As Florida is completing Phase 1 of their reopening, new COVID-19 cases are on the rise. Governor DeSantis announced the first phase of reopening in early March which included the motto “Smart. Safe. Step-by Step.”
- Florida’s state parks will now reopen. According to the Florida State Parks website, approximately 8o parks throughout the state will reopen.
- Schools will continue distant/virtual learning for the remaining school year. Many Florida state colleges and universities have already released announcements of reopening for the fall semester.
- Elective surgeries will resume. In addition to elective surgeries, Governor DeSantis’ executive order allows surgical centers, dental offices, orthodontic offices, and other health care practitioner offices to reopen as well.
- Restaurants will open up their indoor and outdoor seating but must adhere to certain regulations which include tables to be separated at least 6 feet and groups of 10 or more people will not be allowed. In addition to these, indoor seating will be allowed at a 25% of capacity which affects every restaurant differently.
- Retail business can operate as well at a 25% capacity indoors but must follow safety guidelines by the CDC as well as OSHA.
The governor has stated that he is recommending people to wear face masks or coverings but has not mandated this. He is letting businesses enact their own policies about PPE. He has gone even further by stressing that they will not arrest or ticket anyone for not wearing a face mask and has stated that wearing a face mask is not necessary when going on a leisure activity by yourself.
Since phase 1 of reopening of Florida’s businesses, we have seen a rise in COVID-19 cases which have a corresponding link to the governor’s plan and dismissal of mandating the use of a face mask in public. On Tuesday May 19th, Florida recorded 56 new deaths from COVID-19 which rose the total death count to about 2,144 lives. The state added 502 cases of this virus bringing the total amount of infected to about 48,675. Florida on an average has recorded about 39 new deaths every single day due to COVID-19. If there are not revisions to Florida’s reopening plan, the trend of cases is most likely to rise based on the current numbers and average deaths per day.
Florida is facing a detrimental problem on testing for COVID-19. The Florida Division of Emergency management said during a statement Thursday that 1,702 tests they had received out of about 90,000 which were administered this month were damaged. They will contact the individuals and will be given priority for retesting. Florida has tested less than 1% of its whole population which will cause inaccurate portrayals of the cases in the State of Florida due to low percent of testing overall. Furthermore, we have to understand that within these tests it collects data of re-tests for COVID-19 such as health care workers that get tested regularly due to their close proximity with positive individuals and those who are at risk in health care facilities. According to paperwork from FDOH, the Florida Department of Health tells individuals who have already tested positive that they need two negative tests before discontinuing isolation which means that the number of tests given to Floridians include a staggering number of re-tests. One thing is very clear, we are still severely unclear about how many individuals in the State of Florida have been tested.