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Wednesday, 15 July 2020 22:40

South FL Mayors Warn Governor COVID-19 Situation Will Get Worse Before It Gets Better

Written by John Haughey, The Center Square


With south Florida the nation’s COVID-19 hot spot, Miami County mayors told Gov. Ron DeSantis on July 14 they could not issue emergency closures even if they had to.

And several said they may have to---soon.


“There isn’t a metric right now,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez said. “We’re going to be looking at, can we establish a metric that we can publish to the community to say, ‘Look, if we don’t get to this point by this time, we’re going to have to take additional measures.’”


Giménez and mayors of Miami, Miami Gardens, Miami Beach, Doral, Pinecrest and Bal Harbour met with DeSantis in a roundtable discussion at the Miami-Dade Government Center and told the governor they need his help in conveying justifications for a potential second lockdown.


“There’s a significant amount of pressure right now for us to shut down at some level,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said. “We are at a critical juncture that if things do not improve quickly---over the next week or two---we’re going to be under significant pressure to do something like that.”


According to the Florida Department of Health's (DOH) COVID-19 dashboard, 9,261 additional positive tests were reported July 14, boosting Florida cases since March 1 to 291,629, with 4,409 people dead and 18,498 people hospitalized, including more than 8,000 people now in hospitals.


July 14's reported 132 deaths is the most reported in a single day in Florida, although variations in when deaths are reported does not mean they all occurred the same day. The previous high was July 9, when 120 deaths were reported.


Miami-Dade County reported 2,090 additional confirmed cases and 32 deaths July 14, raising its tally to 69,803 cases and 1,175 deaths.


With positive test rates at 22.1%, and at 26.3% at one point last week, the mayors told DeSantis the situation is going to get worse before it gets better.


DeSantis said he will not roll back from phase two of his three-phase reopening plan, but said local governments have his support to impose mandatory face mask and other safety protocols should circumstances demand.


Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III said the governor must emphasize the seriousness of the situation.


“Right now,” he said, “people don’t believe that actually can happen.”


Suarez and Gilbert leveled mild criticism at DeSantis, with Suarez saying Florida needs a new long-term strategy since “things have sort of not gone according to plan.” Gilbert said the state---and south Florida---reopened too soon.

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