Concern is growing in Broward County that if the coronavirus outbreak does not slow down soon, there may need to be a countywide shutdown.
“We are running out of [hospital] bed space because all of these stupid people who insist it’s nothing worst than the flu are wrong,” says Steve Geller, a commissioner and the county’s vice mayor. “The flu doesn’t fill our intensive-care units.”
On Thursday, Broward’s COVID-19 cases increased by 1,413, for a total of 35,566 since the pandemic began.
ICU bed capacity at Memorial West Hospital, which is located in Pembroke Pines, is reportedly at 180 percent.
“It looks grave from where we are,” according to Broward Mayor Dale Holness. “We have to look at two measures — are the measures we are taking working … two, if the hospitalization gets worse, we are gonna have to shut down. But as of today, I wouldn’t say shut down.”
The mayor explains the health department has told him that 80 percent of the cases spread within families and at gatherings.
“BSO had 1,100 calls [about] house parties since March,” Holness says. “1100 calls! That’s out of this world.”
Meanwhile, Geller says he is “angry because I am trying to prevent shutting down the businesses, which would be devastating. If we shut down the business community again, a lot of those businesses will never reopen.”
“We can diminish this virus significantly if we wear a mask, social distance, proper hygiene,” says Mayor @HolnessD9 “Citations and shutting down has to be balanced with a plan for people to work, stay employed and safe. We can be safe together. pic.twitter.com/cNUoNg5u4h
— Broward County Commission (@browardinfo) July 16, 2020
Code enforcement officials in Broward cities have issued 766 warnings for non-compliance of safety rules, although there have only been 57 citations. There are currently 471 complaints pending in Froward.
Mayor Holness has asked cities to stop issuing warnings and to issue citations.
Commissioner Dr. Barbara Sharief thinks the county may need to take steps such as Miami-Dade did, by banning indoor restaurant dining, and implementing a stricter curfew.
“We can go and legislate and put whatever we want on paper,” she states. “The reality is, until people decide they want to take personal responsibility for what’s going on, were never going to be able to accomplish what we need to accomplish.”
Geller adds: “We are just telling them to wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands with soap and water. And that seems too much for some people. And it’s killing others. So, yeah, I’m a little angry about that.”