Miami-Dade mayor mobilizes SURGE teams for ZIP codes with highest COVID-19 cases

MIAMI (WSVN) - Officials in Miami-Dade are preparing to go into communities with high number of COVID-19 infections to make sure residents understand why wearing a mask is so important.

Three South Florida communities have seen an alarming spike in coronavirus cases. More than 5,500 new cases were reported in the state over a 24-hour period.

As a result, local leaders are sending out special teams, called SURGE, to educate people and pass out supplies.

“We hopefully will have supplies for them that they don’t have: masks, sanitary supplies, those kinds of things to make it safer for them,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

The mayor announced on Wednesday that the top three ZIP codes for spikes in the deadly disease also included 33125 in Little Havana and 33030 in Homestead.

“I was shocked,” said business owner Rigo Bito. “I was shocked when they said 33142. I was born and raised here in Allapattah.”

Bito was stunned to find out Kuky Estillo Barber Shop sits in one of Miami-Dade’s hottest ZIP codes for the coronavirus.

“You see people very protected,” said one resident.

“I didn’t know Homestead was that hot, because I don’t see a lot of people out,” said one resident.

“The SURGE team will be going into neighborhoods, speaking to residents and businesses about the importance of wearing a mask inside businesses,” said Gimenez.

Roughly 100 county employees will also hand out kits, including hand sanitizers, in an effort to stem the spread.

“Everybody walking, go to the restaurants, sometimes you go to the restaurants and see somebody with something protective,” said resident Tracy Lacruz.

The consequences could be dire if the message does not get out.

“I’m asking parents and grandparents to be very careful and not get close to your kids or grandkids,” said Gimenez. “Obviously, there’s no county order that will make people do this, just common sense. It’s really a matter of life and death.”

On Thursday, the state reported another major increase in COVID-19 cases, now totaling 114,000.

Miami-Dade courts became the first government agency to roll back their opening. They’re ending all in-person access with only a few exceptions.

Across South Florida, only a quarter of intensive care unit beds are still available.

However, Gimenez said there are still plenty of medical resources available.

“We still have over 450 ICU beds available, with the ability to put another 400 in operation really quickly,” he said.

Hospitals across South Florida are taking proactive steps. Memorial Health Care System has set up tents all week in preparation for a possible influx of patients.

Testing sites, meanwhile, continue to see long lines of people waiting in their cars, like at Hard Rock Stadium or C.B. Smith Park.

Another casualty of COVID-19 appears to be Independence Day. Gimenez said he doesn’t want firework displays taking place on the Fourth of July.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea at this point, unfortunately. It’s just another victim of COVID-19,” he said.

Gimenez said he hopes to get the SURGE teams mobilized and out by the weekend.

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