Miami Mayor Francis Suarez tests positive for coronavirus

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez speaks during a naming ceremony at the Brightline train station, to...
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez speaks during a naming ceremony at the Brightline train station, to be renamed as Virgin MiamiCentral, Thursday, April 4, 2019, in Miami. The state's Brightline passenger trains are being renamed Virgin Trains USA after Richard Branson invested in the new fast-rail project that is scheduled to connect Miami with Orlando. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)(WCTV)
Published: Mar. 13, 2020 at 8:32 PM EDT
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March 13, 2020

MIAMI, Fla. (CBSMiami) – Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has tested positive for COVID-19.

Suarez placed himself in isolation on Thursday and was tested after a meeting earlier in the week with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his communications director Fabio Wajngarten who tested positive for coronavirus.

“Residents and employees I was informed that I tested positive for the COVID-19. I feel completely healthy and strong,” Suarez said in a video statement. “After speaking with medical professionals I realize I should remain in self-containment and lead the government remotely. If you did not shake hands or come in to contact with me, where I could have coughed or sneeze, there are no actions that you need to take whatsoever.”

City Commissioner Ken Russell announced on Facebook that he too was in self-isolation.

“I just received a call from both the mayor and city manager that I should go into self-quarantine,” he posted.

Russell told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench he had started a self-quarantine after the mayor tested positive because they had been together at a few events this week.

“As elected officials, you are in contact with so many people that it escalates the risk so we wanted to be very careful,” he said.

Russell said he has been tested and should know the results within 24 hours.

Mami police Chief Jorge Colina has also self-isolated after having direct contact with the mayor.

“My interaction with him was directly with him after he met with the Brazilian delegation on Tuesday and Monday. We’ve had a lot of meetings since then. I shook hands, hugged and was in close proximity with the mayor. The recommendation is to be in self-isolation until being tested,” said Colina.

“I am staying at home in a room. If I need to go out of the room I wipe anything I touch down. I am doing this out of an abundance of caution to help those responsible. This is purely precautionary. We want to be responsible and we want to follow the same protocols. We ask everyone to follow the same protocols,” he added.

Colina said more than a dozen Miami police motormen are also in self-isolation after coming in direct contact with the communications director for the Brazilian president.

The City of Miami has declared a state of emergency, activating its emergency operations center and canceling all special events.

“If you suspect you are contagious or sick or have been in contact with anyone with a fever, cough, and shortness of breath please call the county health department,” said Suarez.

“My message is that everyone should remain calm. People are going to become ill, we know that, we see that across the country but we are taking every step to curb this,” said Colina. “We ask everyone to remember to continue social spacing just to mitigate this, that’s what we have to remember to do.”

Colina said he feels fine and is not showing any symptoms. He said he will be running the police department remotely while in self-isolation and will return to work as soon as he is cleared to do so.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez received some good news Friday morning, he has tested negative for the COVID-19.

Gimenez also placed himself in self-isolation after meeting Bolsonaro and Wajngarten. The mayor said he plans to remain self-isolated for up to 14 days because the virus takes longer to manifest itself in a person.

Also in self-quarantine is Senator Rick Scott who also met with Bolsonaro and Wajngarten.

“My office was alerted today by the Brazilian Embassy that a member of President Bolsonaro’s delegation tested positive for coronavirus,” Scott said in a statement. “On Monday, I met with the president in Miami, and while I do not believe I interacted with the infected person, that individual was in the same room as me. The embassy said the person had no symptoms leading up to or the day of the conference.”

Wajngarten also posed for a photo with President Donald Trump during his visit to Florida. Trump has said he has no plans to get tested.