MIAMI (WSVN) - A new outreach team has been deployed to help educate residents on how to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Miami-Dade County’s Strategic Unified Response to Guideline Education (SURGE) teams spoke with residents and business owners in the area of Northwest 18th Street and 26th Avenue, in Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood, Tuesday morning.
Team members informed residents about the importance of hand washing and maintaining a distance of six feet from others in public places.
They also provided members of the community with kits that contained helpful items to stay safe such as hand sanitizers and masks.
Allapattah resident Andres Cantey said the surge in COVID-19 cases concerns him.
“Not gonna lie, it’s a little frightening,” he said. “This is a disease that is killing people, so we need to act up. We need to do the right thing.”
SURGE teams have been targeting ZIP codes in the county with high COVID-19 infection rates.
“I think so much has to do with really educating the community on those preventive measures,” said SURGE team member Cathy Burgos.
Some 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 Allapattah resident Yvette Belez, “so you’re protecting the other, but the other is not protecting you.”
The SURGE teams are comprised of Miami-Dade County employees and Goodwill Ambassadors from the Office of Florida Farmworkers Organization and Chamber South.
Their outreach efforts on Tuesday come a day after Miami Beach announced a mandatory mask mandate similar to the once recently issued in Miami-Dade County.
In addition, if businesses don’t follow the new normal rules, the city will force them to temporarily close.
“About half a dozen of them have already shut down for at least a day or two,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.
Testing sites, meanwhile, remain as busy as ever.
The Florida Department of Health reported an increase of 6,093 cases in the state on Tuesday, with 1,598 of those cases coming from Miami-Dade.
The county leads the state with more than 36,000 cases. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said 18% of tests are coming back positive.
Monday night, the mayor announced all businesses are prohibited from selling alcohol to be consumed on-site after midnight.
Local leaders warned that if people don’t follow the rules and the new guidelines don’t work, another shutdown isn’t off the table.
“We don’t have a lot of tools left in the kit right now,” said Gelber.
The SURGE teams were first deployed on Saturday, and members said they will continue to go out and help those who need the resources. On Tuesday, they were able to stop by 140 homes in Allapattah.
Some people in the area said they have been using the same paper masks for weeks, and so they are grateful for the county’s supplies being offered to them.
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