Jul 14, 2020
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis July 14 COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a coronavirus press conference on July 14. DeSantis was joined by Miami-Dade metro area Mayors – Miami-Dade’s Carlos Gimenez, Miami’s Francis Suarez, Miami Beach’s Dan Gelber, Miami Gardens’ Oliver Gilbert and Doral’s Juan Carlos Bermudez . Read the full news briefing here.
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Governor Ron DeSantis: (00:00)
Really the people that make Dade County work are our mayors. The mayors here are on the ground. They have to deal not only with the COVID response but everything that affects our constituents’ daily lives. They are really the ones that make it happen so I want to thank you guys for coming. I appreciate all your hard work and being a mayor when you’re in a position of any executive responsibility, particularly mayor, it’s not about Republican Democrat, it’s about getting things done and we’re in a situation now here in Miami-Dade County in particular where we see some of the metrics have risen. Certainly the number of positive tests which are an indicator but not necessarily the most important but we have seen of course increases in visits to the emergency department and in hospital admissions, particularly over the last three weeks, and if you look at it, what’s happened in Broward, a lot of the hospital admissions particularly in the southern part of Broward County are from Miami-Dade residents and so as we look throughout the state, there’s a lot of challenges to deal with COVID-19 in different corners of the state.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:11)
We are seeing probably numbers that are more manageable in most other parts of the state. Dade right now is the place where we’re seeing the most spread and then obviously the most clinical consequences and so we have a situation now where people are apprehensive, people are hurting. This virus has affected every Floridian’s life in one way or another. Obviously most haven’t been infected, many may not even know anyone who’s been infected, but certainly the response and everything that’s happened since March has had a profound impact on everyone’s way of life, particularly here in Dade County, but I know people in South Florida are very resilient. I think we have the strongest healthcare workforce in the country. I think they’ve performed very well, I think our hospital system has performed very well. The outcomes for our patients in Florida have been better than in many other states which I think is a testament to their hard work.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (02:15)
I think the important thing is is we’ve got to all work together, all be on the same page. We have good support at the federal level and obviously the state needs to be here, working hand in hand. We’ve worked very closely with many of you throughout this. We want to continue to do that but I think everyone being united right now and saying, “Okay, what do we need to do to turn the tide with the coronavirus?” Obviously there’s a whole host of other issues that flow from that in terms of the economy, schools, all these things that I know people are apprehensive about and so you guys, the mayors, really are the ones that are going to make it happen.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (02:56)
I’ll give an update. We obviously have seen hospital ED visits for COVID-like illness increase in Dade County as well as hospital admissions. The number of people that test positive as a percentage statewide has basically remained steady and even slightly declined over the last few days, so we’ve really been in that 14% on average now and outside of South Florida, it’s been closer to 10 or 11% which is potentially a good indicator for those other 64 counties. We also have an abundance of hospital beds and ICU beds available, even here in Dade County which has seen the most hospital traffic, you’re at 20% bed availability and 16% ICU bed availability with the ability to surge more if you need it, and in fact if you look, there’s beds available.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (03:53)
There’s capacity, there’s an ability to expand capacity if you need to. The one request we’ve had from folks and Carlos Migoya is here but others in other parts of the state, it’s just making sure they have enough support personnel to be able to make it all work. When we went through March and April, the hospitals were restricted from doing certain procedures and that really led to a lot of staff being laid off and so I think that that was a negative consequence of that. Now they are bringing people back but they are not where they need to be and so we’ve already deployed 100 nurses to Jackson Memorial. We’re going to be filling more support, requests for support from Miami-Dade County and Broward in particular. We have 1,000 nurses and medical personnel and we have the option to add up to 2,000 more as those requests are made. We also have the ability to provide different resource enhancements here in Miami-Dade and other places.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (04:57)
We’re really happy that we’ve been able to open a lot of these COVID-only nursing facilities. We now have 15 operational locations. That houses 1,000 beds and we have nine additional sites opening in the future, near future which will add over 600 beds and so when you talk about the most vulnerable population, our residents of longterm care facilities, having somebody test positive and then being able to safely isolate them in a COVID-only facility can prevent a massive outbreak amongst our most vulnerable. It also gives hospitals the option to use it as a step down facility if they have a longterm care resident who is medically stable, still contagious and can’t go back to the nursing home but can go to one of these COVID-only facilities to isolate.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (05:43)
We’re also continuing with testing. The last week we’ve averaged in the state of Florida 90,000 test results a day. That is way, way beyond what we were doing in March, April and May, so part of the reason we have more positive tests is because we’re doing so much testing. We’re going to continue to do that. One of the things I think that’s been probably the biggest concern is [inaudible 00:06:06] people can kind of get tests now more readily than they could at the beginning, but because so many tests are being done, a lot of these commercial labs are backed up and I mentioned yesterday when I was down here, we’re working on trying to find ways where with self-swabbing of symptomatic people, we may be able to work directly with some of the labs that may have some capacity to try to get a better turnaround time. I mean if you swab and then you get the results back in seven days, that’s not ideal and particularly if you have symptoms, people need to know whether they should isolate or not. So we’re working on it but the U.S. is doing 700,000+ tests a day and that is causing major backlogs across all the major commercial labs across the United States.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (06:56)
I think that what Mayor Gimenez has done, what these mayors, the municipal mayors have done is really impress upon folks the messaging of following the guidelines that they’ve put into place and we’ve had different guidelines in different parts of the state. Some of the counties have Phase II guidelines. Here they’re Phase I and then they have county and municipal ordinances that supplement that. I think what we found is when people follow the guidelines and they follow the program, we tend not to have major problems when it comes to coronavirus and these guidelines are meant for us to be able to have society function, let people go to work, let people enjoy themselves, but do it in a way that minimizes risk of transmitting this virus and so I just want to say to anyone in Miami-Dade, follow what they’re putting out, whether it’s facial coverings, whether it’s with elderly and at-risk folks, staying at home as much as possible and avoiding crowds. We’ve talked about for kind of the general public trying to minimize high risk places. We talk about the three C’s, we’ve had public service announcements to this effect. Closed spaces, particularly poorly ventilated spaces, crowded places and then close contact settings when you’re in close contact with someone for a sustained period of time.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (08:28)
Those are going to be the types of venues that are going to contribute to spreading this virus throughout Miami-Dade County and so I support what they’re doing. They’re looking out for the best interest of their constituents and I think it’s really important as we’re at this critical moment here that we’ve been able to turn this in a better direction and so I just want to thank everybody again. We’ll go around and hear from folks. I think the one thing that I think that’s good with this meeting is we have an opportunity to really collaborate and be on the same team and I know we all have different kind of constituencies. You all have to get elected different ways, but at this moment, unity of purpose, all being on the same page I think is very significant.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (09:17)
So just the fact that people are all coming here together is really a testament. This is an incredibly large, incredibly diverse, dynamic county. Every one of your communities brings a little bit different to the table in terms of the society and that’s a great thing, but we’re all here saying let’s get to work on this, let’s continue to support the folks who put it. Let’s dedicate ourselves to do even better going forward and let’s turn the tide on this thing so that we can continue to get back to the way of life we want to. So I’ll recognize Mayor Jimenez and then anyone else just want to chime in about, particularly about the collaboration and the unity here at this critical juncture.
Mayor Gimenez: (10:02)
Thank you Governor and I really appreciate you putting us all together. Here we’re all elected non-partisan so we don’t have party and actually I think it works really well in a community setting like we have today and really what I’d like to do now is turn it over to the mayors and let them make some comments and I’d kind of like to wrap it up, so if you could, Mayor Suarez, have comments, and we’ll just go around the table and again I’ll wrap it up.
Mayor Suarez: (10:30)
Thank you Mayor Gimenez. I appreciate you and governor, the invitation for being here and I want to thank the governor for being so accessible. Every time I pick up the phone and call him, late, early, he answers the call and he’s always responsive. I also want to thank him, the times that we’ve asked for resources, we’ve also been very responsive and so we’re very thankful for that. I’m also thankful that you’ve allowed us as cities to go at our own pace. I think it’s important that while unity of message is critical in a moment like this and I think you emphasized it, it has been very helpful as a city to be able to go at our pace and potentially at a slower pace because of density with which our cities have. Some of the things that we’ve discussed and you’ve been very responsive to, one of them is getting some potential isolation hotel rooms which is something that I’ve spoken to you about and I know you’ve spoken to Jared Moskowitz, your emergency manager about. The other one of course, we had a press conference requesting 500 more contact tracers. That’s something that we discussed prior to the press conference.
Mayor Suarez: (11:38)
I will tell you that there is a significant amount of pressure right now for us to shut down at some level and I think we are sort of at a critical juncture, that if things do not improve quickly over the next week or two, I think we’re going to be under a significant amount of pressure to do something like that. So I do think it’s important and imperative that we all continue to get together as a group, speak with one voice. I’m also very thankful and something that we discussed that you emphasized yesterday, that being here in Miami and Miami-Dade County, you should be wearing a mask if you’re a resident of this community and I think that’s something that you speak to a segment of our population directly and I think the fact that you’re saying that is something that it’s imperative and important for them to hear.
Mayor Suarez: (12:25)
So I think for me, just making sure that we’re able to get the isolation beds so that when contact tracing gets to a point where we can get people who need to be isolated, we’re seeing over 30% of the people who are getting sick either reporting it from a family member or from home and so we want to give them … Some of them as you know are not high income people. They may not have the ability to isolate. They may not have the number of rooms in their apartment or in their home, and so giving them an opportunity to be able to go somewhere else, whether they’re vulnerable like an elderly person or whether they’re very young which potentially has the possibility of affecting the rest of the people with a lag in testing times, I think that’s imperative, and then the contact tracing, and I know Mayor Gelber will probably talk a lot about that, so I don’t want to steal his thunder but for us, for me it’s more on the informational side.
Mayor Suarez: (13:15)
We have to make a lot of decisions. Whether we close something, how we close it, to what extent do we close it and if you think of contact tracing as a poll in a sense, we need the ability to have as much actionable data as we possibly can have so that we can make intelligent decisions that we can justify to our residents and to our business owners. I’ll just finish by saying something we talked about back there which is I think we need to have a longterm strategy. I understand it’s difficult to have a longterm strategy because Carlos will remind us, we’re sort of fluid in reacting to this crisis and he’s doing a phenomenal job of creating that sort of capacity at his hospital system that will help us manage this hopefully over the next couple of weeks which are going to be critical, but I think having a longterm plan and being able to communicate that directly, this is the point at which we’re going to have to shut down, this is the point at which we can reopen.
Mayor Suarez: (14:10)
These are the things that we can reopen and how and I think the reopening plan was great if everything went well. If we continue to go down, there was a methodology to how you open, but I think the fact that things have sort of not gone according to plan or maybe people have been aggressively non-compliant as my former manager would say has created a scenario under which this virus has grown much, much quicker than I think people anticipated. I also think part of it is the fact that we closed very quickly and we didn’t have some of the things that happened in New York. Obviously people were dying in the hallways in hospitals and I think that maybe reduced a little bit of the fear factor so that when we opened, people sort of resumed what they would consider to be normal activities and ways that were not conducive to stopping the spread. Again, I want to thank you because I do think that what we’re doing here, irrespective of party, irrespective of where you come from or what city, whether it’s big or small, is incredibly important to message to our residents that we’re unified and how we’re going to try to battle this over the next few weeks which are critical.
