Friday, April 17, 2020

It's been what... a month?

The Figures

April 15 2020 Source Florida Covid Dashboard

April 15 2020 Source

The Florida Dashboard paints a grim picture.  On March 17, 2020, there were 70 positive cases in the state.  By April 15, 2020, there were 22,897 and testing has barely begun.   The tests are not widespread, there is much debate as to how prevalent the virus is and how deadly the virus is.   But even with this sample size, and make no mistake, it's a sample, the news is pretty devastating.

The Response

North Bay Village was among the first communities in Florida to take direct action.  By March 12, 2020, the Village Manager Ralph Rosado had enacted the Emergency Powers provision of the Charter and took charge of the Village response.  Any South Florida municipal manager is used to the Emergency Powers since they are always used in hurricanes, but this was a new circumstance.  

North Bay Village, led by Mayor Brent Latham and Dr. Rosado, was one of the first to issue a "Safer At Home" directive that laid out the framework for social distancing and self isolation.   Closing the parks, the baywalk, and setting up time and space for residents to move outside quickly followed.   

In the meantime, the schools stopped meeting in person on March 16 and recognizing that the main source of food for many students was the school breakfast/lunch programs, the school system set up a meal distribution at TIES and Police Chief Noriega staffed it with school resource officer Amy Suarez.  During "Spring Break", the Village provided meals to children and instituted a food program for seniors through the county resources.  

There have been multiple food distributions for people in need, spearheaded by Commissioner Strout and Mayor Latham and executed by the village, staff and volunteers.  Even today, April 16, there is one in place at Village Hall.  

As neighboring towns and cities implemented curfews controlling traffic overnight, Police Chief Noriega decided to do the same here in North Bay Village to prevent the Village from becoming a gathering spot for people kicked out of the Beach and Miami, giving the officers discretion to not harass legitimate people outside but stopping gatherings.   

Throughout it all, the Village communications have been clear, timely and useful.  As we are buried under a torrent of orders and information that we could never have imagined would happen, the manager, the police, the staff, and the mayor have consistently been out there talking, listening, explaining and adjusting.   

And then it happened.  While the case load in North Bay Village is very low, less than 10 known cases, a worker at the Presidente tested positive, another on the administrative staff in North Bay Village did as well.  In both cases the Village put out a response that was serious and realistic.  

In response to the direct question "Are we safe?", the mayor pulled no punches and said "No.  No one is. That's why we keep reminding you to stay home."  This type of clear communication, unwelcome as it might seem, is exactly what a concerned, intelligent community needs.

In the meantime, the Police Department and our first responders were tested and according to an internal email sent out yesterday by the Police Chief, there has been one inconclusive positive and the rest were negative, which seems to be the result of instituting and strictly adhering to safety protocols early on.  

The Uncertain

According to the University of Washington models, Florida has not yet peaked.  We can expect peak hospitalizations around May 3.  That date has changed in the past and to a great extent it shows the success of social distancing and other measures, of which North Bay Village was an early adapter, and the date may move again.  

The key takeaway is "This isn't over."  

In the meantime, it's likely the schools will not reopen this year.  There are plans to plan for businesses reopening and how and nothing is normal.  

In fact, we need to rethink everything.   I am not going to use the cliche "The New Normal".  Instead I prefer to call it "The New Different"  

There is no question that business and markets will stay depressed for some time.  There are no miracles on the horizon.  

The commission meets next week, tentatively, remotely and need to have the conversation about what North Bay Village will look like in the near future (May, June...) and what it might be like if the planned projects and financial commitments the Village is counting on don't come through.   I expect we will see a vigorous plan for the next phase but it's too soon to know what that phase is, so for right now, the Village is functional, our garbage is being collected, our needs are being met, and that's not a bad foundation.  

That's It?! No Complaints, No Snark?

Who Wrote This and What Did You Do With Vericker?

Hell, yeah.  It's North Bay Village and North Bay Village Crazy™ stays strong.  

Over on the Facebook groups, you can see people are throwing their latex gloves in the street and even more stupidly are flushing them down toilets.

County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez took time out of their busy schedules to snipe at each over whether the exact same order should be called "Safer at Home" or "Shelter in Place", thereby wasting space, newsprint and precious brain cells on a stupid beef.

In the meantime, it turns out that former North Bay Village Manager Frank Rollason, decried as the Devil Incarnate by the previous North Bay Village ruling junta, is running the Miami-Dade Emergency Response Center and by all accounts locally and nationally doing a good job.  The former mayor, the defeated mayoral candidate, and the two useless members of the commission all expressed their admiration and apologized for how they treated him.

And Speaking of the Useless Ones 

Neither Commissioner Andreanna Jackson nor Commissioner Jose Alvarez have been seen or heard from in the last month.  Nowhere.  I mean, Safer At Home is a good idea but the other commissioners have used the time to communicate and make themselves available to help.  Not these two.

Except Jackson claims she found her soul and her soul is telling her to pay a stupid political game on the Hornsby settlement and she wants to reconsider her vote to clean up the unholy mess that she caused because apparently her soul is leading her to Chaos , the original state.  So according to a sparsely viewed Facebook post, Jackson wants to reconsider her vote for sanity in the Hornsby matter.  
Commissioner Alvarez
Andreanna Jackson

And of course, The Alternate View

There are a number of people sloping around town spreading rumors about massive, hidden infections in the Village work staff and asking "interested questions" with no intention of getting answers.   I won't name them, because I can't afford to buy a vowel, and I have some pity on how awful it must be to have so many, many personalities in one person, but I will note that if your news sources are a disgraced Village employee and two crows living in a tree on Center Bay Drive, it's probably best to retire from public discourse.  

Kevin Vericker
April 17, 2020

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