Miami and Mayor Suarez’s Plasma

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S1: What you’re about to listen to may include some party talk. Then again, it may not I hope it does that.

S2: It’s Friday, April 3rd, 20/20 from Slate, it’s the gist. I’m Mike PESCA. The president, Donald J. Trump today offered reassuring words that had no basis in reality.

S3: This is ending. This will end. You see some bad things and then you’re going to see some really good things. And it’s not going to be too long.

S4: He then brought up Mike Pence, who was similarly sanguine as some of the areas across America where we see evidence that the mitigation efforts of the American people putting into practice the president’s corona virus guidelines or are having a positive effect, in fact. And today, California and Washington state, where the Corona virus first emerged in our country, remain the cases remain at a steady but low rate. And we know, as Governor Newsom said yesterday, that they’re not out of the woods yet.

S5: First of all, those states did not put into practice the president’s guidelines, if anything. The president followed their lead while at the time calling the governor of Washington a snake. And you heard the Pence tone there. Well, we’re not out of the woods yet, but, you know, a little light meets tonneau implication. Here is how Governor Newsom actually said those words.

S6: And in terms of response, let me just continue to make this point. I really want to thank all of you for practicing, not just sitting there promoting or preaching what we could or should do, pointing fingers. It’s the individual acts of tens of millions of Californians that allow me to say the following. The numbers in the state of California are growing. The number of positives certainly are growing. And tragically, yes, the number of deaths, 203 have grown. But the ICU numbers and the hospitalization numbers, while they’re growing, are not growing as significantly as you’re seeing in other parts of the country. We’re not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination. And we showed folks what we mean by that when we showed you our modelling yesterday. The reality is that we are buying time.

S5: Newsom was offering that little glimmer of hope that he thought the public needed to hold on to, if anything, to leaven the crush of bad news that it was his responsibility to deliver and that he has been delivering. Pence, and especially Trump, seem mostly hopeful that is their Darrell gorgeous setting. They sometimes acknowledge that there are certain challenges up ahead. But mostly we got this. Pence’s not out of the woods yet. Sounds like he’s just steps away from exiting the woods. Newsome’s woods assessment puts him not near even the deepest depth of the forest California. Statistically, California has experienced 249 deaths so far. The University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which federal government using their projections and their projections, are that California will experience 5000 deaths by early August. So not out of the woods. They’ve barely stepped inside the woods better than the woods analogy is this one offered by Governor Newsom a couple of days ago?

S6: The worst thing a human being can do is cut the parachute when you’re not even close to the ground.

S5: That is called being honest with the people. Woods, you can’t even see the woods from a thousand feet up on the show today. The essential element of healing, physically healing that is being denied us with this pandemic. But first, an extended conversation with a recovered corona victim who also happens to be a participant in an aggressive treatment plan for others. Plasma donation and also of interest. He is the mayor of Miami.

S7: Patient, politician and possible donor. Francis Suarez. Up next.

S2: Francis Suarez is the mayor of Miami. He was also among the first public officials in the United States to test positive for covert 19. He is now out of quarantine, has been given the all clear after two negative tests. In fact, the mayor will become the first convalescent plasma donor from the state of Florida, one of the first in the nation. That’s when you give your plasma. Scientists say this really can help provide antibodies against the virus. Mr. Mayor, welcome to THE GIST. Thanks so much. It’s an honor to be here with you. I want to conduct this interview on two tracks. Essentially, one is your official capacity, but the other is just as someone who has gotten and dealt with the virus. Now, from what I’ve read, it was your interaction with the Brazilian delegation when they came to the U.S. ball scenario and a top aide and you said yourself, I was in close contact with them. We know they’re positive. I should get a test. That’s how you decided to get it. It wasn’t any symptoms.

S8: That’s essentially what happened. I mean, what was interesting was I was in a council meeting and I was about to declare a state of emergency that day. And someone sent me a picture where this person who had tested positive and I were in the same picture. I vaguely recognizing probably shook his hand a couple of times on Monday and Tuesday of that week. Must have had a couple of conversations with the gentleman and anyone who discloses and discussed this with with the medical staff of the sea. They they advised me that I had to go immediately into quarantine. Once that all became public and I had to shoot my emergency message remotely and the press reported it, I got a call from the health department. They asked me to get tested. And let me tell you that that was not sent, because had that not happened that way for sure, my family would have been infected. Most likely because I hug my kids every day. I give my kids kisses, my wife, they all would have gotten well. We tested over 40 members of my administration. None of them got Cuban 19. So if it wasn’t for the proactive advice that I got from our medical staff, this could have been something that could have crippled our government.

S1: So Miami was one of the first top or give a shelter in place order. What went into your decisions?

S9: You canceled the city, canceled some major festivals, and they were a little bit criticized for it, actually, of jumping the gun. But tell me about why this city took it so seriously when other municipalities weren’t.