Oliver Gilbert: (15:19)
Great. Thank you. I would just like to start by thanking the governor for definitely doing this but also Mayor Gimenez. Look, there’s 2.5 million people in this county, and he’s the mayor of all of them but they live in our … 2.7, 2.8. That’s just the ones that want to be counted so really if you’re from the Census it’s really like 3.1. They’re all of your residents, they’re our residents too, a lot of them, and sometimes we forget that political subdivisions exist in larger political bodies and so coming together, having this conversation, actually speaking to the needs and issues of everyone in this community and how we actually get through this together and that’s all of our goals. How we get through this together. That’s going to be important.
Oliver Gilbert: (16:01)
Something that Mayor Suarez said. Look, the certainty of being able to speak to our public, the whole public in Miami-Dade County and say, “Hey, these are the milestones that if we can get to here, this is when … If we get here [inaudible 00:16:14] we’re going to have to start looking at closing stuff again.” Because right now people don’t believe that that actually can happen, but we understand as people who are charged with ultimately the health and safety of the residents of this area, that this level of increase is not sustainable. This actually has to slow down. Having those conversations as a group, having those conversations. Under you all’s leadership it’s important because ultimately, when we have to do things, we’re going to have to do them together and doing them together actually gives us the ability, a much, much greater force.
Oliver Gilbert: (16:47)
I want to also say that the information that we get from contact tracing is something that is invaluable to us. We need to know. We need to know not just where people are getting, and I agree that it might be more important once we see a little less infection in the community, but we’re going to need to know who’s getting it, how they’re getting it, where they’re getting it so that we can actually use that information to stop its spread. We know we don’t have a vaccine for this. How are we going to stop this right now are the little things that Carlos and his folks will tell you about. They’ll tell you about washing your hands. They’ll tell you about social distancing. They’ll tell you about wearing a mask, and they’ll also tell you about information. That’s how we stop COVID-19. Those are our tools against COVID-19 now and we have to do that. Something else that’s important is how us as political subdivisions, how we actually get through this for our residents. I appreciated the conversation we had that reflected on how are we going to look at finances, because this is something that’s going to tax the capacity of cities and the county going forward to provide for our residents, and so all of those things and being able to have those conversations, to not achieve perfection but to achieve progress, with the understanding that everyone sitting in this room wants the best for everybody in this state, really everybody in this country. We might disagree on sometimes how to get there, but we all actually have one goal. These conversations are how we actually get to move the ball down the field in an analogy. Right now we’re like in the second quarter. I wish we were in the third quarter, but we’re in the second quarter, but I think that we can win this game if we just operate as a team. So I appreciate you all, thank you all for being here.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (18:26)
Mayor Gelber: (18:27)
Thank you. I think the public needs to know that just because we’re doing this public forum doesn’t mean we don’t talk to each other all the time and I think we talk to each other all the time sometimes about each other but that’s happening and it’s important to note. I just also want to say that we’re from different political parties but when I’ve tried to reach you I’ve reached you. Your staff have been always available. I talk to the surgeon general regularly, I talk to Shane, your chief of staff unfortunately too regularly and obviously Jared Moskowitz is available to all of us because he’s so important in terms of the testing apparatus. So the public needs to know that we all are talking and we’re communicating and by the way I appreciate that. I do. This is a very pernicious virus. It’s very hard to get a handle on from a healthcare perspective. It’s equally hard to get a handle on from a governance perspective. It bakes into the community so that whatever you’re seeing today you don’t actually feel for a couple weeks, so how do you tell people you need to do something for something that they don’t even feel affecting them for weeks into the future.
Mayor Gelber: (19:36)
It’s hard, it’s a proven negative in terms of making people do things and my friend Mayor Suarez always likes to say we don’t have a vaccine yet so our vaccine is communication. Pretty certain you stole that from somebody else, but it’s a true thing, and I think that’s the most important thing. So [inaudible 00:19:56] since you’ve asked this here I’ll give you the two sort of suggestions that I would hope … Because you seem to be a pretty good listener, Governor.
Mayor Gelber: (20:02)
So here are the two things. The first is I always have noticed during a hurricane, I’m always amazed when all of the political leaders stand up and tell people to do things that are … They tell them to leave their homes, they tell them how to leave their homes and when and where to go. They create huge dysfunction but everybody seems to follow our unified lead. Maybe because they have experience with a hurricane and they know … They don’t have any experience with this, but it’s been incredibly troubling to me that even in my own community, the amount of people who don’t think they need to do something is enormous. Even in this community, where … I mean no one ever thought Carlos would have over 2,000 people in the hospital system in Dade County with COVID. We wouldn’t have imagined that a month or two ago. I think a lot of this has to be, we have to create a greater sense of urgency and not just sort of telling people … Not just urging them, but creating urgency, and I think a lot of that … I watch messages from all over the place where people are saying, “Well, if you look at it this way,” or last week even the vice president talked about we’re in a really good place, we’re in a good place in Florida.
Mayor Gelber: (21:17)
When people hear that, I think people will follow the path of least resistance, some people will, and they’ll say, “Well you know what? I don’t think I need to wear a mask because so and so says I don’t have to,” or, “I don’t need to do this because I’ve seen that one of my leaders is saying I don’t have to.” So I don’t think it’s just about urging. My wife urges me to exercise more and watch what I eat, and she’s failing in both those regards. I think we need a sense of urgency in our community right now. A true sense of urgency and I think it really has to come from the president, from the governor. We are trying our best, but people will follow the messages they hear from the people that they believe and they respect and I think they have to know that. I know we’ve had disagreements about whether we have a state mandate for a mask. The only reason I thought it’s important is I think it will tell people you have to do this, not just urging you to do it but it’s urgent that you do it.
Mayor Gelber: (22:18)
The second thing I wanted to leave you with is the contract tracing. The CDC says it’s a gating criteria, it’s a core responsibility, and a lot of people don’t know what it does or how it’s done. Because as we’ve talked about earlier, the Department of Health doesn’t really tell you the metrics of what they’re doing with contract tracing, nobody in the public knows how many people they’re reaching, whether they’re getting close contacts, how they close each case, what they’re actually doing. There’s just no knowledge of that, in fact it was hard for us to get it and we talk to them three times a week. Last week we found out that [inaudible 00:22:54] in one day, it was a tough day, only 17% of people were contacted and I agree with what ha been said in that when you’re in a spike like this, when you have 3,200, 3,500 a day, it’s going to be nearly impossible to contact trace, but I think that the contract tracing is the only other thing we can do to [inaudible 00:23:13] and control the spread of the virus other than all of these countermeasures of masks and distancing and everything we’re doing.
Mayor Gelber: (23:19)
That’s the one thing that the CDC says you actually can do things with and I don’t know that our contact tracing is up to snuff right now. In New York, they find housing for people. They bring them groceries to make sure they stay in their places in quarantine or in isolation. I don’t know that we’re doing that. Maybe we are, but I wouldn’t know because I just don’t get those answers and I don’t know even what percentage we are reaching people with. I feel as though that we need an enormous army of contact tracers right now and we also need them to be trained in such a way that all the best practices that have happened around the rest of the country, and let’s face it, best practices are only other places that have made mistakes and figured out what to do when they get hit in the head with a two by four, they duck the next time. They’ve learned we should take those measures and apply them and certainly in our county.
Mayor Gelber: (24:19)
Honestly I’d like the county to have a little more control over that, or maybe even cities. Because we have different needs. I have a hospitality industry that contact tracing may be entirely different than what it is for a city like my colleague Mayor Gelber who might have a lot of workers coming into that industry as well. So we all have different needs in this but I feel like the contact tracing is something we could definitely do better. Not just in manpower but in competencies and in finding the best practices that others who did this before us have figured out we need to do and I’ve love to see that.
Mayor Gelber: (24:57)
By the way, I appreciate what Mayor Gimenez and you have done in terms of bringing more. The national standard for it is 30 per every 100,000 which would put ours at about 800. So we should really have 800 notwithstanding a surge but to handle a typical bad moment. So I think we need enormously more and I think we probably have to figure out those best practices because I think that is something we can do and it’s certainly not a silver bullet but it clearly is something that will help us and we need as much help as we can right now so thank you for inviting me here today, governor.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (25:32)
Thank you for inviting me to this roundtable. First I want to thank the other mayors that are here and that this discussion as Mayor Gelber said is ongoing. Big and small cities are in touch almost on a daily basis if not more than once a day on this, Mayor Gimenez’s office as well and of course Governor, your office, Jared Moskowitz’s office and really even in the legislature. Everybody’s really been hands on in the government at every level, and that’s really something that’s important to highlight.
I just wanted to speak about, I’ve lived in South Florida for 35 years and the most important thing you see in South Florida is a big sense of community and people really have a pride in the community that we live in. Our community may be made up of many different municipalities but at the end of the day it’s one community and that’s something that’s important that we can harp on in South Florida, where that people have to look at, we not only have a personal responsibility to do the right things, to wear a mask, to socially distance, to remember that those things, to wash our hands, those things don’t end when we walk into our home. We also have a responsibility to our families, but we also have a responsibility to our community and to keep our community what it always has been and what it is today which is an incredible community to live in and to be a part of. That’s something that I think as community leaders is something that we all have to highlight. We don’t have to look at other people to send those messages. Those are messages that we should be sending together on a daily basis.
Now as far as getting a little bit granular, I echo the contact tracing issue, that’s something that we need. We need help as far as staffing with contact tracing because putting … And enforcement because putting our police officers at risk in dealing with people that are ill or other people that are not wearing masks, if one of four people are testing positive right now, you’re getting a lot of pushback from police officers who rightfully feel apprehensive to go up and enforce these mask ordinances. So we definitely need assistance on the municipal level.
From the state level, you put in place a very important travel ban that I think was key for us but we could use more help on enforcement on the travel ban or at least on sharing of information that the state may or may not be able to help get us. People still coming down here especially in these summer months, and then finally as the father of five girls, four of which are school age, the school issue is a big issue and I understand that that’s a school district issue but from something that all of us can talk about and also from your office, Governor, is as a parent, it’s important for us to have some sense of predictability.
Now predictability is very difficult when we’re living in the most unpredictable time of recent memory, but I think we can and should push for decisions to be made so that parents and then employers and such can plan their year and decide how their most precious things that they have, which are their children, how they’re going to spend their year and that’s something that I think we need to focus on. School starts in four and a half, five weeks or so in Miami-Dade County so that’s an important thing statewide. Again, thank you for everything you’ve done and what you continue to do.
