Florida Politics: “Miami-Dade mayoral candidate Daniella Levine Cava qualifies for 2020 ballot via petition”

Miami-Dade mayoral candidate Daniella Levine Cava has become the first-ever candidate for that office to qualify for the ballot via petition.

“We’ve reached a major milestone in our campaign’s march toward a better Miami-Dade,” Levine Cava announced in a release late Wednesday.

“For over a year we have worked our hearts out to mount a historic grassroots movement that reflects the best of this community. Over 20,000 residents from all parts of Miami-Dade have joined our effort and signed the candidate petition to have my name on the 2020 ballot — and because of them, it will be!”

Candidates are only required to submit 14,254 signatures to qualify for the 2020 ballot. That number equals signatures from 1% of of total registered electors in Miami-Dade County. Levine Cava had until April 28 to submit those petitions.

Levine Cava — who currently represents District 8 on the Miami-Dade County Commission — was able to cross the threshold even as the coronavirus has largely put the race on hold.

“I am eternally grateful to every single volunteer and supporter who helped us get here, especially during these difficult times — this milestone belongs to them,” Levine Cava’s statement continued.

“This election is squarely a choice between our past challenges and a bold future. The crisis we face today only sheds light on why the choice our community makes in their next County Mayor is extremely critical. As we look to heal the hurt, comfort the anxious and rebuild shattered businesses, we need a Mayor who will bridge coalitions, lift up every sector of Miami-Dade County, has the compassion to lead with conviction and is ready to execute a plan that draws from the strength within our community to get us through what will be some of the hardest times in modern history.

“That’s the track record I have in this community for nearly 40-years and I am ready and energized to get the job done because the August election is in 110 days and vote by mail ballots go out in less than 75 days.”

Levine Cava is one of 11 candidates filed to compete in the 2020 contest to replace term-limited Mayor Carlos Giménez. She’s been among the better fundraisers in the contest, though still trails former Mayor Alex Penelas in overall money raised.

View the original article here.

South Dade Newsleader: “South Dade Leaders Planning for Recovery “

The South Dade Chamber of Commerce hosted a conference call on the economic recovery strategy for south Dade on Monday April 20.

Panelists included the Mayors Steve Losner of Homestead, Tim Meerbott of Cutler Bay and Otis Wallace of Florida City, County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, Peter England of the Economic Development Council of South Dade (EDC) and Karen Freeman of Synergi Partners.

Chamber Executive Director Kerry Black served as moderator.

Black said the Chamber entered a partnership with Synergi after Hurricane Irma. The company is the largest tax credit and disaster relief aid provider in the country. It will analyze a business’ eligibility for credits on a contingency fee and assist with applications for a fee.

To the topic of how to help businesses recover and reopen, Mayor Wallace said, “We won’t know the situation without testing. Our story is not unique; many small businesses have shut down. It’s hoped the federal stimulus will help the local economy.”

Florida City’s Community Development Agency director Jon Ward said a further discussion of the recent HUD guidance on the $5 billion more for CDBG monies was needed to refocus community planning.

District 8 County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava said, “This started as a health crisis, went to an economic crisis and now we’re in a humanitarian crisis.”

The Commissioner was hopeful federal legislation this week would bring new funding for paycheck protection loans guaranteed by the government.

“The funds were tapped out in three weeks,” she said. “It’s a fantastic program that allows businesses through a forgivable loan to cover all their operating expenses. They can cover their employees on it and not open unless an essential business and the employees still collect their checks – and could then be deployed to volunteer in the community!”

‘Miami-Dade County has been aggressive on the food front,” Commissioner Levine-Cava said. “Seniors received 1.5 million meals as of today. The County committed $900,000 to purchase produce from our local farmers that was not being distributed.”

“Twenty-six County libraries including Homestead are receiving unemployment compensation applications that are then express mailed to the government,” said the Commissioner. “At least you know your application was received and is being processed. I’m still trying to persuade the Governor to make the benefits retroactive to the date of job loss.”

“Also the County will not enforce evictions for either residential or

commercial properties during an emergency like this,” Levin-Cava said. “The County will not turn off anyone’s water and will waive late fees. The same with FPL electric – the bills are deferred.”

The Commissioner said the Beacon Council put together a list of business economic recovery resources and Axis Helps of Urban Impact Lab provides individual coaching for small businesses.

