Florida has reached a critical period as it faces the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic.
Health officials have recorded several days of record deaths. Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach counties make up about half the cases of the coronavirus in the state.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has talked about the possibility of a future shutdown to control the spread to a manageable level. Other leaders want to see more contact tracing, improved testing access and a faster turnaround for results.
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On the South Florida Roundup, host Tom Hudson talked about this challenging moment with Dr. Cheryl Holder, president of the Florida State Medical Association and a professor at Florida International University’s medical school.
Here’s an excerpt of their conversation:
TOM HUDSON: Is a new stay-at-home order, or at least stay-at-home guidance, something that ought to be put in place?
DR. CHERYL HOLDER: Based on what we did the first time, the numbers are now worse. And the first time we put it in place and we saw the flattening of the curve, the reopening did not follow CDC guidelines. The community was not fully educated on the importance of the steps to maintain the decreased transmission. And there was a sense that it wasn't such a big deal. So we have to understand how we got here. There's the blame all around, but also a lack of our ability to transmit the information clearly.
Do we still have an opportunity as a community in South Florida, with the infection rates and the trends that we've seen, to contain the virus?
Definitely. We have to find a way to be strong enough that whether there's a guidance or not, we understand that that is the only way to get back in control, or else we'll face September, October, this will continue. If we don't do something drastic to decrease our exposure and infection, we're going to end up with 75 percent or more of us will get infected because it's that easy to spread.
So as a community, we have to understand that the only way to decrease infection is to decrease my chances of meeting somebody who's going to infect me. How is that? Stay home, unless you absolutely have to go outside. If you absolutely have to go out, use your mask, protect your eyes and stand six feet away. And [if] we do this together, over time, we will be able to control the epidemic. We have to understand and respect the science and say, we're going to do this together.
The transcript of this interview has been edited lightly for brevity and clarity.