Joe Corradino: (28:48)
Thank you. I’m Joe Corradino, mayor of Pinecrest and representing the Miami-Dade County League of Cities. This is a great forum and we’ve worked very hard, all our cities, Miami-Dade County in getting together and talking about this as frequently as possible, trying to get the one common set of information so that we’re all playing off of the same page in the playbook and I think that’s really beginning to work here. The message has not been lost on us. It is our responsibility I believe as individuals in our community to wear the masks, to practice the social distancing, to keep the great hygiene up. It’s our business’ responsibility to enforce the rules we put out and government has to then rigorously enforce the rules and make sure that with zero tolerance that people are wearing the masks and not breaking those laws and then government needs to know at what point have we the need to take a step backward or re-regulate. I think that’s what we’re searching for. As I talk in our community and talk with the mayors of all the cities in Miami-Dade County, I think it’s important, the contact tracing is important not only for the data and maybe it’s going to be totally ineffective with 3,000 cases a day, but certainly as we contain it, we begin to control it and come down off the back side of the slope to really be
Joe Corradino: (30:03)
… control it and come down off the backside of the slope to really be effective with contact tracing and isolation. I think in parallel with that is the need for test results that we get back, where there is anecdotally people in the community who feel ill that are getting better, but they haven’t got their test results back.
Joe Corradino: (30:18)
So it makes contact tracing almost completely ineffective at this point in time until we have the numbers of people that can do it and the test results coming back. And then in the near term, I believe the hospital system can talk about this, the medical staff appropriate to staff the beds of the coming wave that we’re going to see in the next couple of weeks.
Joe Corradino: (30:37)
And then again, I want to thank you for this. This is great. It’s what we’ve been trying to do here for months and I hope it’s very productive, we feel or I feel, and thank you for the ability to communicate.
Juan Carlos Bermudez: (30:50)
Governor, to reiterate my colleague’s words of thanking you for taking the time to be here with the lieutenant governor, I certainly want to thank Mayor Giménez who has listened to us over three to four months and my colleagues who we’ve also had many other meetings. I think there is three former presidents of Miami-Dade County League of Cities here, and there’s the future president to my left. So we probably have got to spend more time with each other maybe than we do even with our own families in the last couple of months.
Juan Carlos Bermudez: (31:22)
There are four things I want to point out that I think are very important, maybe some of them are similar to what we’ve discussed, but I think are critical to us. Number one, contact tracing is critical because of the fact that as we move forward, we have asked ourselves on many occasions, “Where is this coming from? How do we tackle it?” And the more information we get, the easier it will be to make those decisions, not only for the individual as we’ve discussed, but also for the decisions we’re making moving forward.
Juan Carlos Bermudez: (31:51)
Number two, something that I think, and we discussed it inside a little bit, I think is critical for us, the Department of Health is an entity that is under you, under the state, but it’s very important that the information that we get from the Department of Health be consistent with the information we have here in Miami-Dade County. And I think that as we move forward, hopefully, we can be on the same page.
Juan Carlos Bermudez: (32:11)
Sometimes when our constituents ask a question, they ask, “Why is the number different from this website from this website?” And I think that causes a lot of angst amongst the residents because then the question they ask is, “Why are you not on the same page?” And I think that-
Governor Ron DeSantis: (32:26)
Which numbers have been different?
Juan Carlos Bermudez: (32:28)
… Primarily the numbers of how many people tested positive, how many people… And I don’t know if there’s a lag time and there may be a lag time. I’ve been in meetings with Department of Health representatives, both with Mayor Giménez and with some of the other mayors here, and the information is not always exactly the same. So I think that’s why it’s so critical that we have the same information because if we’re going to have the same messaging, which is point number three, I think that we need to have certainly the same information because we will get asked those questions by our constituents.
Juan Carlos Bermudez: (32:56)
I think number three, obviously is the messaging aspect of it. A lot of that is up to us as community leaders, as all my colleagues have mentioned. But I think it’s very important that as we move forward, there’s an understanding that… And by the way, you being here makes a tremendous difference. I can’t tell you what a big difference it makes to send the message to our residents that we’re all in the same room. It’s important that Mayor Giménez be in the same room as the rest of us, and that’s great, but to have you as the Governor here makes a big difference.
Juan Carlos Bermudez: (33:25)
I think that the third issue is the messaging as we move forward. I think that while we can have differences of opinion in municipalities, there is 34 of us and there is the county, can have some differences, on the key issues, the messaging needs to be the same because that’s where our constituents get confused.
Juan Carlos Bermudez: (33:42)
I happened to be in the middle of Miami-Dade County surrounded by unincorporated and incorporated areas. And the confusion when the messaging is different from our residents is incredible. And I have to explain that Miami Gardens is not Doral, and that Virginia Gardens is not Miami Gardens. So if we have the same information and we have the same messaging, we’ll go a long way to allay the fears of our constituents.
Juan Carlos Bermudez: (34:10)
And then I will tell you the fourth thing, which is critically important moving forward is, once we have the same messaging, that we make the decisions moving forward as much as we can. And I know there’s a difference between Mayor Gilbert in Miami Beach and my constituency in Doral, but the reality is that as we move forward in one direction or the other, whether it is to make stricter decisions to shut down or whether it might be decision to loosen up at some point, that’ll it be based on that information that we had before, and that that decision be as much as it can be within our municipalities in the county, and even with your help at the state going in the same direction.
Juan Carlos Bermudez: (34:56)
And why do I say that? I say that because it does no good to have one rule in Doral and one rule in Miami or one rule in Pinecrest, because everybody in our cities travels from one to the other or may work, may have friends, may have colleagues, et cetera. So those four things I think are very critical.
Juan Carlos Bermudez: (35:15)
And of course, number five, that all encompasses the strategy moving forward. And the strategy, like Mayor Suarez indicated, maybe moving back a little bit, maybe opening up a little bit. I think that today has been a great opportunity for us to meet with you and meet with Mayor Giménez, and meet with the lieutenant governor and Mr. [inaudible 00:35:34] from Jackson, who, by the way, I’m very happy, he’s opening up a hospital around. Not yet, unfortunately, but if it would have been open, we would have had another hospital.
Juan Carlos Bermudez: (35:41)
But, I think this has been a great opportunity to move forward. And I hope that as we leave the room today, it’ll go a long way toward letting our residents, all the 2.8 million residents of Miami-Dade County, know that we are united in this effort to win this battle. And whether we’re in the third quarter or the fourth, the bottom line is to win this battle. So thank you again for the opportunity to be here.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (36:07)
Mayor Gimenez: (36:10)
Thank you again, governor, for putting this meeting together and having these mayors, all the mayors come together, represent a group of there is 34 mayors in Miami-Dade. We couldn’t fit them all in this room. And I’m sorry about that, but this is a good representative group of large cities, smaller cities that make up Miami-Dade County. Miami-Dade County is probably bigger than 12 to 15 states in population and in their budget and so we have a very diverse county. We have rural areas and we have very, very, intense areas, urban areas. We could be called the New Manhattan South in certain parts of this County and so that’s why it’s really different.
Mayor Gimenez: (37:07)
And so I’m glad that we’re here. I’m glad that the message is that we’re going to have a consistent message throughout Miami-Dade County throughout our municipalities, although there could be some nuances, a different nuance, like not everybody has Ocean Drive and not everybody has that kind of a district in their cities. And then the rules may be a little bit different than Ocean Drive, and they need to be a little different in Ocean Drive than in other parts. But the basic tenets should be that the basic rules should be the same, the message should be the same and then each city can have its own nuances, which are particular to that particular for that particular city.
Mayor Gimenez: (37:50)
And so listening to Mayor Suarez about the isolation beds in hotels, we have that program, believe it or not already, we need to do a better job of putting out the word that that program is there so that if you do find yourself positive and that you are living and your home is crowded because you may have a lot of people living there and it’d be really tough for you to self-isolate, we can give you a room. We can actually pay for that room. And we have a couple of hundred rooms actually that are available for that purpose and we’re willing to add more. And I think that that’s something that we need to put out throughout all the cities and the county so that we can start to drive this because I do believe, we all believe, that a lot of this contagion is actually happening in the home as somebody who got it from the outside brings it back into the house and then you got more and maybe some people there are working somewhere else and it’s driving a lot of what’s the what’s going on in Miami-Dade County.
Mayor Gimenez: (38:45)
There’s been a lot of talk about contact tracing. We added 250 contact tracers here, paid for by Miami-Dade County. According to Dan Gilbert, we need a couple hundred more because that takes it to about 600. Miami- Dade County will be willing to do again chip into to add more contact tracings, but I also want to deliver this message, that is not the silver bullet. In this point, we have community spread. We need to bring down the positivity rate, we need to bring down the number of people that are infected and then contact tracing can really make a difference.
Mayor Gimenez: (39:24)
We can get good data now, but contact tracing really… We needed to bring this down and I don’t want to give a message that somehow, if we all add 200 more contact tracers, that’s the end, we got nothing else to do, the contact tracers is going to take care of everything. They’re not, it’s just good information that will allow us to try to combat and make better decisions in the future. Also, we’re looking at technology for contact tracing, an app-based contact tracing program that we can all download and it will be voluntary and we’ll make an announcement on that later in the week.
Mayor Gimenez: (40:01)
I believe we do need to have a long-term strategy. However, it’s going to be very difficult for us to say, “When we get to this point, this has to happen,” because this is a very, very fluid situation. We can give you some parameters, “Hey, we get to this point, these things may happen,” all right? And while I’ll bet you that none of the mayors here believe that we want to close Miami-Dade County down more than what we’ve already done, if the situation proceeds and moves forward in the wrong direction, we may have to take additional steps and we will all sit down and get the same information and get the same advice from the same people so that we can move forward in as much as possible, a unified way here in Miami-Dade.
Mayor Gimenez: (40:54)
School system, I’m having conversations with the superintendent, those decisions are still weeks away, but we are worried about our school system and with the level of contagion here at Miami-Dade, opening up our schools, we all want to get to the point where we get our kids back in school, back in the classroom, because that is the best environment. And so again, we need the best information, we need all the studies that are done around the world. What happens with kids, what happens with kids of different ages? Can they get it? If they can’t get it, are they vectors to infection? And getting that information will go a long way for us to make the right decisions.
Mayor Gimenez: (41:41)
Again, the message has to be from all of us is, we need to wear our masks indoors and out, we need to keep social distancing, we need to wash our hands, we need to keep our hands away from our face, we need to have plenty of disinfectant always around. And also, here’s one other message that we haven’t given that we need to given now, you also need to treat the family also a little more care because as the families, as they go out in the community, they may end up being infected and then once inside the house, it’s very easy to get the entire household infected. So we need to watch out even inside the house because we have such a high level of contagion here in Miami-Dade County.
Mayor Gimenez: (42:28)
And so, well, we take additional steps. Yeah, we may very well have to take additional steps. My hope is that we do not, that the steps that we’ve taken so far, that with the message that you will give or the media and sectors of the communications’ industry give is that, “Hey, this is serious. This is happening in Miami-Dade. We now have over 2000 people that are in the hospital.” When we were locking down Miami-Dade County, we only had about six to 800 people in the hospital, when we were on lockdown. And I call a lockdown is basically all non-essential businesses were closed, only essential businesses were open. And so we’re way beyond that, but we’ve learned a lot since then. That doesn’t mean that we’re going back to that, but it does mean that we need to start seeing some results, better results from the steps that we’ve already taken.
Mayor Gimenez: (43:23)
We need to be more responsible, you and I, everybody in this room needs to be more responsible. We need to carry that message, that in order for us not to take additional steps, we need to be responsible. You need to have a social conscience, be responsible to your neighbor because the irresponsible things that you do today may lead to that neighbor of yours not having a job tomorrow, not being able to get an income tomorrow. And that message needs to be driven home. We need to follow the rules.
