ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - It was a meeting of the mayors calling for swift action. Five Florida mayors, including St. Petersburg’s Mayor Rick Kriseman, held a virtual press conference Wednesday afternoon, to urge Governor Ron DeSantis to change the state’s approach to fighting COVID-19.
“If we don’t deal with this now, the economic catastrophe will be far worse,” Kriseman said. “As mayors, we all know what we need to do to protect the residents of our communities and it’s incredibly unfortunate that the positions the governor has taken have made our jobs very difficult.”
First and foremost, they urged DeSantis to put a mandatory, state-wide mask mandate in place.
“Across the country, governors of all political stripes are doing it,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber. “They’re realizing it’s one of the few things you can do that allows you to open up the economy in ways that protect the public.”
They also believe the mandate would boost the hospitality industry, said to be Florida’s economic engine.
“People will not travel here if they believe it is unsafe,” said Gelber. “In fact, I’m convinced that projecting our state as a place where people are not wearing masks, and where the virus can pass unrestrained, will only serve to discourage visitors.”
They’re also requesting that the governor allow counties and cities to determine what other restrictions make sense – like setting and enforcing occupancy limits.
Mayor Carlos Hernandez, Hialeah’s mayor, is optimistic DeSantis will respond.
“But If he doesn’t respond to us, first of all, that’s very unprofessional and disrespectful,” Hernandez said.
However, Governor DeSantis has already said in the past, no more lockdowns for a virus with a survival rate of 99.8 percent.
He says working Floridians can’t afford to go through that again, and that the order he signed in September to re-open Florida made mask mandates unenforceable.
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
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