S10: You know, we saw this threat early on. Our fire chief identified it when it was in one city ordering personal protective equipment, supplies. In February, we were following the CDC guidelines, which said that there shouldn’t be any mass congregations at that time. Twenty five thousand or more. We had two major events, KOGO, which was two hundred fifty thousand people and Ultra, which would have been one hundred and fifty thousand people from one hundred and five different countries. And we felt that the responsible thing to do was to cancel it. As you said, other elected officials criticize, criticizes, the county mayor said that we acted prematurely and we’re sending the wrong message that we should be open for business. And unfortunately, spring breakers heard him.

S11: It didn’t close the beaches and they flock to our beaches, which made us a national embarrassment. So it was very unfortunate. And then and then he later had to close by the open later on to cancel that you fear. So what I’ve learned in this process is that there is no proactive steps that I’ve taken that I could raise. And everyone is criticizing me as leader has to follow. And, you know, recently, you know, like you said, we are not going to stay at home water. We enacted a curfew where the first city to knock the curfew, the second city and a county to a state, all border county has to follow us in the state. All water going to follow us and to stay at home more. And then on the curfew, the county has yet to follow us. And I just recently wrote a letter to the president asking the president to discontinue flights from Corbitt hotspots internationally and domestically to the city of Miami.

S9: So I will now paint a little bit of the political picture so my listeners understand the mayor of Miami job is nonpartisan. You are a registered Republican, though. You had disclosed that you didn’t vote for now. Governor DeSantis. So not that kind of Republican, let’s say. Now, he has been reluctant to issue statewide orders. He did it a couple days ago. Do you think the lack of a statewide measure, even though you can make the rules for the city of Miami, did not having a statewide rule have any effect, any negative effect on the city’s ability to fight the virus?

S11: Look, I I said in multiple interviews that had I been the governor, I would have issued a stay at home order. But I will commend the governor because he supported our efforts when we didn’t preempt us from doing it ourselves. I can tell you the biggest threat right now to the city of Miami is Miami International Airport. We’ve got 50 million passengers. That’s. Through there a year, 50 million. That’s double. That’s one and 2.5 times the population of the state of Florida. Flow through that airport. So right now, what concerns me is hotspots domestically and internationally, which is, by the way, I got the infection right from someone who came internationally with the disease to my hand flaring up. Well, we’re implementing all these strict measures to keep people at home and keep people, you know, at home after curfew. And we’re doing all these things. And then somebody could come in from outside fleeing the hotspot and flare the disease up, the virus up in our community. Well, that’s my biggest concern. That’s why I wrote the president a letter asking him to discontinue flights. Unfortunately, our county mayor says he called the White House staff to disregard the letter, which was kind of hard to believe. But, you know, I think for me, I’m going to always do what I think is right. And and again, what are the lessons that I’ve learned is the more proactive I’ve been, the more rewarding in the sense I’ve been with people’s confidence and and with other people having to criticize me at a time, having to follow me lead.

S1: Is the airport within your jurisdiction?

S10: I don’t run on the airport. The city does not run the airport. But we’re the largest city where it takes us to the airport. When those passengers leave, they come into the city of Miami, where it is a tourist destination.

S8: And so, you know, and the fact the matter is that the airport, even though it’s run by a town, they don’t have the authority either to stop flights from coming in. There’s only one person that has that authority, and that’s the president, because he runs the FAA. And the FAA is the only agency that can actually ground flights. So that’s why the letter has to go to the president.

S1: How many tests does the city have access to every day?

S11: We are doing right now, we are doing about five hundred a day. We have the capacity probably to go up to depending on supplies. Go to a thousand. But right now, we’re not turning anybody away. We’ve we’ve actually expanded the age groups that we’re testing out to all age groups. And that’s getting us close to what what our daily capacity is. So we feel good about where we’re at.

S9: So, though, to do contract contact tracing and other measures, you would need a lot more testing. What’s the given how an ideal these times are? What’s the ideal number of tests you would need to really put testing into full effect? So you don’t have to say, for instance, only if you have symptoms.

S11: Right. So right now, as I say, we’re doing symptomatic testing. Right. So everybody who has symptoms is getting tested regardless of age. That’s happening. The question is, you know, can we do like a almost like a one quick, you know, sort of a map, if you will? Right. Bye. Getting that ubiquitous testing system in place where we could test hundreds of thousands of people. And and that’s something we’re exploring. That would probably be not being nasal. You know, the unusal tests like the like the symptomatic tests that were previous blood tests. And those are a lot faster. We’re just trying to find a company that we can that we feel reliable. I was sort of the guinea pig. I took two of those tests and the doctors didn’t feel comfortable with the results because they should have been positive when I was texting positive still with the nasal tests, which is an antigen test. Those are antibody tests, the antigen test test, the viral load in the cell. The antibody test obviously tests your body’s reaction to the virus. Right. So it’s just a different kind of test. They’re not as accurate. And so that’s part of the problem. Second part, the problem is it’s good for mapping to get a sense that you’re saying for contact tracing and for getting a sense for how prevalent the virus is in your community. But but testing without symptoms, it can also be problematic if it’s not properly explained, because what will happen is people coming, the tests negative and they think, oh, I’m negative, that means I can’t get it. And that’s not what it means.

