Florida, poster child for COVID-19 mismanagement, needs a statewide mask mandate

Leaders in Florida and the coronavirus epicenter of Miami-Dade have failed so badly at managing

Leaders in Florida and the coronavirus epicenter of Miami-Dade have failed so badly at managing the response to the highly infectious disease that we’ve become the poster child for COVID-19 abroad.

“Miami has more COVID-19 cases than all of Australia, and thousands more are still being diagnosed every day,” reports the Australia Broadcasting Corporation in a special segment on Florida.

It’s true.

Although Australia — with a population of 25 million somewhat comparable to Florida’s 23 million — is also seeing a resurgence of new cases, the total number of people infected with the coronavirus just now surpassed 15,300.

The number of deaths: 167, as of this writing.

Yes, one record day in Florida equals the number of infected in the entire country — and Australians are alarmed and taking action.

Melbourne, the equivalent of Miami-Dade as the hot spot, is in a lockdown, one more severe than we’ve ever experienced here. Officials established a “hard boundary” around the city and closed its borders with New South Wales.

No mask mandate

By contrast, open borders, no-mask-mandate Florida hit a new devastating record Tuesday with a single-day total of 186 deaths, bringing the statewide toll of residents who’ve died from the novel coronavirus to 6,117.

The Department of Health confirmed 9,230 additional cases of COVID-19 — and that’s actually an improvement from when we recently broke New York’s single-day record with 15,300 cases, and from our own single-day totals that hovered in the 10,000s last week.

The state’s known total cases of Florida residents infected: 441,977.

We’re going to hit the half a million mark any day now.

Hospitals and funeral homes are overwhelmed.

At Jackson Health System, the union representing 5,000 nurses and doctors has called for a statewide mask mandate.

In Hialeah, neighbors fearful of coronavirus’ spread are complaining about the stench emanating from a freezer container holding corpses for a funeral home near their homes. Macabre and unprecedented.

Neighbors to the north also are sounding the alarm as infection rates skyrocket in cities such as Jacksonville, Tampa and Orlando.

Yet, Gov. Ron DeSantis refuses to issue a mask mandate for the entire state and is pushing for schools to reopen to in-classroom learning. This, while the death toll includes children, and public health officials warn of the permanent damage the disease can do to young people who recover.

While public school districts hard-hit with COVID are offering parents at least the choice of online learning, private and charter schools, including in Miami-Dade, are forcing teachers to choose between their health and their livelihoods.

No, we haven’t learned a thing since the COVID nightmare began.

That’s why some Hispanics have a new nickname for the governor: “Ron Desastre.”

Ron Disaster.

How Florida, Miami-Dade got here

Florida has been a textbook case of mismanagement since the beginning.

How did we get to catastrophe status in this state and in this country?

By denying the gravity of the disease.

By downplaying the grim turn of events through the first and second surge in infections.

By withholding vital information from the public that would help people understand transmission and curb the spread of the virus.

By opening too soon, and in so doing, sending the wrong message that it was OK to go out and engage in risky behavior. COVID cases began to skyrocket following Miami-Dade’s premature reopening.

You didn’t wear a damn mask — and we’re back to record COVID infections in Florida | Opinion

All of the above behavior — exhibited by the president, the Florida governor and Miami-Dade mayor at key points — hasn’t been about following the science, but driven by the politics of an election year and the need to deliver the state to President Donald Trump.

Not just South Florida

It wasn’t until July 16 that Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who is running for Congress with Trump’s endorsement, finally announced that police would be issuing $100 fines to people not wearing a mask in public spaces.

The enforcement effort is a bit of a joke.

While police say they’re handing out fines in some parts of Miami-Dade, in others, people are out pumping gas and eating at outdoor tables, not set six feet apart, and without masks on.

The rest of Florida, where cases also are on the rise, should be looking at Miami-Dade and taking strong, precautionary action. But they think coronavirus is only a South Florida problem.

The governor, more concerned with not angering people who think it’s their constitutional right to infect the rest of us, hasn’t helped make the case that North and Central Florida too should worry.

Here’s an idea, Gov. DeSantis: Pick up the phone and call Australia.

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