Miami-Dade mayoral candidates Daniella Levine Cava, Alex Penelas and Xavier Suarez say they are cutting down on in-person campaign activity amid concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus.
Friday, the Penelas campaign announced it was suspending face-to-face voter activities. The Penelas team has also decided to take down its advertising as the campaign enters a period of slowdown.
The news comes after Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez has already declared a state of emergency inside the county.
“Currently, Miami-Dade County and countries around the world are facing an unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic and it is more important than ever that we all take every precaution possible to ensure the health and safety of our families, our neighbors, and our communities at large,” the Penelas campaign said in a Friday statement.
“Until further notice, the Alex Penelas campaign has decided to suspend direct face-to-face voter contact activities such as canvassing and large campaign events to ensure the safety of our staff, volunteers and voters, and to pull down all paid advertising. We pray for everyone’s health and safety and are hopeful we will emerge from this crisis as a stronger and more unified community. Thank you, as always, for your unwavering support.”
The Penelas campaign is making the announcement after Gov. Ron DeSantis urged “mass gatherings” be postponed statewide. The move also comes after Miami Mayor Francis Suarez tested positive for the virus.
His father, Miami-Dade Commissioner Xavier Suarez, is one of several candidates competing along with Penelas to be the county’s next Mayor. Suarez added that he stands with Penelas in putting a temporary stop to public events, at least through March.
“Certainly, in my current circumstance with my son having tested positive, I’m not in a position of going to any public gathering,” Suarez said.
“To the extent that it sends a signal that we’re putting our nose to the grindstone on this crisis, absolutely. In my case, it’s very close to home.
Suarez made contact Monday with Fabio Wajngarten, a press secretary for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Wajngarten later reportedly tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
The Levine Cava mayoral campaign also announced it had pulled back on public activities as the region attempts to stop the spread.
“Earlier this week, I had my campaign immediately slow down campaign activities as it became clear that our community was preparing for a health crisis,” Levine Cava said.
“My focus is squarely on our community response to the health challenges and to ensure we have proactive measures in place to prepare our community for the economic challenges to come. I am confident that this crisis has unified our community as we take proactive measures to safeguard everyone. We are stronger together.”
Christian Ulvert, a senior advisor for the campaign, also laid out his team’s specific steps going forward.
“We briefed Commissioner Levine Cava that the campaign has cancelled all canvassing and days of action, as we begin to shift effective Monday, March 16th to a virtual volunteer phone bank,” Ulvert said.
“We have eager volunteers who want to continue to support and lift up the campaign and we will be focused solely on non-direct voter contact through April 5th. We have pulled down all large campaign events and our paid advertising program has been suspended effective March 16th as well. We are working with our campaign team to ensure everyone remains safe and healthy as we are deeply committed to our community’s well-being and efforts for self-care.”
Florida Politics has reached out to additional Miami-Dade mayoral campaigns to assess whether they will take similar precautionary steps.
The virus has caused other campaigns to reassess their in-person events, including at the presidential level.
“With a slew of national and state organizations reassessing and sometimes canceling their own events, platforms are vanishing,” reported Scott Powers of Florida Politics earlier this week.
“Just this week, President Donald Trump lost his invitation to speak to the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society conference and Biden and Sanders to the AFL-CIO convention when both Orlando events were canceled.”
The death rate for those who test positive for the virus has recently sat above 3%. However, those calculations do not include individuals who may have contracted the virus, but are asymptomatic and thus survive without incident. Including those individuals would lower the death rate, but it’s unclear how many such individuals there are worldwide.
Most who do show symptoms develop a fever or cough and may have trouble breathing, though they do recover. However, older individuals and those with underlying health risks are susceptible to developing more severe symptoms.
Two people in Florida have died after testing positive for the virus. Overall, 45 Florida residents have now been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Another six people were diagnosed in Florida who lived out of state while five were Americans repatriated to Florida, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Two of those positive tests have been identified in Miami-Dade County.
Another five Floridians have been returned to the U.S. after testing positive overseas.