Rather than teaching social distancing, COVID-19 is a lesson in how to support each other by creating social connections while maintaining distance. It’s a lesson Miami, Broward and Palm Beach need to embrace. The counties may be physically divided but are clearly stronger when connected.
The recovery process we are facing may seem daunting, but we have the opportunity to significantly accelerate it through the power of regional private/public collaboration. If done correctly, we not only have the potential to refine future crisis response procedures—including avoiding conflicting closure rules and guidelines that vary county to county—but also to create a roadmap that guides and strengthens our region long after COVID-19 has passed. Our community is already illustrating the behaviors that will yield immediate results.
- Be Creative— Inviting 400 unemployed Versailles and La Carreta restaurant workers to fill positions at Sedanos’ Supermarkets was pure genius. As as we move through recovery, we will identify where we have resources and where they are needed and we shouldn’t let borders create barriers to the answer.
- Build Partnerships – When school closures imperiled the ability of healthcare workers to staff Miami’s largest public hospital, Superintendent Carvalho of Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Jackson Health System CEO Carlos Migoya hammered out a lightning deal to provide high-quality childcare for 300+ children on three hospital campuses. Literally over a weekend, an answer was created. We must always act like we do in a crisis and rise above bureaucracy to ensure swift and decisive action.
- Speak Plainly – The information overload on COVID-19 is tremendous, and, as the situation evolves, the news is changing constantly. Weeding through the details– regardless of whether it is to fill out applications for SBA loans or emergency grants– will not be a simple task for many small businesses and we must learn to speak in simple terms so critical information reaches as many people as possible to get the help they so desperately need. The clearly written FAQ from the US Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship shows we know how it can be done.
- Remember Your Values – We must hold fast to a vision of creating a more prosperous South Florida for everyone. Just as with natural disasters, it is the most vulnerable populations who take the longest to recover. This situation, with so many losing their livelihoods, will put a bigger spotlight on critical regional issues such as housing affordability and the growing discrepancy between the haves and the have-nots. The silver lining in today’s crisis is that there will be dollars available from federal, state and private sources. We must not lose our focus or our sense of urgency. By acting together to ensure our region gets its fair share of resources and applies them against the areas of most need across all three counties we will magnify the impact threefold.
Lastly, we have no shortage of leaders. Our chambers, economic development councils, tourism boards, elected officials, government employees and of course private businesses all have a role to play and that role is elevated when we look beyond just our local borders to the region around us. We are stronger together.