Gov. Ron DeSantis

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Gov. Ron DeSantis is again rejecting the notion of a statewide mandatory use of face masks to protect against the coronavirus – despite a massive increase in such cases.

For the fifth time in six days, Florida has topped the 3,000 mark in new COVID-19 cases.  As of Wednesday, Escambia County recorded a massive jump overnight, increasing 88 positive cases for a total of 1,312. Santa Rosa increased 16 cases, bringing its total to 371.

Governor Ron DeSantis

  

Gov. Ron DeSantis is out with a plan to reopen Florida’s public schools at full capacity this fall, regardless of the status of the coronavirus pandemic.

Developed by the Re-Open Florida Task Force in conjunction with the Florida Department of Health and the CDC, the plan provides a "road map" to support health and safety measures -- despite the continued rise in the number of COVID-19 patients statewide. But those cases, he contends, are not indicative of any clinical consequence.

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Local governments worked overtime last weekend to submit their safety plans for short-term rentals in hopes of restarting the tourism industry in the Panhandle. And they're starting to get approvals back today. 

The scramble started Friday afternoon when Gov. Ron DeSantis laid out his “full phase one” reopening plan for the state, which includes resuming short-term rentals on a case-by-case basis. 

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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.

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About 60 percent of coronavirus cases and fatalities have been in South Florida according to the governor, who added that hospitalizations, deaths and positive cases have slowed elsewhere — clearing the way for an economic jump start.Fresh off his meeting with President Trump, Gov. Ron DeSantis Wednesday announced that Florida is getting ready to begin the first phase of its reopening.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “Reopen Florida” committee has begun work to map out the state’s reopening from the coronavirus shutdown.

“Good afternoon, I want to thank you again for your service; thank you for being a part of this really important task force as we move to the next step with COVID-19,” DeSantis told the panel by teleconference.

Some of Florida’s most powerful political leaders and business executives have been appointed to the committee — legislative leaders, mayors and executives from companies such as Disney, Universal, Florida Power & Light and Publix.

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Florida’s unemployment rate shot up to 4.3% in March, as coronavirus-induced closures of theme parks, hotels and large numbers of businesses caused the highest levels of joblessness in almost three years.

The last time Florida’s unemployment rate was that high was in May 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Obviously, this is a health issue; but if you look outside of that we’re now in an economic crisis as well because of the results of this national shutdown,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis, speaking Friday in Fort Lauderdale.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state will more aggressively inspect nursing homes to detect patients and staff who are infected with the coronavirus.

For now, the new efforts will be focused on Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties in South Florida, where about 60 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the state exist.

The new game plan to protect seniors in long-term care facilities from COVID-19, says the governor, is three-fold; first, a continuation of assessments.

Walton County

Walton County Commissioners voted Thursday afternoon to amend their emergency ordinance to close all Walton County beaches — including private ones. 

On March 19, Commissioners closed beaches to the public to discourage tourists and reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Since then, the number of tourists has declined, but there are still a number of out-of-state owners who have come to South Walton to quarantine in their second homes, according to TDC Executive Director Jay Tusa.

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Destin City Council met for a special meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss and vote on how the council will conduct business during the coronavirus pandemic. 

It’s a conversation many local governments are having amid social distancing practices and the stay-at-home order Gov. Ron DeSantis issued Wednesday. The order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday. 

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has issued a statewide stay-at-home order as federal and local pressure mounted for him to abandon the county-by-county approach he had implemented.

The order takes effect at midnight Thursday.

After catching heat from inside and outside Florida, the governor made the announcement Wednesday in his Tallahassee office.

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Florida’s battle against coronavirus is getting a new supply headquarters downstate, for distribution of needed equipment to help grassroots health care efforts.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and senior administration officials were at the state logistics center in Orlando on Wednesday, to illustrate Florida’s preparation for what’s expected to be an increase in the number of patients with COVID-19.

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It’s been a few days since Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered all restaurants and food establishments in the state to suspend all dine-in service and offer only delivery and take-out.

Locally, restaurants are making the required adjustments, so they can stay open.

At University Town Center, just a mile or so from the WUWF studios, cars in the Chick Fil A drive-through are wrapped around the building, as they usually are in the lunch hour. On this Tuesday, Panda Express and Panera’s also have some drive-through activity.

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Walton County attorney Daniel Uhlfelder is a strong proponent for sharing beaches. But as the world faces the coronavirus pandemic, he thinks beaches across the state should be closed.

And he’s making sure Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gets the message.

On Friday, March 20, Uhlfelder filed a lawsuit in the Second Judicial Circuit suing the governor to close all state beaches saying DeSantis has the responsibility to “initiate immediate action to cope with emerging health problems and try to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.” 

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If he had his druthers, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis would avoid imposing a statewide lock down because of the coronavirus. In his daily update on the disease, he outlined the thinking behind his position on Tuesday.

While several other governors have called for a statewide shutdown and stay-at-home orders because of the virus, DeSantis is shifting the onus to residents from elsewhere, especially from New York City.

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