MIAMI (CBSMiami) — President Donald Trump visited South Florida on Friday where he visited SOUTHCOM, attended a roundtable discussion on Venezuela, and then went to a private fundraiser in Hillsboro Beach.
The president was never seen wearing a mask, despite South Florida being a coronavirus hotspot with limited local health resources.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez was on hand for the welcome. Hew was wearing a mask.
Trump arrived at Miami International Airport around noon and then drove to Doral to discuss drug trafficking in South America while visiting the U.S. Southern Command.
Watch CBS4’s Jim DeFede’s perspective on President Trump’s visit:
President Trump recently directed SOUTHCOM to partner with the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and others in conducting enhanced counternarcotic operations in the Caribbean Sea and East Pacific Ocean.
Here is part of what he had to say during his visit:
“Over the last three months, American service members, joined by partner nations, have patrolled regional waters from the Caribbean Sea to the east Pacific. The United States deployed a vast arsenal of Coast Guard cutters, naval combat ships, specially armed Coast Guard helicopters — and they are real weapons; they are powerful weapons — high-tech maritime patrol aircraft, as well as roughly 1,300 additional personnel. These forces represent a 65 percent increase in ships and a 75 percent increase in surveillance aircraft from last year alone.”
“We’re taking the fight directly to the sinister criminal cartels, and we’re showing them no mercy. We are doing numbers like nobody thought possible. Even the Admiral, he would say that he would have never thought this was going to happen to the extent that it’s happened.”
“Our message is clear: You will not threaten our citizens, you will not poison our children, and you will not infiltrate our borders. We will find you, we will stop you, and we will put everybody that we find behind bars, if you’re lucky.”
In the last thirteen weeks, this operation has led to the seizure of more than $1 billion in drugs, including more than 70 kilos of cocaine and more than 13,500 pounds of marijuana.
Trump officials say the “operation seeks to disrupt the flow of dangerous drugs to the United States from narco-terrorists, including those traffickers who help finance the corrupt and illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.
Doral, where SOUTHCOM is located, is just under two miles from the President’s golf club. But it is also in Miami-Dade County, which is currently experiencing a coronavirus outbreak.
His visit is drawing some protesters and supporters which has some medical experts concerned.
“We really don’t need additional people getting close together in situations where they’re likely to get infected, our hospital systems are very, very stressed right now. Our doctors and our nurses are exhausted,” said FIU Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Aileen Marty.
After visiting SOUTHCOM, the President visited the Iglesia Doral Jesus Worship Center where he participated in a roundtable on ‘Supporting the People of Venezuela.”
“We imposed historic sanctions on the Maduro regime. We indicted Maduro for narcoterrorism, as you know, everybody here knows. We’re standing with the righteous and rightful leaders of Venezuela,” said Trump.
Trump then flew to Fort Lauderdale for an early evening closed fundraiser at a private home in Hillsboro Beach before flying back to Washington, D.C.
The president attended the fundraiser at a mansion on Hillsboro Beach. Tickets were $600,000 per couple.
Ahead of the event, Bob Sutton, a former Broward Republican Chair, said they would be following COVID guidelines at the fundraiser.
“Winning Florida will depend in part on how the president is viewed on his handling
of the pandemic,” says FIU political professor Eduardo Gamarra.
He says the president will also be judged on his handling of the economy and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Meanwhile, Miami’s Jackson Health System has seen an 120% increase in COVID-19 patients in the past two weeks, according to data posted by the hospital system on Twitter. On June 20, Jackson Health reported 157 COVID-19 patients. On Thursday, they reported 329.
The 14-day average positivity rate in Miami-Dade County is 20.2%, according to data released by the Florida Department of Health.