Freshman Miami-Dade County Commissioner Kionne McGhee will chair the commission’s panel on Health, Emergency Management and Intergovernmental Affairs (HEMIC), with fellow freshman Commission Rene Garcia serving as vice-chair.
Newly-selected Commission Chair Jose ‘Pepe’ Diaz chose McGhee to lead that body. While McGhee and Garcia are both new to the Commission, they are veteran lawmakers. Garcia is a former state Senator. McGhee served in the House for eight years before facing term limits. He finished his final two years as House Democratic Leader.
Outgoing Commission Chair Rebeca Sosa will take over the panel on PortMiami and Environmental Resilience (PRC). Commissioner Javier Souto will serve as vice-chair.
McGhee’s HEMIC panel will focus on “addressing, mitigating and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the county commission. Miami-Dade — Florida’s most populous county — has been hardest hit by the outbreak. The region has tallied nearly 340,000 cases since the pandemic began. And 4,528 individuals in the county have lost their lives to the virus.
Addressing the pandemic’s fallout is top priority in the region, which is heavily reliant on tourism. County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava has said as much in comments noting her priority in vaccinating county residents.
“Until we contain this pandemic,” Levine Cava said, “we cannot move forward fully with our economy.”
McGhee’s committee will focus on “equality in the delivery of public health resources” to county residents. Outside of health issues, the body will also focus on “natural and manmade disasters.”
Environmental issues will be the priority for Sosa’s committee. “The PRC will tackle issues such as beach renourishment, implementation of the recommendations of the Back Bay Study, monitoring the health of Biscayne Bay and continued development of PortMiami cargo and cruise business.”
That latter issue is also connected with McGhee’s COVID-19 work, given the cruise industry’s cratering since the outbreak began.