KEY POINTS

  • Florida health officials said Miami has become the new "epicenter" for coronavirus thanks to the recent surge in cases
  • Miami City Mayor Francis Suarez warned city hospitals were approaching or at capacity, placing renewed strain on local healthcare systems
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continued trying to downplay the severity of the state's outbreak, assuring officials were doing everything they could

Health experts on Tuesday said Miami had become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic as cases continued to rise in the city and throughout Florida. The rapid rise in cases caused some doctors to compare the city to Wuhan during the initial outbreak in December.

As of Monday, Florida had over 282,000 confirmed cases and 4,311 reported deaths from coronavirus. Miami-Dade County accounted for 67,712 confirmed cases, and 1,143 reported deaths.

“Miami is now the epicenter of the pandemic. What we were seeing in Wuhan six months ago, five months ago, now we are there,” Dr. Lillian Abbo of Jackson Health System said during a press conference Monday. “We need your help as media communicators to help the community understand that we're just not repeating the same thing over and over just to give you trouble, we really need your help.”

Miami City Mayor Francis Suarez also spoke at the press conference about the renewed strain local hospitals are under due to the recent case surge.

“Our hospital system is essentially at its peak,” Suarez said. “It's at somewhere between 91 and 92% capacity.”

Despite the rise in cases, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been hesitant to halt reopening and has tried to assure the surge is not as bad as the numbers reflect. He referred to the various hotspots in the state, such as Miami, as “blips” during a press conference on Friday.

“We’re now at a higher blip than where we were in May and the beginning of June,” DeSantis said.

He tried to reassure residents during another press conference on Monday, saying the state was “all guns blazing” in its fight against coronavirus.

“We're gonna continue to be providing support statewide, but particularly here in South Florida where we see the epidemic is the most significant,” DeSantis said. However, his response was met with hostility from an attending protester, shouting “shame on you” and accusing DeSantis of falsifying information.

The protester, identified as Thomas Kennedy, shared his outburst on Twitter.