KB Soccer issued at statement that read in part: Due to the recent alert sent out by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, regarding the Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19), KBSC is cancelling all games and practices until further notice.
The Miami Open also made a decision to cancel the event after Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez declared a state of emergency in Miami-Dade County. We understand and support the Mayor’s decision as the health and safety of the community and everyone involved with the event remains our top priority read a statement on the Open's website, which went on to say "Our team will be in touch in the coming days with ticket holders regarding refunds."
The spread of the coronavirus is being felt in Key Biscayne, where village government, residents, businesses and social organizations are taking steps to be prepared for the threat of this deadly disease.
As of 9 p.m. today, the statistics for the State of Florida were:
- 2 deaths
- 25 residents diagnosed - 3 new cases were added tonight
- First case in Miami-Dade county, a 56-year-old man who recently traveled
- 5 cases repatriated
- 2 non-Florida residents diagnosed within the state
- 353 people being monitored
The concern is evident on the island as residents have been stocking up on supplies in the event of a quarantine. Sanitizing products are in short supply and food shelves are being shopped hard. The impact on other businesses and venues varies, but the prevailing mood is one of cautious preparation.
Yet to be seen is the impact of President Trump’s announcement at 9 p.m. Wednesday that travel to and from Europe will be eliminated starting Friday, paid family leave will be extended, insurance companies will cover all expenses related to coronavirus, and financial assistance will be made available to small businesses impacted by the virus.
Earlier Wednesday, Mayor Mike Davey -- flanked by Village Manager Andrea Agha, Chief Eric Lang and Police Chief Charles Press -- delivered a video message encouraging residents to remain calm. Davey said the village is operating with three objectives: 1) protect the health and safety of all residents; 2) deliver transparent village-wide communications to combat misinformation; 3) encourage and engage in behaviors that limit the spread of this virus.
Davey said the village has raised the standards of cleaning procedures at the Community Center, adding antiviral cleaning supplies and placing sanitizing stations throughout village facilities. Also, acknowledging the cancellations of the Families in Paradise and Piano Festival events, Davey said they are evaluating cancellations of future events, especially those involving at-risk population groups. He closed by asking residents to forgo affectionate Key Biscayne greetings, and that people switch to fistpumps, elbow and foot touches.
Precaution is also seen at the Key Biscayne Community Center, especially the gym area, where this week there fewer residents using the facility than usual. Those who were working out were taking more precautions than ever, cleaning machines or weights that are shared by others.
Wednesday afternoon, State’s Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle reminded residents to report any price gouging activities. “Now that Governor Ron DeSantis has declared a State of Emergency due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, price-gouging is a criminal offense. It’s time to send a message that greed during this crisis will not be tolerated, and that’s why we've activated our price-gouging hotline.”
To report suspected price-gouging, Fernandez-Rundle asks residents to call the Price Gouging hotline at (305) 547-3300, promising to crack down “on greedy attempts to take advantage of our community’s health needs by outrageously increasing the price of health and sanitation products.”
Florida International University announced Wednesday it will transition to remote learning. This followed a mandate from the State University System ordering all 12 Florida public schools to transition to remote instruction. FIU has also cancelled all international travel and study abroad programs.
In a press release, the SUS stated in part “all face to face classes will go online effective tomorrow, March 12, and students should not expect to return to classes for at least two weeks.” The press release also mentioned that universities would continue to provide essential services like libraries and dining. Students are encouraged to stay off campus.
The office of Dr Ramón A. Guevara told Islander News they are fielding calls from residents asking to be tested for the coronavirus. Tests, however, are only being carried out at the Department of Health when there is a possible virus victim.
The Illustradent Dental office has had more cancellations than usual, according to Dr. José Chaviano Jr. “People are obviously concerned. We have also taken internal precautions. If we see a patient with any flu-like symptoms like coughing, sneezing or fever, we ask them to reschedule, waiting at least 21 days,” he said. Mayra Perez Vide, Illustradent’s VP of Operations, said they are also asking patients if they have traveled abroad or if they have been in contact with anybody who has traveled” as an extra precautionary measure.
