May 14, 2020
By: Sarah McCormick
Florida is well into the process of re-opening the state in its entirety with Phase 2 on the horizon. Some concerned residents are questioning what those in power are actually doing to ensure businesses are able to re-open, ensuring the safety of the residents in each community is taken into account, and what those facing unemployment are able to receive in the way of help during this time.
Governor Ron DeSantis is ensuring things are opening safely, that all hospitals have the PPE they need, and businesses are adhering to the various stipulations and CDC recommendations to operate safely.
Additionally, there’s much talk about sports coming back to Florida, concern with how the CARES Act funding is being spent, and various programs being launched across to aid those during hard times.
During Wednesday’s press conference, DeSantis made the statement that he wants to rearrange and lift restrictions so that professional sports teams can come back and begin training and playing again – safely – in Florida.
“We want to have you here. We want to have basketball practicing again. We would love to have Major League Baseball. And I think the message is that our people are starved to have some of this back in their lives. It’s an important part of people’s lives,” DeSantis stated during a press conference.
“What I would tell commissioners of leagues is, if you have a team in an area where they just won’t let them operate, we’ll find a place for you here in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said in a press conference.
Florida Senator Kelli Stargel commented on the work of the Governor during this pandemic, “Governor Ron DeSantis has been the steady hand we’ve needed during these uncertain times. Working with our federal and local partners, the Governor is balancing the health, safety, and welfare of all Floridians with the need to reopen our economy. His measured approach has defied the odds and I am incredibly grateful for his leadership.”
During a Senate hearing this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed concern regarding schools reopening cautiously and slowly, with some districts remaining closed through the fall months. President Trump stated, “I was surprised by his answer, actually. It’s just – to me it’s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools.”
“We’re opening our country. People want it open. The schools are going to be open,” Trump said.
As for when Florida schools will be reopening again, that’s being deliberated, but speculated that by August, the state will be ready to push full-throttle into the reopening process. As it should.
Florida Senator Rick Scott raised concern over funding for Democratic states looking for a bailout, during an interview with the Washington Examiner, “We cannot give hard-earned taxpayer money to poorly managed states that are going to turn around and spend it on their liberal priorities and to back-fill their budget shortfalls and solve their longstanding fiscal problem. States like California, Illinois, and New York have big budgets, high taxes, and tons of debt because they refuse to make hard choices and live within their means.”
Various small business loans are being introduced throughout each county in the state thanks to city funds and financial grants from the CARES Act being implemented, helping small businesses who are on the brink of disaster to stay afloat. Many counties are developing their own grants and financial assistance programs, as well as developing innovative incentives for small businesses per each county.
Funding for food pantries and food assistance programs throughout the state is well underway, with many churches coming together with food pantries and farm coalitions statewide to provide help to communities who are in desperate need.
The unemployment rate in Florida as of the first week of May had declined dramatically from only a week prior, with 173,191 first time claims as opposed to a week prior, at 433,103. Florida currently stands at 5th in the nation for unemployment claims – yet things are looking up. With the state, reopening comes the opportunity for people to regain prior employment, as well as opportunities for new employment at various locations.
As we move steadfastly into phase 2, Florida has one mindset, and one speed only: full speed ahead.
While proceeding with caution is of the utmost importance, it is well understood that the people of Florida are more than ready to get back to work and begin living their lives the way they did once before.