MIAMI (CBSMiami) – With coronavirus case numbers continuing to surge in South Florida, cities and counties are taking steps to slow the spread.
On Friday, Broward County will begin imposing heavier fines on businesses not complying with safety guidelines.
As of Thursday, the county had issued 1,156 citations. This included 141 businesses not approved to reopen, 245 not following sanitation requirements and 371 not following social distancing guidelines.
One of the businesses cited Wednesday was the Walmart Super Center on Broward Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale. Code enforcement found that carts weren’t being sanitized, too many shoppers were being let in at one time and high-use areas weren’t being disinfected.
But code enforcement said they turned it around in 24 hours and it is now being used as a model for other stores.
Among the steps taken was limiting the number of people allowed in at one time, issuing sanitizing wipes to shoppers, enforcing social distancing at checkout and disinfecting bathrooms every 30 minutes.
With the number of positive COVID cases increasing by more than a thousand every day in South Florida, CBS4 spoke to Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, who has been in the frontlines of the pandemic since March.
“Is this a failure? No, but we learned our lesson – what it takes to keep the numbers low,” he said.
Last weekend, his city shut down nine restaurants and the mayor said code enforcement will be out this weekend looking for violators.
“We have to make sure personal responsibility is understood,” he said. “It’s the only way to eradicate the disease.”
Miami-Dade County is also laser focused on containing the spread of the virus.
The county has issued 3,928 warnings to businesses and four establishments have been shut down.
On Thursday, city of Miami commissioners passed a measure that would punish those who violate the citywide mask mandate. Repeat offenders could be fined at much as $500.
South Floridians are jamming COVID testing sites. There were long lines at Hard Rock Stadium on Thursday.
Also increasing is the number of patients now showing up at emergency rooms and requiring hospitalization.
It’s a worry at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
“Since the reopening of the economy, people have felt more secure. They don’t think the pandemic is real and that’s a concern,” said Dr. Lilian Abbo, the chief of infection prevention at Jackson Health.
The head of the nurses union said health care workers are getting infected and reaching a breaking point.
“They’re tired. They need time off. They need more nurses. And now we have more COVIDs than ever,” said Martha Baker.