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Florida Mayors Send Letter To Gov. DeSantis Urging A New, Unified Strategy Against Latest COVID-19 S

David Santiago
Miami Herald

Mayors from across Florida hosted a Zoom press conference to discuss a letter the group sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis, urging him to work with them to bring down COVID-19 infection rates.

A statewide mask mandate sits at the top of the list of requests. They also want full capacity of state-funded testing sites again and the "teeth" back in enforcement of COVID-19 rules like physical distancing, said Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez.

"This is not about Republicans or Democrats," Hernandez said. "I’m a Republican. I’m the most conservative guy in the world but we have to take care of our health and our businesses and the best way to do that is by using that balance that right now, is like, hey, it's just going to go this way and hopefully it'll work out."

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He said everyone on both sides of the aisle wants to avoid shutdowns, since they were so hard hit during the first COVID-19 wave.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman criticized DeSantis for not listening to epidemiologists and instead heeding the guidance of radiologist Scott Atlas, an advisor of President Donald Trump. The governor was also criticized for allowing his office to hire Kyle Lamb — a sports blogger and Uber driver from Ohio — to analyze COVID-19 data.

"You can’t make this stuff up," Kriseman said. "We've got to have a state that follows the same rules and puts in place the same rules as so many other states around the country."

In recent days, a number of states, including those led by Republican governors like Iowa, Utah and Ohio, have put mask mandates in place.

Mayor Crystal Wagar of Miami Shores agreed.

"Masks are vital in providing protection against this virus. It's been proven. Masks should be mandatory," she said.

"All we're simply doing is calling on the governor to use the power, use the power that all Florida residents gave him to help all Floridians and help us, local governments, slow down the spread of this virus."

Mayor Dan Gelber of Miami Beach added that even Sweden is enforcing restrictions now, and urged him to do the same. They all asked DeSantis to respond to their pleas right away.

Read the letter sent to Gov. DeSantis below:

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Verónica Zaragovia was born in Cali, Colombia, and grew up in South Florida. She’s been a lifelong WLRN listener and is proud to cover health care for the station. Verónica has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master's degree in journalism. For many years, Veronica lived out of a suitcase (or two) in New York City, Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, D.C., San Antonio and Austin, where she worked as the statehouse and health care reporter with NPR member station KUT.