Fort Lauderdale, Florida/USA – April 17, 2020: Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis Press Conference at Urban League of Broward County, answering on questions about coronavirus situation in Florida–Courtesy: Shutterstock-Photo By YES Market Media
Since Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order to reopen Florida to Phase 3 (no restrictions) in September, COVID-19 cases have been on the rise and hospitalizations have increased along with it to its highest point since the peak in July.
With cases on the rise, mayors across the state are asking the governor to push back on the state’s reopening and focus more on the health of the state as a whole.
“Since the governor opened up the economy totally in late September and simultaneously prevented local governments from enforcing individual mask mandates, we have seen an enormous surge,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber during a Zoom call on Wednesday. “The governor didn’t just open things up, he flung the door open and said there’s no rules anymore.”
During the statewide Zoom call featuring mayors from both parties, there was one thing that many seemed to agree on, the need for a mask mandate.
“The window is closing and closing fast,” Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez said on the Zoom conference. “If we sit here and don’t do anything, I don’t want to be the one sitting here talking about closing businesses again or the hospitals are overcrowded.”
St. Petersberg Mayor Rick Kriseman was especially critical of the governor’s work so far in the handling of the pandemic within the state, saying “having a mask mandate throughout the state” will create consistency and will allow for “individual counties and cities to determine what other restrictions make sense.”
In late September, Gov. DeSantis mobilized the entire state into Phase 3, which lifted all restrictions on businesses and overruled local county enforcement mask mandates statewide.
“It’s unmistakably clear that Florida’s approach to managing this pandemic is failing pretty horribly,” Gelber said.
Mayors on the call stressed the idea of bringing back a uniform mask mandate statewide, citing it would reinforce local government leaders’ authority to best protect its residents and businesses moving forward to eliminate further shutdowns.
“All we are asking for as mayors is the support of an administration in Tallahassee that is looking out for the residents of the state of Florida as much as we are for the residents of our community,” said Kriseman.
DeSantis is on the record for saying he would never allow the state to close down again, stressing the importance of local businesses and the tourism-driven economy.
“We will never do any of these lockdowns again. I hear people say they will shut down the country, and honestly, I cringe,” said DeSantis in a visit at The Villages.
The call had many rare moments of bi-partisanship agreement on the state of the virus, with many of the mayors believing the governor has placed Florida on a one-way lane to herd immunity with no choice of coming back.
“It makes our jobs as mayors so much harder when the person who is at the top of the state, the leader for the state of Florida, isn’t on the same page as us,” added Kriseman.
With state testing sites closing early and some closing indefinitely, lines at private facilities have gone skyrocketing, leaving many to think if the numbers should be greater than what they show.
As of today, November 19, 2020, many tracking databases have reported that Florida is the third state to have eclipsed the 900,000 statewide case mark, trailing only California and Texas. The math adds up, as the three states with the highest totals also have the largest population totals in the nation.
Click here, to see a live COVID tracker for Florida.
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Melissa’s career in writing started more than 20 years ago. Today, she lives in South Florida with her husband and two boys.