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Florida mayors urge DeSantis to change approach to COVID-19

City leaders recommend DeSantis implement statewide mask mandate
Posted at 1:04 PM, Nov 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-18 18:14:01-05

Five mayors in Florida held a virtual news conference Wednesday afternoon to urge Gov. Ron DeSantis to change the state's approach to COVID-19.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, Sunrise Mayor Michael Ryan, Miami Shores Mayor Crystal Wagar and Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez all participated.

"It's become pretty clear that what Florida is doing right now isn't working," Gelber said. "It's unmistakably clear that Florida's approach to managing this pandemic is failing pretty horribly."


The city leaders are asking DeSantis to consider the following recommendations to slow the spread of the virus:

  • Implement a statewide mask mandate
  • Allow local governments to enact remedial measures, including mask enforcement
  • Restore state testing facilities to their fullest capacity
  • Improve contact tracing

"You can't wait for this crisis to hit you over and over again in the head like a brick. You've got to act beforehand, and we've already missed so many of those opportunities," Gelber said.

The Miami Beach mayor sent a letter to DeSantis, asking him to consider the safety measures.

"This isn't working," Gelber wrote. "It is unmistakably clear that Florida's approach to managing this pandemic is failing horribly."

Kriseman said that if cases continue to climb in St. Petersburg, the city could be forced to put strict new rules in place.

Although Kriseman said it's too early to say what the new rules will be or how and when they will be implemented, he is planning to meet with Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton to discuss any changes as cases climb across Florida.

"The last thing we want to do here in St. Petersburg is to shut things down again. We're seeing it happen around the county. We're going to do everything we can to prevent that, including enhanced rules if we need to," Kriseman said.

The most recent weekly White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing said Florida is in the red zone for cases.

The briefing for governors, dated Nov. 15, said the state is in a viral resurgence "and with aggressive action now, can contain this surge."

WPTV and our news partners at WFTS in Tampa contributed to this article.