Executive Order number 20-123 from Gov. Ron DeSantis kicked in on Monday, putting Florida in full phase one of the state’s reopening plan in the time of coronavirus. Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson addressed the change during his Monday news conference.

“The executive order allows gyms and fitness centers to open at 50% capacity; and allows restaurants, retail, museums and libraries to increase to 50%,” said the mayor.

The mayor also was to have requested that DeSantis reopen gyms, but the executive order rendered that moot.

Mayra Heitman/WUWF

Sunday, May 17

Latest Data From Florida Department Of Health

Saturday, May 16

Read Gov. DeSantis's Full Phase One Reopening Plan

Friday, May 15

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Gov. Ron DeSantis is expanding Florida’s first phase of reopening during the coronavirus pandemic, by allowing a number of popular gathering places and entertainment venues to operate at twice the current capacity.

Speaking Friday in Jacksonville, the governor announced that restaurants and retail stores may expand from 25% to 50% capacity as of Monday.

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The big news coming out of Gov. Ron DeSantis’s Friday news conference was the reopening of gyms as part of a “full phase one” of reopening.

But he also mentioned allowing short-term rentals on a “case-by-case” basis. It’s a big issue for local governments as tourism season takes effect.

When asked by a reporter about the short-term rental ban, DeSantis said counties will be requested to provide a written safety plan to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to get the approval for short-term rentals. 

National Hurricane Center

With another active hurricane season expected beginning June 1st, Florida emergency management officials are taking into account a massive new factor: the coronavirus.

Speaking last week in Sarasota, Gov. Ron DeSantis said it’s not known how the virus will react a month from now or three months from now; but we have to assume that it’s going to be with us in some capacity.

He added that they’re working with FEMA in preparing for the six-month season.

Bob Barrett, WUWF Public Media

On May 8 of each year, the city of Pensacola pays homage to Spain’s Bernardo de Galvez — who led a multi-cultural army that defeated the British in the Battle of Pensacola in 1781. But with the coronavirus and wildfires in the region, WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody reports the day kind of flew under the radar.

“We didn’t get the chance to say it on Friday, Galvez Day, so we did have a chance to celebrate it,” said Mayor Grover Robinson. “We typically have a reenactment [and] some things we didn’t get a chance to do over at the [Galvez] statue on Palafox.”


Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson says complying with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ reopen order is going to take some work and cooperation from city government, local merchants, and residents to keep all safe against COVID-19.

In perhaps the shortest-ever “Morning with the Mayor” — 19 minutes — Robinson spoke about closing Palafox Street to vehicular traffic on Mother’s Day. He and the First Lady visited the area, and had dinner there.

Northeastern University

A new group of professionals are joining the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. They’re called contact tracers.

Mayra Heitman/WUWF

Sunday, May 10

638 cases in Escambia; death toll at 18

As of 10 a.m., Escambia County has had 638 positive COVID-19 cases.

The total number of COVID-19 related deaths in Escambia County residents is 18 individuals.

6 deaths in state; 595 new positive cases

From the state department of health:

Today, as of 10 a.m. Central, there are 595 new positive COVID-19 cases (588 Florida residents and 7 non-Florida residents) and six deaths related to COVID-19.

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

Local governments took strong measures to detract visitors when they closed beaches in March. 

Now, most have reopened as the state moves into phase one of its reopening plan. But with the short-term rental ban and social-distancing orders still in place, the peak season will be a bit different. And local tourism offices are sharing that message with incoming visitors. 

“Open beaches come with responsibility,” said Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis. “We want everyone to be good neighbors. Don’t be part of a potential problem, but a participant in the solution.” 


Work continues on both the state and local levels to reopen Florida, in a way that keeps another surge of the coronavirus from appearing.

First up Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis in Miami saying that the number of patients seriously ill with COVID-19 has dropped substantially, even in the hotbed that is South Florida.

“And there are over 6,300 ventilators throughout the state of Florida that are just not being used; and so, to be under 300 patients now with that, that’s a positive trend for us,” the governor said.

Jennie McKeon, WUWF Public Media


Floridians are staying put and keeping their money in their pockets during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study by UWF’s Haas Business Center.

The economic-impact survey was conducted from March 16 to April 6. Jerry Parrish, who chairs the council of economic advisors at Haas, says it was an online study out of necessity.


The partial re-opening of businesses began Monday in Florida, as the battle against COVID-19 continues. In his weekly virtual news conference, Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson gave a sneak peek at downtown Pensacola, post-coronavirus.

The idea, says the mayor, is to find a way to deal with an ever-changing dynamic in business, brought about by the coronavirus.

Jennie McKeon, WUWF Public Media

The first thing Jane Mihanovich did when she arrived at Okaloosa Island Friday morning was stick her feet in the emerald water. 

“I came here to see and to touch the ocean,” said the native Croatian who moved to Fort Walton Beach in 2007. “When I got in, it felt incredible … indescribable.” 

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

Walton County beaches opened Friday and people showed up with their umbrellas and coolers in tow. 

But Daniel Uhlfelder showed up in a black linen robe and a plastic scythe.