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Governor’s task force wants to hear what you have to say about reopening Florida

Margie Manning

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

State officials are giving Florida residents a chance to weigh in on re-opening the economy, while also expanding Covid-19 testing and continuing to work to improve the system for filing unemployment claims.

The Re-Open Florida Task Force has launched a public comment submission portal open to all Floridians.

State residents can offer their opinion on any topic related to the re-opening of Florida’s economy, including the impacts to small business, healthcare, education, tourism, agriculture, retail, recreation and sports and construction, an email from the office of Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

Public feedback will be a critical component of the task force’s final report to the governor, the email said. Click here to submit comments.

Florida has been under a stay at home order since April 3, limiting state residents’ movements to essential services and essential activities. That order is set to expire April 30. In advance of making a decision on lifting or modifying the order, DeSantis appointed the task force earlier this week, and it is expected to finalize its recommendations this weekend.

At a Friday afternoon press conference, DeSantis said he wants to go forward in a “safe, methodical way,” and is less concerned about a specific date and more concerned about “getting it right.”

“I am going to work today and all through the weekend about what we need to do and make sure we are doing it in a way that makes the most sense,” DeSantis said Friday. “It does not need to be any specific date. I think that if you do it right then we’ll continue to build off this and get to a place where people can get back on their feet.”

DeSantis also addressed Covid-19 testing and the state’s unemployment system during the news conference.

He said he would ask the state’s surgeon general to issue an order to allow licensed pharmacists in Florida to order and administer Covid-19 tests. Details remain to be worked out, but DeSantis said he hoped the tests by pharmacists could be given to anyone who thinks they have been exposed to the virus, so that if those individual test positive they can self-isolate themselves in order to avoid spreading the illness.

About 1.55 percent of the state’s population has been tested so far and many public health experts have said widespread testing is needed before businesses can reopen safely.

Much of the push to reopen the state’s economy has been driven by a soaring jobless rate, and exacerbated by technical difficulties in the state’s online system for filing unemployment claims. A class-action lawsuit was filed against the state Thursday over the computerized system. It alleges that former Gov. Rick Scott and a Republican-dominated legislature created a flawed process seven years ago that now has failed Florida workers, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

“I don’t know legally about the lawsuit but I can tell you that system was not a good investment for the state of Florida,” DeSantis said Friday. “This thing was a clunker, there’s no doubt about it. It was designed to basically fail I think. With this volume it was going to be a problem no matter how good the system was, but I do think the way this thing was designed was very problematic.”

DeSantis cited the work done over the past several days to bring the system up to speed. Through Friday afternoon, the Department of Economic Opportunity said it had processed nearly 219,000 claims for unemployment assistance, and paid $157.5 million to nearly 154,000 claimants.

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Tina Broome

    April 25, 2020at12:37 pm

    Good afternoon Governor DeSantis.

    You wanted my opinion my family and I think that the beaches should be closed and not reopened yet? Things are looking okay for the moment but it’s not a good thing please reconsider. There’s a lot of arrogant an inpatient people out there that don’t know any better this is not the right time to open the beaches please. Let me ask you a question with all due respect what you take your children and family to the beach?

    • Avatar

      PRISCILLA BAKER

      April 25, 2020at3:11 pm

      May is Not the month to reopen ! Reopening in May is a DEATH SENTENCE for THOUSANDS!
      The Beaches should Not be open because they are Not keeping Social distance !
      The majority of Florida residents do Not want the state to reopen in May; we want to Live !

      • Avatar

        Diana Sabella

        April 25, 2020at4:50 pm

        I agree 100% with Ms Baker.
        PLEASE PUT OUR HEALTH 1st… LISTEN TO MEDICAL EXPERTS. Economy no good if we’re all sick or dead!
        Thank you!

      • Avatar

        LJ Milo

        April 26, 2020at5:09 am

        If you are afraid by all means stay home. No one is going to force you to go out. But let those of us who know how to protect ourselves and others have our lives back.

  2. Avatar

    Erica Perrine

    April 25, 2020at1:28 pm

    Hello Governor DeSantis,

    I feel that we should start reopening the economy in Florida. Those that don’t want to be out don’t have to be. But there are so many out of work that live paycheck to paycheck, that’s only way for them to survive. There are hundreds of thousands that still haven’t received their stimulus check and still haven’t received unemployment! My husband and I are in those thousands and that haven’t received any relief from the government. We have been out of work since March 26. People that are immune compromised and those that are more prone to viruses should continue to take precautions, those that want to work and reopen should be allowed even if it’s with restrictions, such as social distancing and such. But the economy needs to reopen! Where does everyone think all this funding and relief is coming from? There won’t be anything left if we continue to keep the economy shutdown! If people want to get out and be a part of society then they should be allowed to do so. I understand there needs to be rules & regulations but there also has to be some sort of survival too.

  3. Avatar

    Mark Suffridge

    April 25, 2020at3:22 pm

    Dear Governor DeSantis:

    I know that we are suffering for not working and getting pay. Against my better judgement, places of employment should be opened with understanding that workers must wear effective masks, face shield and gloves while strictly maintaining social distancing.

    However the beaches/parks/playgrounds should not be opened on the ground that COVID-19 is still a big mystery to our top scientists and infectious diseases specialist. It is a mystery that there are some folks have religiously and strictly following stay at home rule and practicing safe distance for several months and still catch this horrible virus.

    For those going back to work, should be very cautious about going home from work. They should avoid their family members by quickly put work clothes in the washer or in strong plastic bag tied up and go take a good cleaning shower immediately. Then they can come closer to their family members.

    May God help heal this country.

    Sincerely yours,
    Mark Suffridge

  4. Avatar

    Stephen Waters

    April 25, 2020at4:22 pm

    Have tried the link multiple times, and it will not accept comments.

