Officials in Miami-Dade County gathered Tuesday to address how they would handle the coronavirus and the impact it is already having on the tourism industry.
While there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county, the heads of a dozen departments in Miami-Dade including police, elections and public housing, delivered reports on their plans should the virus show up in the area.
"We want to assure our community that we have a plan in place, to treat and diagnose cases if need be," said Don Steigman, COO of Jackson Health System.
For the communities most vulnerable to COVID-19, the county established procedures nursing homes, senior living facilities and adult daycares should use in dealing with the threat of the virus and provided information to residents on prevention and recognizing symptoms.
Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvahlo said in a news conference that the district is implementing proactive steps at schools, such as enhancing cleaning protocols and promoting personal hygiene to students, teachers and staff.
Carvalho urged students to stay home if they are sick and emphasized to not strive for perfect attendance. All out-of-state field trips requiring air travel have been canceled, while local and in-state trips are being evaluated.
While the wellbeing of residents is the priority, county officials also took the time to address the health of the local economy. The Miami International Airport director sais he's seeing a 10-12% decrease in daily passengers and that vendors also observed a sharp decline in sales.
"This virus will make sure that it really damages a lot of businesses in our community and a lot of people that are depending on their checks may not be able to receive them," said Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez also addressed the need for a plan if a cruise ship with coronavirus patients are not permitted into Port Miami.
"Most of the ships that sail out of here, they are mostly Americans, so the best thing to do is get them off the ship as quickly as possible," Gimenez said. "And so we’ve told the cruise lines, our partners that any ship that is berthed in Miami if they have to come back we will take them, but we are going to develop a plan for that."
Meanwhile, Broward County declared a state of emergency after a fourth case of coronavirus was confirmed in the area.