Officials in the Florida city of Hialeah are warning that they are uniquely vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic and face the possibility of “unimaginable” death from the disease.
In interviews with The Daily Beast, the officials explained how their large population of senior citizens is at grave risk if Hialeah erupts as a major COVID-19 hotspot.
“I think it is going to get a lot worse,” Hialeah Councilman Jesus Tundidor tells The Daily Beast. “The experts have been telling us to expect a peak [in Florida] near the end of the month. As we get more testing sites up and running, the more positive cases we will see. And that will create more fear.”
Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez says that he has tried his best to implement social distancing orders in the city and has been sending personnel from the city’s fire department to assisted living facilities to check in on residents.
However, senior citizen advocate Brian Lee tells the publication that sending workers into these facilities might be dangerous because the virus can spread through people who have contracted it but who don’t exhibit any symptoms.
“The potential for terrible things to happen is unimaginable,” Lee said. “And we are still in the land of the worse-case scenario.”
And Lawrence Gostin, a Georgetown University public health law professor, tells the Daily Beast that the city’s poorer residents could be disproportionately impacted by the disease because they already have preexisting conditions.
“It’s a recipe for disaster unless there are aggressive mitigation measures,” he explained. “That includes universal stay-at-home orders, no visitors to nursing homes and other vulnerable group settings, and the hospitals would need to prepare for a surge in capacity.”