Miami Mayor On Living With COVID-19
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
We'll check in now with Francis Suarez. He's mayor of the city of Miami. And he's been posting videos of his experiences with COVID-19.
(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)
FRANCIS SUAREZ: So far so good - no major symptoms...
(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)
SUAREZ: Last night, I was feeling a little bit of aches and pains.
(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)
SUAREZ: Good morning. Today is day three since I tested positive for the coronavirus.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And Francis Suarez joins us now on the line. Mayor, welcome to the program.
SUAREZ: Hi, Lulu. How are you?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'm well. How are you, more importantly? How are you feeling?
SUAREZ: I actually feel great. I actually feel better. Hopefully now, I've sort of turned the corner, looking to exiting quarantine, getting very close to the 14th day, which should be early to mid next week.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: How do you think you became infected? Do you know?
SUAREZ: We don't know for certain. The presumption is that I received a delegation of dignitaries, including the president of Brazil.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: This is two weeks ago.
SUAREZ: Yeah, two weeks ago - shook hands with everyone. One of the people in the delegation tested positive.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Why do you think the response to this has been so slow? Two weeks ago, you were shaking hands. You were receiving international visitors.
SUAREZ: You know, I'm not sure if I can answer that question totally. I could tell you that, you know, we in the city took dramatic action initially. We cancelled - we're the first city to cancel a major music festival. And we were criticized for that, at the time, for acting prematurely, according to some. And others went out and said, you know, Miami is open for business. And we saw just recently images of our beaches overrun by spring-breakers.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Why do you think the governor refused to act and close the beaches? Many have criticized the state response in Florida of Governor DeSantis.
SUAREZ: You know, I can't speak for the governor. I can tell you...
GARCIA-NAVARRO: His action affects you in Miami.
SUAREZ: Yeah, of course. No. And it does. And it affects me multiple ways because I don't control the beaches. Since I don't - I'm not the mayor of the city of Miami Beach. I'm the mayor of Miami. Certainly, I've called on the governor. And I've called on another elected officials and the county officials. And thankfully, they finally did it. And so we're hoping that, with what I requested as a stay-at-home order, that people start heeding that warning. Spring-breakers need to return home. The faster that we come together as a community and do the right thing and listen to the medical professionals, the faster we can go back to normalcy.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Part of the problem, as you know, is testing. You were able to be tested, but so many others...
GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...Have not been. Are you getting enough support at the federal level?
SUAREZ: We have not seen - in terms of testing, we have not seen any, at this point, help yet from any of the larger governments. And I think, by the way, it's much more prevalent than what we believe. It's impossible for me to believe that I'm only the second person that was infected in Dade County.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: What grade would you give the federal response, then, if you haven't seen the aid despite the president's promises that everyone who wants a test can get a test?
SUAREZ: Well, I think - I don't - I'm not so sure anyone's getting stellar grades at this point. It's more about us trying to figure out how we can work together to get the resources here, not just in testing but also the economic anxiety that there is in our community and our cities for those who are unable to work and who work paycheck to paycheck.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I was about to ask...
GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...How worried are you? The city of Miami encompasses, you know, affluent areas like Coconut Grove, which rely on tourism. You also have sizeable poor and immigrant communities. What can you do to help them?
SUAREZ: I'm extremely concerned. But let me tell you. I'm also getting a lot of messages on social media from people that are worried that they're being compelled to go to work when they don't feel that it's appropriate, and they don't feel that the risk is merited. All non-essential businesses should be closed in Miami-Dade County - all of them.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: A last question because you are the mayor of a city that is affected - how confident are you about the hospital infrastructure? There are already critical shortages in New York, which is being very hard hit. And there's no reason not to believe that that won't happen elsewhere in a city like yours.
SUAREZ: That is the biggest danger. People - you know, some people say, look. Well, look at you. You know, you're asymptomatic. You know, you didn't have very strong symptoms. And that's true. There are going to be people like me. But there are also going to be a lot of people in our elderly, people with compromised immune systems. And so the concern is about floating ICUs and about first responders who may not have sufficient medical, you know, personal protective equipment, etc. So my confidence will be when our residents and if our residents listen to our instructions.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was Francis Suarez, the mayor of the city of Miami. Mayor Suarez, thank you very much. And I'm glad you're much better now.
SUAREZ: Thank you.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.