Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference in Doral Thursday to announce that he would allow both Miami-Dade and Broward counties to enter phase one of his plan to reopen Florida.
“Today we take another important step for a very important part of the state of Florida, some of our absolute best economic engines are in communities throughout South Florida… I have signed an executive order that grants the request for both Miami-Dade and Broward to move them into phase one of the reopening of Florida,” DeSantis said.
On May 3, the governor said that all Florida counties could enter phase one of reopening the following day except for Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
The three counties were singled out and excluded from reopening due to higher than average rates of coronavirus infections in the region.
“These counties have seen the lion’s share of the state’s epidemic, but they are trending in a positive direction,” DeSantis said in March.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Florida Department of Health reported the following COVID-19 statistic in Broward and Miami-Dade County:
|County||Total Cases||Total Hospitalizations||Total Deaths|
“The 64 counties [currently under phase one] represent 16 million Floridians and those counties have been doing very well also,” DeSantis said. “We are monitoring the data on a daily basis but since we went to phase one of the reopening, the percentage of positive tests throughout the state has ranged from 1.84% and 5.27% for new cases. Averaging about 3.5% for all new test-takers. For the phase one counties the average was about 2.5% positive.”
The governor said the baseline trend he saw in the counties originally allowed to enter phase one acted as a guide for determining when Miami-Dade and Broward could join the rest of the state. He said he also closely monitored the counties for declining positive cases, more open ICU beds and lower rates of influenza-like symptoms to make his determination.
“I think the data and the facts are very clear that southeast Florida, even though they had to face the most significant epidemic in the state of Florida, they flattened the curve, their hospitals were never overwhelmed and, in fact, they had a lot of space around this period and they are ready to move to phase one,” DeSantis said.
Miami-Dade and Broward counties will follow guidelines much like those the 64 other counties are already following which include limited operations and capacities at stores and restaurants, the maintained need for social distancing and the use of face masks, and the ability for some non-essential employees to return to work.
“Dade and Broward both submitted plans that I have approved,” DeSantis said. “They are not going to have identical approaches in every respect, and I think that this makes sense because even though we can look at Southeast Florida from the vantage point of other parts of Florida as being kind of a unique region, everyone who is down here knows there is a big difference between Broward and Miami-Dade - they are very diverse places.”