Ron DeSantis to assemble task force on reopening Florida amid pandemic
Ron DeSantis

Image: Ron DeSantis
The economy, education and health are questions regarding what phase two looks like.

Gov. Ron DeSantis will announce a task force, likely this week, exploring what phase two of the state’s COVID-19 response will look like as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

That task force will work on solutions for the economy, education, quality of life and physical and mental health.

With the economy backsliding, hundreds of thousands of Floridians unemployed and deadlines approaching on extending various orders attempting to preserve public health in the face of COVID-19, the Governor must choose when and how to reopen the economy.

“Part of what we’re going to be doing, and I’ll be announcing probably this week, we’re creating a task force on what the phase two looks like, what does a reopening look like,” DeSantis told reporters Tuesday.

The Governor waited more than a month after the Department of Health first reported a confirmed coronavirus case in Florida to issue a statewide stay-at-home order, one of the latest states to do so. Balancing the economy and the uneven distribution of the virus in the state factored into his decision to lock down Florida.

DeSantis must also decide when to send kids back to school, if at all, this school year. The current executive order runs until May 1, meaning students would return May 4.

But DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran have made no decision yet on whether to extend the deadline.

“We’re just in a situation where we’ve got to see where we’re going,” DeSantis said. “It doesn’t mean that they are going to go back, but I think we just need to get down this road a little bit farther.”

Allowing students to return to campus for a couple of weeks in May would at least help restart a sense of normalcy, DeSantis and Corcoran said Thursday. But Surgeon General Scott Rivkees said Monday that heightened precautions are the new normal until a vaccine is developed, possibly six months or a year or two down the line.

However, DeSantis seemed to take a different tone Tuesday.

“We’re assuming — maybe there’ll be an antiviral developed.”

The task force’s questions on education would encompass what the fall semester would look like in K-12 schools and higher education.

“Maybe there’ll be this wave and then a second wave comes back in the fall, so there’s a lot of things you need to be prepared for,” DeSantis said.

And as restaurants are allowed to reopen their dining rooms, the task force would address what restaurants will look like in the second phase of the COVID-era. Before issuing the statewide stay-at-home order, the Governor ordered restaurants to operate at 50% seating capacity and keep tables the federally recommended six feet apart.

And while closing gyms is another “textbook” recommendation by federal health officials, he called obesity the number one factor in whether a person is susceptible to severe cases of COVID-19.

“My fear has been kind of in the last few months and continue going, I wonder how the physical activity has been,” he said. “We’ve got to figure out a way to get people to be able to enjoy the outdoors, to be able to go out of the house.”

Mental health also deserves consideration, he said.

“We don’t know for sure, because this has really never been tried in modern American before, but there are obviously going to be second order effects, and those are going to be things we have to deal with here in the state of Florida.”

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


6 comments

  • matt

    April 14, 2020 at 8:29 pm

    Who are the Florida equivalents of Jared and Ivanka for Little Trump to appoint? I’ll start: Carole Baskin and Vince McMahon.

    • Baskins Robbing

      April 15, 2020 at 10:29 am

      Well, we know at least one person Gillum would’ve appointed…

  • V. Musfeldt

    April 15, 2020 at 12:34 pm

    Desantis is only going on assumptions that the Covid-19 will not have any impact on our students and economy. He is just tired of being in self Isolation just like the rest of us. Go ahead, open the state back up and see what happens. What an idiot.

  • Paul Egger. Jr.

    April 16, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    Why he’s at it could he start a task force for UNEMPLOYMENT!!!

  • BlueHeron

    April 16, 2020 at 10:04 pm

    Well, we’ve got a nursing home task force that’s just so effective and probably not even happening.
    Yea. Let’s set up another task force for unemployment. That way he can keep avoiding questions, paying lip service or being incoherent when he does. Continuing to blame the previous guy. Not fixing this problem either.

    We can add it to the next phase task force.

    So when we finally hear all about his second phase, be sure that a lot of it was telegraphed to him by his mentor who is a YUGE lover of Florida.

  • Donna Bailey

    April 18, 2020 at 12:07 pm

    How about that sense of normalcy in returning to school for two weeks? As a Grandmother who raises her 4 school age grandchildren I’ve been busy teaching them social distancing in the real world. Let’s just send them back to school with no sense of distancing and see how fast families like mine lose their grandparents to the spread of the virus. Who will these children have then? Not their parents that’s for sure. In the state of Florida there are so many Grandparents raising grandchildren that in itself is a hard number to swallow. Let’s not make these children the states problem too. Keep the schools closed the last few weeks of the year. Grandparents lives matter too!

Comments are closed.


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