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Re-Open Florida Task Force given sobering economic data

Recovery could take up to 4 years in worst-case scenario

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A task force assembled by Gov. Ron DeSantis to advise when and how to reopen a state forced to virtually shut down in response to the coronavirus pandemic was told Monday that more than 40% of tourism, recreation, retail, real estate, construction and transportation jobs are at risk.

News 6 partner WJXT reports DeSantis opened Monday afternoon’s initial meeting of the Re-Open Florida Task Force saying he wanted to “get the economy back in a safe way.”

The governor had announced the group would include elected officials, business, education, tourism and community leaders. He announced the names of the members Monday evening. Scroll to the bottom of this story to see that list.

[READ: These local leaders will decide when and how Orange County’s economy will reopen | Coronavirus: 5.2 million more file for unemployment in US]

Florida Chamber of Commerce Chairman and CEO Mark Wilson was introduced as chairman of the group, the state’s Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz, Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, Secretary of the Agency for Healthcare Administration Mary Mayhew, the head of the Florida Banker’s Association, some major manufacturers and several metropolitan area mayors were among the executive committee members on the 2 p.m. call.

You can listen in to the meeting that was streamed on The Florida Channel.

DeSantis and his surgeon general were encouraged by the fact that new positive cases have leveled off and the dire projections that the state’s hospitals would be overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases have not come to pass.

AHCA Secretary Mayhew said hospital capacity is actually greater now than it was when the state’s response began, but partly because elective procedures were postponed by an executive order -- which came at an economic cost to the health care industry.

The chamber’s chief economist said an optimistic projection is that Florida’s gross domestic product will take a 2.3% hit and should come back by the end of the year. His pessimistic projection is an 8.9% dip in GDP and it could take four years to recover.

Potential GDP scenarios

Chart from the Florida Chamber of Commerce
Chart from the Florida Chamber of Commerce (Florida Chamber of Commerce)

SLIDES: Re-Open Florida documents

South Florida remains a hot spot for coronavirus, with Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties having 56% of the 26,660 total cases, according to the latest figures from the Florida Department of Health. The state continues to identify hundreds of new cases and dozens of additional deaths each day.

The state has now tested nearly 268,000 people -- about 1.3% of Floridians -- and about 10% of those tested were positive.

Flattening the curve -- seeing a decrease in new cases and deaths -- is cited as the main criteria to judge how quickly the state can begin lifting stay-at-home restrictions. While the definition of flattening the curve is subject to interpretation, within the past week Florida has seen some of the highest daily increases of both COVID-19 confirmed cases and deaths since testing began in early March.

Working groups were assigned to each of the high, medium and low-risk industries, which may reopen on different schedules. Results of those daily meetings will be presented to the executive committee, which will hold a conference call daily at 2 p.m. through Friday unless additional time is needed.

Below are the names of the Re-Open Florida Task Force members:

  • Lt. Gov Jeanette Nuñez
  • Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis
  • Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody
  • President of the Florida Senate Bill Galvano
  • Florida House of Representatives speaker Jose Oliva
  • Florida Sen. Wilton Simpson
  • Rep. Chris Sprowls,
  • Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran
  • Jamal Sowell, President & CEO of Enterprise Florida, Inc.
  • Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez
  • Broward County Mayor Dale Holness
  • Palm Beach County Mayor David Kerner
  • President and CEO of Tampa General Hospital John Couris
  • Walt Disney World Resort president Josh D’Amaro
  • Publix Super Markets CEO Todd Jones
  • Board of Governors for the State University System chairman Syd Kitson
  • Raymond James Financial chairman and CEO Paul Reilly
  • Florida Bankers Association president and CEO Alex Sanchez
  • Florida Power & Light Company president and CEO Eric Silagy
  • Universal Orlando Resort executive vice president and CEO of Universal Parks & Resorts John Sprouls
  • Vice president of global supply chain for Lockheed Martin Corporation Patrick Sunderlin,
  • AT&T Florida and Caribbean president Joe York

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