Shocking Miami Herald report raises alarm about lack of transparency and delayed response – Giménez public statements mirrored DeSantis’
In light of a shocking new report from the Miami Herald showing that the DeSantis administration kept Floridians in the dark for weeks about COVID-19, the Florida Democratic Party demands answers from the chief executive of Florida’s largest county.
REMINDER: In February, Giménez defended DeSantis and the Department of Health not releasing this information, saying: “I’m not going to sit here and criticize another agency for what they did or didn’t do….” and when pushed he got defensive for his non-answer, sputtering: “I don’t know, okay. You can ask them, okay.”
“Corrupt Carlos Giménez has followed Governor DeSantis’ lead on COVID-19 at every turn,” said FDP Deputy Communications Director Luisana Pérez Fernández. “Now that reports show the Governor hid crucial public health information from the public, Giménez must answer: when did he know about the threat that coronavirus posed to our community, and why did he defend this secrecy?”
The Herald report shows that, for almost the entirety of February, DeSantis said nothing about the looming coronavirus threat even as state officials and first responders were sounding the alarm. And this is not just a transparency issue: a Columbia University study found that moving up the response date even one week could have saved many lives.
While DeSantis was downplaying the threat or ignoring it altogether, Giménez was moving in lockstep, and even going further, in denying the potential impact of coronavirus on Miami-Dade County, which would become the hardest-hit county in Florida:
- February 27: Gimenez Warned Against Overreacting To Coronavirus, Arguing It Was A Potential Rather Than Actual Threat. “Gimenez cautioned against overreaction to a virus that remains a potential threat to Miami-Dade, rather than an actual one.” [Miami Herald, 2/27/20]
- February 27: Gimenez Claimed That He Had Not Discussed The Process Of Reporting Coronavirus Cases At His Preparedness Meeting With Local Agencies. GIMENEZ: “Frankly, we didn’t talk about the reporting process. We actually talked about how we’re going to respond to it, alright? And, again, I feel that the more information that gets to the public the better, the true information that gets to the public the better. Because then we don’t have rumors. And rumors are a lot worse than any truth could be. Whoever, if somebody is infected here, the people – we will know who’s infected. And then we’ll talk to the Department of Health about their reporting procedures. I have certainly no problem in reporting what happened to and in what area it happened and the things that we’re taking to safeguard the folks that may be around that area.” [Carlos Gimenez, Press Conference, 2/27/20]
- March 3: Gimenez Tweeted, “We’re not canceling any major events in Miami-Dade County, such as Ultra, following guidance from Florida’s Surgeon General on #Coronavirus.” [Twitter, @MayorGimenez, 3/3/20]
- March 3: Gimenez Asked Governor Ron DeSantis Whether He Should Cancel Ultra, The Miami Open, And The Youth Fair, “And Their Advice Was Just To Go Ahead And Live Your Life Normally.” Gimenez said, “I asked the Attorney General and the Governor if there was any need to cancel any of the events that are coming up in Miami and Miami-Dade County – Ultra, the tennis tournament, the Youth Fair. And their advice was to just go ahead and live your life normally, and so not to cancel these events.” [CBS Miami, CBS 4 News at 5 PM, 3/3/20]
- March 6: Gimenez Insisted “The Risk Is Low.” “Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez cited state guidance in repeating his position that the county saw no need to cancel major events. That includes the yearly festival on the county’s fairgrounds in Kendall, the Youth Fair, which starts March 12. ‘We should live our lives normally. The risk is low,’ Gimenez said after the County Hall meeting with mayors and city managers across Miami-Dade, where Noriega represented Miami.” [Miami Herald, 3/6/20]
- March 12: Gimenez Repeatedly Thanked Governor Ron DeSantis For His “Leadership” On Coronavirus. Gimenez said, “I have to say that, Governor, thank you for your leadership on this very important issue. I’m really appreciative of everything you’ve done for the people of the State of Florida and also for us here in Miami-Dade County. These are difficult times, and I can’t say enough about the Governor’s leadership and his administration’s close collaboration with Miami-Dade County to protect our [inaudible] from COVID-19. Thank you again, Governor DeSantis. […] Again, I can’t say enough about the leadership of the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor.” [Carlos Gimenez, Press Conference, 3/12/20]