S12: All that means is your negative at that moment. Right. Or or with these with these heightened false negative rates that you referred to maybe doesn’t even mean that, you know, maybe doesn’t even mean that.

S11: So. So that’s why to me, I worry sometimes when non symptomatic people want to test, even though I was not symptomatic. And I can tell you that obviously saved a ton of people. So so it’s it’s it’s just a struggle. It’s a struggle. But we’re where we are heading in the direction of systematic testing and ubiquitous testing depending on us being able to identify something that can do it accurately.

S13: How bad did your symptoms ever get?

S11: They never got too bad. I never got fever. I never got a sore throat. All I got was a stuffy nose and somebody painting at the beginning, which I took time off for. And that was about it.

S9: So if there wasn’t this Corona reality, I was going to say scared, but of Corona virus weren’t going around. And you were just thinking about things in terms of the normal viruses, the normal flu viruses, would this have been the thing that would have even made you take a day off of work?

S11: No, no, I wouldn’t. I’m taking the day off. I wouldn’t have gotten tested, I wouldn’t have changed really any of my habits until they became sort of public requirements. Right. So. Right.

S13: And and you could have still been a spreader, though, was the point.

S11: One hundred percent. And by the way, I think I would say is. And I. And now, obviously, because I’ve been so involved in this issue, it’s going to so many people about this. I can tell you that right now I’m the first person in Florida, one of the first in the country to give a transfusion of blood plasma. Like you were saying, and the family, that family, four of the people in that family are positive. Right. Two of them are asymptomatic. One of them is in critical condition, which is a one that wears in the trenches. And the other one is, is having a flu like that. So you can you know, you can have Kobe 19, and it has such a variability in terms of the impact it has on you, depending on a variety of factors, your age, your health, just, you know, who knows what else.

S9: So they they literally match you up with a doni. It’s not just that they bank your plasma. They have someone that said this isn’t intended to go with.

S11: Well, in my particular case, that’s the way it happened. I don’t know how it will happen going forward, because what happened literally in violence was real interesting story. What happened with me was the minute I had my second negative test, they tell me she knows. Right. So, so so on the one side, the one blood reaches out to me, which is, you know, major multi-hundred Masdar company that is, you know, a blood and plasma collection company. But on the other hand, I get reached out to Instagram by a family of a particular person that is that is in need of the plasma. So this all happens at the same time. And so I. And ironically, the the hostility that they use. Also, you just won’t do it. So it all kind of came together that had the right blood type. I mean, it all sort of came together. So I was able to yesterday donate plasma today. Actually, right now it’s being transfused into the patient.

S13: Is this how far from theory to proven treatment is this?

S10: I’ll let you know in about 48 hours.

S13: Yes. Oh, wow. Do you think that having the virus and being quarantined and having to meet communicate from inside your house? Did it get in the way of your job or did it in some ways help amplify the message and the severity of what you were trying to communicate?

S8: It completely and unequivocally helped amplify the message. You know, the minute I was told that I was positive, immediately, I knew everything was going to change. I knew that for so long I had to go public. I knew that it was going to impact how I did my job. It was going to impact how people saw me afterward. I was going to impact my government function that we had to take steps to to reassure people that had come into contact with me. And then I started this video blog, which was risky. By the way, you know, actually chronicling every single day that I was on, every single day, post, post, testing positive. And, you know, I didn’t know how I was going to go. I obviously could have gone downhill on I would have gone from something positive to something negative. But thankfully, that’s not what happened.

S13: How how angered, how distraught should regular citizens be at what they perceive and what could be the reality of the government at different levels, not doing all it can. And I ask that because you are someone who can’t get frustrated, but also you are literally dealing with government officials who are in different offices than you. And you have to try to maintain your cool. You probably also can see how hard they have it. So what is the role of anger, righteous anger, frustration that a lot of us are feeling in this moment?

S10: I think it’s the appropriate response. I think what I what I keep telling those who disagree with me in terms of my aggressive posture on this is I’ve got I have two kids and I’m married. I have to be able to look at myself in the mirror every day and be convinced that I am doing everything that I can to protect not only my loved ones, but my community. I can’t look back later and say, well, you know, I don’t want to implement a curfew because, you know, it was too expensive or, you know, I don’t want to stop flights from at my age because, you know, it’s not really this guy’s jurisdiction. You shouldn’t be asking for it. I should be the one to ask why didn’t to ask for a show for us? You know, I think this is a perfect moment for people to put pressure on their elected officials. Our lives are at stake.

