Multi-generational households contributing to spike in coronavirus cases, officials say

Miami mayor to meet with business leaders about possibility of another shutdown

A member of the Florida National Guard monitors vehicles waiting in line outside of Marlins Park at a COVID-19 testing site during the coronavirus pandemic, Monday, July 6, 2020, in Miami. The long line of cars each morning as players arrive at work provides a reminder of the risks when they leave. Behavior away from the ballpark will be a big factor in determining whether Major League Baseball's attempt to salvage the 2020 season can succeed. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (Lynne Sladky, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

MIAMI – Gov. Ron DeSantis said this week that multi-generational homes are strongly contributing to the spike in coronavirus cases in South Florida, and on Thursday, City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez reinforced the message about taking precautions to prevent spreading the virus to more vulnerable people at home.

During a press briefing outside City Hall, Suarez told reporters that about 27% of people ages 18 to 34 are getting infected with the virus and then infecting people inside the home.

According to the Pew Research Center, Florida is one of the states with the largest share of multi-generational households in the U.S.

Donna Butts, the executive director of Generations United, said social distancing inside a home is difficult but is needed to stop household spread.

She said those who live with someone in the at-risk category, who is over the age of 65 or medically frail, should consider wearing a face covering in common areas, such as the living room.

“Remember who the members of your family are and who is at highest risk. It may be that when you’re in a common room and you are going to be close together you also wear a mask,” she said.

Other tips from Butts include:

  • Isolate family members showings symptoms if you haven’t gotten a test or are awaiting test results.
  • Limit exposure by designating one family member to do the shopping.
  • Ensure ample handle washing.
  • Keep consistent in countertop cleaning.
  • Besos al aire” as we would say here in Miami — give “air kisses” and “air hugs.”

Butts suggested making it a “teachable moment for young people in the household” about the role they play in keeping our seniors and medically frail community members safe. “ ‘Want to help grandma? Follow the new normal rules,' " she said would be the way to frame the lesson.

Suarez said the community’s household spread has been identified by state contact tracers, which he said illustrates why they are critical and why he asked the governor for hundreds more.

According to Suarez, local hospitals are now at 95% capacity and have been converting non-COVID hospital beds to COVID beds in order to treat all of the patients who have been coming in.

The mayor has not ruled out the possibility of another shutdown to prevent further spread of the virus and said he plans to meet with business leaders in the community on Friday to discuss the issue.

Suarez said he strongly feels that it is important to communicate with the business leaders before possibly moving forward with another shutdown as it will have significant effects on the community.

Still, he said that everyone must understand the seriousness of the situation at hand and why another shutdown might be necessary.

According to the mayor, Miami police officers have already passed out 5,000 masks to people in the community and issued 25 warnings Wednesday to people who were not wearing masks.

Suarez said 10 businesses in the city of Miami have been temporarily shut down for non-compliance amid the pandemic, two of which were shut down for 10 days.

A total of 14,000 inspections have taken place so far by the city’s task force, the mayor said.

Those who wish to get tested for COVID-19 are asked to call 311 for more information.

About the Authors:

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."