Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who was elected this week as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said Sunday his city, like every city in the United States, is seeing a COVID surge that is fueled by the omicron variant, and it is time to "depoliticize" the response to the pandemic.
"We are seeing a gross number which is significantly higher than with Delta, and so that's pushing all the other numbers," Suarez told "Fox News Sunday."
Miami is expanding its testing and vaccination capabilities, said the mayor, and is seeing a correlation between people who are not vaccinated and who end up in the hospital.
"So what we are doing in the city of Miami, number one allowing people to get tested and expanding our testing capacities and are vaccination capacities and we are seeing a correlation between those that are hospitalized and those who are not vaccinated," he said.
His comments come after Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted claimed, "there is no omicron hospital 'surge' in Florida," because people who are admitted for non-COVID reasons get tested" and are "counted as a COVID patient."
He also maintained the majority of the covid patients in the state's hospitals are not there because of having COVID.
Suarez agreed there are many cases of people who come to hospitals with COVID, not because of it.
"The fact is, it's also not quite as high as it was at the peak, so I think we have to talk about this on a factual basis and try to depoliticize it as much as possible," Suarez said.
He also said, when you look at the number of deaths, Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis' actions have done well.
'The state of Florida has significantly fewer deaths than, for example, New York on a per capita basis," Suarez added. "We are dealing with this the very best that we can, and listen, many people who are not vaccinated and who are young and healthy are getting it. There's a high level of asymptomatic impact and effect, so they're not getting severe symptoms."
Suarez has also differed with DeSantis on the topic of masks.
"I think the biggest issue was making sure that this did not harm the environment, particularly at a time where the unemployment rate was skyrocketing," he said. "Now in the city of Miami, our unemployment rate is at 3.7%, which is almost 1% lower than the entire state. What we've implemented is pro-business policies that could keep people safe and I think using a mask was one of those."
Florida and Miami-Dade have done all they can to keep schools open, and it is a "tremendous concern when you see schools being closed" in other cities, Suarez continued.
The mayor also discussed crime in his city, which he said has dropped the past year because of increased funding for police, at a time other cities have decreased their spending.
"I think we should also invest in technology and give them the tools to do their job better, and that's something we've done in Miami," he said. "We have a variety of different technologies that allow us to solve crime and allow our officers to be more effective at doing their job, and we've seen the results, and I think it is something that can be replicated across America. Everybody deserves to be safe."
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