LAKE MARY, Fla. - On Wednesday, Governor Ron DeSantis announced his 'Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida's Recovery' on Wednesday. Full report in PDF form at bottom of article.
The Governor began the news conference by discussing the impact coronavirus has had on Florida residents, with many seniors not getting to graduate in person or attend proms, or even his very own parents being unable to meet his newborn.
However, he assured that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that we are going to keep by taking safe, smart, and data-driven steps.
“Today, Florida will take a step – small, deliberate, methodical, and based on consultation with some of our greatest physicians – towards a more hopeful future,” DeSantis said. “We do have hope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties will be excluded from phase one, stating that they will begin the phase when it is safer.
“I am convinced we can take this step. We will be smart, we will be safe and we will do it step-by-step, but we should have hope,” DeSantis said. “We are resourceful, we are innovative, we can get this done. It is not going to happen overnight. If there was some magic where I could flip the switch, I would do it.”
He said that the reopening of Florida will follow several guiding principles. These include:
- Public Health & Safety
- Health Care System Readiness
- Protection of the Vulnerable
- Economic Recovery
- Protection of Civil Liberties and Maintaining Individual Rights
- Public Confidence
- Partnership with Local Communities
Phase one of reopening Florida took input and advice into account from those in prominent positions, health care system executives, small business owners, elected officials, unemployed Floridians, and law enforcement. The Re-Open Florida Task Force produced a report for Governor DeSantis after producing recommendations from these individuals.
Phase one of reopening Florida will include:
- Schools will remain in distance learning.
- Visits to senior living facilities will still be prohibited by Governor DeSantis said that he may eventually revisit this.
- Elective surgeries can resume.
- Restaurants can offer outdoor seating with six-foot space between tables and indoor seating will be allowed at 25 percent capacity.
- Retail stores can also operate at 25 percent of indoor capacity.
- No change for bars, gyms, and personal services like hairdressers. Governor DeSantis did acknowledge that he will revisit guidelines for gyms after observing how it goes for other states.
- Vulnerable individuals should avoid close contact with people outside of the home.
- All individuals, when in public, should maximize physical distance from others.
- Avoid socializing in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for physical distancing.
- Face masks are recommended for all those in face-to-face interactions and where you cannot social distance.
Governor DeSantis then said the following key metrics are needed as we move to the next steps in Florida.
- The state maintains the health benchmarks of the Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step Plan.
- Maintaining hospital bed capacity.
- Monitoring COVID-19 test positive rate.
Governor DeSantis said that we are hopefully looking at weeks, not months, in each phase but that this will be data-driven. He added that Florida will follow the White House's roadmap, which has three phases. Outside of movie theaters, Governor DeSantis said that Florida will follow their plan. A date for the next phase of reopening has not been set yet.
“My hope is that we are thinking about each phase as weeks, not thinking about months,” DeSantis said. “We are making progress. We need to put people back to work in a safe, smart and step-by-step way, but it is going to be data driven.”
He went on though to stress the importance of social distancing and continued testing in the first phase, but sought to convey a sense that the state was committed to moving forward, citing that "the only thing we have to fear is letting fear overwhelm our sense of purpose and determination."
For the full announcement by Governor DeSantis, including the more details on Florida's response to COVID-19 and what guidelines the plan to reopen will follow, watch below.
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Florida has had more than 33,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, resulting in at least 1,218 deaths, according to the state Department of Health. But there has been a downward trend in new cases since early April.
More than 800,000 Floridians have filed for unemployment as the state’s two biggest economic sectors, tourism and agriculture, have been decimated after visitors fled and institutional produce buyers such as hotels and schools closed.
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