coronavirus florida

Miami Beach Mayor Urges DeSantis to Reconsider Prohibiting Mask Fines

CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images

The mayor of Miami Beach sent a letter to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Sunday urging him to reconsider the emergency order he issued last week that prevents local governments from enforcing a mask mandate.

"I urge you to follow the CDC and the mainstream view of doctors and scientists, and reconsider your prior Order prohibiting local governments from enforcing individual mask mandates," Mayor Dan Gelber wrote.

In the letter, Gelber mentioned President Donald Trump's COVID diagnosis and said that although he is praying for Trump's recovery, "the notion that we are still debating (a mask mandate) seems incomprehensible given the recent infections of the First Family, and the horrific impact the virus has had on our own residents."

Gelber also attacked the credebility of the experts DeSantis relied on in order to justify his decision.

"The experts you relied on to make the case that mask usage was not necessary, are precisely the same physicians cherry-picked by the White House. Most, like Dr. Atlas, are not even infectious disease specialists," Gelber wrote.

"Others, like Dr. Bhattacharya, don't even practice in a specialty related to the treatment of this virus. I think it was wholly reckless for you to endorse his outlier view that 'there is no evidence that shows masks prevent the spread' of the virus."

DeSantis's emergency order caused relative confusion across South Florida counties when it was issued last week, as local officials tried to adapt their orders to the governor's new rules without entirely abandoning the standard CDC recommendations for social distancing and enforced facial coverings.

The decision was immediately met with pushback, including some criticism from Dr. Anthony Fauci, who warned that the change is "very concerning to me. When you're dealing with community spread, and you have the kind of congregate setting where people get together, particularly without masks, you’re really asking for trouble."

Mayors Carlos Gimenez and Dale V.C. Holness also expressed concern about eliminating all regulations.

“We’re hoping that the governor will allow us to have deeper restrictions than the rest of the state. We have a greater spread of the virus in South Florida than other parts of the state," Broward County Mayor Dale Holness told WLRN last week.

The counties are still encouraging everyone to follow CDC guidelines (using facial coverings, social distancing) as much as possible, but more businesses will be able to open, and restaurants may some have more flexibility in the number of guests they can allow.

Many businesses and restaurants told NBC 6 they will continue to require mask-wearing inside their private establishments, and Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez emphasized that citations will still be issued.

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