Mayor Gimenez: (43:58)
And then us as the leaders of this community, we need to enforce it. And we need to enforce it in a way we don’t want to be heavy-handed, but we do need to enforce the rules that we’ve put in place, that we all have in place right now. And so governor again, thank you for this opportunity. Thank you for bringing us together. We are talking now three times a week with the League of Cities, and I know any mayor that wants to join that League of Cities conversation can do so. We’ll bring in our medical experts to those conversations so that we all know exactly where it is that we’re coming from and what are the steps that we have to take so that we can move forward.
Mayor Gimenez: (44:41)
Doesn’t mean we’re always going to agree, it doesn’t, but at least you understand why certain decisions are made and hopefully we can all agree to that. And again, you’re right. Oliver Gilbert’s always talking about you for some reason [crosstalk 00:14:53]. But anyway, we do talk to each other a lot. And governor, I know that we speak just about every day and thank you again for your leadership. Thank you for bringing us together, and also thank you for the resources that you’re bringing down here to Miami-Dade County. This community is really very grateful for the work you’ve done for us and the residents of the state of Florida.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (45:20)
No, absolutely. One thing I think that I’m seeing here in particular that is concerning that I think we definitely need to message about is we saw when these positive tests started happening pretty much across the state that everyone was seeing, and really across the Sunbelt, you were seeing a big uptick in positive tests amongst people in their twenties, in their thirties. And right now in Florida, the number one demographic by far that has tested positive is 25 to 34. Now, obviously that demographic is just less risk. You look at any age stratification, that’s just the reality, particularly if you don’t have an uncontrolled co-morbidity you’re likely to fight off the illness. At the same time, it spreads quickly there and then it can spread to other people.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (46:14)
And I think what we’ve seen here in Miami-Dade is there are now more cases amongst 65 and up than there had been. The young were crowding out, there’s more cases everywhere, obviously, but I think you’ve seen that here. And obviously that’s concerning because those are the folks who are going to be the most vulnerable to the most severe clinical consequences of this. And so we’ve done a lot on long-term care facilities, which is obviously very significant. And if you look in the state of Florida, half of the COVID related fatalities have been amongst the less than 200,000 seniors who live in long-term care facilities. And so you have basically the same amount for the 21 and a half million who don’t live in long-term care as you do just there.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (47:05)
So it is an important issue and we’ve worked really hard on it, but then you also have folks who aren’t in those facilities who are 65 and up. And I think that what we’re seeing is family get togethers with folks who are younger, multigenerational, they’re not sick, they’re asymptomatic. I mean, I don’t think that they’re trying to do this, but you definitely have seen a more spread reach some of the older population, particularly here in Miami-Dade County. There’s other counties where you really haven’t seen that as much, here is one. So that is definitely a concern. I think Carlos said, you go back three weeks when the hospitalizations were ticking up, it was skewing noticeably younger than what it was in March and April. Now they’re starting to see that age creep up where you’re starting to see people who are older, that is significant because of the outcomes that you’ll see.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (47:56)
I think they’re generating some pretty doggone good outcomes compared to March, April really across the board, but your odds are going to be less the more you get into the elderly population. So that’s just something that’s very, very significant as we’re looking forward. One good piece of news, I think Carlos can attest, is the admissions from long-term care facilities are down from where they were. Part of that is because we’re working on keeping infections out of the nursing homes. We’re now doing, I’ve mentioned before, 190,000 tests every two weeks for every staff member at every long-term care facility in the state of Florida. This is over 4,000 facilities. When someone tests positive, they’re being isolated. Fortunately, the positivity rate is like two and a half, 2.8%, something like that, which is much less than statewide right now.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (48:42)
And so that’s important that obviously prevents the most significant outbreaks, but the general population, 65 and plus, all the phases we’ve done, we’ve always advised 65 and plus to limit close contact outside the home close contact and avoid crowds. Now, obviously I’m not going to arrest someone that’s 65 just cause they leave their home. But what we’re trying to say is there is prevalence of this and the community, particularly in Miami Dade, so if you were in those at risk groups, please take care and protect yourself. If you’re not in the at risk groups, please understand that you could be an asymptomatic carrier and you should do what you can to limit your contact without risk groups.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (49:27)
So hopefully with some of the messaging that we’re seeing and look, the test results we get are really… That’s like sometimes two-weeks-old in terms of the behavior, in terms of when that infection happened, when they took the test, when it gets reported. So sometimes that’s a lagging indicator and I think there’s been a lot of great messaging here from the community. I think people realize that we need to turn it in a more positive direction. So hopefully we’ll start seeing that, but that is definitely a concern that I have. Carlos, you just want to say a few things and Jeanette, and then I have a couple of questions just for the mayor, just to get some input on some of the issues.
Carlos A. Migoya: (50:04)
Thank you, governor. Mayor Jimenez and the rest of the mayors, as I was looking around the room, I can tell you that I’ve known most of you one since his birth and the rest of you from the time that you had no white hairs or had hair. And I know that this group together can do the things that we need to do in this community to be able to bring this down to my opinion. As I was preparing for these comments, I will tell you that in the last 14 days, we have averaged a 28% positivity rate in Miami-Dade County, and we have seen the number of patients in beds grow by 700 over that same 14-day period.
Carlos A. Migoya: (50:42)
Now yesterday, we flattened out from today. That’s the good news, but that’s 50 patient per day of increase. Now I will tell you speaking on behalf of all the hospitals in Dade County, but really it’s in South Florida, we have some great healthcare workers, as you all know, doctors and nurses that are doing a great job, but we also have some great professional administrators that are balancing every day the number of census that we have as it relates to how we shift from non-COVID patients to more COVID patients. At Jackson alone, I can tell you that today we have one third of our patients are COVID patients, but the census has not changed from 30 days ago when we had half as many COVID patients as we do today. And that’s the kind of work that’s happening in every hospital as we continue to grow the COVID patient to be able to manage this, and we’re comfortable that the next several weeks we can continue to do this, but we can’t do it this forever.
Carlos A. Migoya: (51:42)
And it really, and I hear what you’re saying, listen, testing and contact tracing is all important, but even if today we started to really quadruple the number of contact tracing we’re doing, you’ll see several weeks or a month before you see the action to that. We don’t have a month in front of us, we have to do something now. So what I need to see from everyone here that we all need to do is use your police departments, firefighters, all municipal workers, all public officials to be out there being ambassadors and enforcing the masking, social distancing, and cleaning hands as a way to get this done.
Carlos A. Migoya: (52:22)
And I know, Mayor Suarez, you talked about the aggressive non-compliant people, and there are a lot of people out there that flatly refuse to wear a mask and flatly refused to be social distanced. And unfortunately, we can’t do much about those, but we need to make sure that those are the very minimum minorities, because otherwise we’re not going to be able to get this turnaround the way we need to turn it around. I really believe that this group can do this. I also believe that the work that was done here, countywide, as far as creating the curfew and reducing some of the actions as relates to the restaurants and so forth, it’s going to take a little while to see what happened.
Carlos A. Migoya: (52:57)
We did that a week ago, and I think it’s going to take another week to 10 days, maybe two weeks to see the action. But I think slowly, we’ll start improving. As that happens, there’ll be a laggard from the number of beds. The goal is by first week of August to start seeing the number of beds actually minimizing, and we can comfortably manage… Not comfortably. With a lot of stress and a lot of hard work, we can manage these beds and COVID patients. Our people, our healthcare workers have been at this now. We’re on our fifth month and they’re tired, they’re stressed. And no, I can assure you that every healthcare worker, none of them want to lose one patient. And they cry over every patient they lose, whether they happen to be 40 years of age or 98 years of age.
Carlos A. Migoya: (53:44)
So we want to make sure that we can continue to do the work that we’re doing, but we need the cooperation from the entire community and you mayors around here representing the community can help us a lot by making sure that everybody is compliant as best we can. I know that you could do it, but thank you again to all of you. Governor again, thank you very much for putting this together and we are going to continue to work together to make this happen.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (54:10)
Jeanette M. Núñez: (54:10)
Hey, thank you, governor. It’s such a pleasure to be here with all the mayors. What you see here in Miami-Dade County is the microcosm of our state. We are indeed a diverse state, and I think nowhere is that more evident than here in Miami-Dade County. You’ve got mayors from big cities, small cities, urban, rural. And I think that that is a testament to the leadership with Mayor Giménez and all the respective city mayors. So thank you for the hard work because you are indeed the leaders that are responsible for your constituency and also have the trust built in to help us with those messaging points that you’ve heard, social distancing, compliance with the mask ordinances, making sure that sanitation is continued.
Jeanette M. Núñez: (54:50)
And so all of those things I think are critical, but the other thing I do want to say and stress is that through the beginning, the onset of this pandemic, we have been faced with unique challenges and the governor has met those challenges head on. At the beginning when we couldn’t get testing, he worked diligently to bring more testing and you see that in the numbers that we have tested today. We’ve also been able to work diligently to make sure that we can get our hospitals the remdesivir that they need. That’s something that the governor has tackled.
Jeanette M. Núñez: (55:16)
With regards to our nursing homes, our most vulnerable of the vulnerable, we saw the governor take decisive action to make sure that the staff was being tested consistently, and that’s something that very few places have been able to accomplish. And so that has saved lives. And of course we’re concerned with the case count. Of course we’re concerned with every single death that we see here in the state of Florida, but that’s something that this governor takes seriously and that’s why he’s here today to work with these mayors, to see what support we can provide from the state perspective, but it is indeed a personal responsibility, a community responsibility, and a state responsibility. And I know that together, we can tackle this and come out on the end stronger than ever. So thank you, governor, for your leadership.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (55:58)
Thank you. Maybe Mayor Giménez can start, but you guys were basically closed for two months, at least you were essential businesses for two months, mid March to mid May. You had a huge amount of input for your phase one. We’re still not open fully. I mean, it was one step, but it’s a slow process. How has businesses operating… How is that going? People getting put back to work. What’s your sense on whether the spread is related to more business actions or socializing and how do you think people are doing now that some of them have the ability to go back to work?
Mayor Gimenez: (56:49)
I think governor, my gut tells me that the spread was due to social activity. It was started, and we saw it, with young people right around the beginning of June, I think. And there were things that all clash together. You had graduations, you had kids going out of school, you had college kids out of school. You had demonstrations that were happening here. And thousands of mostly young people in the streets together, a lot of them not wearing masks. And so I’m not pointing my finger at any one thing, I’m just saying it’s a combination of things. And then we saw images of certain businesses that were converting themselves from say a restaurant into a bar afterwards, and people not wearing their mask, people not social distancing, basically enjoying themselves, and young people being young people. And so I think that that’s where it started. I don’t believe that it really started with businesses.
Mayor Gimenez: (57:55)
I think that that’s what happened. It was a social activity. And so we took the steps of creating a curfew, one of the first things we did a couple of weeks ago, a curfew to try to curb social activity. Not only in places of business, but we also feel that there were house parties, people getting together. This community, maybe unlike other communities, a lot of your family in this community is actually in this community. We’re not really spread out all over the place. And so you had your children and your grandchildren, they’re all here. Okay? They’re not in some other state. And so you tend to get together and it’s pretty family-oriented community. That’s what makes this community so great.
