Coronavirus: Mayor accuses Florida Gov. DeSantis of pursuing herd immunity

‘The trend is really bad,’ local infectious disease expert says

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber says it seems like Gov. Ron DeSantis is "allowing the virus to spread in the community, on purpose almost."

MIAMI – As coronavirus cases surge throughout the country, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber is calling out Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, accusing him of pursuing so-called herd immunity.

“The governor seems to be following this concept of allowing the virus to spread in the community, on purpose almost,” Gelber said in an interview with Local 10 News.

“Not the conventional herd immunity that arrives through widespread use of a vaccine,” Gelber wrote in a letter to DeSantis dated Oct. 30 to share his concerns, “but rather the fringe version of herd immunity that occurs when you purposefully allow the virus to spread throughout the community.”

On Monday, the United States reached 10 million cases of COVID-19, one million of those coming in just the last 10 days.

Florida has posted statewide positivity rates above 8% in three of the past four days.

“In Florida, in the last seven days we’ve seen an 18% increase to almost 848,00 cases,” FIU infectious disease professor Dr. Aileen Marty said shortly before the state’s case total passed 850,000 on Tuesday. “The trend is really bad.”

Marty says the reason is simple.

“This rise is happening primarily and principally because of our behavior,” she says. "Primarily and principally because we are not taking the virus seriously. "

On Monday, President-elect Joe Biden named a COVID-19 transition advisory board. And the promise of a vaccine is on the horizon, as American drug maker Pfizer and a German partner are saying studies show their COVID-19 vaccine is 90% effective.

All the more reason to stay safe now, Gelber says.

“My message to people has to be, 'Listen, now more than ever, wear the mask, because there is some light at the end of the tunnel,” he says. “The worst thing would be to have a terrible outbreak just before we get a major advancement that could save lives.”

The governor’s office has offered no response when asked about the concerns raised by Gelber.

About the Author:

Amy Viteri is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who joined Local 10 News in September 2015. She's currently an investigative reporter and enjoys uncovering issues facing South Florida communities. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, she's happy to be back in South Florida, where she earned a masters degree at the University of Miami.