MIAMI – The economy was on the minds and the meeting agenda of Miami-Dade commissioners Tuesday.
They voted to extend a previously approved relief package to Miami International Airport aimed at helping some of the small-business concessionaires impacted by the drop in passenger air traffic caused by COVID-19.
“I got to tell you I am seeing more and more of this across my district,” said Sally Heyman Miami-Dade Commissioner, District 4, showing a sign from a family business. “Thanks for all my decades serving you but we can not reopen. We are out of business.”
Elsewhere, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced Tuesday that the city is closing down all of its summer camps, following the county and the city of Miami Beach.
Miami Beach announced it was closing its summer camps beginning Monday, and Miami-Dade County-run summer camps closed last Friday.
During a news conference outside City Hall, Suarez confirmed that one child had been infected with COVID-19 at Henderson Park, two children had been infected at Coral Gate Park and one counselor had been infected at Shenandoah Park.
The last day that the summer camps will be open is Friday.
In addition to closing city-run summer camps, the mayor said 39 officers will begin focusing solely on mask compliance seven days a week throughout the city, including 20 neighborhood resource officers and 19 police officers.
Over the weekend, police throughout the county began handing out fines to both businesses and individuals who were caught in violation of the new rules.
Officers say a total of 115 civil citations were issued; 67 to individuals and 48 to businesses.
This was the first full weekend of the new civil penalty enforcement tool, which means code enforcers can work alongside police to mandate compliance.
“We have been going to establishments to ensure they are doing what they had to do,” Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina said. “We are handing out faces masks and then we are doing enforcement for people who, for whatever reason, don’t want to comply.”
Suarez urged those who have tested positive for the virus to call 305-614-1716 so they can be accommodated in a hotel room during a period of isolation.
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Amid a #countywide #covid19 #casesurge and mounting pressure on #ICUBeds - a window into the impact on #firstresponders. In this one-on-one virtual interview with @mpdpolice Chief Jorge Colina we talk about how the rampant #communityspread is affecting the department. Also - just like us - they are dealing with #lab capacity issues delaying #coronavirus #test results. Plus - how they are handling #safetyprotocols + #newnormal rules enforcement. #DigitalDeepDive #VoicesFromThePandemic More: Local10.com
He said those who are showing symptoms and have been tested, but have not yet received their results are also eligible to be quarantined in the hotels.
“There are 400 beds available through the state,” Suarez said.
According to the mayor, data continues to show that the majority of new COVID-19 cases are in people ages 18 to 34 at 30%. He said the largest category of people are getting sick in their homes and catching the virus from a family member. A total of 72% of sick patients report their family members are sick too.
“So folks, we must be extremely careful when we get home,” Suarez said. “If you are exposed when you’re coming home, your family is in danger.”
The mayor urged people to maintain social distancing inside the home if possible, especially for those who live with someone who is vulnerable.
The mayor said there are indications of flattening new data of COVID-19 cases in Miami and the rate of positivity is declining daily.
“And on the rate of new cases per day, it’s 50% less then we saw at the high point,” he said.
While hospital bed usage is on the rise, the rate of ICU bed usage specifically is improving, the mayor added.
Suarez, however, voiced concern for a potential school reopening prompting another spike in cases.
“When you talk about a super spreader event, when you’re talking about people getting together and opening up a huge sector of our economy, that’s a concern,” he said.
Suarez said he is not ruling out the possibility of a stay at home order.
“That is something we continue to contemplate and discuss with our medical professionals,” he said.
The mayor said the city of Miami is also looking at the legality of following in Broward County’s footsteps to ban parties of more than 10 people at a home.
Florida’s coronavirus death rate is now higher than any other state, edging out Texas, which has about 25% more people.
Florida recorded another 134 deaths Tuesday, bringing its daily average for the past week to 115, topping the 112 deaths a day Texas has reported during that time.
A month ago, Florida was averaging 33 coronavirus deaths a day.
Overall, 5,317 people have died in Florida from COVID-19 since March 1 and nearly 370,000 have tested positive for the disease. About 19% of tests have returned positive in Florida over the last week, compared to 10% a month ago and 2.3% in late May.
Suarez said if the city decides to toggle back its reopening, business leaders have told him now would be a preferred time and they believe it should be done in coordination with the county.
However, the mayor is hoping amped up enforcement and community compliance will help prevent moving back to a “Safer at Home” status.
Suarez also spoke out against Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s efforts to get a charter amendment on the ballot for November to call for a “unity in messaging.”
“I think it’s wrong.” In this clip 👇 @FrancisSuarez this morning responds to the “one voice” amid emergencies charter amendment idea put forth by @MayorGimenez last week. Background: https://t.co/R1Itirilqx https://t.co/aKpMwZ6uAQ pic.twitter.com/MeHco1erog— Christina Vazquez (@CBoomerVazquez) July 21, 2020