For months, health officials have been pleading with South Floridians to “drain and cover” -- especially people who live in Miami Beach, Miami-Dade’s remaining zika virus hot zone. And now the county has reported a case of locally-acquired dengue fever – another mosquito-borne virus.
“Cover” is for covering up – wearing long pants, long sleeves and applying insect repellent to bare skin and clothing to ward off disease-carrying mosquitoes. But during South Florida’s rainy season – the “drain” part is just as critical. Getting rid of standing water is one of the ways to cut down on the number of breeding sites for mosquitoes. Since it takes only a bottle cap of water for mosquitoes to breed, standing water is the enemy.
But what happens if a homeowner or business owner does not drain and cover? What happens if they CAN’T?
For answers, WLRN reached out to Susanne Torriente, Chief Resiliency Officer for the city of Miami Beach. Please listen below for the full interview:
Miami Beach “Drain and Cover” FAQs
What kind of penalties do homeowners or business owners face if they don’t get rid of known mosquito breeding sites on their property?
Susanne Torriente: For the most part, the businesses and residents that we have been communicating with are really cooperating. But we have had to issue some immediate violations for anything that's actually creating a health hazard. And so since August 19th, we've actually issued about 97 of those immediate violations that have a fine of $1,000.
How about construction sites?
ST: The fines are the same. The construction sites are definitely breeding grounds. That's what we've heard from our partners at the Department of Health and Miami-Dade County. And so we've really made an effort of going out to the different construction sites. And more than one occasion, looking for standing water, talking to the site managers, giving them information so they can inform their crews.
Who exactly is responsible for policing standing water “drain” efforts on Miami Beach?
ST: On the ground, we have our Code Enforcement staff -- they're in the neighborhoods. They know the area well. They have been helped by our sanitation crews and some of our building inspectors have actually gone out on the weekends, as well. And we're really supporting the Mosquito Control efforts of Miami-Dade County. We've been escorting them into certain areas and parts of the city that we know; that we're obviously familiar with. And so our effort has really been on outreach and prevention, while the County is obviously focusing on mosquito control.
Who can homeowners or business owners call for help if the breeding site is more than they can handle?
ST: You can definitely call the city or call 3-1-1 at the County and report it. We have so much good information on our website – not only the city of Miami Beach but the County website. And then of course you can call 305-604-CITY (2489) -- and you can talk to someone at Miami Beach City Hall.