Transcript for 'Wishful thinking is neither good economic (nor) ... public health policy': Hidalgo
While fireworks lit up the skies across the country, for many Americans this year's celebrations overshadowed by the battle against the coronavirus. Some beaches normally crowded were shut down. In Rhode Island, the nation's oldest Independence parade was scaled back to vehicles. But it was business as usual for president trump. Large gatherings, the president began his Independence day celebrations at mt. Rushmore with thousands of supporters packed together with few visible masks. The president barely mentioning the pandemic. Choosing instead to attack those protesting racial injustice. At the white house Saturday, we -- he repeated divisive themes from his past campaigns. As his efforts at re-election begin to falter. Those that are lying about our history, those who want to be ashamed of who we are, are not interested in justice or in healing. Their goal is demolition. This as top health officials warn the United States is going in the wrong direction. New coronavirus cases passing the 50,000 mark on four different days last week and after decreasing for nearly a month and a half, hospitalizations are trending up. This morning, we'll talk to leaders in hot Zones, from Texas, Arizona and Florida. We begin with Miami and mayor Francis Suarez. We appreciate you joining us this morning, Mr. Mayor. Some alarming statistics this July 4th weekend. On Friday, the miami-dade region reporting a positivity test rate of 20%, meaning 1 in 5 people who took a coronavirus test tested positive. On Saturday, Florida recorded a new daily record for coronavirus cases, topping the previous record by more than 1300, how do you stop this spread? What more can be done? Well, it's clear that the growth is exponential at this point. You know, we've been breaking record after record after record the last couple of weeks. We instituted about a week ago a mask in public rule and we also implemented an increase in penalties for businesses that follow the rules. Our counties closed down the beaches in the hopes all these rules will have an impact, a positive impact, it takes time to find out exactly. We're obviously very closely monitoring hospitalizations and monitoring the death rate which are lagging indicators that give us, you know, the impression that we have to take much stricter measures. As you said miami-dade county did close its beaches, but what do you think about the response from residents? What have you seen over the last couple of days? You know, they're obviously a little bit upset to some extent but we have seen compliance at least in miami-dade county. I know there may be other places where there haven't been perfect compliance. But, we have seen compliance over the weekend. We're hopeful that the measures we're putting into place will prevent us from putting in more serious mandates. With finance to enforce it, how does that work and have any fines be issued? Yeah, you know the way it works -- it's similar to when we did a stay-at-home order. We don't go door to door and knock on people's homes, the fact of the matter is, there's also an exception for which a lot of people are outdoors doing. The reason why we do it, no different than telling people they have to wear seat belt. If you get a car accident, good chance you'll walk away if you're wearing a seat belt. The same thing with the mask if people wearing masks in public, a pretty good chance we'll slow down and stop the spread. In terms of enforcement, we have the first violation is warning. Second violation, is $50. Then $150 fine. We still haven't done massive amounts of enforcement, but we're hoping to see if people comply and if not we'll go out and do that enforcement. I know you had covid back in March. At the end of the March, Miami had a remain-at-home order in place. Which lasted until may 20th. A week later, restaurants were then allowed to reopen, dine-in customers at 50% capacity, is that what contributed to this? There's no doubt that the fact that we opened -- the city of Miami was the last city in the entire state of Florida to open. I was criticized for waiting so long. But there's no doubt the fact that when reopened people started socializing like the virus didn't exist. What we saw before the stay-at-home order, an increasing slope of 35 new cases per day, right after we implemented the stay-at-home order, we started seeing that decline almost immediately. We got ahead of the curve. Just before this weekend, the incline slope was 91 new cases per day. It's almost three times greater slope than it was prior to the stay-at-home order. You know, it's extremely worrisome. Okay, thank you very much for joining us, mayor. We go now to Texas, which hit a record for hospitalizations this weekend. Joining me now is judge Lina Hidalgo from Harris county, home to Houston the epicenter of the outbreak in Texas. Good morning. I know you are at home because you were exposed to covid. And last week, your county moved to the highest possible threat level signifying a severe level for covid-19. Give us an update this morning. And what you're doing about it. Good morning. Since before memorial day really, we've been seeing a nonlinear increase in our hospitalizations, at this point our hospitals here in Harris county, Houston, and 33 other cities, they're crossing their surge capacities. Their operational beds are taken up. What we're seeing is that wishful thinking