Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez downplayed the recent rise in the COVID-19 positivity rate Friday during a joint press conference with Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“We always expected that as we open the economy, we would have more positive rates,” Giménez explained.
“We don’t see this as concerning.”
Total cases have spiked in the state in recent days, with Florida hitting anther daily high Friday after 3,822 new cases were recorded.
The Governor had been pointing to an increase in testing capacity as an explanation for that rise.
The percentage of tests coming back positive has also risen, however. That number is not a function of an increase in total tests and could be a sign the virus is again spreading.
Giménez, however, focused on the county’s hospital capacity as a sign the outbreak is not out of control in the region.
“We don’t have a hospital shortage,” Giménez said.
The county had 2,696 beds available as of Thursday, according to the Mayor, “with the ability to put another 1,200 in operation fairly quickly,” he added.
Hospitals had 442 ICU beds, with the ability to add 526 more. The Mayor said 847 ventilators were still available as well.
The rise in positive test rates has caused concern among officials statewide and in nearby counties. The trend is clear in Miami-Dade County as well.
According to Friday’s numbers, from June 5-11 the positivity rate in Miami-Dade largely fluctuated between 5% and 8%. The one exception was June 6, when it sat below 4%.
Over the next seven days, June 12-18, the positivity rate ranged from 8.8%-12.8%. There was again one exception, June 13, where the number dropped below 4%.
Giménez said that trend may be caused by young people not complying with social distancing rules.
He said county officials had “found a high level of compliance” while conducting approximately 300,000 business checks over the last month. That compliance has not been universal, however.
“We have seen a little bit of lax enforcement, maybe. Maybe the younger folks don’t think that it’s quite as important,” Giménez admitted.
“We again are going to be accentuating and putting the forefront enforcement efforts to make sure people keep their social distance, wear masks while they’re indoors, follow the rules.”
Miami-Dade has consistently led the state in overall cases. Local leaders in the region don’t share the County Mayor’s confidence.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez both recently agreed not to move forward with additional reopening measures due to the recent rise in cases and the positivity rate.
“There are major concerns,” Suarez said. “Now is not the time to let your guard down.”