The Miami City Commission made a bold move last Thursday, passing an emergency order demanding that masks be worn by everyone in a public place, not just when entering a business. Ignore the order, and face a civil fine.
Good move. The order is clear and resolute, with slowing the spread of the coronavirus top of mind. Now the city needs the means to enforce it.
In fact, Miami-Dade, and every other local municipality, should follow Miami's lead and make masks mandatory in public. Walk out of your house, make sure you're wearing a mask. Period.
Unfortunately, face coverings, a critical component in stopping the virus, have become politicized and viewed by some as an infringement of their personal freedom. It's a selfish and foolish stance.
Too many people don't care that a national study suggests that between now and October, 33,000 lives could be saved if more of us wore masks.
How to enforce the city order was an issue at the commission meeting. After much discussion, commissioners agreed to set a minimum fine of $50 for a first offense, a $150 fine for a second offense and a $500 fine for a third offense. Arrest is a possibility for habitual offenders.
The recent spike in COVID-19 cases has prompted the crackdown, but there is little public questioning of whether, for the sake of the economy, South Florida opened too soon at the urging of Gov. Ron DeSantis and President Donald Trump.
No matter the numbers, the governor and local mayors have made it clear there is no going back to quarantine. Our new reality is figuring out how to survive. It would help if everyone were on board.
DeSantis did the right thing by indicating Thursday at a Tampa news conference that he is not planning to move up to the next phase of reopening just yet. That would be downright irresponsible. "We are where we are," he said. True, and it's not in a good place.
In Florida, the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to gallop at record-breaking speed. Hospital admissions are up, and lines to be tested have grown long again since reopening.
If you listen carefully, you will hear a slight shift in taking responsibility stifling transmission ― from political leaders to now the public.
The lack of firm directives from Tallahassee gave some residents tacit approval to flout the rules of physical distancing and wearing face masks.
At this point, it really is their fault that the number of cases continues to rise ― now sweeping in those between the ages of 18 and 34, who are the new younger victims of COVID-19.
And governments' inability to be everywhere at once, to enforce, say, mask requirements at the beach to slow transmission, could have been predicted. In fact, it was by a variety of national medical experts.
Again, the most diligent and responsible among us can wear masks, but how do we make others wear them? The state, and counties, reopened to get the economy going again. There's not denying that it's been hammered.
But is it working? On Thursday, Johnson & Wales University in North Miami announced it's closing. All freestanding Apple stores in South Florida also are shutting down.
Absent a strong, authoritative voice to navigate the state through this pandemic, little since reopening has been good for our ― or the economy's ― health.
The above editorial appeared in the Miami Herald. It was distributed by Tribune Content Agency.