The sun-kissed beachside city of Miami in the US state of Florida has been declared as ‘the new Wuhan’ as the coronavirus spreads in the city at an enormous rate. Wuhan in China was the original epicentre of COVID-19 when the outbreak first began last December.
Around 64 000 people have been confirmed as infected in the city and approximately 2 000 are in hospital, with hundreds in intensive care.
On Sunday 12 July, the state of Florida set an unwanted US record with more than 15 000 new cases reported in one day.
Hospitals still have capacity, but there is concern
The Mayor of Miami-Dade County, Carlos Gimenez, said hospitals were under pressure, but still had capacity. The situation was, however, causing “a lot of concern”.
But Jackson Health System infectious disease expert Dr Lilian Abbo has been more forthright. Speaking to journalists, she said that “Miami is now the epicentre of the pandemic”.
“What we were seeing in Wuhan – six months ago, five months ago – now we are there [in Miami],” she said. “We really need to work on this together.”
Health guidelines are being ignored by the public
Meanwhile, Florida International University epidemiologist, Dr Aileen Marty, called the region’s situation “extremely grave”. She warned that health guidelines are being ignored and the public seemed not to be taking the situation seriously.
“They have not adhered to guidelines,” she said during a press conference also involving Mayor Gimenez. “They have been in those closed spaces without taking the appropriate precautions, and that’s the main reason we are where we are.”
There have been numerous public examples of people in Miami and elsewhere in the state mingling freely on beaches and in other public spaces without any obvious concerns for social distancing or wearing of masks.
Florida’s lockdown may have ended too early
Some experts have also been critical of the Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, saying he ordered an end to the lockdown too early. Florida’s lockdown ended on 4 May, well ahead of most other states.
In late June, DeSantis subsequently ordered that all bars be closed again.