is neither good economic policy nor good public health policy. We had initially this increase back in March, I had the authority to issue a stay-at-home order and we did quickly. But since then the state reopened, now we know too early, too much, took away my authority to enforce these orders. And now, all I can say, recommend, ask that the community stay home, of course isn't as effective and is not appropriate at the level of crisis we're facing right now. Today, restaurants are still open. Indoor events can take place, no matter the size. And so that's the issue that I'm facing here. You have been urging Texas governor Greg Abbott to issue a mask order, he's now done that for most of Texas. That Texans must re-focus on slowing the spread without closing down again, do you think those masks, that mask order will make a difference? I'm sure a mask order will make some difference. I'm grateful that that's happened now. That said, as long as we're doing as little as possible. And hoping for the best we're always going to be chasing this thing. We're always going to be behind and the virus will always outrun us. So what we need right now is to do what works, stay-at-home order. We don't room to experiment. We don't have room for incrementalization. Nor should we wait for all the hospital beds to fill. And all these people to die before we take drastic action. We need to take that action. We need to give ourselves the time to bring those numbers down and to learn from communities that have done things successfully. We have to be proactive with this virus. We need to be real about what's happening. And I hope it's a word of warning to other communities, too, there's no shortcuts. If we stayed shut for longer, if we opened more slowly, we would have been more a sustainable place in our economy. I'm glad these steps are being taken but they're not enough. We have to re-think the strategy. The reason we're here is because of that least common denominator strategy. And judge, you got enormous pushback when you called for masks. You got pushback on social media and from the governor, a look at governor Abbott's Twitter feed has the same kind of reaction, so will people really follow this? I hope so. You know, part of the challenge with this has been the mixed messages from different levels of government, so of course this makes it harder. Early on, everyone worked together on stay-at-home and then things became very political and these mixed messages. That's why I want to be very clear with the community. Right now, folks need to stay home and I need the authority to enforce it. An enforcement provision. It's not a recommendation. The idea is not to go and see how many fines we can collect. Put cops on every street corner. It sends a signal when you have things that are enforced. We have to get in line. We shouldn't be waiting for our healthcare workers to be overburdened, for icus to be full. Since when did that become the way we deal with these crises, especially in a community as compassionate as this one that dealt with hurricane Harvey. Okay, thank you very much. Judge for joining us. Finally, let's turn to Arizona, the state with highest daily new cases per capita in the country. Phoenix mayor Kate gallago joins us. Your county that includes Phoenix has by far the most covid cases in Arizona. 10,000 at the beginning of June to over 55,000 now. So what happened there? We opened way too early in Arizona. We were one of the last states to go to stay-at-home and one of the first to re-emerge. And we re-emerged from 0 to 60. We had crowded nightclubs handing out free champagne, no masks. Our 20-year-old to 44-year-olds, which is my own demographic, led the explosion and we seen such growth in that area. Lot of people going to large family gatherings. And infect their family members. We're in a crisis relating to testing. I visited a testing facility this weekend. People waiting still eight hours. It's really, really difficult. I've been spending time begging Walgreens to opening up testing, because it's awful to see people waiting in a car while you're feeling sick, people were running out of gas. And this is as many months in, we've asked FEMA if they could come and do community-based testing here. We were told they're moving away from that, which feels like they're declaring victory while we're in crisis mode. Do you think a stay-at-home order should be given? Our governor has pre-empted us from closing different types of businesses, or moving restaurants to takeout only. We want as many tools as possible. We had to beg to be able to implement masking orders. We were originally pre-empted for doing that. But I'm thankful the governor did allow cities to put masking orders in place, which I think will help if you have seen some of the data from communities that had them. Mask slows the spread and indicate to us that we're still in a crisis and have to take this seriously. When nightclubs were open it sent the signal that we had again defeated covid and obviously that's not the case. And many mixed messages coming from all over the place, is that a problem? It is. President trump was in my community, chose not to wear mask, and he's having large events while I am trying to push people, that you need to stay at home and events with more than 10 people are dangerous per the centers for disease control. Thank you very much for joining us, mayor. We wish you the best of luck.
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