Miami Beach Mayor Says COVID Data is Better but There’s Still “a ways to go”

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Miami Beach Mayor Says COVID Data is Better but There’s Still “a ways to go”:

Mask wearing having a positive impact, he says

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber released a new video statement Friday in which he noted Miami-Dade County was “doing better” with regard to the number of COVID-19 cases but, he said, we “have a ways to go” before things are under control. Gelber also used the message to explain “data distortions” in the most recent numbers.

“Over the last 14 days, the County positive numbers and County positive percentages are continuing to show some slow but downward movement,” he said. “It is likely that some of the drop last week was just from the interruption of testing from the hurricane which distorted all the trendlines. To complicate matters more, on Wednesday one of the labs reported 7 weeks of results, including over 4,000 people who tested positive on a single day, which resulted in a large distortion and spike in both positives and percentages on that day.”

“The lab that reported so late should be fired, as the delay was inexcusable and dangerous, and made it impossible to contact-trace any of the 4,000 people who tested positive,” he said. Gelber has been critical of the State's contact tracing efforts in recent weeks.

“But that spike aside, if you review the same two data points over the course of the entire lifespan of the virus, you can see that we are clearly doing better overall over the last month... but still not doing well yet,” Gelber said. “We are still above the levels of virus that existed months ago and our percentages are also too high. For perspective, our County’s positivity percentage today is in the mid to low teens right now. By contrast, New York’s positivity rate is below 1%, and it is only because they have reached that point that they are considering opening their schools. So, if we have any hope to really return to some normalcy, we need to make much more progress.”

He shared what he called “some good news having to do with hospitalizations. Remember the need to be hospitalized is unaffected by data distortions or mistakes in lab reporting. You either need to be hospitalized or you don’t.” 

The daily number of new people requiring hospitalization is about 100 in Miami-Dade County, he said. “That’s still a lot, but it is about half of the number it was just a few weeks ago but still higher than what it was a few months ago. We are still tragically seeing dozens of Miami-Dade County residents die every day – but that number will also come down as fewer sick people begin moving through the system.”

As he often does in these videos, Gelber shared commentary from Dr. Glenn Morris, Director of the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute. Morris said, “The numbers are looking better” with 54 new cases per 100,000 population per day, “down substantially from a couple of weeks back when we were seeing 80-90 per 100,000 population per day.”

The good news, he said, “What folks are doing in terms of masking, social distancing and avoiding large crowds in closed spaces is clearly having an impact… At this point we’ve got a pretty good feel for what works and these practices, basic as they may seem, indeed do work and do drive down transmission within the community.”

The bad news, he said, is that the numbers, “while down, are still really pretty lousy.”

“Harvard says any new daily case rate over 25 per 100,000 population represents a red, high risk level,” Morris said. “Keep in mind that Miami-Dade is at 54. [The World Health Organization] says that any percent positive above 10 percent represents an epidemic hot spot and Miami-Dade is at 12.7% so there’s really still a way to go before we can say that the pandemic is under control.”

Gelber said he understands that “scrutinizing these data trends to see what the future may hold can be maddening. But I think there are some lessons we are learning that are clarifying and may even give us reason to be optimistic,” he said echoing Morris’ point about mask usage. 

“You can see the change in trajectory from when we mandated masks, especially in the number of people requiring hospitalization,” the Mayor said. “In the absence of a vaccine it is perhaps the best tool we have short of staying secluded in our homes.”

“But we need to do a better job. Our Park Rangers, Code Compliance, and Police teams have issued over 335 citations for failure to wear a mask and shut down 33 different businesses that were not operating safely,” Gelber said. “I want to thank them for their efforts, as constantly confronting folks without masks involves a good measure of peril. But we will never be able to stop everyone or even most of the folks who refuse to wear masks.”

As he has done on many occasions, he sought to encourage usage. “It is really up to our community to create and foster a culture of compliance,” he said. “My practice is, when I see someone wearing a mask, I thank them, because they are doing it to protect my loved ones.”

New COVID Updates:
The walk-up COVID-19 testing site located at 73rd Street and Ocean Terrace has moved to the municipal parking lot on 21st Street and Collins Avenue. Hours of operation will continue to be 9 am to 4:30 pm. No need to stand in line. After you check in, you will receive a text message advising when the nurse is ready for you.

Testing continues at the Miami Beach Convention Center facility located on 17th Street and Convention Center Drive. The site administers both the active virus and antibody tests. Both the drive-thru and walk-up sites are open daily, including weekends, from 9 am to 5 pm. Testing is available for ages 5 and up.

Visit the “Testing tab” on the City’s coronavirus webpage to view detailed information on all testing locations, including testing at the Hard Rock Stadum and homebound testing. [Scroll down on the page to find it.]


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