Better COVID-19 numbers have started talk of South Florida reopening further

DeSantis says he's been in touch with local leaders as positivity rates lower

Gov. Ron DeSantis says he's been in touch with local leaders as the coronavirus positivity lowers, and South Florida could be headed to Phase 2 of reopening soon. Meanwhile, some students are deciding to attend university classes in person.

DAVIE, Fla. – Are all the mask mandates, social distancing protocols and increased hygiene measures making a dent in the coronavirus?

South Florida is seeing a downward trend in positivity rates for COVID-19. Miami-Dade County finally dipped below 10% positivity over the past two days, and in Broward the seven-day average stands at 7.5%.

It’s good enough for Gov. Ron DeSantis to raise the idea of further reopening South Florida’s economy.

“We’re working with [the local leaders]. We’ve worked collaboratively with a bottom-up approach with that part of Florida from the beginning,” DeSantis said Wednesday. “I’m in conversations with them about what they feel about the next step.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the mayor “agrees with Gov. DeSantis’ statements yesterday that as positivity rates and hospitalization numbers are declining the next step is to ‘work collaboratively’ with the South Florida counties to consider Phase 2 openings.”

Dr. Bindu Mayi, a professor of microbiology at Nova Southeastern University says that given the virus incubation period, any trends we are seeing today are the result of behaviors from two weeks ago. Meaning now is not the moment for people to let down their guard — or their masks.

“If all of us are on the same page and all of us are engaging in [the right behaviors], the virus will sputter to a halt. It’s inevitable,” she said. “If all of a sudden we think, ‘Oh, we don’t have to do anything,’ then two weeks from now we will see the numbers climbing back up.”

As the numbers look more encouraging, some university classrooms can be seen with students in them.

At Nova Southeastern University, students have the option to take courses in person or remotely, joining live via Zoom.

“The in-person students are actually in class with the professor and can actually interact with the students that are online as well as the professor and the students in the class,” said senior Brandon Valerio.

Valerio lives on campus and says he has felt safe with all the steps the university took to ensure student safety — including spending $20 million preparing the campus and upgrading 750 classrooms.

Despite these uncertain times, NSU officials say this is their largest entering class in school history. Though about 38% of the student population has decided to learn remotely.