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Leaders plea: Stay vigilant to bring COVID positivity rate down

MIAMI, Fla. – Local leaders will tell you they are seeing some positive trends on COVID-19 rates flattening, but in the same breath, there’s a reminder that we must stay vigilant and focus on personal responsibility. That’s what will make a difference at how overburdened hospitals are and when schools can welcome students safely in classrooms.

On WPLG’s “This Week in South Florida” Sunday, Dr. David de la Zerda of Jackson Health Systems gives a first hand account of what’s happening inside area hospitals.

“We are extremely busy. These patients are really sick so they’re going to stay in the ICU for two or three weeks and then you keep adding more patients.”

De La Zerda is the medical director inside Jackson's Intensive Care Unit. He told TWISF that it's the busiest he's seen since the pandemic started and close to reaching capacity.

Staff burn out remains a big challenge. Florida sent 33 nurses to the unit and he said that is helping, but he needs more help – he says he is in need of respiratory therapists.

The equation for not needing extra help is simple. Less positive cases will mean less hospital admissions, which then translates into less need for ICU beds.

But that means people will have to be more responsible or pay the price.

"Our epidemiologists, our hospital administrators are telling us what we need to focus on is enforcement. We need to make sure that people are actually following the rules," City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said.

In Miami, those found in areas where masks are mandatory can receive a $100 violation. Businesses face shutdowns for up to a month.

They are temporary, but necessary new rules across South Florida.

“We had reported over 1,200 calls from parties and neighborhoods that BSO responded. That’s down now because of the curfew,” said Broward County Mayor Dale Holness

No community responsibility and no change in behavior also means no in-person schooling.

“Given the double digit infection rates that exists in Broward County, we don’t see a feasible path to open our schools any other way on August 19,” Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said.

And based on positivity rates, it looks like Miami-Dade schools will follow suit.

“The conditions are not appropriate for an immediate grand scale return to the schools,” said Miami-Dade Superintendent Albert Carvalho.

Carvalho said by July 29, parents will have a better sense of the next steps for the district.

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