After Florida reported a record 132 deaths on Tuesday, a group of mayors from Miami-Dade County, the center of the state’s crisis, warned Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, that local officials are running out of time to avoid another painful economic closure.
“There is a significant amount of pressure for us to shut down,” Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami told Mr. DeSantis at an event in the city. “We have between one week and four weeks to get this thing under control, or we will have to take some aggressive measures.”
The mayors took issue with messaging about the pandemic, which has been confusing and inconsistent, from President Trump on down, they said. Mr. DeSantis, who notably wore a mask while speaking indoors, tried to acknowledge how difficult the pandemic has been for Floridians, adding that “people are apprehensive.”
“We have to have a greater sense of urgency,” said Mayor Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, who told the governor point-blank that he should endorse a mask order.
It was an unusual public chiding — though delivered with a light touch — for Mr. DeSantis. The death record in Florida comes as the number of U.S. deaths has begun to rise again after weeks of declines.
More than 900 coronavirus deaths were announced in the U.S. on Tuesday, including single-day records in Alabama and Utah; Oregon matched its daily death record.
The nation was averaging 724 deaths a day as of Monday, up from below 500 a day as July began. While deaths are up nationally, they remain far below the more than 2,200 deaths recorded each day during the deadliest phase of the outbreak in April. But 23 states are reporting more deaths each day than they were two weeks ago, according to a Times database.
By Tuesday evening, more than 65,500 cases of the coronavirus had been announced across the United States, the second-highest daily total of the pandemic. California, Texas, Missouri, Nevada and Oklahoma all set single-day case records.
In some states, like Texas, where the death toll is sharply rising, local officials have responded by putting refrigerated trucks on standby, in order to increase morgue space.
The preparations have only just started, and officials said the situation has not reached the same level of urgency it did in New York City during the early stages of the pandemic, when the city had set up 45 mobile morgues and allowed crematories to work around the clock.
Officials in Texas said the refrigerated trucks were being readied because hospital morgues were filling up and nearing capacity, and additional space would be needed to store bodies.
Eight FEMA vehicles known as mortuary-support trailers were delivered to state officials in early April and 14 additional vehicles are en route, a FEMA spokesman said Tuesday. State and local leaders will determine where the additional trailers will be sent.
In Arizona, two hospital systems in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, also plan to use refrigerated trucks. Mayor Kate Gallego of Phoenix has said that the county morgue is near capacity and officials are working to secure refrigerator trucks
In Florida, Republican officials are planning to move the three nights of their national convention in Jacksonville from an indoor arena to an outdoor venue, Maggie Haberman reports. It’s still unclear how many people will be allowed to attend the events, people familiar with the discussions said Tuesday.
After Mr. Trump pushed to move the convention to Florida from Charlotte, N.C., last month after North Carolina officials refused to guarantee a convention free of social distancing and other health measures, the fortunes of the two states have diverged. Since June 11, the day the convention was officially moved, the average number of cases reported daily in Florida has grown eightfold.
(Source: NY Times)