Gov. Ron DeSantis held the first Re-Open Florida Task Force meeting in a streaming teleconference at 2:06 p.m. on Monday. The 22-person team included Cabinet members, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Attorney General Ashley Moody; current and upcoming Republican legislative leaders, including Senate President Bill Galvano and House Speaker José Oliva; the respective mayors of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties and a slew of Florida CEOs of top-earning corporations, including Publix Super Markets, Raymond James Financial and Universal Parks & Resorts.
Without membership on the task force was Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who made her absence publicly heard hours later via Twitter.
“This is sadly more of the same politics over state from the Governor,” Fried said. “I was not asked to serve alongside my fellow Cabinet members on the task force, which has no voice on its membership representing Florida’s $137 billion agriculture industry.”
Among voices that were heard, Florida Chamber of Commerce CEO and Chief Economist, Mark Wilson and Jerry Parrish respectively, outlined specs in recommending the task force on how to re-open Florida’s economy. More time, however, was spent touting the success of Florida’s pre-coronavirus economic record — at one point highlighting the state’s creation of 1 in every 11 new jobs in the United States — than offering tangible advice on how or when to press resume on the economy.
@FlChamber Chief Economist @DrJerryParrish addresses the task force:
📉 Rural Fla. counties will have a harder rebound
📉 870,000 Fla. children are living in poverty
📉 1 job in every 5 is at risk in Fla. economy directly due to coronavirus, not economic downturn.
— WUFT News (@WUFTNews) April 20, 2020
Monday’s task force meeting is now standing and will stream weekly at 2 p.m. on the Florida Channel. Every Friday, the group will brief DeSantis on strategic recommendations for pressing resume in Florida.
Ideas heard at today’s meeting include modified, regulated and low-occupancy re-opening of restaurants with outdoor dining and the immediate resumption of elective surgeries statewide.
Jared Moskowistz, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, announced another major push to expand PPE provisions to assisted living facilities throughout the state, announcing an upcoming shipment of 5 million masks, 200,000 face shields and 500,000 gloves.
Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees said as of Monday morning, 266,000 tests had been conducted in Florida. Over the weekend, Florida total cases eclipsed 25,000. By Monday evening, total cases climbed by another 2,000 confirmed diagnoses.
Here are the latest coronavirus updates by the Florida Department of Health, as of Monday evening:
- 27,058 total cases in Florida
- 4,000 hospitalizations in Florida
- 823 deaths in Florida
- 218 total cases
- 28 hospitalizations
- Zero deaths
Although Alachua County has a higher number of total cases, surrounding rural counties have recorded higher numbers of coronavirus total cases and deaths of patients — especially for those exposed within assisted living facilities. Neighboring Alachua County — Clay County has accrued 11 deaths. Suwannee County, where Gov. Ron DeSantis deployed the state’s initial “strike team” for testing in nursing homes, recorded two more deaths today leaving its current total at eight.
Find the full FDOH coronavirus dashboard here.