Decentralized Policy Creates Confusion in South Florida COVID-19 Outbreak

The number of coronavirus positive cases reported by the state is also way off from what the reality is on the ground. It is part of a delay built into the system. 

NBC Universal, Inc.

Confusion over which cities have stay-at-home orders, mismatched state and site reporting on total number of tests completed, and unknowns of what to do after testing positive all plague South Florida in the outbreak of coronavirus.

Many expressed frustration to NBC 6 over celebrities, city, state and national leaders, saying they have received coronavirus testing when they did not meet the Centers for Disease Control criteria for the general public. 

When the Mayor and City Commission of Miami received coronavirus tests after coming in contact with a person with the virus, a city spokesperson told NBC 6 the tests were facilitated by the city manager and the city’s fire department to “ensure government and essential operations continue.”

In a video posted on Twitter, Mayor Francis Suarez confirmed that he has COVID-19.

When NBC 6 asked the state and county health departments what someone should do after self-isolating for two weeks, the request went unanswered. 

The City of Miami has issued a stay-at-home order, so has Miami Beach and Broward County. However, Miami-Dade County has not, which has devolved into a political back-and-forth, with Mayor Carlos Gimenez wanting to crack down on businesses who are not following guidance and Commissioner Danielle Levine Cava wanting an entire county shutdown. 

The number of coronavirus positive cases reported by the state is also way off from what the reality is on the ground. It is part of a delay built into the system. 

There are two parts of the coronavirus test. Part one is collecting the material from nasal swabs. Then that material is sent off to the second part - the laboratory testing. The Florida Health department reports public and private labs have varying degrees of testing time. NBC 6 has reported on some test results being back in two days, some in seven. 

Quest Diagnostics, one of the private laboratory companies, reports an average of four to five days. State law requires the labs to immediately report to the state, which then reports to the public but the entire process can take almost a week. 

Thousand of people want tests, but even those who show up to the testing sites are turned away. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday he's concerned about people fleeing New York - a hot spot for the coronavirus outbreak - for Florida, calling the decision "reckless."

Dr. Teresa Contreras, a private practice doctor, thought healthcare professionals could go to any testing site. She was wrong. The testing site she went to at Marlins Park only is for the elderly. She was then directed to the Jackson Health location. 

“I understand that everybody is trying to do the best job, but there needs to be better coordination,” she said. “We are not being directed as the public in general to the appropriate location.” 

From the top down, officials say this is a work in progress, showing signs of how the state was caught off guard by the virus outbreak and demand for testing afterward. 

Marlins Park can handle 300 appointment tests a day. On Wednesday, they did just over 250 and turned more than 70 away. 

NBC 6's Johnny Archer has the latest on the site aimed at helping the elderly population.

“We will continue to reassess as the days go on, how long this site will be up and if there is a need to increase that number. But as for the next three days, that is what we’re looking at - 300 a day,” said Lt. Ignatius Carrol of the City of Miami Fire Rescue. 

The state government continues to work and get supplies on the ground. Governor DeSantis Wednesday recognized the frustration at a press conference in Orlando.

“People are antsy and this is an invisible enemy, there’s a lot we don’t know about it if someone has symptoms,” he said. 

Contact Us