By Ty Russell

BROWARD (CBSMiami) – People in Broward appear to be helping the county slow the spread of coronavirus.

“By no means is this an opportunity to celebrate,” Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said Thursday.

Mayor Trantalis doesn’t want residents get too comfortable. When his city’s amount of total cases is compared to others in Florida, it comes in at number six.

“We have to understand the disease is still here,” he said.

Florida Department of Health numbers show positivity rates in the county dropped below 10% Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week. The CDC recommends being below 10% for two weeks straight to consider easing restrictions.

“If we see really low infection rates, it doesn’t mean the masks come off. It doesn’t mean we don’t continue social distancing,” the city mayor said.

That’s because there’s still no vaccine.

During a remote hearing Thursday for the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie told US lawmakers it’s dangerous to open schools with current infection rates.

“It is painful and enormously disappointing not to be in a position to open our schools safely,” Runcie said.

The school year is starting online in less than two weeks.

Advice from health experts are recommending school and county leaders get below a two-week average positivity rate of 5% to move into a new phase. But that means the virus will still be around.

The school district is planning contact tracing once classrooms reopen.

“If you just have one case in a school, it’s going to create a climate of fear that makes it difficult to have a reasonable learning environment,” Runcie told Congress.

The superintendent asked Congress to pass a bill to give schools money to increase safety measures and help with dollars already loss because of the pandemic.

Doctors and nurses are still fighting to save lives. Countywide, the latest numbers show just more than 1,040 patients battling COVID-19 in the hospital. More than half are in the ICU. As of Thursday, only 58 adult ICU beds are open.

Trantalis is hopeful for a change over the next several weeks.

“I know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I do believe that we are going to get there,” he said.

Ty Russell

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