can be made after the books close.

Kris Poore/Courtesy Photo

Sept. 30

2 p.m.

Health advisories in Escambia County

Effective immediately, in response to bacteriological sampling, the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County (FDOH-Escambia) is continuing a health advisory for all inland waters due to lingering effects from Hurricane Sally, including the following locations in Escambia County, Florida:

Kugelman Honors Program

The University of West Florida is offering a free community course titled: “Race and the Community: Past, Present, and Our Future.” The five-week online series will feature a session every Thursday in October, beginning tomorrow at 6 p.m.

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue heard from farmers Monday afternoon in Jay following a tour of crop damage from Hurricane Sally in south Alabama and Florida. 

Following his visit to Alabama, Perdue, along with U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, stopped at Jenkins Farm in Jay and took questions from more than dozen people in the farming industry about the state of crops in Florida. 


Florida is getting 6.4 million rapid-test kits to detect COVID-19 infections at a faster rate. Schools, senior centers, and long-term care facilities are getting first dibs.

That number translates to about 400,000 kits over the next year. Gov. Ron DeSantis made the announcement Tuesday in Clearwater, and was among the first to take the new test, administered by a nurse in PPE, as required by federal law.

In this Gulf Stories Moment, Dr. Jane Caffrey, professor from the Center for Environmental Diagnostics and Bioremediation at UWF, tells us about the humble oyster.

City of Pensacola

Last week’s order from Tallahassee that all businesses reopen to full capacity in the COVID pandemic, and seeking Uncle Sam’s help highlighted Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson’s weekly virtual news conference.

One issue to be resolved is just how much federal assistance is coming to Northwest Florida to help clean up after the hurricane. Work was underway over the weekend to secure individual assistance money from FEMA.

Will Kennedy/Courtesy Photo

Now that Hurricane Sally is history the restoration is underway in Northwest Florida and south Alabama. And so are the scam artists looking to make an illicit buck.

One of the emerging rip offs deals with Social Security, according to Tammy Ward at the Better Business Bureau in Pensacola.

Mayra Heitman/WUWF

Sept. 27

4:03 p.m.

State death toll at 14,032

From the state department of health:

Saturday’s statewide positivity rate for new cases is 4.08 percent.  

Saturday was the 45th straight day below 10 percent positivity of new cases.  

Saturday, Sept. 26

State death toll at 14,022

From the state department of health:

Friday’s statewide positivity rate for new cases is 4.15 percent.

Creative Commons

Despite the continued spread of COVID-19, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is lifting all restrictions on restaurants and other businesses, which were aimed at curbing the virus.

“We are today moving into what we initially called ‘Phase-3,’ and what that will mean for the restaurants is that there will not be limitations from the state of Florida,” said the governor.

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

Mourners paid their respects to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bade Ginsburg Friday as she lied in state at the U.S. Capitol. 

And in Fort Walton Beach, at the Okaloosa County court annex, about 80 people gathered for an informal vigil where people shared what “RBG” meant to them. 

“We’re just four women who admired her and mourned her loss and just needed to get together and be with our sisters and brothers and remember her,” said Judy Byne Riley, one of the organizers of Friday’s event. 

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

Perdido Key and Innerarity Point were among the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Sally in southwest Escambia County. The storm made landfall at nearby Gulf Shores, leaving property ravaged by wind and water - due to storm surge and more than 20 inches of rainfall.

Driving through the area, it’s clear that a storm has been here. Vegetation on the barrier island has turned brown from the salt water that washed over, trees are down or leaning due to the sustained wind, and there are blue tarps scattered about.

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

No mother is prepared to make final arrangements for their 21-year-old son. 

But Wednesday afternoon, that’s what Raquel Zavala was doing. Just last weekend, she said goodbye to her son, Hugo, for the last time although she didn’t know it. Hugo sometimes stayed with friends for a few nights at a time. That last thing she said to him was “I’ll see you Monday.”

But that didn’t happen.