MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The most recent weekly White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing says Florida is in the red zone for COVID-19 cases.
As a result, mayors all across the state, especially here in South Florida, are urging Gov. Ron DeSantis to take action.
One of those mayors is Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, who joined Eliott Rodriguez and Karli Barnett on CBS4 at 7 on Wednesday night to share more on the plea to the governor.
Q: We just heard from governors across the country urging their residents in their respective states to mask up. We did not hear from Gov. Ron DeSantis. In fact, the governor has been pretty quiet in the last couple of weeks. What do you think is happening? Why do you think the governor has been so silent?
A: I don’t know why he’s been silent, but he needs to lead, desperately. Now he needs to lead. You can see governors from all over the country – Republicans, Democrats – are dealing with this as a medical, scientific issue, not a political one. The election is over. The national election is over. His approach to this is killing people. It’s unmistakably clear that it’s not managing that pandemic well. This notion of opening everything up and then simultaneously limiting the ability of us to have mask mandates and other things is just creating a spread that is dangerous. And we’re seeing it here in Dade County, and in Broward County, we’re seeing it. Over 2,000 in one day, over the weekend – 1,800, 1,700. You know, it’s just happening every day. And in two weeks, those positives have a certain amount that will end up in the hospital. And then weeks after that a certain amount of them will die. So this is a real thing. He’s got to change direction.
Q: Well, Mayor Gelber, how important is it in your opinion that the governor give local authorities power again to deal with the pandemic in their own way?
A: Well, we’ve asked him to do that. I have no idea why he stopped my city from enforcing an individual mask mandate. It makes no sense. Because, by the way, if you want to open up the economy, the one thing that allows you to open it up is wearing a mask. Because you can you can use the economy with a mask on. But by taking that out of the arsenal, and a couple other things as well, he’s essentially allowed the disease to spread. And, by the way, I think it has to be noted, the people he’s listening to, the advisors, are not Dr. Fauci, are not our local or state infectious disease experts. They are Dr. [Scott] Atlas and these other gentlemen who are pursuing this theory of herd immunity, where you let the disease rip through the community and try to protect the vulnerable. And, you know, that doesn’t work. It’s an outlier fringe theory, and the governor’s following it. He needs to be a little more mainstream about this because residents are suffering.
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Q: Well, let me ask you this. The governor has said in the past that he thinks a statewide mandate is not the way to go. That Florida varies from one region to another. He doesn’t want to do something for the entire state. He’d rather the local communities handle it. What do you say to people, though, who are suffering from COVID fatigue? They want to go out. They want to have Thanksgiving dinner with their family members. What do you tell them?
A: Listen, it’s very hard, and we all see it and. Everybody is ready for this to be over. And, by the way, the vaccine is coming. But that is exactly the time you shouldn’t let down your guard and you shouldn’t coast. You need to, especially now. This disease is killing people. Like yesterday, 19 people died in Dade County. We’ve had days where upwards of 100 have died in Dade County in a single day. In my little city, 60 people have died, and hundreds and thousands are hospitalized possibly with a long term condition. So I know people want to experience Thanksgiving like they like to, but they have to understand that this is a time to be careful. And the governor has to lead on this. That’s what’s so weird, is that this is exactly the time. I mean, when there’s a hurricane coming, you can’t stop people from showing up in government and telling us what to do. But now, there’s nobody telling us anything. And only the mayors. And that’s why we had this call today, where mayors from St. Pete to Broward County and quite a few from Dade, all party affiliations, said, ‘Lead us, don’t hide and stop this fringe theories of science.’ Please, just lead us. Give us a statewide mask mandate. Let us enforce masks locally. Restore statewide testing. Because right now a lot of that testing is going away and the county is picking it up but that won’t last forever. And also improve your contact tracing which needs to be improved desperately.