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Miami-Dade mayor announces initiatives to get county back to work

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez says he is “seeing a light at the end of this COVID-19 tunnel” and is starting to plan for a return to business.

“Today I’m announcing two initiatives, short term and long term, to get our community back to work,” Giménez said in a video message. “The first initiative is called ‘moving to a new normal.’ Starting later this week, we will be working with community leaders and health experts to establish a deliberate plan to allow people in our county to return to a life as normal as possible without jeopardizing the health of our community and our most vulnerable residents.

“The second initiative will cover ‘economic restoration.’ This will involve business and community leaders and academics to work on a resilient plan to restore our economy as quickly as possible.”

Giménez said that at this point, though, residents must still adhere to Centers for Disease Control guidelines, including social distancing and the wearing of face coverings at essential businesses, which the county issued an emergency order about last week.

The mayor’s office also underlined that no timeline or plan has been established yet, and that Giménez will base any such decisions on “the continuously updated information he receives from medical experts on the state of current conditions.”

A projection by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation on Monday afternoon forecasts that Florida still has more than three weeks until reaching its peak deaths per day. That would happen on May 6, according to that forecast, with the state’s peak hospital resource use on May 3. The total deaths for the state are projected at 4,748, assuming full social distancing continues at least through May. Florida had confirmed 470 deaths as of Monday morning.

Giménez said that the number of hospitalizations stabilizing in Miami-Dade County is a positive sign about the future of the pandemic “and we want to move forward in a thoughtful and deliberate way.”

His announcement came on the same day that President Donald Trump asserted that he is the ultimate decision-maker for determining how and when to relax the nation’s social distancing guidelines as he grows anxious to reopen the country as soon as possible.

Giménez also shared that Miami-Dade’s libraries have handed out more than 62,500 unemployment forms and sent over 12,500 completed forms to the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity since launching that service last week.

Bill Feinberg's Miami-Dade design build firm is hanging on, though many of his employees are furloughed.

"Fortunately I have the ability to do some work and keep employees busy," he said.

In Miami Beach, the chamber of commerce looked for answers from its mayor during a virtual town hall on Monday.

“It’s a perfect storm of a challenge,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber. “It’s not a question of opening up slowly or opening up rapidly. We’re going to rely on medicine and science to tell us what’s safe, and then we’re going to try to figure out a process in which we do that.”

Further north in Fort Lauderdale, its chamber of commerce is surveying businesses about their layoffs, current bills and capital, to see how long they can hang on, or if its already too late.

Watch Giménez’s full video message below:

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