Florida’s reopening debacle
This editorial was excerpted from the Miami Herald.
The Miami City Commission made a bold move Thursday, passing an emergency order demanding that masks be worn by everyone in a public place, not just when entering a business. Ignore the order and face a civil fine.
Good move. The order is clear and resolute, with slowing the spread of the coronavirus top of mind. Now the city needs the means to enforce it.
Unfortunately, face coverings, a critical component in stopping the virus, have become politicized and viewed by some as an infringement of their personal freedom. It’s a selfish and foolish stance. Too many people don’t care that a national study suggests that between now and October, 33,000 lives could be saved if more of us wore masks.
In Miami, commissioners agreed to set a minimum fine of $50 for a first offense, a $150 fine for a second offense and a $500 fine for a third offense. Arrest is a possibility for habitual offenders.
The recent spike in COVID-19 cases has prompted the crackdown, but there is little public questioning of whether, for the sake of the economy, South Florida opened too soon at the urging of Gov. Ron DeSantis and President Donald Trump.
No matter the numbers, the governor and local mayors have made it clear there is no going back to quarantine. Our new reality is figuring out how to survive. It would help if everyone were on board.
DeSantis did the right thing by indicating Thursday at a Tampa news conference that he is not planning to move up to the next phase of reopening just yet. That would be downright irresponsible. “We are where we are,” he said. True, and it’s not in a good place.
In Florida, the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to gallop at record-breaking speed. Hospital admissions are up, and lines to be tested have grown long again since reopening.
The state, and counties, reopened to get the economy going again. Yet there’s no denying that it is again getting hammered. On Thursday, Johnson & Wales University in North Miami announced it is closing. All freestanding Apple stores in South Florida are shutting down.
Absent a strong, authoritative voice to navigate the state through this pandemic, little since the reopening has been good for our health — or the economy’s.
The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.
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When police response goes this badly in this many ways, the next question is why the missteps.
If the numbers improve, you can take credit for what everyone else started. If not, then you were right about masks all along. Genius!