At the ‘epicenter’ of the coronavirus pandemic, Miami-Dade mayor resists more closures

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Monday he wants to see if existing restaurant restrictions, an ongoing 10 p.m. curfew and a countywide mask order help stabilize the county’s alarming COVID numbers before forcing more businesses to close.

Gimenez is under pressure on both sides, with cities and restaurant groups criticizing last week’s ban on indoor dining and Miami-Dade seeing much more coronavirus spread and hospitalizations than when the county mayor ordered all nonessential businesses to close in March.

“We’re not there yet. But everything is on the table. I don’t think anyone on this call wants to take that drastic step,” Gimenez said at a Monday morning online press conference with local doctors advising him on Miami-Dade’s COVID plan. “If we simply follow the rules, and keep our masks on and keep our distance, wash our hands, that we’ve opened can be done in a relatively safe way. … Right now, I don’t have any intention of going further.”

The mayor’s press conference was announced after political rivals scheduled their own Monday morning media event to criticize the county’s response. Miami-Dade Democrats repeatedly criticized Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, and Gimenez, a Republican congressional candidate, for failing to communicate on hiring contact tracers.

“I hope that the governor and mayor will come to their senses and work with all of us to act quickly,” said Miami-Dade Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, whom Gimenez hopes to challenge as the Republican nominee in Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

“At best, we have a hole in our leadership at the state level and at the federal level,” Democratic state Sen. Oscar Braynon said. “A coordinated effort between federal, state and local leaders would have stopped us from breaking the [COVID case] record yesterday.”

County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, who is running for Miami-Dade mayor, said DeSantis should activate a temporary field hospital in Miami Beach, which has not accepted a single patient since opening in April but remains open.

“We have a field hospital in Miami Beach, but it hasn’t been activated,” Levine Cava said. “The governor has said we’re bringing in 100 nurses from out of state, but we don’t have a plan. We don’t have a state plan, we don’t have a county plan. Some have estimated we need 10,000 contact tracers. We need to get started.”

On Sunday night, Miami Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala. the health secretary under President Bill Clinton, called for a 21-day shutdown.

Source: Miami Herald