By Mayor George “Bud” Scholl (Monday, May 25, 2020)
Residents of Sunny Isles Beach,
Good news! I am pleased to report that progress is being made to achieve a June 1 opening of our beaches and pools. A lot of work has been put in to prepare for the beaches throughout Miami-Dade County to reopen. There have been several calls between the coastal cities, counties, public health officials, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, and his senior staff members. This past Sunday we participated in another call to review the draft beach reopening guidelines that the County has proposed.
As I reported in the past, the City of Sunny Isles Beach does not control our beach. Miami-Dade County holds the responsibility to manage the beaches within its boundaries, which was granted to the County by the State of Florida. The State has ultimate ownership of the beach, with the Governor having the final word. Mayor Gimenez indicated this past week that he was going to allow beaches to reopen on June 1 with all appropriate rules for the pandemic in place. In a separate message from our City Manager, we will convey the final rules and regulations for the use of the beach once they are issued by Miami-Dade County this week. I urge all our residents to please follow these rules, otherwise the County could be forced to close the beach again.
Below are some of the main takeaways from the draft regulations that have been conveyed and will be set forth by the County, but are still subject to final approval:
- Anyone going to the beach will need to have a facial covering upon arrival.
- If you are maintaining 6 feet of distance for sunbathing and walking (except with those from the same household), then no facial covering will be required.
- If 6 feet of distance is not maintained, then facial coverings on the beach will be required.
- Facial coverings will be required when using public restrooms.
The other issue we have been strongly advocating for is the reopening of pools in condominiums and hotels. Again, the closure of pools in condos and hotels is mandated by the County. Coming into our Sunday call, Mayor Gimenez was opposed to reopening pools. We had a very robust discussion around the fact that if pools can be reopened on the same date as the beaches, there will likely be far less pressure on the beach. I explained that many condominium residents prefer their own pool area to the beach. Additionally, pools have chlorinated water, so they are less susceptible to the spreading of the virus, and most pool deck areas can be properly arranged for social distancing. Some of the other mayors, County Commissioner Sally Heyman and I all spoke strongly about this issue and by the end of the two-hour Zoom call, Mayor Gimenez indicated that he would agree to also allow pools to be opened on June 1. This has not been set forth in an order yet and rules have not been proposed, but Mayor Gimenez’s acknowledgment of this change was significant enough that I felt it warranted letting everyone know what had been discussed.
As I have previously written and we all know, these are extremely difficult times for all of us. I remain genuinely concerned for our community and country as we attempt to navigate through these unprecedented issues. Please remain vigilant. Every one of us has contributed to flattening the curve by adhering to CDC, City, State and County recommended guidelines. Most of us are getting very tired of sheltering in place and all of the other restrictions placed upon us. However, the Coronavirus is not gone and will not go away as we relax these restrictions. We have not beaten the Coronavirus; we simply slowed its spread by restricting our activities. As a matter of fact, in all likelihood, we will experience waves of resurgence of the virus over the coming months. This is inevitable as we open back up and create much more public interaction. Continue to follow the guidelines of protection for yourself, your family and your community.
What has made this virus so unpredictable is that many of us have or have had the virus and do not even know it since we did not exhibit any symptoms (commonly referred to as asymptomatic). As we attempt to reopen daily activity, the asymptomatic carriers are the ones that concern me the most. We tend to let our guard down when we feel well and that is when we can spread it to more vulnerable loved ones.
At OneBlood, on May 18, we started testing all blood donations for the COVID-19 antibody, resulting in between 2,000 and 3,000 tests per day. The presence of the antibody in your bloodstream would indicate you have had the virus or been exposed to it at a meaningful level. We are discovering significant numbers of blood donors who test positive for the antibody but never exhibited any symptoms of the virus. Fortunately, individuals are not at risk of contracting COVID-19 through the blood donation process or via a blood transfusion, since respiratory viruses are generally not known to be transmitted by donation or transfusion. However, knowing there are meaningful numbers of asymptomatic carriers in our communities demonstrates that we all need to continue to be as careful as we can be for the foreseeable future. We simply cannot know who is spreading the virus just by checking for symptoms.
As your City government, we will continue to do our absolute best to keep our community and its residents safe. Thank you and stay healthy.