    • Avatar

      Candy Smith

      April 25, 2020at8:19 pm

      Please open the restaurants. People need jobs…6ft rule or close them. Same with the bars.. eaches and theme parks. Closed..way toooo early

      Come on gov. Open florida with rules. We need jobs and mo wY. People need to live. Before they start riotingike in Miami. OPEN florida.

  5. Avatar

    Marylou Kolenda

    April 25, 2020at4:30 pm

    Form is overloaded, doesn’t cache the data you enter if you try and resend. Not to be negative, but I’m not sure how interested the State is in hearing from us, nor am I sure which weekend they’re discussing the options. After all, that only leaves tomorrow to read our input.

  6. Avatar

    Brad Banks

    April 25, 2020at7:45 pm

    Site still not accepting submissions. Can’t Republicans do anything right!?!

    Regarding opening the economy : I have had countless arguments online with people who think opening the economy is more important than people dying. They were obviously Republicans who are more interested in Trump being reelected then saving lives. However, with that said, having just a few stores open, for instance Lowes or Home Depot, just creates a situation where there’s so many people in just a few stores that it’s impossible to practice social distancing guidelines. Therefore I have come to the conclusion that it would be better to have all of the stores and businesses open while imposing AND enforcing social distancing guidelines. As well as forcing the stores to implement all possible social distancing guidelines to protect their employees. Parks open – yes. Beaches open – absolutely not!

  7. Avatar

    Linda Lawrence

    April 25, 2020at10:56 pm

    Dear Governor Ron DeSantis,

    While I live in the same state as you I feel a world away. You asked us to help you, we did. You asked us to close our business, we did. You asked us to stay home, we did. You asked us to continue to stay at home, we are. So here I am, at home, waiting. You told us don’t worry unemployment will come, it hasn’t. You told us don’t worry grants are coming, they haven’t. You told us don’t worry forgivable loans are coming, they haven’t. So here I am, at home waiting. I wait alongside my coworkers, family and friends, small business owners, the self-employed and the independent contractors. A massive number of Florida residents who are waiting for the Unemployment portal to open for us, waiting for loan approvals, waiting for stimulus checks. All of these programs, we are at the back of the line for. So here we wait. While bills come daily, savings continuously dwindling and still doing our part. It is time you do yours. It is an inconceivable expectation to close unessential business halting all income and expect us to survive. We need to pay our bills and put food on the table. Without immediate action, you are leaving us no options. How are we to survive? We deserve an answer. Coming soon is no longer acceptable!!!

  8. Avatar

    Cheryl Grimes

    April 26, 2020at9:32 am

    Open up. The cure is now worse than the disease. Everyone has an opinion and every has a choice. If you are afraid, stay home. If not, go to work.

  9. Avatar

    Robert Miller

    April 26, 2020at12:27 pm

    Definitely time to reopen with proper protocols.If someone feels unsafe they can remain in quarantine.

  10. Avatar

    Nathan Heinze

    April 26, 2020at12:45 pm

    The lock downs are horribly inefficient and devastating millions of lives. I have two friends who are single parent moms, about to get kicked out of their apartments with their kids because they’re not allowed to work. This is happening everywhere. It’s easy to say “stay at home!” if you’re not dependent on income to support your children, but millions of us are.

    If you are concerned about your safety, by all means self-quarantine! My mother thankfully is doing that, but is just as angry as I am about the forced lock downs because it’s hurting her family so much.

    The fact is, the COVID-19 death rate for those under 65 is a fraction of one percent.

    End these lock downs, and let us go back to work.

  11. Avatar

    Elaine Rubnison

    April 26, 2020at6:52 pm

    I think it is time for ou leaders to do what is best for the people and not what Trump wants to happen. President Trump has no regard for the people he is supposed to govern, he has not visited on hospital, continues to lie, and in effect, has created chaos and increased the number of deaths. Trump has no compassion and says whatever pops into his head and then defends his position and fires those that disagree. Are Americans that blind. Americans need to continue the lock down, all data confirms that the Coronavirus spreads when groups of people come together. We need to stay put until the numbers of newly infected decreases. Please continue lock down and do not open beaches.

  12. Avatar

    Jay Mangold

    April 26, 2020at9:06 pm

    The infection rates and deaths projected a few months ago were horribly overstated, based primarily on obsolete data from the 1950’s. Hospitals were to be over run with the dying, we needed 100,000 more ventilators, bring in military ships for field hospitals and on and on. How much of this happened? The fear and panic that resulted from that flawed information along with the unconscionable media fanning and fueling the “Plandemic” caused a complete over reaction from local and state governments. Wear a mask. Don’t wear a mask. Make a mask. Keep 6 feet away. Stay at home-unless you go out. Get take out food but don’t touch the bag unless you have gloves that you touch your face with. On and on. Absurd at best. Empirical data from the past 3 months tells a much truer story of the virus suggesting that the VAST MAJORITY people are either mildly or unaffected from virus exposure while the population with underlying health issues are more vulnerable to this, just as they are more vulnerable to EVERY virus, flu or other diseases that are around. This population needs to always be vigilant about health issues and they need to take personal responsibility in keeping safe. So now what? The past bad decisions (based at best on flawed data and projections) can’t be overstated as to the devastating effects they have had on our citizens specifically and our economy in general. The re-opening of Florida cannot come quickly enough, with appropriate guidelines and conditions as to not overwhelm a partially closed system and infrastructure. Do you not agree that it’s well past the time to do the right thing?

  13. Avatar

    Heather Bushee

    April 27, 2020at3:06 pm

    Please open Florida back up. Several studies are showing that the majority of the population has already been exposed to the virus with little to no symptoms. It’s wrong to limit the rights and freedoms of health people.

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