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Facts, not Fear III

By Staff | May 6, 2020

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday the first phase of his plan to reopen the state as the number of COVID-19 cases appear to wan.

Saying it is built around his first priority — maintaining the health and safety of all Floridians — the governor extended his “Safer at Home” order until May 4.

As of Monday, a new executive order will maintain certain limitations on personal movement, group gatherings and businesses:

Those at risk should still stay home.

Schools will remain closed, visits to senior living facilities and nursing homes will continue to be prohibited and airport screening and visitor isolation directives will remain in effect as will the prohibition on vacation rentals.

Restrictions that closed the physical locations of most “non-essential” businesses will continue, meaning bars, nightclubs and gyms will remain closed.

Businesses that provide “personal care services” such as barbershops and salons also should remain closed but phase one of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan to Re-open Florida” initiative allow any portions of their businesses that offer on-site retail to re-open at 25 percent of the building’s capacity.

That soft re-opening is, in fact, a key component of the first phase of the “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step” plan:

Restaurants, which now are limited to carry-out, curbside and delivery, will be allowed to re-open. Outdoor seating will be allowed up to full capacity, as social distancing parameters allow. Indoor seating will be allowed at 25 percent of building capacity.

Onsite sale and retail businesses that were closed as a result of the statewide shutdown order also may reopen under the same parameters: Capacity will be limited to 25 percent of what the building is legally allowed to accommodate.

Circling back to the edict’s centerpiece of public health and safety, “minimum health protocols” — social distancing and groups not exceeding 10 — must be met. Scofflaws face both criminal charges and fines for non-compliance.

Too soft? Too hard? Just right?

We’ll leave that debate to others.

What we will share are the premise and the numbers upon which Gov. DeSantis said he and his team based the “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step.” plan.

The premise?

Facts vs Fear.

The numbers?

Florida never came close to worst-case projections.

Not in terms of total cases.

Not in terms of hospitalizations.

Not in terms of deaths.

Not in terms of health care overloads.

We did not become “the next New York” or “uber-Italy” as some predicted.

For this we are grateful.

We did not, however, as a state and as a community, escape the pandemic unscathed.

More than 1,200 Floridans have died of COVID-19 complications.

The toll is more than 1,200 greater than any of us wanted to see.

So here we will weigh in, on the philosophy, if not the parameters of phase one of the plan to re-open our state.

We agree we should continue our efforts to stay safe.

We agree we should continue to be smart.

And we agree we should make our way back to a healthy economy in a healthy state, step by step.

Facts instead of fear.

A reopening plan, as stated, “based on our health metrics and guided by medical authorities.”

That sounds like a plan to us.

-Neighbor editorial