Chaviano added that there are other issues that could affect the healthcare industry. “Masks and gloves are back ordered for weeks,”' he said. “Luckily, our supplier was forward thinking and went to Mexico a few weeks ago and bought a large inventory of supplies.”
“We are totally out of hand sanitizer, masks, even alcohol” said Aylen Noy, who works at CVS on the island. “They have bought everything we had and we don't know when we will receive it again. People are worried, and many are coming to buy, but we can't help them.”
At Winn Dixie, the island’s main supermarket, the situation was the same. “We are totally out of all sanitizing products. We expect delivery soon, but do not know what we will be able to get as the issue goes beyond Winn Dixie, manufacturers are taxed and also out of stock,” said Jose Llanes, store manager.
The St. Agnes Catholic Church has begun to follow the directives ordered by the Archbishop of Miami, suspending the greetings of peace during mass. The traditional kiss, hug or handshake have been replaced by a wave or peace sign signal, even a fist pump. They have also asked parishioners not to hold hands during Lord's Prayer. Ministers are asked to use liquid antibacterial soap on their hands before and after distributing communion.
Novecento Restaurant has not seen a decrease in traffic. “Everything is working normally. People keep coming to the restaurant as usual,” Javier Cividini, manager at the Argentine bistro, told Islander News.
An enthusiastic lunch crowd was seen at The Golden Hog on Wednesday, evidence that residents were still out and about, trying to maintain some degree of normalcy in their routine.
At the Ritz Hotel, the island’s largest resort is taking preventive measures.
“The wellbeing of our guests and associates is of paramount importance. Marriott International is reinforcing recommended measures on appropriate hygiene standards and following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and local health authorities,” said Tatiana Lora, director of public relations at Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne.
Some of the measures Lora cited include stocking up on a list of corporate-approved products that address disinfecting concerns, increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting spaces such as restrooms, elevators and public lounge areas. Lora said hand sanitizers are currently available throughout the resort and will be monitored closely to ensure there is always ample available for guest use.
Some condominiums on the island are also taking precautions. “We are finalizing our coronavirus protocol for the Oceansound Condominium today,” said Frances Reaves, President of the Oceansound board. In addition to reiterating the CDC’s recommendations to residents, Reaves said the staff is doing an extra cleaning of door knobs, elevator bars and stair rails.
“We have alcohol-based sanitizer, masks and latex gloves for our staff,” Reaves said. “We are also advising residents where they can purchase medical-grade masks for their personal use. We have also purchased thermometer guns which our security team has discretion to use on visitors.”
Many residents are evaluating their upcoming trips. As of Friday, in accordance with a directive from President Trump, all travel to Europe is restricted. There was nothing in the president’s Wednesday night announcement about travel to Central or South America.
Oceansound resident Arthur Ackerman said he was cancelling a family reunion trip to Club Med in Port St Lucie. “Several family members will be flying in from different parts of the country, N.Y., South Carolina, Boston, and Texas,” said Ackerman. “Up until a day ago it was a go for me. Then, as the information and warnings became greater, I decided to cancel my trip. However, the rest of the family is going. I am a healthy 80 year old male and the risk of being around large crowds from all over the country did not work for me.”
Events are being cancelled on a more regular basis as the threat seems to grow.
The Key Biscayne Chamber of Commerce, after consulting with the KB Fire Department, canceled their Families in Paradise event, scheduled for March 15.
The Key Biscayne Community Foundation postponed the grand opening of the Pop Up Historical Museum that was scheduled for March 12.
Amarylli Fridegotto, founder and director of the Key Biscayne Piano Festival, said the group decided to postpone the Key Biscayne Piano Festival's upcoming concert Friday the 20th. “We are facing an unprecedented worldwide emergency, and we think that this is the best thing to do.” his statement said. “Thank you, and we hope that soon we will resume our activities to celebrate the end of this nightmare.”