Homestead Mayor Steve Losner said, “Homestead now has a testing site manned by CHI on Mowry Street that’s open Monday through Wednesday from 10 am to 1pm.

The testing has a lag time of five days or more, so sometime this week we can start to get a true handle on what our infection rate is.”

“On the humanitarian need, I cannot overstate the impact of Farm Share here and statewide,” said Mayor Losner. “They’ve distributed over 11 million pounds of food, at least one-third in Miami Dade County. There’s another Rotary distribution with them this Saturday and we expect at least 1200 families to be served.”

The Mayor was cautious about reopening businesses, saying, “We must be very methodical because once that quarantine genie is out of the bottle, we’ll never get it back. We may have a permanent migration to working from home but then that would help with the transit problems.”

Mayor Wallace put in a word promoting the federal census during the call. “The Census helps us get the resources we need based on our population but it’s taken a back seat to the coronavirus situation. I encourage people to fill out the forms.”

Mayor Losner agreed. “The City has been proactive on social media about the Census and I’ve asked the manager to prepare a trilingual flyer to be distributed with donated food encouraging participation. This is nonpolitical. It’s so important that our numbers are better reflected.”

Executive Director Peter England of the EDC of South Dade asked for responses to the Council’s questionnaire to develop good local information for promoting job creation.

“A recent initiative we’ve worked on with Commissioner Cava is to roll up the infrastructure needs of south Dade as an economic stimulus,” he said. “There is a move in Congress to come up with a massive infrastructure bill. That would put a lot of people to work.”

“It would help us as a region to put together a package of those unmet needs and take it to the congressional delegation so we can be the first in line for those funds,” said England.

“One trend that’s emerging is an increased impetus to buy locally,” England said. “There are obvious gaps in the distribution chain identified with what we’re going through with this global pandemic.”

Cutler Bay Mayor Tim Meerbott said, ‘We’ve done a really good job flattening the curve with social distancing in this environment so I think that’s going to be the new normal.”

The Mayor thought masking and limiting gathering in numbers would help protect businesses. He thought it was time to consider how to operate business safely in this environment.

“We’ve changed practices a little, keeping the government up and running,” said Mayor Meerbott. “We need to be paying attention to the economy and what’s happening with business.” Mayor Meerbott said testing could be increased a great deal as there would be no vaccine for the virus for quite some time.

Director Black said the Chamber was constantly in contact with all elected officials on new business funding particularly funding for the area’s farmers and nursery owners.

Director England of the EDC said in conclusion, “A final note of caution; there’s a huge push to get back to work. We really need to be sure we’re safe, and our employees and our customers. We’ll never go back to business as usual. There will be a new reality, not necessarily a bad one. I’m an eternal optimist.”

View the original article here.

FLORIDA POLITICS: “Miami-Dade lawmakers disagree on push to partially reopen county”

A pair of Miami-Dade lawmakers disagreed on Miami-Dade County’s proposed partial reopening of recreational spaces amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava joined a Monday afternoon call to discuss the need for additional testing capacity before the state moves to a widespread reopening.

The duo was asked by Doug Hanks of the Miami Herald whether either opposes Miami-Dade’s plan to open up parks, marinas and other areas to individual recreational activity.

Levine Cava — who holds a nonpartisan office but is one of the more liberal members of the County Commission — said she would back a partial, monitored reopening of the county.

“I believe that we do need to provide recreational opportunities and that as long as there is wide open space, the enforcement of social distancing, and monitoring, that we can open up a bit more,” Levine Cava said.

“However, that needs to be very closely monitored. That is why the beaches are not appropriate, because they have not been well-managed.”

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez said Sunday there is “no timeline” yet for opening up beaches, meaning the county is not yet ready to follow in the footsteps of North Florida.

But Levine Cava says she supports allowing people to use walking trails and biking trails, so long as they refrained from shared equipment and contact sports.

Mucarsel-Powell, a Democrat, disagreed, showing that the current debate on reopening is not a strict matter of partisan disagreement.

“I don’t think that we should be discussing opening any public spaces at this point,” Mucarsel-Powell responded.

Levine Cava did include a caveat that reopened spaces must be monitored to ensure social distancing protocols are followed. But Mucarsel-Powell argued that requirement is impractical.