Mayor Gimenez: (58:46)
And so I think that also, as the young kid started to socialize, then they started bringing into the home and then obviously we have to take the steps up, closing those places where you had a lot of people together. The bars had never been open here, by the way.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (59:08)
Mayor Gimenez: (59:08)
The discotechs and the night clubs have never been open here, but then people being resourceful, if I don’t have a place to go, I’ll make a place to go, okay?
Governor Ron DeSantis: (59:19)
Yeah, I heard around the state people say they’re renting out warehouse space or whatever and doing different things but…
Mayor Gimenez: (59:26)
We have problems with Airbnb. Party houses here, it’s been a problem, not just because of this pandemic, but actually that. And then the things that we did, curfew, the places of assembly, casinos, bowling alleys, movie theaters, those kinds of places were closed. We closed the interior spaces of restaurants because you have to take your mask off to eat, all right? And it becomes an inherently dangerous thing. That’s where I think it started. Now we’re trying to keep it down. The message has to be, we can’t have-
Mayor Gimenez: (01:00:03)
To keep it down. The message has to be, we can’t have these house parties, we can’t have these places where people are congregating, where they’re letting down their guard, drinking, et cetera. And unfortunately, since the young kids started infecting each other, we see the results as more older folks are now going into the hospital because exactly what we feared, that they were going to take it to their parents or they were going to take it to their grandparents. And so we need to take the steps that we’ve taken so far. Hopefully, now the message will be out. Hopefully, this positivity rate will go down. Hopefully, we can get less people into the hospital, and we don’t have to take further measures.
Mayor Gimenez: (01:00:43)
One thing we did do early on, Mayor Gelber, is we have a program right now where we have close to 80,000 seniors that get their meal taken to them at their home, and that’s been since almost the beginning of this pandemic to keep those seniors safe as much as possible. I think that if we hadn’t done that, we would have much higher numbers. And so that’s where I think it started, and the numbers prove it because the positivity rate on the young, it just shot up like a rocket, right in the middle of June.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:01:20)
I remember you were working on your phase one, and it seems like when people followed the guidelines, you guys were fine.
Mayor Gimenez: (01:01:27)
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:01:27)
You never had pubs, but people would convert it into them, do these dance parties and stuff. And so just the importance of just following the guidelines that are there for you. You consulted all these physicians, business people, the community, and you’re not doing that just for kicks. You’re doing it for a reason, to be able to minimize risk of an outbreak, and I remember how thorough it was. And it just seems to me from looking not only in Miami but around the state is, both state and local had certain guidelines and when people follow them, we’ve tended to do pretty good, and I think that that’ll be the case here. What are you guys seeing about businesses operating? I know there were businesses that were closed for a while. Now you have more open, presumably more people back to work. How is that working out?
Juan Carlos Bermudez: (01:02:13)
Thank you, Governor. And I think that the businesses are very, very important. And I think that, in my experience has been, that they really were cooperating, whether it was an indoor business or… I found, at least in our municipality, that there were two things that were happening all the time. Number one day prepared, they follow the rules set by the County set by the state, the expenses that came along with it. They were cooperating even as far as the number of people that could be in the interior. And I’m going to tell you something that’s very interesting, if a business wasn’t cooperating, I was getting emails from constituents that were going there, or workers that worked in that business. Many times sending it anonymously, but telling me, “Mayor, this site is in your city, and they’re not cooperating.” And we’d our code compliance and our police out there.
Juan Carlos Bermudez: (01:03:03)
I found that, similar to Mayor Gimenez that I don’t think the spike came from the opening of the businesses. I do think though, moving forward, now that we have you here, that I think economically what I have seen also is that some of these businesses will not come back with the same number of employees they had. They have figured out that they can actually do this even at a more, let’s say that not a hundred percent rate, but with fewer employees. And I think we’re going to have a situation economically that we’re going to have to deal with statewide, and we certainly are going to have to deal with it. Beyond the other financial issues we’re going to have as municipalities and as a County, economically from the drop in revenue, we’re going to have people that are not going to go back to work. This is not a short term issue. And I know that that gets talked a lot about, but it’s a much more complex issue than maybe we’ve recognized.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:03:55)
I agree. Just from a commercial real estate, you had a lot of teleworking going on. I’ve talked to major business, said we haven’t missed a beat with having 90% teleworking. Well, okay. You going to need to have that big building in expensive part of town. There’s going to be a lot of changes that happen as a result of the mitigation efforts and some of them may be more efficiency, but some of it is going to be, there’s going to be folks who aren’t going to necessarily get back [inaudible 00:04:24], yet a lot of people get back across the country, millions and millions of people, which is great, but that’s just a fraction of the total number. And I think it’s you see an easy path to even have some more, but man, once you get closer to full where we were, there’s going to be resistance and there’s going to be changes and that’s going to be a big, big problem. So I think it’s an astute observation. Yes, sir.
Joe Corradino: (01:04:44)
Yeah, I would absolutely agree with you. I think that the essential businesses that remained open more than professional services type things really learn how to function differently. So they send everybody home. They’re accustomed now to working from home, they may never go back to the traditional style of business. And what I’ve found is that these businesses are providing the contact tracing internally on their own, and they’re separating their employees, they’re finding out when the positives were, and they’re almost self policing that.
Joe Corradino: (01:05:10)
In our community and some of the smaller communities that have a finite number of retail establishments, we’ve been able to enforce and police those pretty well because it’s manageable. I can imagine that some of the larger communities is much more difficult, on Miami Beach or in the City of Miami. We’ve found also that the level of compliance is relatively high. Again, I would agree in a smaller place like ours, which is primarily maybe two thirds residential, we’re seeing the house parties, and the things with graduations, and those types of things that we just can’t police because we’ve got private property rights, and just can’t do that. So we encouraged people to behave, but again, with graduation season and all that, it really slipped by, and I think that’s got to lead to a little bit of what we’re dealing with now.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:05:56)
I think that our community right now is hungry to get back to work. Everyone’s hungry to get back to their everyday lives. At the same time, people will understand with this absurd, this recent surge, is that they have to take these things seriously. You can’t get by with just hoping that this is going to go away. And the biggest thing we’re battling on all these fronts is COVID fatigue. People are sick of this and they’re sick of dealing with this, but they have to understand that to get to the finish line we have to do these things, and there is a finish line. No one knows where it is, and it’s there, and the more of these things that we’re doing, the quicker we’ll get there.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:06:36)
I agree. And I do think that anything we do has got to be done with an eye towards what’s sustainable because at the end of the day, it started out 15 days to slow the spread, and then it went 30. So Florida we went from mid March to the end of April. Miami Dade was even longer than that. And look, we did what we had to do, but I think from a public perspective, at some point, I think that they lose interest in still being in this fight. And so as we’re doing this, calibrating it in a way that allows us to have society function, businesses operate as best we can with the protections, I’ve just thought that’s a more sustainable approach, and I think you see that in different parts of the different parts of the country, in different things that, that have been tried.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:07:26)
Now, Mayor Gelber, you’ve got an interesting up a strip of city there. I know you’re heavily one of the top tourist attractions. That’s clearly a little bit different now. So what’s the business situation been like on Miami Beach, and what do you see going forward?
Mayor Gelber: (01:07:42)
Yes, it’s funny, I don’t view it as a Miami Beach business situation, it’s a regional thing because if we got 10 or 15 million people who come here typically, and a whole bunch of them, two thirds will come to my city maybe more than that. And of course with the convention center because we have a convention center. So I think that the challenge is there’s a short term issue, which is just too many people think that this is some other person’s responsibility to take care of. And I think the public has to be really told that they are going to have to sacrifice somewhat, a mask is a little sacrifice. There are other things that they’ve had to sacrifice much worse during this. So I think that that’s got to be drummed into them. And I think all of us saying it together is a lot of the solution.
Mayor Gelber: (01:08:35)
With regard to our hospitality industry, we really want to get people back to work because some of them, especially folks that work in the service industry, those are rent checks, or just about anything else they need for necessities. I really am concerned the meeting them longterm, the cruise industry, the airplane industry, that’s really where a lot of our guests come. Conventions going forward, we have to solve it outright because right now it kills me. I’m constantly saying the same thing, which is I’m mayor of a city that wasn’t really built to socially distance itself. We do the opposite, we want people to come, and dance, and hug, and organize themselves, and gather.
Mayor Gelber: (01:09:24)
So it’s been very challenging, but I think our messaging has to be more United and tell people the only way we’re going to get back to, not the new normal, but the old normal is to follow these rules. And it’s not, again, can’t urge them, I think we have to tell them it’s urgent to do it right now. Unfortunately, and this is why this is so vexing, is what we’re seeing now is going to be much worse in two weeks, because we know all those positives are going to make their way through the the lifecycle of this virus, and find itself in hospitalizations, intensive care and ultimately unfortunately for a few deaths.
Mayor Gelber: (01:10:07)
So we have to actually act now for what’s going to happen in two weeks, which is a really hard lesson in leadership that I think we all have to take a better stock up, because we got to stop that from happening and realize that people are going to say, “You made me do it for no reason.” But that’s what we have to do. Because if we don’t, if we wait until it’s in front of us, then we’re going to end up it’s too late because we’re going to get two weeks or three weeks of chaos that we don’t want.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:10:38)
Mayor, how about your constituents in terms of being back to work or just the economy? What are you seeing?
Oliver Gilbert: (01:10:45)
I think everybody wants to be back to work, everybody wants to be back to normal, but I think the business question is this, especially an interesting question because of the interconnectivity of how Miami Dade County exists. So Dan has the beach and he has the beach, but his residents are going to come from Francis’s city, in my city, in North Miami, and Hialeah, and Hialeah Gardens. And so how you opened up an economy, and how you evaluate, it can’t be by city, it has to be collectively. And we see that and we understand that. And that’s why it’s important that we actually speak with one voice, and we do this together.
Oliver Gilbert: (01:11:23)
One of the conversations that I think we ought to have, also and we talk about businesses, are the people, not just the businesses that want to open, but the employees who actually have to work there. And then on the beach it’s the hotel workers and the restaurant workers. We need to make sure that as we’re having these conversations, and I know Mayor Gimenez did a good job of this, with the openings when they had the committees with the openings, of actually including voices of the workers, to make sure that they actually speak to their issues. Because they have to be safe, and they’re going to go to home to families. And so if they’re going to be getting sick and catching COVID-19 and taking it home to their families, it only exacerbates the problem.
