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South Florida Stories: Earth Day Week ends as questions loom about equitable resource access and how to safely re-open at the epicenter

International 29 Apr, 2020 Follow News

Seven year old Kendall Morgan’s Earth Day art project

The view from Rosa Legcevic’s Brickell Bay Road condo balcony shows clear waters and quiet streets. “I’m appreciating nature much more these days,” said Rosa

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho being interviewed by CNN News television anchor Anderson Cooper

Robert Mackey at home on Miami Beach with his golden doodle Harry

(L to R) Marley (age 9), Kendall (age 7), and Georgia (age 8) with their Earth Day art creations

Part two of two in Earth Day series

 

By Raquel Garcia

 

Earth Day week began with a record high temperature of 97 degrees in Miami-Dade County. Steady light winds brought a dull acrid scent into the city from brush fires bordering the Everglades. A few thunderstorms had hit by week’s end and more tornadoes wreaked havoc across the south.

Although worldwide public events commemorating the 50 year anniversary to honor the planet and address environmental shortcomings were cancelled due to the global pandemic; earthday.org called this year “a global digital mobilization to address climate action.”

Satellite images demonstrating a thirty to fifty percent reduction in nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide air-polluting-clouds over heavily-populated cities made frequent headlines. A serendipitous temporary benefit of the sharp decline in vehicle emissions due to so many cars remaining in park during this international crisis.

The latest Covid-19 numbers at press time show Miami-Dade remains the coronavirus epicenter for Florida with the most confirmed cases at 11,351 (of a 31,528 state total). Reports of possible undercounting are attributed to pending cases from private labs and limited categories for qualifying numbers. The Miami Herald said only 346,365 of Florida’s nearly 22 million people have been tested. Research indicates communities of color are more likely to get seriously ill.

Statewide there is no cohesive re-opening strategy as many in Duval County welcomed the beach access begun in Jacksonville for limited hours of walking only. While in Tampa, former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady got booted out of a local park and cited for exercising on the grounds, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Governor’s office figures showed that of the nearly one million validated unemployment applications received by mid-April, six percent of claimants had gotten their checks. The broken system continues to crash while food donation lines grow at designated pick-up stations run by volunteers. Local media outlets reported cars breaking down or running out of gas while their occupants waited hours for testing at drive-up sites like those at Marlins Park and Hard Rock Stadium.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez is planning a tempered re-opening of parks, marinas, and golf courses, to take effect imminently. Law enforcement are to ensure safe social-distancing compliance, in addition to 400 new personnel hired to patrol phase one of re-opened public-access areas. Beaches are to remain closed indefinitely.

The backlash from Fisher Island--aka America’s richest zip code--scoring Covid-19 antibody testing for all of its residents and support staff through a University of Miami health system program made it to the national television news.

Cable News Network anchor Anderson Cooper interviewed Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools Alberto Carvalho after Carvalho’s disapproving tweet went viral April 13. “I cannot reconcile the shoeless, mask-less, hungry children we fed today with this headline,” read his Twitter post.

The average resident age on the private-island only accessible by watercraft is said to be 65, and they had one of the first coronavirus cases in the county. Residents recently declined a two million dollar Covid-19 small business recovery loan offered them from the federal government.

Across the bay in downtown Miami, police kept crowds from gathering and looking up along Brickell Avenue sidewalks as French DJ David Guetta spun at a rooftop pop-up performance. The benefit was said to have raised over $700,000 for charities like Feeding South Florida and the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Response Fund.

On April 15 the Centers for Disease Control’s “No Sail Order” for cruise ships was extended 100 days, to terminate July 24, or until “the secretary of health and human service declares Covid-19 is no longer a public health emergency.” Nearly 80,000 crew and about 100 ships are still in limbo at or near U.S. ports per the CDC in a recent Washington Post story.

As a somewhat muted 2020 Earth Day week sets, digital discussions continue to flourish. The twenty-fifth session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), from whence the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement came, is still scheduled for November in Glasgow.

Robert Mackey is a project manager for a mosquito-control company that uses all plant-based misting to fight disease-transmitting insects. He said being at home on South Beach this Earth Day has been inspiring.

“I see families out walking, riding bikes, enjoying the outdoors like never before. Neighbors are helping each other out and there is a great sense of community spirit pulsing through the beach.”

From their home further north in Pembroke Pines, the Morgan girls, ages 7, 8, and 9, were led by artist mom Judy to create an Earth Day art project and share their thoughts on the holiday:

“Earth Day is about caring for our earth and making sure we recycle,” said Marley. “We can celebrate Earth Day by planting more plants in our garden,” said Kendall. “We have to take care of the earth so we can keep living here,” said Georgia.

 

South Florida Stories: reports and personal accounts from the Covid-19 new normal reality, seeks to regularly report (safely from home) exclusively for Caymanian Times about how the community is managing in the affected voice of personal experience presented as a historical documentary through local storytelling.


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