Broward County's mayor is urging people to wear masks and get vaccinated as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to spike in South Florida.
Speaking at a Monday morning news conference, Mayor Steve Geller said that Miami-Dade and Broward counties are leading the nation in hospitalization rates.
"This is horrifying," Geller said.
Geller's comments came a day after the state broke a previous record for current hospitalizations, as the number of patients in Florida hospitals because of COVID-19 once again broke through the 10,000-person threshold.
Geller said local hospitals are getting overwhelmed as younger people who aren't vaccinated are having to be hospitalized.
"We know that vaccinations work," Geller said. "We know if you get vaccinated, you're not likely going to go into the hospital. Get vaccinated, protect yourself, protect your friends, protect your family, protect your community, the country, do the patriotic thing."
The mayor also stressed how children are being affected by the rise in cases of COVID-19.
"At Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital alone, there are seven children in the hospital, two of which are in intensive care," Geller said. "As of June, 36 children had gone to the pediatric emergency room at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. As of July 29th the number had increased from 36 in June to 190 children going to the emergency room for COVID."
Broward County has issued an administrative order that everybody entering Broward County buildings must be wearing a mask.
The mayor said that although he would like to impose a mask mandate across the county, he is not permitted to do so by the state.
Geller has been critical of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the state in the past and he expressed more frustration during the news conference Monday.
"They tell us, no, the federal government is too big and the local governments are too small, but the state is just right and they know everything," Geller said. "I was in the legislature for 20 years. I can tell you the legislature doesn't know everything."
There are two test sites currently operating in Broward County with three more sites set to open beginning Monday, August 9th. They will be at:
- Tradewinds Park at 3600 W Sample Rd in Coconut Creek
- Markham Park at 16001 W. State Rd 84 in Sunrise
- CB Smith Park at 900 N Flamingo Rd in Pembroke Pines