Oliver Gilbert: (01:11:59)
And let me say, I don’t think that the increase, our surge now, is because of business. I think it’s because of everything. It’s the aggregate of everything. It’s the house parties. We close down clubs, so people’s backyards became the clubs. We said no parties, and so we had barbecues and cookouts. We said you couldn’t socialize in areas, what we should have been saying is you can’t socialize, because it’s not where you do it, it’s what you’re doing, and the proximity to other people. The proximity is what’s hurting us right now. And we weren’t closed long enough to actually create good habits. And so we don’t have the habits now of wanting to wear a mask, it should be second nature, you pick up your keys to get in your car, you pick up your mask. It should be common to us, and we haven’t developed that habit yet. We have to, if we’re going to really, really stop the spread of this.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:12:50)
Mayor Suarez: (01:12:54)
Since Mayor Gelber stole one of my lines, I’m going to steal one of his. We have what he would call a crowd economy, in other words, our economy is based on people getting together, where it’s in all the different places that that were mentioned. And I think that’s something that’s obviously going to be a struggle for us because so much of our economy is based on tourism, is based on events, is based on all the things that we know we can’t do right now, and I agree with Mayor Gelber and Mayor Gilbert, that the messaging has to be different, and I think that’s one of the things that we were talking about in the conference room. The other thing that I’m looking at is, and this is something that your department of health with a lot of help from particularly Mayor Gelber has started to put together for us. And it’s a little bit of a difference on the contact tracing than what is the traditional contact duration, which is being able to isolate people who are sick and being able to isolate the people who are in contact with those people who are sick. They’re performing a function which is acting as a pole. They’ve completed, and tomorrow we’ll have a better data, but they’re the ones that are completing it, 231 surveys.
Mayor Suarez: (01:14:06)
Part of the reason why we know a lot of this is happening in the households is because that’s what SAR respondents are telling us. We’ve got 33.6% of the people are saying that they got it in their household, about 21.9% are saying they got it in the workplace. And from that 21% the breakdown, and of course this is not yet even a statistically significant sample size, So I want to preface my comments by saying that, 24% are saying they got it in the healthcare industry, 13% are saying transportation, 12.2% in protective services, so first responders, 36% are from a member of their family, 13.5% are a patient in some medical facility, these are not to necessarily be a hospital per se.
Mayor Suarez: (01:14:51)
And again, these numbers are not statistically significant yet because we haven’t gotten enough responses. Hopefully by tomorrow, we’ll have 350 or 400. But our statisticians have said that we need to get to about a thousand before we have statistically significant data. But I think one of the things that we’re going to have to grapple with going forward and this is why I think unanimity of message is so important. If we do have to take more remedial measures, if we do have to take the unfortunate step of having to shut down or doing something to that effect, we’re going to have to justify it to the community, we’re going to have to justify that to our business community.
Mayor Suarez: (01:15:27)
I think not only do we have to be consistent, we all have to be on the same message, and hopefully that’ll happen, but hopefully we’ll have the data to be able to say, “Look, the reason why we’re doing this is for X, Y, or Z reason.” And I think I’m thankful that we’ve gotten to a point with the department of health, that we can get some of that critical data. And hopefully as the information gets closer to a statistically significant, we’ll have stuff that we can message better for our residents.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:15:55)
Great. I know… I think you’re right, we need to see how this develops and make the best decision on that. So I applaud you for doing that. In your communities, how have the kids, students responded, do you think, for being out of school with continued lack of in-person instruction may make that worse? Will the virtual just be fine? What are the parents telling you here in your communities about school?
Mayor Gimenez: (01:16:40)
Well, the kids being in school and then parents having to go to work, it becomes a problem. And so if they’re not at school, because I mean, really, most parents… I know when I had my kids, and they were going to school, you counted on that time in order to go to work, and then you’d make some arrangement before you came back. And so it’s disruptive in that sense. I have six grandchildren, which five of them are in school. They seem to have survive it pretty well. I am not sure if the… Obviously it’s not as good as being in the classroom. Obviously not as good as being in the classroom, both from a social aspect, and then also from an academic aspect.
Mayor Gimenez: (01:17:31)
So the faster that we get our kids into school, I think the better, but again, we need to have the data we need to have. We need to know where it is we are going to be at in six weeks. We don’t know what that is. And like I said I have a meeting actually with the superintendent after we break up, and we’re going to talk about putting together or having a group of folks advise us and him on what the steps that we need to take in order to to open up school or to keep it as virtual. I believe what we’re going to do is we’re going to come up with different options, and depending on where we are at that point, okay, we’re here then this is what needs to happen with the school, but obviously in the classroom is much better than out.
Mayor Gimenez: (01:18:23)
I do believe that with virtual learning, they had a huge learning curve and it will get better, but I don’t think it will be ever as good as in the classroom. Now I’ll spin off of that conversation, and some here talked about what the economy’s going to look like after. And this virus obviously was a health issue, but this virus is a huge disruptor in the economy, a longterm disruptor in the economy. But no better example than what’s happening right here in this County, 6,000 of our employees are working out at home. Like I told you, this is about the fourth time I’ve come up here in the last three months. I used to be here every single day. And I found that I’m just as productive, probably more productive at my home than I am here. And I think a lot of employers are finding that that’s the case, and things are going to change.
Mayor Gimenez: (01:19:26)
As Mayor Gelber and Suarez says we’re an economy based on getting together, et cetera. One of the things that I think is going to suffer, I think that we’re not going to have as many business travelers coming to Miami Dade, that means fewer people going into our hotels, et cetera. We obviously are the cruise capital of the world. Our cruise ships are at zero passengers right now. And so we have to establish that cruising that’s going to be not only going to be viable, but also it’s going to be safe, because that brings in about 5 million people to Miami Dade County every year.
Mayor Gimenez: (01:20:03)
Our airport is the number one economic generator of this town, and if you have fewer people traveling for business, you’re going to have fewer passengers, and so that’s going to be affected also. And then as you look out the window here, you see a lot of buildings that are office buildings, and so the question is going to be how many of those office buildings, which are pretty full right now, and they provide tax base for us, are going to be full in about a year or so, when the lease is up, and a lot of those businesses have been operating from home pretty well. So the economy is something that I’m worried about in the future. It is disrupted.
Mayor Gimenez: (01:20:47)
Usually when you have a disruptor, you’ll find a way, some other things will take its place. But without a doubt, this virus has taught us a different way to operate a different way of being. It’s also taught us a different word to teach kids, not as good as the traditional, but it’s something that we’ll have to work out with a, with a superintendent, what we’re going to do, but things aren’t going to be the same, they’re going to be different from now on.
Juan Carlos Bermudez: (01:21:16)
I agree with Mayor Gimenez on the issue of the impact it’s across the board, and the interconnectivity is as Mayor Gelber mentioned, those cruise lines and those airline businesses, many are headquartered in my city. And they are certainly going to be the employees there that live in Dade County, and some of the come from Broward will also be impacted as we move forward. That’s the same thing that I see across at the school system. My wife, as I mentioned to you, has been a longtime special needs teacher to elementary school children. And we have our youngest, our 10 year old daughter who is a regular student at her school in the Dade County public school system. There’s no doubt that for the younger kids, learning in person is probably, and all the studies have shown, is probably preferable.
Juan Carlos Bermudez: (01:22:06)
And I saw the, let’s call it the experience you had these last couple of months since we shut down, it was a complicated, and particularly the special needs area, to be able to deal with the number of kids you’ve got to deal with at one time via a technological aspect, simply because sometimes the parents aren’t there, sometimes there are different levels, the things along that type. But I also saw my own ten-year-old, our own 10 year old daughter also the time spent on learning probably wasn’t as extensive.
Juan Carlos Bermudez: (01:22:39)
Having said that, I would tell you, going to your question, Governor, that there’s great concern with some of the parents that if their children were to go to school, whether the science says it or not, there are people that are afraid to send their children to school and probably prefer a hybrid option, at the very least. We understand that that decision is really up to superintendent. I know Mayor Gimenez and he will work on that. And the hybrid option may seem the most reasonable one at this point, but I do think there is concern from parents. There are some parents that understand, “Hey, I’ve got to work. If my kid learned better in that environment.” But many others are saying, “No, I don’t feel comfortable. I see these numbers going up, and it’s not just the child I’m concerned with, mayor, it’s maybe your wife is a teacher and she gets it from somebody else, or maybe the janitor or the principal.”
Juan Carlos Bermudez: (01:23:28)
So I would tell you that there are concerns, and it’s not as clear as maybe we would like it to be now, maybe as we move forward, and maybe in August we’re having the same discussion the numbers are coming down. And this goes back again to the public confidence in the process. If the public confidence is there, then I think the decision is easier if we are where we’re at today, I think there’s a lot of concern from parents.
Joe Corradino: (01:23:56)
Mayor, I echo your sentiments exactly. In my community, it appears that people take safety first approach, very hesitant to going back to school, particularly with the numbers going in the direction they’re going. And certainly a hybrid option is something that they would prefer. Again, it’s a safety first approach, Mayor Gelber suggested even starting the school year later, which would give everybody a lot more confidence, but they don’t like it. The fact that they have to and not put the kids in school, but that they’d almost prefer not to within the situation we’re in.
Joe Corradino: (01:24:27)
And this is also a good time, almost a paradigm shift in the way we do our business. We’re probably going to end up ultimately rethinking everything we do from the way our own businesses operate, to the way we operate mass transit, to the way we deal with retail, commercial zoning, for instance. So I don’t think it’s time to discuss that just yet, I mean, those are the conversations that will result once we’ve contained, controlled and eradicated this disease, but certainly we all believe in the future, there’s going to be a different way of doing the essential pieces of business in the coming years.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:25:02)
I know the Jewish day schools probably want to get back, right?
Yeah, the Jewish day schools and most of the private schools are in a really tough spot because financially if they can’t reopen they can crumble. And they’re always on tight financial footing because of the amount of scholarships that are given out. But to answer your question specifically is really whether or not homeschooling or virtual schooling works is really a child specific question. And you could see it within my own home and all my in my children, but we also have to remember, it is hard for any of us to get our minds around it, which is that generation operates very differently than even my generation or other generations that are in this room, in their comfort on computers and their comforts with online and virtual, connecting even socially with other people.
So I don’t think we have to be afraid of technology, I think it’s something we have to embrace. Of course, the special needs students aside, that’s a group that specifically needs to have in-person school, and there has to be ways to work around that. I think the most important thing that applies to every student in this state is that no student will do well in any scenario where they have to go to school, and then if there’s one infection, then they have to go home for two weeks and have to come back and forth. And those are the plans that we’re seeing from a lot of these schools, because they really don’t have much of another choice.
But I firmly believe that we need to come up with a predictable plan which would work under any scenario. This is what we’re going to go through for the year that will allow employees and employers to work out the details that someone, maybe the state, or are you Governor through executive orders can help work out to give people the flexibility they may need to work from home if they have to, if their kids have to be at home, but also will allow students to flourish if they have a plan and parents and teachers together, can work together to have a successful year. We don’t want to write off for a year for any child.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:26:54)
The parents want want them back or are they split?
So it’s very timely, last night, I was up with my wife for four hours talking to different parents on this exact issue. It’s split. People are very afraid to send their kids back to school. They’re very nervous with the uncertainty on all the plans that are being presented. And they just want to know what are the plans so they can make their choices. And there’s people that are signing up for FLVS all over the County now. And also Miami Dade has their own online program, really just to have the option, even at this point.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:27:30)
But yeah, we’ve always said, if a parent prefers virtual that they need to be permitted to do the kid virtually. I think that that’s a very reasonable and should be the case. So what’s Miami Beach, what’s the community sense there?
Mayor Gelber: (01:27:45)
Well, the community sense in the Gelber households, because I have a high school kid and I have two college age girls, and I don’t even want to talk about universities, because there is no question in my mind that when my daughter returns to Michigan, my daughter just graduated, but college campuses I think are going to be unconstrained in terms of the spread. I don’t see how anyone gets their arms around that because it’s a cohort that literally doesn’t listen almost instinctively to us. At least I have found that experience in my home.
