On Wednesday, June 24, a press conference took place outside Broward Sheriff’s Office Headquarters, on Broward Blvd., in Ft. Lauderdale. The purpose of the press conference was to alert members of the press and the public about more stringent measures that would take place due to the increase in numbers of COVID-19 cases in Broward County.
Among the measures discussed was an increase in fines for businesses that were not complying with the CDC guidelines; a number to call related to businesses not complying, and an update about the Sponsor of Broward program, otherwise known as SOB, from the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance. Broward County Mayor Dale Holness, and other elected leaders, were present, as was Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony and members of law enforcement.
Holness noted that the shutdown worked but since the reopening of the County, and other places, cases seemed to be on the rise, and that meant that people were not following the guidelines and restrictions issued by the CDC. He didn’t want to turn the clock back, he said, because that would impact the economy and businesses, and employees, were already struggling to keep going. Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry had issued an emergency order for the potential shutdown of businesses that were not complying.
First, businesses would be given the option to come into compliance within twenty-four hours, with increasing fines if they did not. Fines would start at 500 dollars, and could rise to $15,000.
Holness also noted that a 311 hotline would be established for people to call in to report someone or a business not in compliance.
“We got to contain the alarming rise in a number of new cases of COVID 19 in Broward County,” said Holness. “We were successful in reducing the spread through the shutdown so we know the shutdown works. Folks are not following the CDC’s guidelines or orders. That is not sustainable. If this continues, we will overrun our hospital system. I want to say to everyone, we must do everything we can to protect ourselves and each other.”
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony concurred with Holness and said that the kind of spread that had been observed could not continue, and his agency was on board to do everything to bring those numbers down. If education was not enough, he said, there had to be other measures that would take place. The burdens the continued rise in numbers would put on the health care system, he noted, were not sustainable. He also noted that the virus recently had taken a turn towards the younger population with younger people being seen more in the hospitals instead of older people.
“About every single person in this County is responsible enough to do these things,” said Tony. “We can get through this together.”
Hollywood City Commissioner Traci Callari, who is President of the Broward County League Of Cities, spoke of how she sees the impact of the virus every day as a nurse.
“As a nurse, I see impacts every day,” said Callari. “The rise of the cases is very alarming. It is critically important that our businesses and residents follow the reopening guidelines, which include social distancing, handwashing and wearing masks. We are all in this together.”
Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam noted that his city was the fourth largest city in Broward County, and had a large number of COVID 19 cases it was tracking. He picked up the mask he was wearing, and said it was important to wear it, saying it saved lives.
“It’s so important for us to wear these,” said Messam. “It could save a life.”
Hallandale Mayor Joy Cooper said that her city recently passed a regulation that required people to wear masks when they were out and about in the community, including in the common areas of apartments and condominiums.
“Wear your masks,” said Cooper, “and take care of your fellow neighbors, and we will get through this together.”
Bob Swindell, of the Greater Ft. Lauderdale Alliance, noted that the virus seemed to be trending in younger folks most recently, and cautioned everyone to be careful when they went out and patronized local establishments. Younger folks, he said, often felt like they were invincible which would have dire consequences if the behavior continued. He spoke about the Supporter of Broward campaign, with the three letters that sometimes raised people’s eyebrows, but it got noticed.
“We want folks to go out and patronize those businesses,” he said, “but patrons have to follow these guidelines.”