Coronavirus in Miami-Dade: Contact tracing failures and talk of how to spend federal money

Miami Beach mayor rips Florida's contact tracing in letter to Gov. DeSantis
Miami Beach mayor rips Florida's contact tracing in letter to Gov. DeSantis

MIAMI – Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said he hopes to see improvement over the coming 7 to 10 days on two key coronavirus metrics: the number of patients in ICU beds and using ventilators. And that’s why he remains “cautiously optimistic” even though the positivity rate hovers around 20 percent.

“It appears that we’ve weathered the big surge. We are now at the crest,” Gimenez said.

County leaders talked Monday about the resources needed to keep the economy partially open during a time of community spread.

During a virtual special county commission meeting, a conversation took place on how best to allocate a more than $474 million pot of federal money that can be used to reimburse a range of COVID-19 response expenses, including mitigation efforts like surge teams.

There was a moment of friction over the allocation to cities, dropping from $135 million in a previous plan to $30 million in this plan, with administration and some commissioners stressing that much of the money allocated for coronavirus-related items — like relief efforts — helps residents countywide.

A resolution from the Miami-Dade County League of Cities is urging Gimenez and the commissioners to transfer a per capita share of the CARES Act federal funds to the municipalities.

Miami-Dade commissioners did approve a 1% pay bump for Jackson Health System nurses and transit workers. And they agreed to a $10 million CARES Act relief package for the arts and culture sector and $10 million for taxicab drivers.

Gelber rips contact tracing plan

Meanwhile, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber wrote in a letter Monday to Gov. Ron DeSantis that a large part of the blame for the county’s case surge and mounting pressure on ICU beds was an unprepared and understaffed contact tracing operation.

He told the governor that if we don’t have a fully resourced program in place, “I don’t see how we can even contemplate opening schools or other aspects of our economy.” Gelber added that at “this level of infection” he doesn’t know how “we don’t return to sheltering in place.”

“If you don’t have a good contact tracing program then I don’t know what else you are going to do to stop the virus, because obviously with all of our best practices it still came back in a huge way,” Gelber said in an interview with Local 10 News.

See a copy of the Powerpoint presentation Deputy Mayor Jennifer Moon gave county commissioners on that Coronavirus Relief Fund:

See Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber’s full letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis:

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