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Coronavirus in Florida

Miami-Dade Mayor, Florida Governor can’t agree on contact tracing

Contact tracing rift reveals other frustrations from Gimenez.

In a heated portion of a Tuesday press conference, Florida’s Governor and the Mayor of Miami-Dade were off message when it came to responsibility for contact tracing.

Each contended that the other one was responsible. Wednesday saw a continuation of the disjointed narrative.

On CNN Wednesday morning,  Mayor Carlos Giménez said Gov. Ron DeSantis may need to get a tighter handle on virus response relative to the “bureaucracy” of Florida’s Department of Health.

“Contact tracing is the purview of the state, we were told that,” Giménez said, contradicting DeSantis’ assertion that locals could do that.

“We offered to hire additional people for that purpose, and the state Department of Health down here have a certain bureaucracy they have to go through. But the contact tracing is actually the purview of the state,” the Mayor reaffirmed, before describing a pattern of locals offering help but the state being reluctant to work with them.

“We’re willing to help in any way that we can,” Giménez added. “We’ve been talking to the Department of Health for some time about how Miami-Dade could help them. Either with resources, money, hiring people.”

“We’re getting close,” Giménez said, as Florida approaches the four-month mark of the pandemic state of emergency. “But it’s taken a little bit longer than I would have hoped to get what we want.”

The CNN reporter described it as a “mess,” and Giménez didn’t push back.

“I’m not sure that the Governor had all the information about what was transpiring down here,” Giménez said, adding that “the Governor’s been really good to us down here in Miami-Dade County.”

The Governor’s Office, meanwhile, offered its own version of events.

Helen Aguirre Ferré, spokesperson for the Governor, said “local officials have an important role to play in vocalizing and executing on their requests for assistance.”

“The Governor’s office and Department of Health have been trying to secure the additional contact tracers for Miami Dade County since May and the state is desirous to seal the deal on behalf of the residents of Miami Dade,” she added.

The issue was one of misadministration on Giménez’s end, Ferré asserted, with the state advancing multiple proposals, only to see multiple change orders and local delays frustrate the process.

“Unfortunately, it has taken longer than anticipated for the Mayor Gimenez to sign the contract because he and his staff continuously changed the parameters of what they were requesting,” Ferre noted.

“Miami Dade County received the final state contract on July 2.  Mayor Gimenez last spoke to the Surgeon General regarding this on Monday and unless Mayor Gimenez makes additional changes, the contract could be signed this afternoon.”

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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