Broward County officials host news conference regarding surge in COVID-19 cases

NEAR FORT LAUDERDALE (WSVN) — With thousands of new coronavirus cases confirmed in South Florida each day, some hospitals said they are packed with patients.

Broward County officials addressed the recent surge in cases at a news conference held at 11 a.m., Wednesday.

They spoke about the measures they plan to take to ensure community safety and compliance, which includes cracking down on businesses not in compliance with the safety measures in place.

They urged citizens to report businesses that were not adhering to the rules. So far, they said, they have received nearly 900 complaints.

Broward County Mayor Dale Holness as well as Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony spoke at the event among others.

“Order 28 calls for us to be able to shut down businesses that are not conforming and give them 24 hours to come into compliance, and there’s a $500 fine if they decide that they don’t want to do that, and they’re repeat violators,” said Holness. “We also have in that order a $15,000 fine.”

The focus of the news conference was on restaurants that are only allowed to operate at 50% capacity to ensure social distancing.

“Our restaurants are not adhering to the capacity of 50%, and further, some clubs and bars are operating, pretending that they are restaurants,” said Holness.

“The county has elected to operate and put forth further restrictions and being more punitive in the sense that businesses must comply,” said Tony. “We cannot afford to continue to have this kind of spread continue here in the county.”

The news conference came after health officials expressed concerns over capacity limits in local hospitals.

As of Wednesday morning, there were a reported 1,876 hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Broward County.

“I anticipate that we’ll see an increase, and they are seeing increases also,” said Holness. “It’s not as dramatic yet, but expect that if this continues, we will see more of that.”

On Tuesday afternoon, officials with Baptist Health said the ICU at Homestead Hospital is currently at capacity.

Officials with the hospital said they have reached capacity and have had to transfer some COVID-19 patients to other hospitals within their system.

In Miami-Dade, City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez distributed masks to businesses and residents in those areas with the highest COVID-19 numbers.

The local leaders also explained the need for residents to wear masks in order to stop the virus from spreading.

Broward County’s mayor was also joined by other mayors to spread a similar message.

Hallandale Beach’s Mayor Joy Cooper encouraged condo residents to wear masks even within the premises of the building that other residents frequent.

For those who wish to report a business they believe is not adhering to rules set by the county, call 311.

Code enforcement and a law enforcement officer will be handling and responding to complaints.

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