DeSantis, local doctor at odds over reopening Florida amid COVID-19 surge

MIAMI (WSVN) - A South Florida doctor said he is at odds with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to press forward with efforts to reopen the state.

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, the governor pointed to the younger generation as he discussed the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

“A lot of our tests are with people who are younger, who have either no symptoms or are very mild,” he said.

DeSantis said he is not looking to shut down the state’s economy again.

“We’re not going back closing things. I don’t think that that really is what’s driving it,” he said.

Instead the governor advised people to be more self-aware.

“Protecting the vulnerable is something that I think is our number one priority. It’s been that from day one, so that would be my request and recommendation,” he said. “If you’re in those vulnerable groups, avoid the crowds, limit contact.”

When it comes to keeping the state open for business, Dr. David De La Zerda, a pulmonary disease specialist for Jackson Health System, disapproves of some of the governor’s recent steps.

“I disagree with him, actually. I do believe that that is not correct,” he said. “I believe that opening the economy the way that he did it is causing a lot of the problems we have right now.”

De La Zerda said he also believes all politicians need to support wearing masks.

“I have no idea why there are so much politics involved in the masks. We know the masks help you and help others,” he said. “I think the Miami Beach mayor is in that direction.”

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber was among the latest local officials to make masks mandatory, both indoors and out, in his city.

There is frustration and worry among healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic with cases on the rise.

“If we keep going this way, we’re not going to make it. We’re not going to be able to stop the spread,” said Esther Segua, a registered nurse.

Meanwhile, in Miami-Dade, the county has created teams called Strategic Unified Response to Guideline Education (SURGE) as a measure to help stem the spread of the virus.

Starting this past weekend, SURGE teams have stopped by the most affected neighborhoods to talk with residents and pass out supplies.

On Tuesday morning, they handed out resources and supplies in Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood.

“I think so much has to do with really educating the community on those preventive measures,” said SURGE team member Cathy Burgos.

Some Allapattah residents said they’re just too nervous to go out and buy essential items.

“You know that there’s a lot of infected people out in the streets, and a lot of people don’t use any masks,” said resident Yvette Belez.

Tuesday night, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez signed an emergency order banning on-site dining at restaurants between midnight and 6 a.m. until further notice. Restaurants can still provide pickup and delivery service during those hours.

Anyone with questions and concerns about the coronavirus can call the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-779-6121.

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