“The moment you open any public space, you’re going to see huge numbers of people and we’re going to have to have law enforcement all over the place,” she said.

“We don’t have the proper infrastructure in place to make sure that we’re enforcing 6-foot distancing at a public park. Imagine having Miami-Dade County police all over public spaces making sure that people have that distance.”

The Congresswoman said she would continue to push for restrictions to remain in place until more widespread testing was available and hospitals were fully stocked to prevent any overwhelming of the system.

Dr. John Norris, a physician in Monroe County — which covers the Keys — also voiced concern regarding a rushed reopening.

“If we suddenly open everything up, or if we make the population think that we’re wasting their time with no test kits, they’re going to come out and we’re going to get drowned,” Norris said.

But he also backed Levine Cava’s notion that individuals need to have some sort of outlet while the majority of society remains shut down.

“A number of our population is getting frustrated,” Norris said. “They don’t see the testing. They don’t see things changing. They see their bank accounts dwindling. They see the difficulty in just sitting there and wondering, ‘Are things going to get better?’”

The participants did agree that expanded testing capacity is a key to moving forward. Current testing remains limited, meaning officials don’t have a complete count of who is carrying the virus. That’s led to the widespread closures as a precaution.

In a call later Monday, state Rep. Javier Fernández said that testing is key not just to allow Floridians’ lives to return to normal, but will also be necessary to reboot the state’s crucial tourism industry.

“We’re going to have a crisis of confidence that’s wrapped into this health pandemic,” Fernández.

“To the extent that we have more universal testing and we can reassure the traveling public that we’re not a hot spot, that we are a destination they can come and visit safely, it’s going to accelerate the pathway to recovery.”

The debate on how and what and when to reopen will remain a hot topic while lawmakers, health experts and the population at large continue to assess how best to handle COVID-19. But Mucarsel-Powell argued reopening too quickly could spark another spike in infections, delaying a full return to normalcy even further.

“I understand that we all want to return to our previous, pre-[coronavirus] lives,” Mucarsel-Powell added. “But easing precautions without public health infrastructure poses a danger to our public health and it could extend the pandemic and do greater damage to our economy in the long run.”

View the original article here.

MIAMI HERALD: “Coronavirus hasn’t swamped Miami-Dade hospitals, helping fuel push to reopen parks”

Coronavirus patients haven’t swamped Miami-Dade hospitals yet, a trend that’s helping Mayor Carlos Gimenez frame a plan to eventually ease restrictions on parks, marinas and other recreational activities.

For now, there are far more beds awaiting COVID-19 patients than are occupied by them. More than two dozen hospitals participating in a twice-daily survey by Miami-Dade reported Wednesday that coronavirus patients occupy about 28 percent of the available intensive-care beds.

But as newly discovered COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Miami-Dade and across Florida, local hospitals haven’t yet shown a consistent decline in patients infected with the virus.

The total number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has dropped from a high 720 on Saturday to 654 on Wednesday. That’s still nearly 40 percent larger than the number of COVID-19 patients that hospitals reported when the hospital survey began on April 5. State COVID-19 figures show Miami-Dade’s hospitalization growth slowing down from last week, but still expanding at about 9 percent as of Wednesday.

Gimenez this week cited encouraging hospital trends in announcing his “Moving to a New Normal” initiative to create a strategy for lifting restrictions that closed businesses and restricted where residents could travel in public. “We’re seeing a light at the end of this COVID-19 tunnel, starting with the number of hospitalizations, which are steadying in Miami-Dade County,” he said in a video address Monday.

On Wednesday, he held a private teleconference with elected leaders, Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Commission, doctors, and others to discuss how to ease closures on parks, marinas, beaches and golf courses.

Gimenez asked for recommendations by Friday for a strategy that would tie reopening some recreational spots to meeting public-health benchmarks. “It will probably be a slow easing,” said Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez, who participated in the meeting. “We’re all in agreement that the health experts first have to feel comfortable with it.”

Bermudez said medical authorities on the call, which included representatives of the Florida Department of Health, said Miami-Dade’s COVID-19 numbers aren’t showing a green light yet for looser restrictions.

“They felt we’re not there yet, that they wanted to wait until the peak,” he said. “The numbers have gotten better, but they’re not where they feel comfortable.”

