Miami mayor announces closure of summer camps, strict regulations on masks

MIAMI (WSVN) - City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has announced new measures the city will enforce in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Suarez held a media conference Tuesday morning where he announced summer camps will be closing.

“We’re going to be closing all of our summer camps effective this week,” the mayor said.

He also announced a team of officers will be dedicated to monitoring face mask violations for the week.

“We’re going to have 39 officers enforcing mask violations this week,” Suarez said. “That is going to consist of 20 NROs, which are Neighborhood Resource Officers, as well as the balance [that] will be police officers. They’re going to be working seven days a week.”

The decision to close summer camps comes after three children and one counselor became infected with COVID-19 across three Miami locations, as well as the latest number of cases reported by the Florida Department of Health.

On Tuesday, 2,522 new cases of the virus were reported in Miami-Dade County, just over 1,600 cases were reported in Broward County and 9,347 new cases were reported in the entire state.

In Miami-Dade County, 24 were admitted into the hospital since Monday, but ICU admissions again climbed to 132%. The county is reporting they have 1,200 beds on standby, including the transformed Miami Beach Convention Center.

“This is crazy. The trend is in the wrong direction. It continues to go up,” said Martha Baker, the president of Jackson Memorial Hospital’s healthcare workers union. “It’s hard on our nurses. It’s hard on all the caregivers inside the hospital. They need a break. We’re opening up ICUs, converting holding areas into ICUs. Forty-five, 50, 75 patients are waiting each day to go upstairs to go to a bed because all our beds are full. Each day is another challenge.”

Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious diseases expert at Florida International University, agreed with Baker’s statement.

“Right now, unless we take more drastic actions, I don’t see a shift in that happening,” she said. “We have almost 300 people on ventilators, and that’s way above our capacity. What we’re seeing in terms of hospital admissions, in terms of people in hospital beds, in terms of people in ICUs and on ventilators is still an upward climb.”

Suarez said the City of Miami alone is seeing 62 new cases each day.

“That’s about half of what it was at the peak, which was 125, which is good news,” he said.

Suarez also discussed the possibility of another shutdown as medical professionals struggle to find space for patients at South Florida hospitals.

“You move things around, and you make the one bed until you realize, ‘OK, we need 20 more. Where are we going to do it?’ So they’ve been working on that, just trying to keep pace with the disease,” said Dr. Nicholas Namias of UHealth Trauma and Critical Care.

“There’s a collection of people laughing at this like it’s a hoax,” Baker said. “It’s really disheartening, and our caregivers are wearing out. They’re kind of getting a little angry the leaders are not standing up for them. I don’t know how [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis or other leaders in Florida or outside of Florida can ignore the science of this.”

DeSantis said he believes the state is “on the right course.”

“For example, like a Jackson Healthcare in Miami, you know, their census overall has been relatively stable,” the governor said. “They just have a higher percentage that are COVID, so they make changes to make sure that they have the capacity.”

Suarez said he has another meeting with business owners on Friday. Their input will be part of his decision on whether to roll back any openings in the city.

“There is no announcement on that today,” he said about a future stay-at-home order. “It’s a discussion we have every day. It’s a debate we have every day. For the moment, the hospital administrators who are monitoring capacity, as well as our specialists, are telling us to maintain the course.”

Suarez said the business owners he spoke with last week expressed how they wanted any decision regarding a shutdown to be in line with the county. Some also said if a decision is made to close once again, they’d rather it come sooner rather than later.

“We’re not in school, and we are sort of out of season, if you will,” the mayor said. “If it were between now and December, they would prefer it to be now, so some expressed that and obviously, others expressed the fact that if we were to close, some businesses might not come back.”

Broward County officials have said they have seen encouraging signs at county hospitals, but they are not much better than Miami-Dade’s.

Broward County Mayor Dale Holness spoke about the county’s bed situation hours after a new testing site opened at Markham Park in Sunrise.

Miami-Dade County officials announced a “help line” for residents who need one of the 400 temporary hotel rooms to isolate in during the pandemic.

That number is 305-614-1716 and it is available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily.

The hotel rooms are exclusively for individuals who have tested positive for the virus or are showing symptoms and have already been tested but are waiting for test results.

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