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2020

Florida to be under virus emergency during Republican National Convention

Governor extends emergency through the end of August.

It’s now official: the state of Florida will be under a state of emergency due to COVID-19 through the Republican National Convention.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday made it official with Executive Order 20-166, extending the state of emergency declared in Executive Order 20-52 for 60 days.

20-52 was originally issued in March, at a time when the Legislature was still in Session and coronavirus fears had not reached the general public.

Both orders came at pivotal moments.

The March order was issued just after the Florida House was cleared over fears that five legislators and one staffer had potentially been infected by the coronavirus.

At that point, there were just 14 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the state — 13 residents and one non-resident.

The latest extension came at a time when total case numbers are no longer in the teens, but positive testing rates are. More than 210,000 Floridians have tested positive for the virus since the original order.

The median age of positive tests is creeping back up, now at 40 years of age, suggesting that community spread among younger populations is insinuating its way into more mature demographics.

With the virus clearly not slowing down, questions have emerged for the Governor about the Republican National Convention, expected to be a full-capacity event in Jacksonville in August, when the state will still be under this state of emergency.

DeSantis faced just such a question from POLITICO reporter Marc Caputo on Tuesday, but the Governor kept walking rather than answer it. Similar attempts to get clarity on the RNC question went unaddressed by DeSantis at at least one previous press conference.

Meanwhile, in Jacksonville, coronavirus concerns have impacted planning for the event.

The Mayor suggested that perhaps a full-occupancy convention may not be in the cards after all, given the state still being in Phase 2 reopening, which includes indoor occupancy caps.

“Facilities cannot participate in anything over 50% capacity,” Mayor Lenny Curry said. “That’s where we are right now. So we’re just going to continue to evaluate as we move toward that date.”

For the Republican National Convention, as is the case with schools poised to reopen, sports leagues preparing to relaunch, and businesses attempting to figure out the next move, the waiting game continues.

And for the Sunshine State, the same holds true for the state of emergency.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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