Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber says he believes the state is leaning on a strategy to achieve “herd immunity” in handling the state’s COVID-19 outbreak.
Gelber made the comments during a Tuesday morning appearance on CNN’s New Day. Gelber was asked to elaborate on his accusation that Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing for herd immunity.
“I don’t think it’s an accusation,” Gelber responded. “I’m not sure he would deny it. You know, he hasn’t had Dr. [Anthony] Fauci here. He has had Dr. [Scott] Atlas.”
The Governor’s office has denied those claims in the past. But DeSantis has repeatedly flirted with the theory, which argues for protecting vulnerable populations while allowing less susceptible individuals to live their normal, daily lives and likely contract the virus.
Once enough people are infected, the virus would no longer have enough hosts to continue spreading.
As Gelber mentioned, DeSantis did invite Dr. Atlas to Florida in August. Atlas is a White House advisor favored by President Donald Trump due to his opposition to some social distancing efforts and mask wearing. Atlas has also backed a herd immunity approach in handling the virus.
On Tuesday, Gelber pushed back against the effectiveness of that plan, pointing out that “vulnerable populations” for this virus include not only the elderly, but also people with asthma, weight problems, diabetes and other conditions.
“Those people aren’t living in segregated communities,” Gelber said. “They’re living in homes with younger people, or other people. That’s how our society exists, so the problem is you can’t protect them.”
He argued the plan would struggle to work in Florida and added, “I’m not sure where it would work.”
It’s also been shown that contracting the virus does not necessarily make someone immune.
Gelber lobbed criticism at DeSantis for pushing the state into Phase Three as well. That late September push included South Florida, which has served as the epicenter of the outbreak. Prior to that announcement, South Florida had reopened at a slower pace than the rest of the state out of caution.
“The Governor, really what he did was he opened up everything and also stopped local government from trying to protect its own residents,” Gelber said, referencing a state order blocking local officials from collecting fines from people who disobey mask mandates.
“I get millions of people visiting my community. I’m not just protecting our residents. We’re trying to protect people who are going back into the communities from which they came. So it’s really become a problem. We are trying to literally protect our residents from their government at this point because we can’t even impose a requirement that people get citations for not wearing a mask. And that’s become a real problem, because I worry about the uptick becoming a surge.”
Florida has recently seen a slight rise in new cases, though has yet to see an explosion in the infection rate the state saw in June after the previous attempt at reopening.