‘We need a sense of urgency’: Miami-Dade mayors share coronavirus concerns with Gov. DeSantis


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Mayors from across Miami-Dade County painted a dire picture of the coronavirus crisis in their communities on Tuesday during a roundtable discussion with Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“Right now we have a situation where the news coming out of Miami is not positive,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said. “I think we have somewhere between one week and four weeks to get this thing under control. Otherwise, we’re going to have to take some very dramatic measures here.”

Earlier in the meeting, Mayor Suarez stressed the need for a long-term plan. He also said the governor’s plan to reopen Florida would have been great if everything had gone as expected.

“But I think the fact that things have not gone according to plan…has created a scenario under which this virus has grown much, much quicker than I think people anticipated,” he said.

Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert stressed the importance during the meeting of all elected officials in Florida coming together despite their political beliefs to convey one unified message to the public.

“We understand as people charged with, ultimately, the health and safety of the residents of this area that this level of increase is not sustainable. That this actually has to slow down,” Gilbert said. “Having those conversations as a group, having those conversations under you all’s leadership is important because ultimately when we have to do things, we’re going to have to do them together.”

Another mayor invited to the roundtable, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, shared his concerns about people not following recommendations from medical experts about masks and social distancing.

“It’s been incredibly troubling to me that, even in my own community, the amount of people who don’t think they need to do something is enormous,” he said. “I think a lot of this has to be – we need to create a greater sense of urgency. Not just telling people, not just urging them but creating urgency.”

Mayor Gelber said he thinks that message needs to come from President Trump and Gov. DeSantis.

“Last week even the vice president talked about, you know, we’re in a really good place or in a good place in Florida. And when people hear that, I think people will follow the path of least resistance, some people will. They’ll say ‘I don’t need to wear a mask because so and so says I don’t have to,'” Gelber said. “I think we need a sense of urgency in our community right now – a true sense of urgency. And I think it really has to come from the president, from the governor. We’re trying our best but people will follow the messages they hear from the people they believe and they respect.”

Carlos Migoya, the CEO of Jackson Health System, said during the meeting that the people who aren’t following guidelines need to be few and far between in order to get the outbreak under control.

“There are a lot of people out there that flatly refuse to wear a mask and flatly refuse to be social distant. Unfortunately, we can’t do much about those,” he said. “But we need to make sure those are the very minimal minority. Otherwise, we’re not going to be able to get this turned around the way we need to turn it around.”

Migoya also said while the hospital system can keep up with the current influx of patients for a few weeks, it’s not something they can do forever.

“We need to do something now,” he said. “Our health care workers have been at this now – we’re on our fifth month. They’re tired, they’re stressed. And I can assure you that every health care worker, none of them want to lose one patient. And they cry over every patient they lose whether they’re 40 years of age or 98 years of age.”

Tuesday was DeSantis’ second day in a row in Miami. He held a coronavirus update in Miami on Monday evening and announced that 2,000 additional contracted nurses will be spread throughout the state to help respond to the virus outbreak. He had previously announced that 100 contract nurses would already be coming to the Tampa Bay area.

The roundtable was held just hours after Florida health officials reported the largest single-day increase in coronavirus deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.


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