In the latest of a pile of evidence strongly suggesting Florida officials are failing to prioritize the protection of its residents — especially in South Florida — the mayors of Miami-Dade County and Miami Beach have accused the Florida Department of Health of lying regarding their denial of ever having told Miami officials to keep Zika virus locations a secret in Miami Beach, per the Miami Herald:
Florida’s health department strongly denied instructing local officials to keep the information confidential — and said the decision was entirely up to Miami-Dade — after the Miami Herald reported on Friday that a county attorney said the state agency had ordered them to keep it a secret.
The statement was made during a court hearing for the Miami Herald’s lawsuit against Miami-Dade seeking the locations of traps in Miami Beach where mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus were captured this month. The suit seeks disclosure of the locations on grounds that the information would help the public make decisions about precautions to take if they live or work nearby, and also inform the community debate on the use of the controversial insecticide naled.
Both Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine assert the health department's denial is bogus.
"During multiple meetings, phone calls and conversations, officials from the Florida Department of Health explicitly stated to county officials that information identifying the addresses of traps containing mosquitoes positive for the Zika virus is confidential during active, ongoing epidemiological investigations," Gimenez said in the statement.
"It is disturbing that the Florida Department of Health is denying previous directives to maintain confidentiality of the trap locations," Gimenez said in the statement. "At the end of the day, this is about the health and safety of our community, and we have been carrying out the express orders of the Florida Department of Health as it relates to disclosure of mosquito-trap information."
Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine corroborated Gimenez’s statement, which added that the state health department had ordered the information kept secret to protect the privacy of residents living in the areas where Zika-positive mosquitoes were captured.
Levine said he was present when Florida health department officials, including Miami-Dade Director Lillian Rivera and state Surgeon General Celeste Philip, instructed county and city officials not to disclose the locations. He said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam also told him that the health department had ordered the information remain confidential.
"Mayor Gimenez is only doing what the state told him, his staff, me and my entire staff, specifically, that they would not permit the county to release the information on the locations," Levine said Sunday. "Lillian Rivera said it multiple times that she has been instructed and the department of health will not permit the locations of the traps to be released. That’s No. 1. No. 2, I remember hearing the state surgeon general saying it directly to us, Celeste Philip. And No. 3, Adam Putnam told me and the city manager directly in my office that. In fact, I reaffirmed it with Commissioner Putnam on the phone the other day, and he was dumbfounded."
A spokeswoman for the state health department claims the statements made "are completely false."
Even if the state did tell local officials to keep the locations hush, it's disturbing they complied.
I’m moving to Mars.
By the way, did you notice how in the picture above it appears the Zika-infected mosquito is attacking our beloved governor?