Miami Mayor: Coronavirus Spread In South Florida Is Now “Exponential”

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez warned ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” on Sunday that the spread of the coronavirus in South Florida is becoming “exponential.”

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ, (R) MIAMI: Well it’s clear that the growth is exponential at this point. You know we’ve been breaking record after record after record all — the last couple of weeks. We instituted about a week ago a mask in public rule and we also increased the severity of penalties for businesses that don’t follow the rules.

Our county closed down the beaches for the July 4th weekend in the hopes that all these rules will have an impact — a positive impact. It takes a little bit of time to find out exactly but we’re obviously very closely monitoring hospitalizations and we’re very, very closely monitoring the death rate, which our lagging indicators that give us the impression that we have to take much stricter — much stricter measurements — measures.

RADDATZ: As you said, Miami-Dade County did close its beaches. But what do you think of the response from the residents? What have you seen over the last couple of days?

SUAREZ: They’ve been — obviously, they’re a little bit upset to some extent, but we’ve seen compliance, at least in Miami-Dade County. I know that there are maybe other places where there haven’t been perfect compliance but we seem to have seen compliance over the weekend. So we’re hopeful that the measures that we’re putting into place will prevent us from having to put in more dramatic measures over the course of this week.

RADDATZ: You said the city mandated face coverings in public on June 25th with fines to enforce it. But how does that work? And have any fines been issued?

SUAREZ: Yes, you know the way it works is — it’s similar to when we did a stay at home order. You know, we don’t actually go door to door and knock on — on people’s homes. And — and the fact of the matter is, there’s also an exception for exercise, which a lot of people are outdoors doing.

What we’re — the reason why we do it is, it’s no different than telling people they need to wear a seatbelt. You know, if you get in a car accident, you know, there’s a good chance that you’ll walk away if you’re wearing a seatbelt. The same thing with a mask. If people are wearing the masks in public, there’s a very good chance that we’re going to be able to slow down or stop the spread. So that’s the reason why we do it.

In terms of enforcement, you know, we — we have a — the first violation is a warning. The second violation is a $50 fine, then $150, and a $500 fine. You know, we still haven’t done massive amounts of enforcement, but we’re hoping to see if people comply. And, if not, we’re going to have to go out there and — and do that enforcement.

RADDATZ: And I know you had COVID back in March and we’re happy you fully recovered. At the end of March, Miami had a remain at home order in place, which lasted through May 20th. A week later, restaurants were then allowed to reopen to dine-in customers at 50 percent capacity. Is that what contributed to this?

SUAREZ: There’s no doubt that the fact that we opened — and the city of Miami was the last city in the entire state of Florida to open. I was criticized for waiting so long. But there’s no doubt that the fact that when we reopened, people started socializing as if the — the virus didn’t — didn’t exist. And what we saw was before the stay at home order is we saw an increasing slope of $35 new cases per day. Right after we implanted the stay at home order, we started seeing that decline almost immediately. We got ahead of the curve and we’re seeing a declining slope of 14 cases a day.

Just before this weekend, the incline slope was 91 new cases per day. So it’s almost three times a greater slope than it was prior to the stay at home order. So, you know, it’s — it’s extremely worrisome.

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