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The latest updates on the COVID-19 outbreak in South Florida. This page ended its updates as of August 2020. Head here for additional stories on COVID-19 and the pandemic.

Miami Leaders, Political Rivals Theorize On National TV About Cause Of COVID-19 Spike

Compiled screenshots from CBS News and ABC News
Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez and city of Miami mayor Francis Suarez appeared on national television news programs to discuss the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

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.

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.

Jessica Bakeman is Director of Enterprise Journalism at WLRN News, and she is the former senior news editor and education reporter. Her 2021 project "Class of COVID-19" won a national Edward R. Murrow Award.
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