CORAL SPRINGS, FL – The recent increase in coronavirus cases in Coral Springs and across Florida and the nation has raised many questions on whether government officials are doing enough to prevent the spread of disease.
TAPinto Coral Springs asked the candidates running for the Coral Springs City Commission election what they think of the city’s response to COVID-19 and what would they do differently in reducing the infection rate.
The responses from the contenders for Seat #3 and Seat #5 in the Nov. 3 election ranged from city officials are doing a mostly admirable job to city officials aren’t considering enough options to keeping residents safe.
One candidate suggests the city should have been sealed in the early days of the pandemic to prevent the spread.
Another candidate wants the city to consider adding temperature scanning kiosks at the entrance to public buildings.
A third candidate encourages Coral Springs to set up hand sanitizing stations in high-traffic areas throughout the city.
Here’s what the candidates think. (Their responses were written in mid-June, just before the recent spike in cases started in late June.)
Joe Morera (Seat #3)
Our awareness of this uptick can be attributed to access to restriction-free testing sites added here in the city. The lack of social distancing during recent large gatherings and the economic pressures to reopen businesses may be contributing factors to the rise in cases.
The city has done an outstanding job with their communications and otherwise adhering to all government and CDC guidelines and has assisted our small businesses wherever possible; providing financial assistance for PPE and delivering kits aiding in their re-opening. It is up to our residents and businesses to abide by the restrictions put in place for their safety.
Aside from perhaps making masks mandatory, rather than requested, in public places, and working with local businesses to ensure they’re adhering to state guidelines, the city has done an otherwise admirable job in their efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Noor Fawzy (Seat #3)
If I were on the commission earlier this year, as soon as the threat of the coronavirus was discovered, I would have called on the city to completely seal off Coral Springs from the rest of the county to ensure that no nonresident carrying the virus would be able to enter the city and infect any of our residents, and to ensure that no resident would be able to contract the virus elsewhere and bring it back to the city and infect any of our residents.
Notably, there was nothing stopping the city from taking these measures, and so it is unclear to me why we did not take those measures when they would have been effective at preventing the spread of the virus inside the city.
I believe that had we taken such measures, not only would we have been able to effectively prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which takes priority above all others when dealing with such a highly infectious and deadly virus like COVID-19, but we also could have avoided taking some of the extreme measures that we did such as closing down businesses and other services that were open to the public, and these extreme measures have undermined the city’s ability to function as best as it could.
I also believe that the city would have been able to fully open back up much earlier than most other cities.
And now we are having to suffer the consequences of not quarantining in the most appropriate way in the form of more and more residents getting sick, business owners suffering financial losses and seeking financial assistance in the form of money grants from the city, which will directly impact the budget, and even some small businesses that have been around for years closing down for good.
Randal Cutter (Seat #3)
Because of the nature of this coronavirus, there was never a doubt that when the community began to open up that there would be an uptick in cases. Even though we are opening up, it is extremely important that our most vulnerable populations—the elderly and immune-compromised—continue to observe the steps necessary to stay out of harm’s way. It is also important that those of us who are not in a high-risk category do what we can to slow the spread of the virus through social distancing, masks, and other mitigation steps as recommended.
As a commissioner, I would continue to encourage our residents to observe the recommendations and mandates that the state, county, and city have implemented in the interest of health and safety.
However, I also realize that the critical metric is not how many new cases are being reported, since testing is increasing, but how many are being hospitalized. As long as our hospital system is able to function appropriately without being overloaded, they will be able to provide each patient with the best possible care. I would continue to support the phased reopening we are now following as long as our hospitalization rate does not increase to the point that our hospitals are compromised.
Nancy Metayer (Seat #3)
The fight against coronavirus will not be won until every country can control the disease within its borders. Here in Coral Springs, we can assist by continuing to social distance, and staying six feet apart from others while in public. We can commit to wearing masks, which have been proven to drastically reduce the spread of the virus.
As commissioner, I suggest that we continue to fund testing facilities and monitor results within our community. We can then promote contact tracing to track persons and/or areas with high outbreaks of the virus and immediately take action. It would also be useful to set up hand sanitizing stations in high-traffic areas throughout the city, and to continue mandating hand sanitizer in all business and government facilities. In accordance with the latest Broward County Emergency Order, 20-18, we should enforce mandatory shutdowns for establishments that fail to comply with safety standards outlined in the order.
Andy Kasten (Seat #3)
I am in favor of following the state’s guidance as well as the county’s guidance. I think that we should proceed with caution and as long as we can get the citizens to comply with distancing and wearing of masks. I would be ok with that as we move into phase 2.
Abel Pena (Seat #3) could not be reached for comment.
Cathy Remy (Seat #5)
The increase in COVID-19 is anticipated because of the increase in testing and reopening of our community. Despite the precautions in place, some are more than likely to drop guards.
As commissioner, I would recommend weekly community reminders via Coral Springs Alert City Notification program on the importance of safeguarding ourselves. Knowledge is fundamental, and the more informed we are the more likely we are to adhere. Another possible consideration would be the adoption of temperature scanning kiosks or temperature checks upon entry into all public buildings.
Coral Springs Vice Mayor Joy Carter (Seat #5)
Recently, I joined the Promise to Humanity by agreeing to wear a mask to protect others. I want to be an example for the "right way" to protect our community.
Lead by example - We might feel fine but have no idea if we are a carrier of this lethal virus, so wear your mask!
Know a story we should share with our readers? Email editor Leon Fooksman (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell him about it.