MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava gave an update Wednesday afternoon on the steps being taken to combat the surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
“Starting today, masks will be required at all indoor county facilities for employees and for visitors. In keeping with the new CDC guidelines that were issued this week and even vaccinated people should wear masks in certain settings to maximize protection from the Delta variants. So in our buildings, everyone will be masked,” said Cava.READ MORE: 'Please Return Stewie': Miami Springs Family Pleads For Return Of Missing Blind, Deaf Elderly Dog
She said masks continued to be required at transit facilities and the airport under federal regulations.
Cava said they are concerned by the rising COVID numbers.
“Our positivity rate in Miami-Dade County is now over 10 percent and COVID hospitalizations are continuing to increase. Otherwise perfectly healthy people, almost all of them unvaccinated, are ending up in the hospital with worsening symptoms. And we know that this Delta variant is particularly spreading extremely quickly,” she said.
The highly transmissible Delta variant in Florida is tied to 36.8 percent of the cases.
“Although we have made incredible progress on the vaccination front, with over 75 percent of those above age 12 vaccinated, all those who are unvaccinated are at increasing risk,” said Cava.
“To make sure that we do not go backwards, we have come too far we cannot go back, we must continue to build on the great progress that we made as a county to address this pandemic,” she added.
The mayor said the county can’t do it alone.
“So we are strongly recommending that everyone wear masks in large crowds or closed spaces, especially around people that we do not know to be vaccinated. We’re calling on our Miami-Dade County businesses to step up and help us to protect our community with smart COVID policies in heir places of business and also encouraging everyone, all employees, to get vaccinated,” said Cava.
Broward Mayor Steve Geller says they are looking into a similar restriction as the county’s cases have also skyrocketed.
Cava urged those not vaccinated yet to do so.
“We know that getting the vaccine remains the single best step any of us can take to protect ourselves and our loved ones and reduce the spread of this virus. So the facts are clear. The vast majority of those who end up in the hospital due to COVID are unvaccinated and many of them are otherwise healthy young people in their 20s 30s and 40s. These vaccines are safe and a full dose of vaccine is proven to be effective at preventing hospitalization and severe illness, including severe infection due to the Delta variance,” she said.
Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Jose “Pepe” Diaz told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “I had the coronavirus and I can tell you it’s not fun. This new variant is fast and stronger than the one prior.”
Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez said “We have to realize our actions or lack of actions can affect other people. Please get vaccinated and let’s get back to social distancing.”READ MORE: Demolition Begins Monday On Remains Of FIU Pedestrian Bridge That Killed 6 In Collapse
Jacqueline Pirolo, the owner of the Macchialins restaurant, said “As the owner of a small business with 30 people I would urge everyone to get vaccinated and wear masks.”
The mayor’s update comes amid new recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. It now recommends that all Americans wear masks indoors where COVID is surging, fueled by the delta variant. The CDC’s guidance affects about 60 percent of U.S. counties, where there are substantial or high transmission rates. That includes all of Florida.
“There is no doubt the reason we have so much disease right now is because it has gone after those who are unprotected, unvaccinated. The vast majority of transmission that is happening in this country is happening among unvaccinated people,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky during an interview on CBS This Morning.
Walensky said vaccinated people can also play a role.
“I think it’s important to realize that with new data it is known that if you are vaccinated, and you are one of those rare breakthrough infections, you have the capacity to pass it along to someone else,” she said
Inside businesses like Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop in Miami, some customers said they favored the news CDC recommendations.
“I feel we should be wearing masks to get things moving again and enable us to return to normal,” said Jose Vargas.
“I think we have let our guard down and this is why we are where we are right now,” said Patricia Rueda.
Her 11-year-old daughter Rachel agreed.
“I think it’s a great idea. People are infected in a lot of places and people think if you are vaccinated you can’t get infected, even if there is not a high number who will die,” she said.
The CDC has also recommended universal masking for teachers, staff, students, and visitors at schools when classes resume.
In Miami, Miami-Dade Schools Supt. Alberto Carvalho said, “We are going to continue to have conversations with our public health experts and medical experts in our community and beyond. I know our community is anxious about this and I understand that. We want to do the right thing for the right reasons based on truth and science for our students.”
He also said Miami-Dade schools had more time to make a decision as classes do not resume until August 23rd compared with August 18th for Broward schools.
The CDC guidance comes ahead of this fall when the Delta variant is expected to cause another surge in cases.MORE NEWS: Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo Calls Out Commissioners In Scathing Memo Ahead Of No Confidence Vote
So far, masks remain optional for students returning to classes in Miami-Dade and Broward.