In a statement Wednesday night, Gimenez said decisions on lifting restrictions will be based on meeting “statistical metrics” showing that fewer rules are needed. He told sports radio host Andy Slater later that night that the “party nature” of beaches would probably make them most challenging to reopen, but that some recreational areas would be available again “in the not too distant future.”

Daniella Levine Cava, a Miami-Dade commissioner who has been a top critic of Gimenez’s COVID-19 response, said she supported the idea of opening the areas of parks that don’t encourage close contact by visitors. “I believe giving our community access to paths where people can bike, run and take a walk is responsible, and avoids people on the roads and crowding on sidewalks,” she said.

Tying a strategy to lift some recreation restrictions to targets on hospital statistics would let Gimenez announce a plan that would take effect as numbers improve.

Hospital executives said the county reports capture what they’re seeing during the coronavirus pandemic: a steady increase in cases that hasn’t caused a crisis, but hasn’t shown signs of retreat either.

“As you’ve seen in the figures we’ve released, the number of COVID-positive patients in our hospitals has increased slightly but steadily almost every day,” said Matthew Pinzur, a vice president at Jackson Health, the county’s public hospital system. “We still have ample capacity in beds, ventilators, and supplies to safely manage for the foreseeable future, but no one can be certain when and how this will reach its peak.”

‘A LIGHT AT THE END OF THIS TUNNEL’

Miami-Dade isn’t requiring hospitals to report the number of patients who die of COVID-19 while under their care. Mortality statistics tracked by Florida show COVID-19 deaths still rising steadily in Miami-Dade, a measure that likely captures infection rates from weeks ago.

The latest tally of 155 deaths released Wednesday night is more than double where it was last Wednesday. The state death count is also lower than the COVID-19 fatalities tracked daily by the county’s Emergency Operations Center, which reported 178 deaths Wednesday night.

The county this week started blood tests for residents selected at random, in an effort to estimate what share of the population has antibodies produced by COVID-19. That could help determine how far the virus has spread.

Miami-Dade leads the state in COVID-19 cases. A three-day average of state statistics shows known COVID-19 cases in Miami-Dade up about 5 percent a day, down from a growth rate in the teens last week. Case growth tends to rise and fall with the amount of testing, which is growing at about 5 percent, too.

Even a decline in new cases or coronavirus patients admitted to Miami-Dade hospitals would mean only temporary relief if the encouraging numbers prompt local governments to reverse closures too quickly. As businesses and public spaces reopen, increased interaction can spark more intense spread of the virus. That would then lead to more demand on hospitals.

For now, the more than 8,000 known COVID-19 cases in Miami-Dade have not filled hospitals or led to shortages of critical-care beds or ventilators, according to the surveys that Gimenez, through an emergency order issued on April 4, demanded hospitals submit to the county.

For Jackson’s three hospitals, the volume of COVID-19 patients has increased by about 30 percent since early April, according to the survey, to 152. Of those, 67 occupy intensive-care beds, leaving 115 ICU beds empty as of Wednesday for patients with the most severe symptoms.

HOSPITALS READY FOR A COVID-19 SURGE

At the Baptist hospital system, COVID-19 admissions are down slightly from the start of April, from 70 to 67. New patients have kept pace with discharges, with 55 new COVID-19 patients being admitted and 57 leaving the system since early April. Despite the stable short-term trend, Baptist administrators say they’re planning for more demand as the virus spreads.

“Based on models, we are continuing to prepare for a surge in the coming weeks,” said communications director Georgi Morales Pipkin.

At Miami Beach’s Mount Sinai Medical Center, COVID-19 cases have been creeping up this week, climbing to 48 after being in the mid-30s last week. About half of Mount Sinai’s COVID-19 patients are in intensive care, leaving 58 open ICU beds.

David Farcy, Mount Sinai’s director of emergency medicine, said it’s important to link encouraging hospital trends to efforts across the community to slow the spread of the virus — measures that will be crucial to prevent a future wave of cases that could still overwhelm healthcare providers.

“I want to attribute this to people socially distancing. People really, really following that — and hand washing,” he said. “Even though we’re going to have a surge … the prediction is not the thousands of cases. That’s great news.”

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FLORIDA POLITICS: “Daniella Levine Cava praises residents’ coronavirus response in new campaign video”

Miami-Dade mayoral candidate Daniella Levine Cava is out with a new video praising the region’s response to the novel coronavirus.

