Broward County Mayor Steve Geller has described the COVID-19 situation in the county as horrifying.
Florida is now the national epicenter for the virus, accounting for about 20% of new cases. Broward and Miami-Dade Counties also lead the nation in new COVID hospitalizations, according to Mayor Geller.
Between, July 30 and August 5, Broward added 12,590 new coronavirus cases. Of the state’s now 2.7 million cases, over 281,000 have been reported in Broward County, including over 3,000 deaths.
At a recent press conference, the mayor said the recent increase in cases has pushed even more members of the community to get vaccinated. Some 72 percent of Broward’s eligible population have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Mayor Geller says Broward County residents are now rightfully scared, leading to an uptick in vaccinations.
“I am pleased to say that the vaccination rate, which went from great to horrible is going back up because people rightfully are getting scared. We had peaked for one week, with close to 175,000 vaccinations. We were under 10,000 a week. Then two weeks ago, as the [COVID-19] numbers starting scaring people, we went up to 16,000 new first-time vaccinations. Last week, we went up to 26,000,” Mayor Geller said during a press briefing on August 2.
Amid the recent spike in cases, Broward County recently imposed a mask mandate inside county buildings, at county parks, and at the county courthouse.
Mayor Geller says the local government doesn’t have the authority to impose any other restrictions due to Governor Ron DeSantis’ orders. But he says he believes that county leaders should be the ones that get to decide what is best for their residents.
“It is my opinion that local governments should be able to respond to the necessary circumstances in their areas,” he said. “The [state] doesn’t know everything, but I would appreciate them having a consistent opinion if they’re gonna say the governments closest to the people are the best ones.”
Mayor Geller said there has also been an increase in COVID-19 testing in recent weeks. In response to the renewed demand, the Florida Department of Health in Broward County recently opened six sites for drive-through or walk-up testing.