DeSantis adds South Florida counties to reopening plans, touting downward trend in ICU patients

Governor Ron DeSantis says Florida has made enough progress in slowing the spread of COVID-19 that two southeast Florida counties can now begin the phase-one reopening process. It’s been nearly two weeks since the rest of Florida began phase one -- on May 4.

DeSantis said Thursday COVID-19 has not hit Florida as hard as early prediction models forecasted.

“Clearly those doomsday predictions were not realized. Our hospitals actually had more capacity six weeks into the pandemic than they did before the pandemic began,” said DeSantis. “Total COVID-positive patients in the ICU since we undertook phase one has decreased by 21%... There were 340 people on ventilators prior to us starting phase one. There are now 232 as of last night.”

Two weeks ago, FOX 13 shared the reopening plans of Bay Area restaurants, like Forbici in Hyde Park, and retailers, like KT Janes and Occasions. On Thursday, both owners said sales have been good and customers are adjusting.

PREVIOUS: Pinellas commissioners adopt phase one plan to reopen; sheriff expresses opposition

People are also taking advantage of outdoor seating in restaurants like at American Social in Tampa.

“I think that one of the biggest challenges that we face as a restaurant here in phase one is really educating the consumer on the new flow of the restaurant,” said Adam Perhosky, American Social’s director of marketing and events.

Perhosky said people want to support local businesses.

“I think the creativity of business owners locally here in Tampa has been nothing short of phenomenal, closing down streets, tenting up sidewalks,” said Perhosky about Tampa restaurants allowed to expand outdoor seating.

MORE: Busy weekend for local restaurants with new phase one guidelines

The opportunity is now coming to southeast Florida, with Miami-Dade and Broward counties into phase one.

“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,” said DeSantis.

The governor said the trends have been positive, and he said what the state has done so far is effective. DeSantis is expected to announce more businesses joining into phase one on Friday.

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know


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