Florida leaders react to Gov. DeSantis' plan to reopen state

Posted at 11:46 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 23:46:48-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis unveiled his "SAFE. SMART. STEP-BY-STEP PLAN" to reopen Florida Wednesday night.

Gov. DeSantis' announcement comes as the state of Florida was under a "safer-at-home" order since early April. On Wednesday, he shared that the first phase first phase of reopening businesses can begin Monday, May 4, with restaurants and businesses allowed to open on limited capacities.

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Here are some of the statements and reactions from some of our community's leaders:

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman

As soon as Gov. DeSantis unveiled the plan, Mayor Kriseman said on social media he has not read the details of the ordinance. Gov. DeSantis' 5 p.m. announcement came just as Mayor Kriseman was preparing for his town hall Q&A session with ABC Action News' Paul LaGrone.

Mayor Kriseman later vowed to "strike the right balance while keeping public health at forefront."

BayCare Health System

BayCare’s priority is the health and wellbeing of its community and as such, our hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers are working to resume all surgical services for patients in response to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to lift the ban on elective surgeries four days early on Monday, May 4.“

We know COVID-19 is not the only health issue that needs attention in our community,” said Dr. Nishant Anand, chief medical officer for BayCare Health System. “We have plans in place and are ready to safely resume elective surgery procedures to deliver the highest-quality care for our patients. The safety and wellbeing of our patients, team members and physicians continues to be of the utmost importance to us.”BayCare plans to resume elective surgeries starting Monday and is finalizing enhanced procedures and processes amid the pandemic to keep patients, team members and physicians safe. Among the safety measures patients can expect:

  • Continued screenings of all who enter BayCare hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers.
  • Constant and routinized cleaning of all spaces – including treatment rooms and waiting areas -- to minimize infection risk.
  • Enhanced use of personal protection equipment.
  • Continued social distance practicing, including removing furniture in waiting areas and/or offering check-in procedures via smart phones so patients wait in cars until room is ready for them.
  • All surgical patients will be tested for COVID-19 prior to procedure.
  • Any patient testing positive for COVID-19 will have to wait a minimum of 14 days to be re-tested and then must have two negative tests performed 24 hours apart to be considered for surgery.
  • BayCare will continue its no visitation policy for the time being to reduce exposure risk for patients, team members and physicians. There are two primary exceptions: One parent is allowed for each patient under 18 and ambulatory surgical center patients may bring one visitor to be available for transportation home.
  • Per standard infectious disease practices, all hospital patients being treated for or suspected of having COVID-19 are in segregated areas of hospitals, away from any pre- or post-surgical patients.

Patients needing to schedule surgery at a BayCare hospital or ambulatory surgical center should reach out to their physician.

Ag Commissioner Nikki Fried

"As state leaders, nothing is more important than the health, safety, and lives of our citizens. I am encouraged by this cautious approach, and I agree that Florida's re-opening must be measured, in phases, and based on science and data.

I remain concerned about key numbers in the weeks ahead, that testing must be increased and that all data must be accurately reported, both cases and deaths [].

We are all eager to get back to normal, and to do so safely without jeopardizing public health."

Hillsborough County Commissioner Kimberly Overman

"I'm actually pleased he's taking it slow [and listening] to the current guidance of our medical professionals to take a measured approach... to allow some things to occur without putting our citizens at risk.

It does make sense to start helping people practice social distancing [by face covering] in a limited way and see what that does to our numbers.

Going slow will give us guidance."

Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman

"This is a great first start for getting Florida and Hillsborough County back to normal and get our economic machine moving again, opening businesses after a long closure and getting people back to work and back on their feet again.

I feel cautiously encouraged by this announcement but does not mean we are totally re-opened. I am still concerned for our small businesses who make up over 80% of our businesses in our county and I completely understand how important it is for them to re-open completely and we will continue to advocate for them.

Residents will still need to practice social distancing and wearing face masks to keep the virus from spreading any further and medically vulnerable individuals still need to stay at home to be safe.

Our county government has worked closely with the health care experts locally and will continue to monitor data to drive our local decisions going forward. Our county will now be able to see what our new normal looks like in this step by step opening schedule."

Florida Senate President Bill Galvano

“The Safe, Smart, Step-By-Step Plan for Florida’s Recovery announced today by Governor DeSantis represents a fact-based, strategic and measured approach that responsibly balances the resilient spirit of hardworking Floridians across our state who are eager to return to work with sensible and science-based public health guidelines developed in conjunction with medical professionals.

While no function of government is more important than the safety of the people we serve, it is also imperative that we protect the rights of Floridians to exercise their liberties and earn a living. I was honored to serve on Governor DeSantis’ Re-Open Florida Task Force and appreciate the critical work the Governor and his team undertook to develop strategies that will help our fellow Floridians and our economy recover as quickly as possible, while maintaining a focus on public safety as our number one priority.

Floridians have shown great patience and sacrifice in tolerating severe economic hardships and many other inconveniences for the good of others during this unprecedented time. While it appears that the worst of this pandemic is behind us, here in Florida we must remain vigilant in order to avoid any setbacks as we work to re-open our state. I remain confident in Florida’s ability to recover and look forward to returning to the quality of life that has made our state the best place to live, work, raise a family, and retire.”

Florida Medical Association President Dr. Ronald L. Giffler

“On behalf of our more than 25,000 members, the Florida Medical Association is pleased Gov. Ron DeSantis today announced that elective medical procedures will now be allowed in Florida. This is welcomed news as many patients have had to delay much needed treatment and care due to Executive Order 20-72 prohibiting patients with chronic kidney disease, certain cancer, cardiac bypass and congestive heart failure and those needing joint surgeries to alleviate chronic pain, to receive care.

While the state has understandably focused on the immediate needs of fighting COVID-19, it is imperative that we not ignore a potential second crisis: a wave of emergencies and fatalities among the people delaying care or going untreated.

Thank you to the Governor in developing these recommendations so Florida patients may continue to access the high-quality health care services they need.”