Coronavirus in Florida: Local leaders frustrated with lack of ability to fight surge in cases, seeking guidance from Gov. DeSantis

MIAMI – Thousands of new cases of COVID-19 are being reported in Florida every day, which has doctors fearful that the Thanksgiving holiday could push the state past the tipping point.

Local leaders in South Florida are trying to stop the spread now, but it looks like they could be on their own.

“We’re looking at the positivity rate, we’re looking at the hospitalization rate,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor-elect Daniella Levine Cava.

In Miami-Dade County, alarm is growing over surging cases of COVID-19.

Statewide, more than 10,000 new cases were reported Sunday, the highest number since late July.

“We would like to have more ability at the local level to make our decisions to protect our businesses and our people,” said Levine Cava, who will not be officially sworn into office until Tuesday.

She said as of now, the county has little power to take action to slow the spread of the virus.

“Right now we’re bound by the governor’s orders and we are working within the framework,” said Levine Cava.

It was late September when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed Florida into Phase 3, opening businesses statewide, largely preventing local governments from enforcing restrictions.

Now as cases surge, the governor has been scarce, with the exception of a Weather Channel appearance on Tropical Storm Eta.

Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the increase in cases prompted the district to reconvene a health task force to evaluate how to move forward safely.

In New York, closures are mandated once positivity rates cross a certain threshold. Carvalho said there has been no such guidance from DeSantis despite conversations seeking input.

“The decisions need to be made at the local level, well-informed by medical experts, and that is our intent,” said Carvalho. “We have not received further guidance, specific thresholds, and the actions that would take place if those thresholds are met or exceeded.”

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