Message from Town Manager Edward Pidermann
As we’ve done from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we allow medicine, science and data to drive our decision-making. Since the beginning, officials at the CDC and NIH, as well as local medical professionals have spoken about “herd immunity”. We’ve always had a target of 70%. As you know, immunity can be achieved both by vaccination and immunity derived from having had the disease. Immunity stemming from vaccination is much more predictable. They’ve conducted clinical trials and have a high degree of certainty of how long vaccine immunity lasts. Immunity from having been infected with Coronavirus is much more difficult to predict how long it will last or how immune someone may be. At this point, most immunologists do not take into account immunity from being infected to determine herd immunity. They can consider it the “icing on the cake”. Professionals in this field continue to focus on vaccine-derived immunity.
The Miami Dade Health Department and the Miami Dade Office of Emergency Management continuously provide us with data, regarding vaccination rates in Miami Dade. We live in a large metropolitan area so the vaccination rates in neighboring counties matter, but we have focused primarily on the rate of vaccination in Miami Dade. Recently, we made staff decisions regarding the wearing of masks based on both the data received from the medical professionals at the Health Department, as well as guidance from their partners in the CDC. Our most recent change was in line with the CDC Guidance, which allowed fully vaccinated individuals to return to normal activities, both indoors and outdoors. OSHA and our Town Attorney concurred with our recent change. We have not acted in a vacuum so far.
Late Friday, we received even better news. The vaccination rate in Miami Dade County has now reached the July 4th goal established by President Biden for the entire nation over 2 weeks early. The rate of vaccination for residents of Miami Dade with at least one dose is now at 70.1%. This is a great milestone in our recovery as a community. This vaccination rate exceeds the national rate, as well as the State of Florida and our neighboring counties. Miami Lakers and all Miami Dade residents are to be commended for the effort they’ve shown in getting vaccinated. Of the 1,716,431 vaccinated Miami Dade residents, over 81% of them are “fully vaccinated”, meaning that they’ve received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or have received both shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
With this incredible progress in mind and having reached this momentous milestone, I have decided to take the following actions:
• I am removing all mask mandates for visitors to Town facilities.
o Facial coverings shall be recommended for non-vaccinated visitors to Town facilities.
• Fully vaccinated Town staff shall be allowed to not wear a mask indoors and outdoors, as directed by the CDC
• Based on the most recent CDC guidance, non-vaccinated Town staff shall be expected to wear masks indoors, when social distancing cannot be achieved
• No proof of vaccination shall be required – we shall use the “honor system” and rely on staff members’ truthfulness about vaccination status
All this was made possible by the hard work of our residents which was demonstrated by reaching the 70% milestone. We are making great strides as a community. We need to make sure that we continue to follow the science and the experts so that we don’t take steps backward. We all yearn for the days when we were not at risk by simply being in a group of people. We’re almost there. We’re at the goal line. Let’s not fumble at the 11th hour.
Every decision I’ve made during this pandemic has been with the health and safety of our residents and Town staff in mind. That will not change. We will work with HR, the Town Attorney and the Town Clerk to determine the disposition of CDC cards that have already been submitted. If we can shred them, since they are a medical record and are NOT a Public Record, we will.
Finally, while we’ve made great strides towards normalcy, I would like to encourage all of our non-vaccinated Staff to consider getting vaccinated. This is the only way that we will fully return to normal. If you need help finding a vaccination site, please contact our Emergency Manager, Jeremy Bajdaun and he will assist you in finding a location or making an appointment.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me or your supervisor.
Edward Pidermann, MPA | Town Manager