By Peter D'Oench

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has met with 12 other mayors in the Miami-Dade League of Cities about the recent sharp increase in COVID-19 cases.

“What we’ve seen is an increasingly troubling trend of cases that have been continuing to escalate,” said Suarez at a news conference Monday afternoon.

The mayor said the high water mark when they decided to issue stay at home orders was 533 cases. He said over the weekend they had 900 cases in Miami-Dade County.

He said the high watermark for Florida during the time when they implemented stay at home orders was 1,300 new cases. Recently, he said, we’ve had 4,700 new cases a day which is more than three times that amount.

Suarez said he’s alarmed by the recent increases in cases.

“We have seen a recent uptick in cases particularly among young people aged 18 to 35 and we are also seeing an increase in hospitalizations, though we are not yet seeing an increase in the need for ICU beds and ventilators in deaths. That has a tendency to trail behind the increase in new cases. So that is yet to be determined, it could yet go up significantly over the next couple of weeks,” he said.

So far, 20 out of 34 cities in the county are issuing a rule that masks must be worn in public spaces.

Suarez said in his city, it is effective immediately.  He said people not wearing masks in public could be fined and could face a misdemeanor citation.

“Everyone will have to be wearing masks in public. Right now the mask requirement is only for when you are inside, when you are at parks but not exercising, and now it will be a public requirement,” he said. “Without a doubt, enforcement will be a challenge but just like when we issued a stay at home order, one of the things that we wanted to make of was that our residents understood what was the best way they could protect themselves.”

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez is praising the new rules, saying he “will be meeting with the County’s medical experts tomorrow to discuss whether the use of masks in less congested unincorporated areas of the County is necessary. I will reiterate that enforcement remains key. None of this means anything unless the New Normal rules are enforced by the County’s 34 municipalities.”

Suarez said in the last two weeks, they’ve seen an increase in new cases of about 35 new cases per day. He said that was the same sloping increase they saw before they implemented the stay at home orders.

The added that they don’t anticipate going into a phase 3 reopening until the data shows a significant downward trend.

“We decided last week, and we are probably going to maintain, that we are not going to phase 3. And phase 3 means we are not opening nightclubs, we are not opening large venues where you can have any sort of large congregation of people, whether it’s a sporting event, whether it’s a rally, so none of those kinds of things are open in the city and won’t be,” he said.

The mayor said it is not known when bars and nightclubs will reopen.

Pinecrest Mayor Joseph CorradIno of Pinecrest told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “We have seen a spike and we need to stop it and reverse it. Now is not the time to panic but it is the time to make sure that individuals are acting responsibly and using excellent hygiene.”

Doral Mayor J.C. Bermudez said, “This is not over. We are here today to require that businesses follow the rules and we are here to remind everyone that we will enforce the rules.”

Doral will need approval from the city commission to institute the face mask in public rule.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said, “It is very clear and there is no argument when it comes to positive cases. If you are over 10 per cent the CDC says there is too much virus in your community. Too many sick people are going to the hospital. The only way to beat this is to decide to beat this thing. I think we owe to the community to do everything we can to avoid a shut down.”

The State Department of Health says the number of people testing positive for the coronavirus in Miami-Dade has been increasing. On June 16th, those testing positive was 12.8 %. It rose to 13.2% on June 20th and then fell to 8.9 per cent on Sunday June 21st.

Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert announced at the news conference, “I have just come from the funeral of someone who passed away from COVID19. There are consequences of not following rules and that is that more people die. We don’t enjoy wearing masks in public but we are doing it so we can move forward and live as a community.”

This past weekend we learned that Miami-Dade County had inspected more than 10,000 business and given warnings to three of them for violating social distancing protocols.  In the City of Miami, three restaurants were shut down temporarily for allegedly violating protocols.

Peter D'Oench

Comments (2)