Broward County leaders not ruling out another shutdown if necessary

Meeting in commission chambers addresses what still needs to be done

Stricter rules in Broward County could be put into place if surge doesn't slow, officials say

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward County’s latest emergency order went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday, but leaders meeting on Friday said they aren’t ruling out another shutdown if it sees infractions like there have been since the reopening.

The latest rules? Restaurants have a table limit of 6 people and a 10 p.m. closure time.

Businesses will be subject to additional stiff penalties and closures if found not enforcing distancing rules.

Several new limits are being put in place for vacation rentals, which have been a hotbed of problems in terms of house parties with large groups congregating. Vacation rentals will be limited to the people who signed up to be there. No guest and no more than 10 people allowed, Broward Mayor Dale Holness announced Wednesday.

(See the complete document Broward County Emergency Order)

Local leaders in Broward County met Friday to discuss the state of the region and what they say is a critical point in the latest battle with COVID-19.

They said they are going to concentrate on pushing enforcement of rules but are not ruling out another shutdown if necessary.

New rules in effect in Broward's rollback. (WPLG)

The meeting in commission chambers, titled the COVID-19 Special Workshop, was a place for updates the latest emergency order went into effect, heading into the weekend. Many participants called in to interact virtually.

First up, hospitals leaders stated that the concern in their facilities isn’t beds, but staff stretched thin and resources dwindling amid a surge in new coronavirus cases.

"You cannot produce nurses overnight," Dr. Auerlio Fernandez of Memorial Health said.

Broward Sheriff's Office reported that it is still dealing with people breaking rules.

Since the pandemic started they've have logged 1,100 calls about large house parties and gatherings.

It’s one reason the emergency order was issued — a bit of a rollback of the rules.

The Florida Department of Health in Broward County reported they have 150 contract tracers and have just hired 167 new contact tracers.

They plan on hiring 450 more with money they are receiving from the state.

The Florida Department of Health announced Thursday that it is sending $138 million in federal pandemic funds to county health departments to hire epidemiologists, nurses and contact tracers.

Nearly 70 percent of the funding will be directed to 12 counties — including Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach — with high COVID-19 caseloads, based on a June survey of county officials.

The Broward County Health Department is slated to receive $30.5 million to help fund an additional 870 employees, including more contract tracers, 26 epidemiologists, and 90 nurses, according to state health officials.

Contact tracers are working out of Fort Lauderdale’s War Memorial Building at Holiday Park, but leaders said that more contract tracing is only one tool in the toolbox.

About the Author:

Andrew Perez is a South Florida native who joined the Local 10 News team in May 2014.