MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) – South Florida medical professionals are urging the public to observe social distancing guidelines, as hospitals report local intensive care units at capacity and leaders take additional measures in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Dr. Bernard Ashby said front-line workers are dealing with a crisis that is showing no end in sight.
“We’re in the eye of a hurricane right now. We need to treat this as a FEMA-level disaster response,” he said.
But Ashby, a Miami-based cardiologist, said that response is not happening.
“The hospitals are overwhelmed at this point. The ICUs are over capacity. My hospital, in particular, is at capacity,” he said. “We’re doing piecemeal approaches to try to reduce the virus transmission, but it’s not nearly enough.”
Ashby’s warning comes as Miami Beach prepares to enforce an 8 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew at the city’s entertainment district for a second night, all in an effort by local leaders to try to get a handle on the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
7News cameras captured Miami Beach Police officers in buggies, Sunday night, as they cleared Ocean Drive and informed passers-by they needed to go elsewhere.
Onlookers who spoke with 7News said they understand why the city is tightening restrictions.
“It is what it is. I mean, we can’t be mad,” said a man.
“No one acts like this is the epicenter of COVID. I guess it makes sense,” said a woman.
“I don’t mind it. I think it’s a smart decision,” said a woman who was wearing a face mask.
“It’s not ideal,” said another woman.
Cameras captured a mix of masked and unmasked people strolling don Ocean Drive, Sunday afternoon.
Just after 10 p.m., Fifth Street and Ocean Drive was nearly empty.
A few people who were seen walking past curfew said no one can tell them they’re not allowed to be out, while others said the coronavirus is not real. For the most part, people stayed away from the iconic street.
“We needed to get things under control, and we’re doing that for everyone’s health, for everyone’s safety,” said Miami Beach Police spokesperson Ernesto Rodriguez.
“We’ve really, I think, tried to take measures that we hoped would work, but I’m not sure that they will, and we’re looking at the data very carefully,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.
An 11 p.m. curfew went into effect in Broward County, Friday night.
In the last 24 hours, Florida health officials reported 12,478 new COVID-19 infections. Of those cases, 3,212 are in Miami-Dade County, 1,150 are in Broward and 49 are in Monroe.
The total number of reported COVID-19 cases in the state stands at 350,047. Of those cases, 84,238 are in Miami-Dade County, 39,281 are in Broward and 859 are in Monroe.
City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said it’s time for a widespread masks-in-public rule.
“We have been urging, and I’ve been urging the president, and I’ve even urged the governor, to issue a masks-in-public order for the state and for the nation,” he said. “There is a segment of our population, of our city, that will only listen to them, and I think it’s important that they lead.”
Few face masks were on display on Hollywood Beach, Sunday afternoon. Some beach goers were seen not practicing social distancing.
Opinions varied among beach goers and passers-by.
“I think there’s a lot of discrepancies when it comes to coronavirus,” said a woman.
“As long as we’re in the outside, the air, it’s a nice breeze, I don’t think there’s going to be any harm,” said a man wearing a face mask.
“I think everyone should stay wearing their masks, listen to our people, listen to each other. Unity starts with you,” said a man.
Officers will continue to write citation for curfew violators, and leaders will continue urging social distancing and mask use.
“So that we can bring these fires under control, so that people can go on with their lives and not worry about literally dying,” said Ashby.
Miami-Dade County officials have created a web page, called the Community Empowerment Page, aimed at keeping track of neighborhoods and areas seeing increases in coronavirus cases. They urge anyone in the county who has tested positive to go to the website.
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