‘We are ready to open’: Health experts join Ron DeSantis as reopening nears
Gov. Ron DeSantis gives presentation at Orlando Health on the state's coronavirus crisis responses.

Ron DeSantis
Tampa General Hospital is the latest stop on DeSantis' media tour.

Health experts at Tampa General Hospital are in lockstep with Gov. Ron DeSantis on whether Florida is ready to reopen.

Tampa was the latest stop in the Governor’s media tour ahead of him receiving a report from his Re-Open Florida Task Force, which will outline short-term recommendations for how the economy and society will enter phase one of the anticipated three-step reopening.

DeSantis has faced criticisms from Democrats for the composition of the task force, which leans heavily toward business interests. Tampa General Hospital’s President and CEO John Couris is the only health expert on the task force’s executive committee.

But sitting side by side with the Governor and other Tampa General health experts during the Monday press conference, Couris didn’t give Democrats what they wanted to hear. Rather, he advanced the reopening rhetoric a step further.

“We are ready to open,” Couris said. “And I’m not only speaking for Tampa General Hospital but probably speaking for every hospital across the state.”

Flanking DeSantis was Tampa General Vice President Dr. Charles Lockwood. From here, he said the state’s COVID-19 response will move from mitigation to containment to shutting the epidemic down.

“There’ll be outbreaks and there’ll be flares, but it’ll allow us to return to a much more normal state,” Lockwood said.

Because of the unprecedented nearly global lockdown, DeSantis said the reopening would have to be methodical and data-driven, possibly slower than others would like.

“As you look about going forward, I think folks should see a light at the end of the tunnel for the state of Florida,” he said. “It’s not going to be something that a switch is going to be flipped. This is going to be, slow and steady wins the race.”

Some of those who might think the reopening will be too slow include small business owners, who during last week’s task force discussions pushed for a quick but clear reopening.

But phase one of the reopening will be just a baby step, the Governor said. Parts of the state, like the Panhandle or Jacksonville, that have had contained outbreaks compared to the thousands of cases in South Florida, could open sooner than others.

DeSantis praised Tampa General for its data-driven approach to the pandemic and criticized other hospitals for panic among their executives.

“I had some people in some hospitals say ‘I need 600 ventilators.’ I’m like, well, how many people do you have intubated right now? ‘Three, but it’s coming, I need it.’ And I’m like, what’s that based off of,” he said. “If you need it, it’s one thing, but what’s that based off of, and I think TGH, they were always very calm, cool, collected, never panicked, never hair on fire, let’s follow the facts, follow the science and do it, and I think that they’ve done an outstanding job.”

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.


  • Tazia Stagg

    April 27, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    corrections please,
    Couris not doctor and not health expert

    • Charlotte Greenbarg

      April 28, 2020 at 7:58 am

      Of course the far left troll will dispute reality. Too bad so sad you won’t get what you want, collapse of Florida’s economy

      • Sonja Fitch

        April 28, 2020 at 3:10 pm

        May 5

  • Ld

    April 28, 2020 at 8:41 am

    They need to be put on oxygen not ventilators

  • Carol

    April 28, 2020 at 10:48 am

    Have you heard anything about gyms in Phase 1. I have heard the Governor mention everything in the President’s Phase 1, except Gyms. I own a small CrossFit Gym. We can absolutely Open safely with limited entrance, limited bodies, structured time frames of 6-8 athletes on the floor over a set time, temp checks if required, all sanitation (we always clean equipment after every use). Opening small health studios like CrossFit Plant City will not only save my business and other but more importantly strengthen the health and wellness of our Athletes.

  • Cheryl Cook

    April 28, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    The governor seems to be pretty slow on the uptake. His task force finished up last week and now he’s taking a “media swing”? – but without putting out “his” plan? Egads, the little businesses like Carol the small gym owner may as well hang it up waiting for word they will be allowed to open, even though Carol seems to have the chops, like many of us adults, to understand how important preventative measures are. Forcing people to put aside their personal lives and wellness programs should have been taken into consideration by the governor, if he actually does prevent gyms and other wellness institutions from serving their clients. Maybe, just maybe, some of us adults by now are aware of the dangers involved in the virus as well as how to practice safe living.

    • Carol

      April 28, 2020 at 10:47 pm

      Yes! Thank you for your reply. I will be risking an early opening, if need. Quiet, wise and with all safety precautions in place. 98% of my membership is ready to walk in the doors. The 2% not quite ready, have someone compromised at home. I will provide for them as well with remote coaching.I am literally fighting for the health and wellness of my athletes!

Comments are closed.


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