Miami-Dade mayor, other leaders urge COVID-19 precautions as Thanksgiving approaches

Daniella Levine Cava noted that the New Normal guidelines out in place by former mayor Carlos Gimenez remain in place.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava held her first virtual news conference Tuesday afternoon on the response to the coronavirus pandemic since taking office.

Among those who spoke at the news conference was Chief Medical Officer Dr. Peter Paige, of Jackson Health System, as well as county, city, business and health leaders.

Levine Cava started the news conference by reminding residents that the New Normal guidelines approved by former Mayor Carlos Gimenez remain in place at this time.

She said free meals will still be provided for seniors, as well as hotel rooms for those who need to quarantine. Residents may call 311 to inquire about the meals or hotel stays.

Levine Cava and Paige also urged residents to be cautious during their Thanksgiving celebrations this week.

Paige said residents should consider hosting virtual gatherings with their loved ones, but if they choose to host in-person celebrations they should limit those to immediate household members or gather outside instead.

“The weather is so beautiful this time of year, so take advantage of that,” he said.

Paige also acknowledged that many people are expected to still travel for the holiday despite the pandemic, and warned that people must stay cautious not only when they are traveling to their destination, but even after that.

“We have to keep our guard up,” he said.

Paige urged people to continue wearing masks, whether they are staying in South Florida or traveling elsewhere.

[Residents may visit for the latest on the New Normal guidelines in Miami-Dade County.]

Meanwhile, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber announced that police and code enforcement will be once again issuing citations for those caught not wearing their mask in public — even if Gov. Ron DeSantis said they can’t collect the fines until after the pandemic.

“Now is definitely not the time to let up,” Gelber said. “We need to lean into these protective measures now more than ever to have a Happy Thanksgiving.”

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber announced that police and code enforcement will be once again issuing citations for those caught not wearing their mask in public — even if Gov. Ron DeSantis said they can’t collect the fines until after the pandemic.

Earlier Tuesday in Liberty City, a COVID-19 hotspot, Rep. Frederica Wilson walked alongside symbolic white tombstones in honor of those in our community who died from the virus.

“We are at the front and center of a major healthcare emergency,” she said.

Levine Cava announced Wednesday that she would roll back 20% of her salary as mayor due to the economic hardship brought on by the pandemic.

”At this time of economic hardship for our community, we need to make sure we are using all County resources wisely to keep Miami-Dade on a stable financial footing,” she said in a statement. “As chief administrator of the County, I’m doing my part to ensure we are putting resources where they are needed most.”

Vaccine update

Jackson Health CEO Carlos Migoya said Tuesday that Pfizer plans to create 40 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine nationwide.

“When you say 40 million doses, remember Pfizer takes two doses per person, one immediately and the other one in 21 days, so that brings it down to 20 million people,” he said.

Migoya said Florida “will probably get about 2 million of those doses, or for a million people.” That is a statewide number.

Priority groups like healthcare workers and the elderly will get them first, according to the state’s draft vaccination plan.

Experts believe the general public won’t have access to the vaccine until perhaps next spring.

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is still pending Food and Drug Administration approval. The FDA has scheduled a committee hearing to review the company’s emergency use authorization application on Dec. 10.

Testing updates

Miami-Dade County’s coronavirus testing sites will be open on Thanksgiving from 7:30 until 1 p.m., with advice that if you have family or friends traveling to see you this week, you should have everyone tested ahead of time. But check with your local testing site, because some city-run test sites will in fact be closing for the holiday.

The event with Wilson also included the announcement of a new testing site at the Jessie Trice Community Health System, in partnership with Florida International University, to serve some of Miami-Dade County’s most vulnerable communities.

About the Authors:

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."