Mayor Gelber: (01:28:22)
But I want to address them, because I think it’s a good example. I don’t think the messaging on this has been great for this reason, everybody wants their kids back in school, it’s so important to the economy. People can’t go to work because their kids are at home. So obviously everybody wants that. But the problem is that when we… Like the White House said the other day, they’re going to withhold money if we don’t open up our schools five days a week. And even the messaging statewide is of concern to me because I agree that parents have to have the choice about your children’s safety and future, but we do send a message to them when we say to them, “We’re going to open up your schools.” We’d let them know that it’s safe for them.
Mayor Gelber: (01:29:07)
And I’m not sure all of our parents feel like they know, frankly, if it’s going to be safe enough. The question I get from everybody is, is it safe? And I immediately say I was a federal prosecutor, I’m not a doctor, but I try to give them the information, and in my own messaging, I have included video clips from pediatricians who are knowledgeable on this. They have to be given the information, but they shouldn’t be telegraphed through messaging that it’s just fine to send your kids to school right now. Because until a doctors tell me it’s fine to send my kids to school, until health experts say it’s good for the community, there’s enough risk, and only a little risk such that you ought to do it, or you ought to consider doing it. Till we get that from experts, we shouldn’t be sending mandates out into the world, because that telegraphs one thing that we don’t want to telegraph, which is go ahead, it’s fine, the green light is out.
Mayor Gelber: (01:30:03)
… just go ahead, it’s fine, if the green light is out. Because I don’t think that’s helpful, and I’m-
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:30:08)
I think it’s a matter of, there’s risks in everything. What’s the level of risk to kids, to school aged kids? And I think we’ve seen that now with enough experience to know that the risk is fortunately low. Now that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other things. There doesn’t mean that you’re not dealing with the adults. But I do think that it’s been pretty clear in the data. And I don’t think very many pediatricians would say else wise. That particularly absent a significant comorbidity for whatever reason those 18 and under are at significantly less risk than certainly the 65 and under and even the general population. That is just something that I think that we should understand. I think that that should be put out there.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:30:57)
And I don’t think that we should try to scare parents and act like somehow that this is more of a threat to their kids than it actually is. It’s a serious pathogen overall but for whatever reason the kids are at lower risk. And I think we’ve looked at also a lot of the studies that have been done in Europe. And now they have experience with kids being in school. About are kids effective transmitters? When we did the schools in mid-March people understood. Well, I think a lot of parents were really concerned, understandably. Because it was a new pathogen, but the data was pretty clear about the risks to the kids. But the transmission was something that was not really well known. And an influenza outbreak, that’s the primary way it spreads throughout the community is in schools. Take it to their parents, their teachers, and all that stuff.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:31:44)
And they’re just not finding the kids to be major vectors. So again, that doesn’t mean that that answers everything. But I do think that those two things are pretty good. That’s why the CDC director has said there’s more risks not opening them than opening them. And that’s why obviously other folks are looking to do that.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:32:04)
I’ve also told the mayor, this is obviously a different situation here than some other parts of the state. But fortunately, for whatever reason, the Spanish flu wasn’t like this. Hell, H1N1 was more than this has been for under 18, But that is fortunately, they’re at very, very low risk.
Mayor Gelber: (01:32:25)
But 16, 17, and 18 year olds are part of the high school cohort. And I guess my point is that I think our superintendent is going to be making this decision with exactly the kinds of considerations you’re talking about. So rather than say, “We’re all doing it.” I think it’s important to not suggest that we have to do it and not withstanding anything. I think it’s important to message and let that happen in our county. Because right now I think there is a lot of conflict because people were listening to the Secretary of Education saying everybody’s going to have to go to school. And some people are saying, “Well, my 16 and 17 year old, my 18 year old is a high school senior. Am I going to have to send them to school or violate the law?
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:33:11)
No, no, no, no. We know that. I’ve been very clear in Florida under the circumstances every parent has the option to make these decisions. And no parent should be forced… They have to make decisions about what they think would be a good environment for the student. And, if virtual is the decision, then they have every right to do that. And I think that needs to be standard. And I think that that is something that without question we’re going to embrace.
Mayor Gelber: (01:33:43)
Oliver Gilbert: (01:33:45)
Yeah, sorry. We’re using school as this generic term because it’s kids going to school. But when you break it down into its component, parts it’s cafeteria workers, and it’s them touching the same keyboards, and it’s their personal interactions, and it’s teachers, and it’s bus drivers. And there’s so many other things. And we know so little about this disease. And I know there’s been some study on this, but this conversation goes… When you say there’s a minimal risk, this conversation goes terribly different if one child contracts COVID-19 in a school and dies. If one child, I can’t imagine having this conversation. So we have a very, very capable superintendent, Alberto Carvalho, my school board member of Steve [Gallan 01:34:27]. I know they’re going to consider all of those things.
Oliver Gilbert: (01:34:31)
But it’s very difficult as a parent. And this is a parent, I really want my son to be back in school and he really wants to be back in school. I think all parents want their kids back in school. The question is, how do we send them there? And this thing there, that we can’t see that the chances are low, but it could affect them. How do we make that decision?
Oliver Gilbert: (01:34:56)
And so I think that you’re right, it should be every parent’s choice. And if a parent chooses virtual school, there should be no penalty for that. But then we have to consider as a government, from a government perspective and the school board I guess is going to have to tackle this. And you as the governor are going to have to tackle this. How you fund that halfway system? Because when you start opening up those schools, that means they’re going to be some some extra cleaning requirements, some extra safety requirements, extra precautions that have to be taken. [crosstalk 01:35:23] That we haven’t contemplated.
Speaker 1: (01:35:28)
[inaudible 01:35:28] money, it’s on the way.
Oliver Gilbert: (01:35:28)
I think we’re going to probably need some more and please tell them that in Washington, we’re going to need some more. But those are things that we have to look at from our perspective, from an education perspective. The superintendent, and I hate to give people the impression out there in the public that we’re going to make this decision. Because they actually think that mayors are like the rulers of the entire world. They think we run the social security system and they think we run everything. And we don’t, this is going to be in their purview. But the things that they have to consider are massive. They’re massive. And I think it’s very difficult knowing as little as we do about the novel COVID-19 virus.
Mayor Suarez: (01:36:07)
Thank you Governor. Yeah. I think one of the things that we talked about in the room back there is that we need to do this hopefully once a week. In other words, have this conversation, if you can, once a week. And I think the next time we have it probably should be sitting, not that I don’t love seeing my good friend, Carlos [Majoya 01:36:25], but maybe the superintendent should be sitting at that chair. And we should have a conversation that is based primarily about this issue.
Mayor Suarez: (01:36:33)
As a parent, I can tell you, you always start this discussion as a parent, I have young children like you do. My wife is probably not going to put her two year old in preschool. And she was showing me a desk that she was thinking of buying for my son’s room so he can learn virtually. And so that’s always where you start the conversation.
Mayor Suarez: (01:36:55)
I know that there’s a lot of families in our community that don’t have the resources to be able to work and provide for their own families and at the same time have in-home teaching. And I think that’s a struggle and that’s certainly a big issue.
Mayor Suarez: (01:37:10)
But I do think one of the things that the superintendent said on national television the other day that I found interesting was he said that under the CDC gating criteria, the schools would not be open under phase one. And we are still under phase one. And I know that schools are six weeks away and things change and they have to change. Because I’ll tell you, the last thought that I had… Before COVID everybody wanted to come to Miami. Everybody wanted to come to Miami. We were getting people from New York, from other parts of the world in droves. I think my first year as mayor, we grew 8.5% percent. My second year we grew 10.5%. And even with COVID, we grew up about 6.5% this year.
Mayor Suarez: (01:37:53)
But right now we have a situation where the news that is coming out of Miami is not positive news. What one of our epidemiologist said the other day about the cuteness of this crisis. And I think we have somewhere between one week and four weeks to get this thing under control otherwise we’re going to have to take some very dramatic measures here. And I think that’s something that we should message together, frankly. Because I think part of the issue is here. And what we should need to communicate is, to Carlos’s point, which is aggressive noncompliance is not only going to be not acceptable, but it’s going to lead us down a path where we’re going to have to take aggressive steps.
Mayor Suarez: (01:38:33)
And I don’t know whether we’re going to take that step in a week. I don’t know if we’re going to take that step in, in two weeks, but just from listening to everybody here, there’s a barometer of one to four weeks where we’re going to have to take some dramatic steps if we don’t change the trajectory of this. So I think that’s something that our public needs to know so that they understand the severity of where this is going if we don’t change that trajectory.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:38:59)
No, I agree. One, when the White House came out with the gating criteria, that was, I think the middle of April. I think there’s been a lot of information that’s come out particularly about school kids with this since then. Not saying maybe doesn’t change, but I think the CDC has been now more interested with the schools and understanding the risks, not to do it for that. And I’d also say we never closed day cares in Florida and you didn’t do it in Dade either. Now, some obviously weren’t operating. It was just an issue of some of the parents were working from home this or that. But we never had major problems with day cares. I don’t think you guys did.
Mayor Gimenez: (01:39:47)
No we didn’t.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:39:48)
Particularly with young kids infecting adults. I don’t think we had examples of that. So I just put that out there because these are kids that were being dropped off every day, young kids. This is March, April when we were doing the first wave of this and things were safe. I know they obviously did things to make it safe. So I think it certainly for that area, CDC recommended that we close the day cares. But I just, I didn’t see how we could do that and function. And I also was seeing the data come in from some of these other countries and seeing that the young kids were at very low risks. And so we thought that it could be done safely and it was done safely and it was done here safely as well. So that’s the important thing.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:40:34)
Well look, I just want to thank you guys. You guys are leaders in your community, and I just want you to know that as we deal with this you have my support on what you’re doing. I don’t have to agree with you on everything, or you don’t have to agree with me on everything, but you’re the leaders at place in this time. And so your program that’s out there, people need to follow it. They should do it, follow the regulations wear the facial covering, socially distance, making sure that we’re protecting our elderly. Doing those things and just having the sense of purpose about it will make a huge difference. In your communities, I want your folks following your leadership when you’re putting things out. And I think that that’s very, very important. And I think if people do that I think you’re going to see improvement here.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:41:26)
I also would just say, look, this is a challenge. I know there’s a lot of people that are anxious and I get it. And I know a lot of people up here, get it. But we’re absolutely going to be able to get through this. This is a very resilient community and the folks who want to come to Miami, they’re going to still want to come to Miami because they’re going to see that this is a very strong group of people, both at the County and all your city. And so we’re here for you. We view this, as I said at the beginning, as the focal point of the response effort at this point. We do have issues throughout the rest of the state. We’re helping with personnel, whole bunch of other stuff there as well. But just given some of the numbers we really feel it’s important to take a stand now and to really turn this thing around. And it just requires action and action now.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:42:19)
So thank you guys for your leadership and thank you for willingness to come here and share your views. And it really helps me to be able to hear the different perspectives. Not only of course, from around the state as I travel, but just within this one great, big, diverse county the differences in terms of some of the constituencies you represent in your areas. So thank you and Mayor, thanks again for bringing us together.
Mayor Gelber: (01:42:41)
Thank you Governor. We really appreciate it.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:42:42)
Take a couple of questions.
