Monroe County is grappling with what to do to get COVID-19 cases under control as officials plan to meet Tuesday to discuss if new restrictions are needed.
According to recent data from the Florida Health Department, Monroe County has had 894 positive COVID-19 cases and six deaths. At the beginning of June, they had just over 100 cases.
The county’s administrator, Roman Gastesi, believes visitors play a role in those numbers.
“Ever since the checkpoints were removed back on June 1, our case count has been rising very quickly,” he said.
“Everybody that is coming in, they’re having a great time, but what they’re leaving behind is the disease,” said Raymond Jones, who lives in the Upper Keys.
County officials are also set to ask the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to cancel lobster mini season, which falls this year on July 29-30.
“Everybody from a charter boat captains on down. They have to make a living, they are caught in a Catch-22, but we are all concerned," Jones said.
The county said they're dealing with the same issues as other counties with delays in test results and labs getting backed up.
“I think that’s just a function of the labs being overwhelmed, just the numbers,” Gastesi said.
Jones is still trying to get test results.
“It took me 17 days from the time I took my test to get results that were inconclusive,” he said, adding that he's trying again.
A testing site is scheduled to reopen Tuesday, and more throughout the week. Jones wants that information to get to more of his neighbors.
“It feels kind of like we’re second-class, because you look at Dade and Broward County every morning on any of the media outlets and they’re showing testing lines, they showing where you can go get tested. We have none of that,” Jones said.
“It’s on our website of course, and our phone numbers,” Gastesi responded. “We have the information available. You just have to maybe go out and try a little harder to find the information, but we certainly do the best we can.”
Last week, the county passed an ordinance that will close restaurants from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. and prohibit alcohol sales from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. It goes into effect Friday.
Gastesi said getting things under control is going to take everyone to do their part.
“We all know what we need to be doing just do it,” he said. “Enough already, I understand the masks aren’t comfortable and they’re hot and all that but if we all do our part we can flatten this curve.”
“I am hopeful,” Jones agreed.