WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a meeting with President Donald Trump on Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he’s reviewing plans for reopening the state and plans to make an announcement on what that process will look like come Wednesday.
DeSantis didn’t say if a timeline would be revealed then. His current statewide stay-at-home order is set to expire Thursday unless an extension is issued.
Residents across the state have been itching to get back to work and resume their lives now that many businesses have been shuttered for more than a month and Florida’s unemployment system continues to be overwhelmed with applicants desperate for some kind of benefits.
DeSantis didn’t address those concerns specifically speaking Tuesday from the White House.
“I created a task force and I have all kinds of folks we have some of the great health systems, great docs, business folks, elected officials -- they’ve submitted a report to me, I’m going to be reviewing that today. Obviously we’ve been thinking about what we need to do and so we’ll announce it tomorrow about the next step Florida but I’ll just wait to announce it then,” DeSantis said.
Watch the meeting in the video player below
He added that Florida’s executive order wasn’t as strict as some other states, so moving into phase one of reopening won’t be a huge step.
Part of opening the state back up for travel will be ensuring that visitors feel safe coming to the Sunshine State. That’s why he said he plans to take a “thoughtful” approach.
“I think we’re going to have to be measured and thoughtful but I think that as people see that different things can happen safely I think the confidence factor will go up,” DeSantis said.
Under Trump’s reopening America plan, phase one would include allowing restaurants, churches and even sporting venues to operate as long as they adhere to strict social distancing guidelines. Phase two would see the opening of schools and some loosening of restrictions. Phase three is what many have dubbed “the new normal” and would involve limited getting most establishments operating at full swing again while keeping in line with limited protocols.
No matter the phase, DeSantis said protecting those most at-risk for contracting the deadly respiratory illness will remain a priority. That’s why he doesn’t plan on stopping down testing at nursing homes and assisted living facilities any time soon.
“We’re offensive with the nursing homes, nothing’s going to change on the nursing home testing until this virus goes away. This is the population that is most at risk in Florida, we have close to 85% of the fatalities have been aged 65 or older,” DeSantis said.
In his remarks, the governor acknowledged that the pandemic hasn’t hit all parts of the state equally.
“The Orlando situation is worlds different than Palm Beach and Broward and Miami-Dade and yet they have as much international travel as anybody,” DeSantis. “I think as of this morning, Orlando had 50 people hospitalized in that whole area for COVID-19. I mean, people were predicting there were going to be hundreds of thousands of people hospitalized in Florida by this time. So they’ve had a really modest outbreak."
Figures released Tuesday morning by the Florida Department of Health show there have been 32,846 COVID-19 diagnoses statewide since the outbreak began. Of those, 19,555 are in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Orange County has experienced 1,363 cases.