As the City and the County cautiously reopen, we all have to be mindful that the threat of COVID-19 should still remain top of mind. And while the economy, social life, health, and our general sense of security have taken hard hits because of the virus, our City Council members continue to be laser-focused on the resiliency of Miami Gardens. Moving forward, City leaders believe that some practical steps will help in the process of maintaining safety as we navigate our daily lives.
Vice Mayor Rodney Harris
Looking ahead, Vice Mayor Rodney Harris reflects that Miami Gardens residents should not let their guard down. “My advice to the community and our residents would be that we continue to conduct ourselves in a safe hygienic manner because COVID-19 is still right here today.” Along with following the CDC recommendations and eating healthy, he suggests prioritizing exercise, especially for older residents. He believes complacency might be one of our most dangerous adversaries. “I think a lot of people have gotten to a point where they think everything is okay because businesses are reopening, but we still have to use safety precautions to ensure that no one gets sick.”
Through it all, Vice Mayor Harris remains optimistic. “I think as we move forward with the new normal, we are going to have to be a tighter, more together community,” he shares, counting on the unified spirit embodied in the people he represents.
Councilwoman Lillie Q. Odom
“I find that the problem that most of us have is the closeness of each other,” reflects Councilwoman Lillie Q. Odom. Although she has only been out and about a few times since the start of the pandemic, she has realized that people’s desire to be close might override their willingness to follow the new rules. “I’ve found that I have had to ask people to step back because they’re right up [against] you, even though the six feet apart lines are there for them to stand on.”
According to Councilwoman Odom, that cohesive nature will ultimately help Miami Gardens’ residents rise to the occasion. “Even though we have been having a lot of problems all over the country, as a whole, we have the tendency to look out for each other. And, the City will make it through this trying time,” she believes.
Councilman Reggie Leon
As we continue to deal with the pandemic Councilman Reggie Leon advises, “If you don’t have a mask or you can’t afford a mask or gloves, please reach out to someone.” He invites City residents to reach out to his office, and promises to proactively help where he can. He suggests that residents should be proactive too. Those who notice businesses or neighbors that are not following the guidelines and possibly putting others at risk should report it by email to the City at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Councilman Leon also has a heightened awareness of some of the unexpected misfortune resulting from the current climate, including the spike in drownings while kids are home from school. He urges guardians of small children to be vigilant, and speaks highly of the P-SWAP Mentoring Program with Bridget McKinney, who has been doing virtual swimming and pool safety lessons.
On a brighter note, he believes that technology like Zoom is getting constituents more engaged than ever before. “You’re getting way more people involved in the community. That’s one of the good things that have come out [of the current situation].” And as his term continues, he is looking forward to helping to make the new normal brighter than it seems it can be in these trying times.
Councilman David Williams Jr.
Councilman David Williams Jr. suggests that Miami Gardens residents should “follow and adhere to the rules. Things that we already know—social distancing, covering your mouth, washing your hands, no large groups, those types of things.” Not only does he agree with the CDC recommendations for outside interactions, he also asks City residents to be mindful of their internal health as well. “Make sure that we are maintaining a balanced diet, and we want to increase our intake on foods rich with Vitamin E, Vitamin C and Vitamin B12. Those types of things are needed to help boost the immune system.”
As we learn to coexist with COVID-19 and until a vaccine is developed, Councilman Williams recommends that we’ll have to look beyond life as usual and proactively embrace change. “I think we need to re-look at the future and how we do things differently,” he advises. Zoom calling, telemedicine and similar platforms are changing the landscape of how we communicate safely and conveniently. “So I think people can’t be set in their ways as we move forward. They are going to have to adjust to the times and not resist it, because the time is not going to adjust to them.”
Councilman Erhabor Ighodaro
Councilman Erhabor Ighodaro’s suggestions are simple. “Listen to the experts, get tested, maintain social distancing regulations, and be safe!”
On moving forward beyond the present moment, he says City leaders need to increase engagement in their approach to policy-making. He believes that communication between City leaders and residents is key. “That’s why I sponsored a resolution to establish Miami Gardens Radio to communicate to the community. And I’ve been advocating for our City to have televised meetings.” It is all about ensuring that constituents are sufficiently exposed to local government and can have their voices heard.