Gov. Ron DeSantis’ data-driven approach to the COVID-19 pandemic has flattened the curve without imposing draconian measures on Floridians.
Because Floridians have done the right things, from social distancing to avoiding large gatherings, the dire predictions that Florida would become another Italy or New York were wrong.
Since DeSantis trusts Floridians to do the right thing, we flattened the curve without a “nanny state” micromanaging our every move.
This balanced approach worked to combat the spread of COVID-19. It will also work as we move to Phase 2 — reopening our economy.
DeSantis convened the Re-Open Florida Task Force last week to advise him on how to safely bring back our state’s thriving, job-creating economy.
As a member of the Task Force, I brought to the table my own personal experiences as a small-business owner as well as the hundreds of calls and suggestions I’ve received from constituents.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
Phase 2 must be guided by the principle that every job is “essential” to the person who needs it to support their family. We need to abandon the approach that “essential activities” are allowed and “nonessential activities” are not.
The test must be a simple one: can the activity be done safely? If the answer is yes, the activity should resume. The furniture store owner in Orange Park doesn’t understand why he’s forced to close while Home Depot is open. He’s right! Both should be open if proper protocols are followed.
With the “safety test” guiding us, small businesses can begin to reopen when basic, easy-to-follow safety protocols are met.
Also, there are three specific actions that I recommend the Governor take immediately:
— Allow hospitals and surgical centers to resume elective procedures. Mammograms are being delayed; surgeries to remove cancers are not happening. To prevent the second wave of non-COVID-19 health emergencies, we need to end the ban on these critical procedures. Hospitals have sufficient capacity to handle it.
— Allow dentists and other medical professionals, including mental health professionals, to fully practice as long as proper protocols are in place. Again, I am concerned about the health of all our citizens.
— Immediately open all parks and beaches as long as social distancing is practiced. We should encourage our citizens to get outside, walk and exercise, and enjoy the sunshine in a safe manner.
Since taking office, DeSantis’ pragmatic, common-sense approach to governing has yielded much bipartisan success.
On issues from protecting the environment to supporting teachers in education, he has boldly led our state.
As we face this generation-defining pandemic, I know the Governor will bring this levelheaded, balanced approach to the reopening of Florida. We will be back, sooner than anyone predicts, because Florida will chart its own course to recovery based on the Governor’s understanding that safety and prosperity don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Sen. Rob Bradley represents Senate District 5 and serves as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.