During a news conference Thursday, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said something concerning to many: there is a chance another lockdown could take place due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Suarez said he would meet with business leaders on Friday before making a decision on whether to make the move, citing the growing number of cases in the city and the reduced availability of ICU beds in area hospitals.
“I think it’s important that we communicate with the business community before making any decisions," Suarez said. “If something is not done in the next few weeks to alter our course, we could be in a dire situation.”
Suarez drew attention last week with his criticism of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez following an order closing dine-in services during select hours due to an increase in the number of cases.
"People often asked if we opened too soon, but no one asked if we closed too soon," Suarez said, citing other cities like New York City when discussing the initial closures in both Miami and Miami-Dade County in March.
The mayor said a metric is being worked on the help make the decision, which would include a long-term plan that includes stabilizing the hospital system.
During an interview with MSNBC on Thursday, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber echoed the same sentiment.
“To me, and I think to many of the mayors, if we cannot control the spread and we continue in the same trajectory we've been on for two weeks, I don't know what other options we're going to have," Gelber said.
Earlier this week, Suarez joined mayors from Miami-Dade County and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to discuss how the county can better fight the recent surge in cases.
"I think it's really important as we're at this critical moment here that we're able to turn this in a better direction," DeSantis said Tuesday during the meeting with the mayors, which included Gimenez, Gelber, Miami Gardens' Oliver Gilbert and Doral's Juan Carlos Bermudez.
"Dade right now is the place where we're seeing the most spread and then obviously the most clinical consequences," DeSantis said.
There was broad agreement that the next week or so will determine whether additional business closures or restrictions will be needed.
"There is a significant amount of pressure right now for us to shut down at some level and I think we are sort of at a critical juncture that if things do not improve quickly over the next week or two, I think we're gonna be under a significant amount of pressure to do something like that," Suarez said.
The city mayors outlined ways the state can improve its response, from additional contact tracers to more clarity on what will be implemented if the situation doesn't improve.
The mayor of Doral urged the need for unity among local leaders, suggesting that they all need to be on the same page, especially when it comes to reporting data.
“I have been in meetings with DOH representatives and the information is not always exactly the same, so I think it’s critical that we all have the same information,” said Bermudez.
Although the mayors and DeSantis appeared to be on the same page, there were moments where differences broke through, particularly when Gelber mentioned a statewide mask mandate, which DeSantis hasn't implemented.
"I think we need a sense of urgency in our community right now," Gelber said. "I know we've had disagreements about whether we have a state mandate for a mask. The only reason I thought it's important is I think it will tell people 'you have to do this.'"
DeSantis reiterated that people should wear masks where they're mandated by localities and continue to practice social distancing.