The one-minute long video cuts between responsive actions taken by the community and a speech by President Barack Obama commemorating the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

“President Obama reminded us of ‘the basic notion that I am my brother’s keeper, and I am my sister’s keeper, and that we look out for each other and that we’re all in this together,’” reads a release on the video, quoting Obama’s remarks.

“Since the COVID-19 crisis began, our community has shown time and again that we do just that. From the health care workers and first responders on the front lines to those of us who do our part simply by staying home, we’ve all stepped up. This is the Miami-Dade County I know and love.”

Miami-Dade is the hardest-hit county in the state, with more than 100 confirmed dead as of Monday night. The county leads the state in confirmed cases, accounting for more than one-third of the state’s total.

Levine Cava is one of several candidates competing to succeed the term-limited Mayor Carlos Giménez.

“This pandemic has been difficult for all of us,” Levine Cava’s campaign said in an email blast highlighting the video.

“Much of our economy is shut down, and many of us have seen loved ones get sick or pass away. But even in the face of these great challenges, we’ve come together. This crisis has brought out the best of our community. This fight isn’t over, but I know we’ll continue to respond to this virus as we have responded to every hardship we’ve faced: together.”

Though the campaign has technically suspended TV and online advertising, the video does end with a note that it was paid for by the campaign.

Levine Cava currently serves on the Miami-Dade County Commission. She’s called for increasingly significant action in response to the outbreak, from ramping up testing in the region to urging Miami-Dade to consider a full vote-by-mail election.

She’s also volunteered to help feed those in need as social distancing measures continue to impact workers and the economy at large.

The campaign news release continues by thanking health care workers, first responders and others who have borne the brunt of the difficulty in responding to the virus.

“I’m immensely grateful to the heroes and heroines who have helped protect our community on the frontlines,” the statement said.

“More than anything, I’m proud to call Miami-Dade home. It’s a privilege to live in a community that comes together to care for each other during a time of crisis.”

View the original article here.

MIAMI TODAY NEWS: “Miami-Dade Transit ridership falls 80%”

Miami-Dade Transit ridership has fallen 80% below normal due to business closure mandates, social distancing and other Covid-19 prevention measures, county Transportation and Public Works (TPW) Director Alice Bravo said.

That’s a loss of about 5.4 million monthly riders, with ridership now at 1.3 million, based on last year’s system-wide numbers.

“It’s holding steady at that level,” she told Miami Today.

TPW eliminated fares and reduced services across systems, first advising Special Transportation Service users to take only essential trips and limit use to one rider per vehicle. Metrobus cuts and elimination of highway express routes followed.

Metrorail and Metromover saw similar cuts, as TPW ran fewer vehicles and ended service at 10 p.m.

Last week, TPW cut overnight Metrobus service, substituting Uber and Lyft vouchers whose cost, Ms. Bravo said, isn’t yet known.

Most agree cuts were needed, but some say notice was too short.

When Covid-19 passes there may be a “new normal,” she said, as people adjust to work from home and residual fear of infection holds down ridership.

Economic difficulties historically add riders. Another boost – the Better Bus Project, a county-wide Metrobus route network redesign by nonprofit Transit Alliance – is nearly done.

“This is the time for transit to come back stronger than ever with a redesigned system,” alliance Director Azhar Chougle said.

Some, including Commissioners Daniella Levine Cava and Eileen Higgins, suggest Metrobus remain free for a time so users can learn the new routes and riders can join. Ms. Bravo said it’s too soon to say if that’ll happen.

“In the financial crisis in 2009, ridership grew dramatically as people couldn’t afford cars and fuel prices were high,” she said. “We’ll have to see the situation evolve more before answering that question.”

View the original article here.

NBC Miami: “Miami-Dade to Start At-Home Coronavirus Testing for Some Residents Tuesday”

Senior citizens and members of the disabled community in parts of Miami-Dade County will be able to start getting tested at home Tuesday for the coronavirus.

The county will begin offering tests for anyone 18 years of age or older who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 that makes an appointment.

Residents who live in the county but not within the city of Miami, which started its own at-home testing program last month, can make the appointments starting Monday at 9 a.m. by calling 305-499-8767.

The news comes as one drive-thru testing site in the county, located at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, is also expanding who it will allow to be tested as part of the state of Florida taking over funding of the site from the federal government.