S8: You know, and I could tell you that I personally do seek guidance that I can tell is genuine guidance that people, you know, the texting and messaging in good faith. It’s very helpful for me.

S9: Francis Suarez is the mayor of Miami, Florida. And he is the first convalescent plasma donors in that state and one of the first convalescent plasma donors in the country.

S1: We’ll see how that treatment goes. Thank you very much. Mayor Suarez, thank you so much. And now the shpiel Max Boot wrote a column in The Washington Post yesterday saying that as a New Yorker, he considers the Corona virus worse than 9/11. New York Senator Charles Schumer told CNN the same thing.

S14: Yeah, I have lived through 9/11. I lost three people, three friends that I knew in the towers. I was there through the crash of 2008. But this is the worst of all for a variety of reasons.

S5: I actually agree with Schumer as to the main reason why one could consider this pandemic worse than 9/11.

S1: Uncertainty. When we write the script in our minds now about 9/11, we basically know who did it and how extensive the damage was and what potential for further terrorism existed. But back at the time, we didn’t know about al-Qaeda and who was attacking us and how many sleeper cells there were. But Booch reason was a little different. Max Boot wrote about how you could still go to bars and restaurants after 9/11. He says in spite of the unprecedented cataclysm, life in the rest of the city and the region went on pretty much as normal. I remember walking back to Midtown later that morning and being struck that the cafes and restaurants were still open. I was evacuating a war zone, but if I had so desired, I could have stopped to have a cappuccino and croissant. And root brewed goes on to disclose that he is making these observations from Hawaii, where his family has been stuck since mid-March. So if it’s OK, I will take his observations with a grain of poi. But there is one aspect of 9/11 or Katrina or any war or school shootings that I’ve been thinking about, and it’s that in all those cases there is calamity. What passed? Just guests. Jameel Zaki called the exclamation point of a calamity. And even if that calamity goes on for a while, maybe in the case of soldiers exposed to Agent Orange or first responders whose lungs are seared on the pile after 9/11, maybe it goes on for a long while, longer than we can imagine. But even if that happens for every wound, there is healing and for all the varied ways that we can be wounded and we are vulnerable animals who can certainly be wounded. There is a commonality to how we mend and how we mend. In a word, is together. Here is reporting after the recent hurricane in the Bahamas.

S15: For many, this was the first time to come together since the hurricane. The chuch, a source of comfort after some difficult days open once more.

S16: The hugs were warm. The tears were real. The stories of survival frightening.

S1: The first time to come together, meaning literally together, they had time to call or text. Certainly, presumably they talked to neighbors across a fence. But coming together is not coming together unless you’re together to share that hug, to gather in that crowd. A physical crowd to form a vigil together, as happened after one of our many shootings in this country.

S17: Support for El Paso stretching all the way from San Antonio. Tonight, a crowd gathered in front of San Fernando Cathedral to honor the 22 lives lost.

S1: The healing process is so imbued with synonyms for togetherness that sometimes we don’t even notice them to come together to join us. One, to gather, either to gather round the hearth, the altar under a roof, to stand shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm, hand in hand, side by side. It is literally how we heal. It is physically how we cope to offer a shoulder, to cry on, to say lean on me, to say I’ll pick you up when you have fallen, to hug it out, to join as one. In Christianity, there is the mass, which comes from a different etymology than amassing, but still depends so much on physical interaction, on touching, on shaking hands and sharing the Eucharist, which is literally consuming the body of Christ. This is what parishioners in Celina, Ohio, said last year after a tornado took the life of one of their worshippers.

S18: Sometimes we can’t be there physically removing debris or rebuilding, but we can get together and we can pray and we can lift each other up that way.

S19: These people are building each other back up as they begin their journey forward.

S20: We love each other and lift each other. And we we act quickly to help one another.

S21: We gather. We touch. We lift. We support. And that is how we heal. The damage is that much harder to undo at a distance. And that is why it’s so hard to evaluate the wounds of this pandemic. The prevention of distance also denies us the means with which we form the scar tissue. The Irish have a saying it isn’t the shelter of each other that people live. The shelter of each other apart from each other. That’s the prescription. A part will allow us to survive. But together, the now forbidden togetherness, that will still be the only way that we can heal.

S22: And that’s it for today’s show, Pricella Lobby is the associate producer of The Gist. And I have to say, apart from Pricella, is Daniel Schrader, just producer, who has finally decided that, no, no, he shan’t be hosting the ball scenario delegation in his studio apartment. The gist? So if the worst thing a human being can do is cut the shoot when you’re not even close to the ground. The second worst thing must be deploying the shoot two to four feet into the ground. Emporer desperate. DIPIERRO And thanks for listening. To get.