Christina Vasquez: (01:42:45)
Christina Vasquez Local 10 News. I have a two prong question. One is what are the current metrics that would trigger at this point rolling back to a safe red homestyle status? And two, you had said the Mayors will make it happen, but the Mayors aren’t recipients or the city coffers, the federal dollars. From what we understand of the state has received $492 million for contact tracing, for testing and contact racing. Well, maybe not a silver bullet, we know from public health estimates, one of the key tools in the toolkit that these Mayors need to get the data they need to inform strategic decision making. So my question is if you have $492 million to build a robust contact tracing program, we currently don’t have it. What happened to the money? Why don’t we have the program?
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:43:27)
So remember I told you last week that I approved the Department of Health came up with a plan for not just contact tracing, but other things? So that’s a $138 million. So that’s been approved and they can give you the details on that plan if you want.
Christina Vasquez: (01:43:42)
After hearing Miami Mayor Suarez say, “We need 100’s more.” We know we got the 250 last week.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:43:48)
Well, this will be significant. I think there’s a couple of things. One is you to go out and get them, it’s not like they just show up, mail order, 24 hours. You got to go, you got to do background checks on stuff. What some communities are doing is they’re enlisting the support of some of the students who were in graduate or medical school type to do this. I know Tampa, we were talking with some of the folks over there, they were working on maybe getting something together. And so using that type of horsepower, I think makes a lot of sense.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:44:19)
But the state is in for a penny, in for a pound. That’s a big investment. That’s never happened in the state before. And there were different levels of funding, and this was the most robust that was presented to me of the several levels. And so I approved it. So, so we are doing it. And I think it’ll be important. Particularly, I think as Carlos said, what Mayor Suarez said, I think is right. Right now it probably does best by giving us the information. It’s spread enough that you really just need to mitigate and bend this curve to different direction.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:44:59)
Once you do that, then as an outbreak happens to be able to do that can be beneficial. It’s still challenging when you have an illness that’s largely asymptomatic because many people who get it, either don’t know they have it, or have very, very mild symptoms, but still it can be, be effective. But I think with the data, that’s very, very important because, and what we find when we get this information is just the outsized role of family transmission.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:45:29)
And you see it. And I think the reason I think just as, Mayor Gimenez said. In Miami Dade, one of the reasons you have more spread is because you have way more family members that live in the same area. And so you get together with extended family. You look at some of these other counties that have had the explosion of the 20-30s. You don’t see as many bleeding into the senior population. I think if you look demographically, some of those areas, they don’t have where they would have major extended families be in the same community. And so there’s a natural buffer to the spread, into the clinical consequences. Here, just by the nature of living conditions, family arrangements, you have a natural accelerator for the spread. And I think we understood that when they were talking about Memorial Day, early June, all this stuff.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:46:15)
Look COVID, we had a 5% positivity or less from May 1st until the middle of June in the state of Florida. Dade was consistently going down. I think people thought, “Hey, we’ve gone through it. And then that’s that.” Well now I think people understand the significance. And I think that they will heed the message that you’ve been putting out in that we’ve been putting out.
Speaker 2: (01:46:42)
You’re all presenting a unified stance about [inaudible 01:46:49], about coming together. Why wasn’t the Mayor [inaudible 01:46:56] ?
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:46:58)
I don’t know. I don’t know. I wasn’t personally the one that invited the folks.
Speaker 3: (01:47:01)
Can we get a statement saying that [inaudible 01:47:09]?
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:47:01)
Is her here?
Speaker 3: (01:47:01)
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:47:01)
So I’m happy to meet with him. Yeah, no, Hialeah is a great town. I’ve got a lot of great, great friends there, and I know they’ve had a tough go with some of this outbreak really for quite a long time. And I think it does go back to some of the stuff that we’ve talked about with the close contacts or whatever. So I’m happy to meet with them and work with them.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:47:31)
I know that Senator Diaz asked us early on to send testing resources down there, and we did send a significant amount of testing resources down there. And have worked with folks in Hialeah, like Senator Diaz in particular and like the speaker, speaker Oliva, it’s a big, big part of his constituency as well.
Speaker 4: (01:47:48)
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:48:16)
Well, those were not things that I had done. You’re saying those are things that…go yeah. Yeah. So here’s what I would say and I’ve approached it this way from the very beginning. We have five states in one basically, and not just South Florida being one, but really Miami Dade is different than Broward and Palm Beach. And we knew that from the beginning and we work with Mayor Gimenez from early March on. And I’ve always tried to make sure that locals, particularly in areas like Miami Dade, which are different than some other parts of the state. To have them be able to fashion these policies in ways that made sense for them.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:48:55)
Some of the things that Mayor Gimenez has done here, if he were the Mayor of Destin, Florida, he probably would not have done. Because it’s just a different situation. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The outbreak here is different, the demographics are different, particularly with the multi generational families. And so you got to do things like that. So I’m looking around the state. If you look at the percent that are testing positive outside of South Florida, it’s been nine, 10, 11%, two weeks ago the rest of the state was pretty close to South Florida. So it’s gone down. We’ve seen a few percent down now for four or five days. We want to continue doing that. There are some positive signs and in some different pockets across the state, which is good, obviously we’re monitoring this every day. But I would definitely say that the contours of the outbreak are just simply different in Dade. And not only then some other places like central Florida or Northwest Florida, even different than Broward right now.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:49:57)
Broward is having cases, but if you look at their hospitalizations, a chunk of those are Miami Dade County residents who are going particularly to the hospitals in Southern Broward County. And then if you look at Palm Beach, Palm beach, when we went into to May Broward and Dade really trended down throughout may and into the beginning of June. Palm beach had some outbreaks, they had some agriculture outbreaks, some of the late farm workers and day laborers. And so their hospitalizations were rising, not out of control, but they were. Now you look, Dade is having a lot of traffic. Palm Beach has seen a little increase, but they are, I think I would say more stable. So these are just things you got to look at on a regional basis or even a county by county basis. Yes, sir.
Speaker 5: (01:50:47)
Like Mayor Gilbert pointed out [inaudible 00:20:59]. Would that be allowed?
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:51:01)
My view is, is we should all want kids back in school. Okay? That should be the goal. Part of it is because of the low risk, low transmission. It’s interesting, Sweden never really closed down. They had schools in, and they said that it didn’t contribute at all to the community spread because they clearly had community spread going on. So I think, let’s just understand that at the same time parents have a right to offer virtual. I just think it’s a anxious time. There’s a lot of fear out there. I think some of this fear is unfounded in terms of the facts. Particularly when it relates to the risk to school aged kids. I’ve tried to communicate that, but I understand.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:51:45)
My own wife, our kids aren’t school age yet. I tell her, I was like, “They are at zero risk. I’d have no problem putting them in.” And I think I’ve convinced her. She said she would do a too now. But initially, because it’s just your kids. And that’s just how you feel. It’s an emotional, natural response to that. But I think that the damage, we just have to be honest about it everyone focuses on what we’re doing with the virus, very important. But we also have to focus on what’s the fallout from some of the actions that could be taken.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:52:15)
So if you say no chance of being in person, what is that going to do to academic of development, social development? What’s that going to do just in terms of kids? The school system is one of the places where a child that’s being abused will go for refuge and then they end up action can be taken. The teachers that are mentors, the coaches. What about having a football season? Things like that. We’ve got a lot of young kids who this is their ticket to be able to go to college through athletics. What happens to all those dreams and all those hopes and all those aspirations? And that is something that’s majorly important to me. The growth and development of our school kids is majorly important to me. And I just look to think about when I was in high school, if you would’ve just canceled my season and my year, that would have been big time devastating for me. And I think that’s probably true for a lot of people.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:53:17)
Now that doesn’t mean there aren’t considerations. It doesn’t mean that you don’t do things to make safety important, because it is. But my view is that the posture should be let’s do what we can to do what’s best for the kids. And that ultimate result may look different in Miami Dade than it does in Okaloosa or or St. John’s counties. And that’s OK. But I think to just say we’re just not ever bringing them back deal, particularly to do that, now I think that that would be very premature.
Speaker 6: (01:53:51)
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:53:52)
We want to see opportunity for the students and we want to see obviously with a parental choice for them to be able to exercise that for distance learning if they want. But I think we just have to give as many opportunities for kids as possible. Yes. Ma’am.
Speaker 7: (01:54:28)
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:54:29)
So I’ve said we should follow this, what the Mayor has done here in Miami Dade. We have different areas of the state that are performing differently. Some of them quite frankly, are doing pretty well, are doing a lot better and so we want to continue doing that. But I can tell the folks of Miami Dade that they should follow the ordinance that Mayor Gimenez has put out and they should do that as well as with the municipalities. It’s very, very important. But I also recognize that the outbreak here is a little bit different than what we were dealing with some other places. And so I like doing the bottom up approach. And believe me, I’ve consulted with people in different parts of the state. I’ve consulted with them about enforcement. I’ve talked with different sheriffs about what they would or wouldn’t do. And I think that what we’re doing is the right approach for the state.
Speaker 8: (01:55:21)
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:55:26)
Anytime I’m in an area that requires it. I always do it.
Speaker 1: (01:55:29)
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:55:39)
Well no. That’s much different than saying impose criminal penalties. You’re telling me I should criminalize people for not doing it statewide And that’s a lot different situation.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:55:51)
We went from the beginning of May when we did our phase one guidelines and we did things like… Actually it’s still in phase one here. 25 person gathering limit that’s in effect. That’s actually has the force that actually has the force of law if they wanted to do it. Now I think anyone that’s been awake for the last six weeks has seen more than 10 people gathering in various ways here in Miami and some other places. But the phase one that’s still there.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:56:18)
We also said social distance is the number one, the physical distance, but a facial covering when you can’t do that. And so that’s been the recommendation from the very beginning. And I think that that’s served a lot of those other areas well. Here they did this in April I think. You’ve had it for what three months?
Speaker 1: (01:56:39)
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:56:39)
No, no. You’ve done the face masks since April?
Mayor Gimenez: (01:56:43)
Facial covering was imposed a long time ago since April. And then we allowed for awhile not to have facial covering outdoors, as long as you maintain your social distancing. And then recently we said, facial covering everywhere.
Speaker 9: (01:56:57)
Since the metrics where are we right now? It’s the number one question viewers have. It’s interesting to hear. Is there a timeline out of this? Looking at one to four weeks if we don’t chance the trajectory. But what are the new metrics that guide you all on whether to go back to county wide safer at home status?
Mayor Gimenez: (01:57:15)
There isn’t a metric right now. We’re going to be looking at, can we establish a metric that we can publish to the community to say, “If we don’t get to this point by this time, we’re going to have to take additional measures.” That’s something that myself and the Mayors in this room are going to have to discuss with our medical experts to see where that could be. We don’t have that right now. Obviously we don’t want to get there, but we need to establish that. So nothing came out of this meeting that established that metric.
Governor Ron DeSantis: (01:57:47)
Great. Well, I want to thank everyone for coming. You guys, I know have been working incredibly hard since, many I guess since February. Really, a lot of you, I remember seeing you working hard. So thank you for your work. We’re here to help I know we’re going to continue to provide resources and we appreciate your input very much. So thank you.