The year 2021 began with a continued rise in the spread of COVID-19 as a state dashboard reported 1,462 cases on the same day the island’s new representative in Congress announced she had contracted coronavirus and would have to skip her swearing-in.
Some 417 Key Biscayne cases were reported in December alone, according to a tally maintained by resident Carolyn Koslen, a digital marketing professional. The numbers do not yet reflect an expected rise in cases that epidemiologists attribute to holiday gatherings. Statewide, the Miami Herald reported that Florida ended the year with a record number of cases — 17,192 — the highest number recorded on a single day.
Many islanders gathered on beaches to ring in the new year. Mayor Mike Davey was one of them, saying he was pleased to see many people wearing masks. “People are going to gather, I’d rather it’s outside than inside,” he said.
Not everyone was as cautious.
New Year’s morning, a largely unmasked group of about 40 people gathered to music on the beach in front of the Oceania condominium, as New Year’s party hats could be seen on the sand. Kite surfers kept their distance and took advantage of strong winds.
The Village of Key Biscayne decided to resume enforcement of mask requirements last month, but it’s not clear how effective the policy has been. Village police did not respond to a request about warnings or citations issued since the Council directive.
Congresswoman-elect Maria Elvira Salazar upset incumbent Rep. Donna Shalala in the November election. She announced in a press release she was hospitalized Dec. 23, developing a heart arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat. She will remain in isolation while she recovers. Her absence means she will not be able to cast a vote scheduled for Jan. 6 formally certifying the Electoral College vote electing Joe Biden as president.
This story was updated to include the mayor’s comments
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.