Carruthers urges unity and cooperation at first meeting since businesses begin reopening



“We need to be vigilant.”

That statement was prominent in remarks from County Mayor Heather Carruthers, at the first regular County Commission meeting held since Monroe began opening up to the public earlier this week, even as the Corona virus pandemic continues into its third month.

Meeting in cyberspace at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, May 20, Carruthers acknowledged to the rest of the Commission the fact that the decision to reopen was “a divisive issue,” one that is going to require patience both from her fellow politicians, and the public alike.

She urged unity and caution, as well as for county staffers and medical personnel to keep an eye on infection rates, especially in the troubling cluster of cases in the Upper Keys.

Still, as Carruthers said, the information available has turned opinions in favor of getting back to business – even while watching for any signs of a second wave.

“But facts are stubborn things,” Carruthers added. “And we have flattened the curve in our county.”

While listing the measures she hoped to see carrying Keys residents through the coming period of uncertainty, Carruthers stated that the ongoing economic bloodletting of area Mom & Pop businesses played in a role in the decision, taken Sunday evening, to get people back to work.

“Economic hardship . . . has been undeniable,” the Mayor added. “I ask all of us to work together . . . I ask everyone to get on the same page . . . going forward.”

Carruthers also expressed her gratitude for the encouragement and help she has received, as the county navigates possibly the greatest challenge in its history.

“I just wanted to thank everyone,” she said. “And not just the people on my screen . . . Let’s pull together . . . We’re all on the same team.”

As of noon on May 20, the County has recorded three deaths, and 12 hospitalizations of a total of 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Commissioners also discussed options to deal with the issue of overtime and hazard pay for first responders and other county employees in the future. That issue flared last month when Commissioner Craig Cates objected to the current pay scheme, which he called unfair to taxpayers in the current economic climate.