Mike Jachles, chair of the Florida Association of Public Information Officers, said the site will allow COVID-19 testing for all age groups so long as they show symptoms of the virus or had close contacts with someone who recently tested positive starting Monday morning.

According to Jachles, no appointment will be necessary. Those that choose to be tested will be required to arrive in a car and provide proper identification, as only 400 tests will be administered at the site. Cars will be cutoff once capacity is reached. 

View the original article here.

Miami Herald: “Have coronavirus symptoms? Hard Rock Stadium is expanding its testing criteria”

Hard Rock Stadium is expanding its testing criteria Monday to include anyone with COVID-19 symptoms.

Starting at 9 a.m. Monday, the following people can be tested at the stadium, 347 Don Shula Dr. in Miami Gardens:

▪ Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of age

▪ Anyone with an underlying health condition, regardless of COVID-19 symptoms

▪ Anyone who was in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, whether or not they are experiencing symptoms

▪ All first responders and healthcare workers, including long-term care facility staff members

The testing site opens daily at 9 a.m. and will continue to be drive-thru only, which means anyone who wants to be tested must arrive and stay in a vehicle with a working window. The testing site also transitioned last week to a throat swab COVID-19 test instead, which officials say is easier to do on most patients, including senior citizens and children.

Health officials say the symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, include fever, coughing and shortness of breath.

Previously, testing at the stadium was only for healthcare workers, first responders and residents 65 and older who had symptoms. The change comes after Florida announced it would be taking over the operations of the federal testing site.

The site does about 400 tests per day. On Monday, it reached capacity at 10:34 a.m. Those who were screened and approved for testing prior to the line closing will still be tested.

The state has more than 19,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. As of Sunday night, the most confirmed cases and deaths are in Miami-Dade County with 7,058 known cases of the disease and 97 deaths.

View the original article here.

NBC MIAMI: “State Asked Miami-Dade to Restrict Information of COVID-19 Deaths”

The number of coronavirus deaths in Florida is growing – with nearly 500 reported by state health officials Monday. 

But a closer look at the Florida Department of Health’s data revealed some COVID-19 deaths are not being counted by the state.

NBC 6 Investigators obtained a list of deaths linked to the virus from the Miami-Dade and Broward medical examiner’s offices. In both counties, the number of deaths related to COVID-19 was higher than the number reported by the state during the same period.

“They only include certain cases as ‘Broward’ cases even though they die here in Broward,” said the county’s Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Craig Mallak, when asked about the discrepancy. “But how they do that is a mystery to me.”

Medical Examiners record all COVID-19 related deaths in their respective counties, no matter where the person lived. The state, however, takes that detail into account when providing information to the public.

In an email, the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) explained its count also includes all deceased individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, even if the virus was not the cause of death. 

The state’s approach is throwing the numbers off. 

Around noon Monday, the state reported 97 COVID-19 deaths in Miami-Dade while the county medical examiner’s office attributed 138 deaths to the virus. In Broward, the medical examiner’s office said 97 deaths were linked to the virus while the state listed 76 deaths in its report.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava is worried the state’s numbers are undermining efforts at the county level to stop the spread of the virus. 

“We do have some encouraging data that cases seem to have flattened in terms of hospital admissions, but every single data point is important for the public to hear, to understand, and to take into consideration,” Levine Cava said.

NBC 6 Investigators learned that the Florida Department of Health asked Miami-Dade authorities to not release records that show the deaths in the county. These records had been requested by NBC 6 through a public records request.

“I’m writing to advise you that the county would like to honor the Florida Department of Health’s request that the Requested Documents not be disclosed, while also protecting the county from any liability as the public records requests were directed to the county,” Miami-Dade County Attorney, Abigail Price Williams wrote in a letter to the department’s general counsel.

The letter was sent a day after NBC 6 requested the records from the Miami-Dade medical examiner’s office and asked the state about the discrepancy in the deaths’ count.  

In the letter, the Miami-Dade County Attorney acknowledged that the records requested by NBC 6 are not exempt from public disclosure under Florida law and asked the state to defend and indemnify the county moving forward.

The Florida Department of Health didn’t respond to NBC 6 questions about the letter.

The Miami-Dade medical examiner’s office eventually provided a list of deaths Monday, excluding some information.

View the original article here.