By Peter D'Oench

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – One day the Miami commission passed a measure that would punish those who violate the city-wide mask mandate, Mayor Francis Suarez was doing his part to help people comply.

Friday morning, the mayor handed out masks to residents who live in the area of NW 7th Street and 17th Avenue. This area is one of the most affected by COVID-19 in the city.

“Today we are in 33126, one of the three major zip codes where we have had the highest incidence of COVID-19 in the community. We have a comprehensive program that will be involved within the next few days. We are going to pass out these masks in hopes that the number of cases will recede. We have had a record number of cases in the last few weeks,” said Suarez.

He said, “It is incredibly inspiring that we can help these people here and it is not just what I am doing, it is the city and city commissioners who are helping save lives. It is critical for everyone to go out there and wear a mask in public, not just for yourself but for others too. Please wear them in public.”

Those in line near Marlins Park told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench they were grateful.

Near tears. Lourdes Garcia said her 26-year-old Son Joshua has special needs because of his sleep apnea and Downs Syndrome and they desperately needed face masks. Each person received two packets of three reusable cloth masks.

Garcia said “I am a single mother in need taking care of him. We need to stop this pandemic.”

Another woman named Ann said, “masks are expensive to buy and this is a good thing for people like the elderly who are susceptible.”

Ann was unable to receive any masks as she nearly passed out from heat exhaustion and was taken away to a hospital by paramedics.

Suarez said the city had 200,000 masks to pass out and should be receiving more in the near future. After he left, masks were passed out to those driving by. Officials planned to pass out face masks starting Friday afternoon at the neighborhood enhancement team offices at Marlins Park.

Under the measure approved by the commission, the first offense would result in a warning. The second offense in a $50 fine and the third would assess the violator $150.

Ultimately, a repeat offender could face a misdemeanor citation with a promise to appear in court.

“We’re simply trying to help our community survive physically and survive economically,” said commissioner Ken Russell. “We do not want to go backward. No one on this commission wants to go back to a shutdown.”

The measure now goes to Suarez for final approval.

On Wednesday, Miami Police Jorge Colina told D’Oench that officers would be handing out face masks to those who needed them and CBS4 saw that happening at Bayfront Park.

Colina said “Our officers will go out and be professional and approach people and they will have masks with them and so if they see someone who doesn’t have a mask they will go over and say here’s a mask. Please put it on and help us keep you safe. That is the message.”

Colina said there are challenges.

“Whether we like it or not right now there is some resentment to law enforcement and that is potentially an interaction that will not go well and that always concerns me,” said Colina.

There are some exceptions to the mandate.

  • A child under two years of age
  • An individual who is engaged in outdoor work or exercising with appropriate social distancing in place
  • An individual who has one or more medical conditions or disabilities that prevent wearing a Facial Covering
  • An individual who is obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the Facial Covering is necessary to perform the service
  • An individual who works in a profession where use of a Facial Covering will not be compatible with the duties of the profession
  • An individual who is eating or drinking
  • An individual who is hearing-impaired or an individual who is communicating with an individual who is hearing-impaired

Peter D'Oench