By Ted Scouten

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a roundtable discussion with Miami-Dade County mayors, at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center, on the state’s response to the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

Several mayors in attendance stressed the need for contact tracing, including Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

“We have to make a lot of decisions, whether we close something, how we close it to what extent do we close it,” Suarez said.

WATCH the roundtable discussion in its entirety here:


Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said consistent messaging is needed to get people on board with what they’re supposed to do.

“Last week, even the Vice President talked about how we’re in a really good place in Florida. When people hear that, I think they’ll follow the path of least resistance, and they’ll say, “Oh, I don’t think I need to wear a mask. So and so says I don’t have to,” said Gelber.

And schools are a big concern for mayors. As COVID-19 numbers increase both federal and state governments are pushing for in-person school.

“Until we get that from experts, We shouldn’t be sending mandates out into the world because that telegraph one thing we don’t want to telegraph which is, go ahead, it’s fine,” said Gelber.

“I don’t think like we should try to scare parents and act like somehow this is more of a threat to their kids than it actually is,” DeSantis said.

“We weren’t closed long enough to actually have or create good habits. So, we don’t have the habit now of wearing masks. It should be second nature,” Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III said.

Miami Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez warned if these numbers don’t improve, mayors will have to make some difficult decisions.

“Will we take additional steps? Yeah, we may very well have to take additional steps, my hope is that we do not,” said Gimenez.

One person not welcomed at this meeting was Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez. He said the governor kept him out.

“I think it’s a lack of respect for the citizens of Hialeah, the 6th largest city in the state, the second largest in the county where coronavirus is a major issue. Does he have a problem with me? Is he such a childish person he’s letting his feelings get in the way?” said Hernandez.

“I’m happy to meet with him and work with him,” said DeSantis.

The governor’s office says the mayor of Hialeah declined a meeting after the roundtable. The office also said every leader couldn’t be invited.

The mayors also talked about concerns for the local economy, saying they needed to do what they can to get the cruise industry and air travel back to a healthy spot.

On Tuesday, the Florida Department of Health recorded 132 coronavirus deaths in the state over the last 24 hours.

The deaths reported marks a 10% jump over the previous record set last Thursday.

On Miami-Dade’s Daily Dashboard Tuesday, it shows the latest daily positivity rate at 30.5 %. That’s is well above the goal of below ten percent.

Numbers show more than 2,000 people are in the hospital. When the shutdown happened, Miami-Dade’s mayor says there were between 600 to 800 patients.

Ted Scouten