TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Thursday, President Donald Trump laid out his three-phase plan to re-open America. It’s a gradual, deliberate approach, first depending on, in part, a downward trend in positive COVID-19 cases and robust testing.
Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis said Florida would follow the federal guidelines -- mostly.
”We will obviously use that as a baseline,” he said. “Doesn’t mean that Florida is going go do everything they say and not say. That’s a pretty good baseline.”
The governor is assembling a re-opening task force aimed at determining exactly when and how to turn the state’s economic engine back on.
“What I want to do is tap into people in elected office, people in business, people who are involved in education and all kinds of things and get the best ideas about what is the most prudent way to move forward,” the governor said.
DeSantis said he will be in contact with leaders in Southeast Florida, where the virus has hit the hardest, as a next step.
"Maybe Southeast Florida, the next phase, will look a little different than the rest of the state," he said during a press conference in Fort Lauderdale, where he announced two new testing sites -- one in Pompano Beach and the other at the Urban League of Broward County.
As the state tries to reopen from the coronavirus shutdown, there will no doubt be bumps and hurdles along the way. Unemployment claims have topped 600,000 over the last three weeks in Florida and major issues with the state’s unemployment website haven’t helped matters.
As of Thursday, over 33,000 out-of-work residents have received their claims -- that's about 4% of the total number of people asking for help.
DeSantis says repairing that system is a top priority. A hundred servers have now been added, along with about 2,000 extra workers.
“The system was overwhelmed,” the governor admitted. “We said we gotta fix this and put all hands on deck and get it done. We’ve made it the numbe- one economic priority.”
Speaking of economics, the beaches are a huge driver. In Jacksonville, officials plan to open the beaches there on a limited basis beginning Friday. Meanwhile, Pinellas County beaches are staying closed.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
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