Miami Leaders, Political Rivals Theorize On National TV About Cause Of COVID-19 Spike
Two of Miami’s political leaders — and rivals — speculated about what caused the latest spike in coronavirus cases during national television appearances Sunday.
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Both mayors — Miami-Dade County’s Carlos Giménez and the city of Miami’s Francis Suarez — blamed the increase on residents’ complacency about the virus.
But Gimenez also claimed without evidence that the virus was spread by demonstrators who’ve taken to the streets over the last month to protest racial injustice and police brutality.
“We had thousands of young people together, outside, a lot of them not wearing masks, and we know that when you do that, and you are talking and you are chanting, et cetera, that really spreads the virus,” Giménez said on CBS News’ “Face The Nation.”
“So, absolutely, the protests had something to do with it,” he said.
A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found no increase tied to protests around the country.
Meanwhile, on ABC News' "This Week," Suarez argued the culprit was Miami residents’ behavior since businesses, including restaurants, began reopening.
“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 when we reopened, people started socializing as if the virus didn’t exist,” Suarez said. “It’s extremely worrisome.”
In mid-June, Suarez himself was photographed without a mask at a Miami restaurant where patrons had flouted social distancing rules meant to slow the spread of the virus. Suarez tested positive for COVID-19 in March and has since recovered.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez tells @MarthaRaddatz reopening of bars and restaurants contributed to increase in COVID-19 cases: "There's no doubt that when we reopened people started socializing as if the virus didn't exist... it's extremely worrisome." https://t.co/BzgObYsi7U pic.twitter.com/VQBaQdVXNp— ABC News (@ABC) July 5, 2020
Florida newspaper reporters who have been covering the pandemic added context to the officials’ comments on Twitter: They argued it’s difficult to pinpoint the cause of the spike without more robust contact tracing — which state and local officials have promised but not delivered.
The only way to know is through massive contact tracing efforts and let me just say I'm skeptical those data exist. There have been thousands of cases in just the last few days and there are about 200 contact tracers on staff who have struggled by all accounts to link cases. https://t.co/5pxM24fbK9
— Ben Conarck (@conarck) July 5, 2020
The main element missing from the reopening plan @MayorGimenez had promoted was massive contact tracing. Had set a goal of 1,000 in Miami-Dade, but unable to reach an agreement w @GovRonDeSantis admin to boost staffing above 200 or so in county. https://t.co/RtAQULDnzj— Doug Hanks (@doug_hanks) July 5, 2020