Officials plea for better public behavior as Miami-Dade becomes latest COVID-19 hotspot

The sudden spike in COVID-19 cases across South Florida continues as thousands of new cases were reported over the weekend.

MIAMI – The sudden spike in COVID-19 cases across South Florida continues as thousands of new cases were reported over the weekend. 

Miami-Dade County continues to be the Florida's hotspot, adding 3,269 cases Monday, with the death toll now standing at 1,143. 

The rise in cases has made national headlines, and on Monday Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez made a public plea, asking people to be responsible and wear a mask in addition to social distancing. 

Gimenez has been threatening to get tough with business owners who do not follow the rules, and an arrest was made over the weekend. 

The team of medical experts advising Gimenez spent an hour on a Zoom call Monday, pleading the case for behavior.

“The most important is public perception of this outbreak,” said Dr. Aileen Marty, FIU Scholl of Medicine Infectious Disease expert. “They have not taken seriously enough.”

As coronavirus numbers explode, a still manageable hospital occupancy crosses into red flag territory.

“You have people out there aggressively saying ‘I don’t have to have mask’ (and) those are the people spreading this disease,” said Carlos Migoya, CEO Jackson Health System.

The outcry was immediate and loud last week when Gimenez issued re-closure orders for indoor dining and all inside entertainment venues where people share airspace.

He asked for a united front, but some city mayors are objecting to reclosures.

Senator Marco Rubio said this on a national cable: "I don't think there is any evidence that restaurants, Disney World, it's outdoors, beaches or parks is the cause of this surge. I think the surge is coming from people behaving like people."

The state is grappling with how to test more people, receive more timely results and contact trace on a valid scale.

The scientists insist none of that matters without individual buy-in from residents. 

“We can do all tests, trace; it’s not going to make a difference,” Gimenez said. “We have to change behavior.” 

About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."