The party is over on Ocean Drive. The Miami Beach “Croisette” with its colorful Art Deco architecture is only a shadow of itself at the end of July. Due to Covid-19, a curfew intended to prevent gatherings of revelers, which the avenue is customary, has been established for 8 p.m. each evening. Along the artery lined with palm trees, the terraces are idling. As they can, with plenty of drinks offered at reduced prices, the restaurant owners keep passers-by. But that is not enough to fill the tables.
Sitting in his establishment without clients, Jonathan Plutzik, owner of the Betsy Hotel, indicates that he is lowering the curtain until November. ” I don’t want to reopen in a week if it’s to close right afterhe said. I prefer to open on solid foundations. We have to make sure we get to the other side ”.
The numbers of new cases and deaths in 24 hours soar
That it seems far, this ” other side “. With an average of around 10,000 new cases per day for the past month, Florida is one of the states where the Covid-19 pandemic is hitting the hardest this summer. United States, country itself the most damaged. On Wednesday July 29, the symbolic bar of 150,000 deaths was crossed there.
The “Sunshine State”, to this day, holds the sad record for the largest number of new positive cases recorded in one day in the country (15,300, July 12). On Wednesday July 29, he also recorded his highest number of deaths in 24 hours (216).
In the south of the state, Miami-Dade County is considered “The epicenter of the epicenter”. The intensive care of hospitals there is almost saturated, pushing some elected officials to ask for the installation of field hospitals. ” The current approach is to wait for the sick to come to the hospital and count our life support devices. We will be overwhelmed! “, fears Dr. Jack Michel, chairman of the board of directors of Larkin Community Hospital, in Miami. “Rather, we need to focus on educating the public to prevent future infections”, he recommends.
For healthcare professionals, the situation is not surprising. Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, a relative of Donald Trump, was among the first to decide to end confinement in his state. Strategic for presidential With its 29 highly contested voters, Florida is a political jackpot for both parties. As a result, sports halls, restaurants and shops have gradually reopened from May, with restrictions.
Rather than prepare for a possible second wave, the governor has multiplied declarations of self-satisfaction at the low number of deaths. At the end of April, he was even received at the White House.
Multigenerational households, a breeding ground for the virus
Three months later, the virus found favorable ground in Miami-Dade County, one of the largest multigenerational households in the United States, due to the size of the Hispanic and Haitian communities, where generational cohabitation is frequent. But Miami and Miami Beach are also hotspots for American youth, and water gatherings were held there by the hundreds in the street, on boats and in swimming pools, during the weekend of July 4, marking the independence of the country. They acted like so many sources of contamination.
Jon Jean-Baptiste, an American of Haitian origin, lives with his two brothers, his parents and his ninety-year-old grandfather. At home, no one took into account the calls for precaution. ” Haitians of my parents’ generation, born in Haiti, do not believe in modern medicine. They fight against the virus with herbal concoctions », explains the young man. Her whole family fell ill, infected by her mother who works in a hospital. ” I managed to convince them to get tested, he continues, but they felt judged. Covid is a taboo subject in the community ”.
The concern is shared in Homestead, a poor and rural town south of Miami, where Claudia Gonzalez, a member of the Farmworkers Association of Florida, is busy loading her car with dozens of meals for the sick. ” We are delivering more than 300 this week, she says, and the demand is only growing “. Much of Homestead’s population harvests the fruits and vegetables that nourish Florida and the rest of the country. ” They sometimes live with two families per apartment to pay the rent. To go to the fields, they pile up in vehicles ”, says Claudia Gonzalez.
Undocumented farm workers, forced to work “even if they are sick”
The status of these largely Hispanic and undocumented workers complicates their care. In Florida, Covid-19 testing centers require presentation of a driver’s license, which many of these workers do not have. ” Even sick, they go to work. Otherwise, they lose their source of income and can no longer feed their loved ones who remain in their country ”, underlines Guadalupe de la Cruz, of the Quaker American Friends Service Committee association.
“We feel neglected by the authorities, she continues. We need quality care, financial aid, support for childcare, paid sick leave and the establishment of safe working conditions by employers. “
Since the virus explosion, residents of the county have lived to the rhythm of poorly readable announcements. The regulations on wearing a mask and curfews vary from one municipality to another, and even from street to street. To make matters worse, Ron DeSantis refuses to declare the obligation to wear the mask throughout the state, and wants to reopen schools in Florida at the start of the school year in August.
Two week wait for test results
The screening system has been strengthened, but the results take an average of two weeks to arrive, due to high demand. ” This wave of contamination could not have been avoided, but it could undoubtedly have been better managed. I have the impression that many of our leaders think the virus will just go away ”, estimates Suzie Jean, public health student and member of a team of 1,500 volunteer tracers recruited by Larkin hospital to identify the sources of contamination, and fill the void left by the authorities.
This lack of preparation will leave traces. Tourism, the region’s lungs, is suffering. And the fight against the disease has pushed coastal municipalities to cut their budgets dedicated to the fight against the effects of climate change. The population lives with the specter of reconfinement. ” Some countries have favored humans in their response to the virus. The United States, Florida in particular, chose the economy, summarizes Frédéric Bernerd, nurse in Miami and president of the solidarity association Entraide Floridienne. This approach, as we can see today, did not prevent the economy from being affected ”.
Over 150,000 deaths in the United States
Six months after the declaration of an international health emergency, on January 30, by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States crossed, on Wednesday July 29, the threshold of 150,000 deaths recorded from Covid-19.
The country, which announced its first death at the end of February, has recorded more than 4.42 million cases of infection since the start of the pandemic.
Over 24 hours, the United States deplored, Wednesday, 1,267 deaths. The day before, the daily toll had risen to nearly 1,600 dead, a level more reached for two and a half months.
On Tuesday July 28, the United States recorded more than 68,000 new cases, a total close to the highest levels on record (75,821, July 17).
Florida recorded 216 new deaths on Wednesday July 29 new coronavirus, a record in this state. A total of 451,423 people are officially infected there, out of 21 million inhabitants.