MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber claims the Florida Department of Health is intentionally leaving local officials flying blind in the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m on calls with Department of Health officials where they will read something and members of mayors and some local officials will literally say, this happened just a few days ago, Chris. We said, ‘Could you give us a copy of that?’ And they said, ‘We’re not allowed to give local officials this information in writing. I’ll read it to you, but I can’t give it to you.’ So, it’s gotten to the point where we’re flying blind in the midst of what is really a huge surge that is costing lots of our residents. I think we’re having a hundred or more deaths a day in Florida right now, and in just my county of Miami-Dade, we probably have 2,000 people in the hospital at this point. These are all new records in Florida,” said Mayor Gelber on CNN.READ MORE: COVID In Florida: Gov. DeSantis Downplays Coronavirus Threat As State Breaks New Hospitalization Record
Gelber blames Gov. Ron DeSantis for the lack of information.
Even President Joe Biden called resistant Republican governors to “get out of the way” of rules to contain the more transmissible and dangerous COVID-19 variant. In remarks Tuesday at the White House, Biden sharply criticized Gov. DeSantis, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other officials who have moved to block the reimposition of mask mandates to slow the delta strain of the virus. He also backed city and private rules requiring people to be vaccinated to go about some daily activities.
Mayor Gelber doesn’t believe Gov. DeSantis is taking the right actions in fighting the pandemic.
“First of all, the governor needs to own up to the judgement. Nobody is accusing him of not doing the things he’s supposed to be, he’s made that part of his campaign. He’s prevented us from implementing mask mandates, he’s made vaccine passports illegal for the cruise industry, for private sector groups who want to make their establishments safer, he’s taken control from local school boards the ability to implement mask measures. He regularly, as part of his campaign, ridicules the CDC and Dr. Fauci. I think he needs to own up to what he’s doing, which is basically to do everything the opposite of what local government is doing, like me, which is trying to get our residents to first get vaccinated, but also to wear masks now that the CDC says that they should inside.”READ MORE: COVID-19 Testing Sites In South Florida
Mayor Gelber has an issue with the mask mandate ban on local school boards which also gives the State Board of Education the ability to withhold state funds, if it finds a school district board unwilling or unable to comply.
“I understand the draw politically to say let the parents decide because parents always want control over their kids’ lives and education. The problem is if you decide you don’t want your kid masked, now I’ve got a problem. Because if I want my kid masked, now they’re exposed because of yours. But the governor has a pushback. He’ll say the death rate is lower now than last year. It’s still climbing, it’s still higher than any of the five other populated states, but it’s not as bad as it was, so save him the panic. That’s what he’s saying.”
Gelber would like the governor to follow the science and the numbers.
“It’s ridiculous. I follow this stuff as carefully as I can, and you follow this over the last year and a half. We had an incredible surge in Florida and then we implemented a mask mandate and immediately it reversed itself. Then he started to open everything up, and at the time he also said, we cannot have any mask mandates. He actually banned us from having mask mandates and my city was the first in the country after the CDC said we should do it to actually have a fine for not wearing a mask. Immediately the surge happened in hospitalizations. We know when there is a surge in hospitalizations, there is a surge in deaths. And that’s exactly what’s happened every time. We know in my county, we know in our state, that when you implement these county measures, which he’s not doing, you get a reduction in the virus, a reduction in the hospitalization and a severe reduction in deaths. Right now, we’re going in exactly the opposite direction, and he’s e embracing it or at least accepting it in return for what is a very sort of horrible political calculation that this is good for a lot of those that he’s trying to curry favor with.”MORE NEWS: COVID-19 Vaccination Sites In South Florida