Working groups wrap up discussions, executive committee set to begin drafting policies to re-open Florida

Re-Open Florida Task Force

The three Re-open Florida Task Force subcommittees wrapped up their fourth day of meetings on Friday afternoon. Each one discussed how the pandemic has hurt their respective industries along with their recommendations for reopening the state’s economy.

On Wednesday, the subcommittees which represent medical, governmental, and business leaders, reiterated the importance of wanting policies and guidelines established that everyone could follow in order to minimize the potential for a surge of COVID-19 cases. The health and safety of employees and the economy statewide has been the top priority throughout all the discussions this week.

On Thursday, healthcare leaders, small businesses and agriculture representatives shared the financial concerns impacting their respective industries. They agreed that an economic rebound will not be an expeditious process.

This past Tuesday, Governor Ron DeSantis expressed if leaders approach the reopening of the state in a smart, methodical and strategic way, it would lead to a successful outcome.

“As we move into the state’s economy we need to look at protecting the population,” said State Senator Wilton Simpson.

Wilton was helping lead the work group discussion about healthcare, government, agriculture, finance, management and professional services the last few days.

Governor DeSantis opened up the 10 a.m. meeting thanking everyone on the call for all the hours put into the teleconferences this week to give a different and helpful perspective to the state.

A big part of Friday’s discussion was about the elderly and facilities that cater to their needs like nursing homes, retirement communities and assisted living facilities.

The CEO of LeadingAge Florida said during his presentations that there are a few things he’d like for the state to consider as they move forward with drafting a comprehensive plan.

· Prioritization of personal protective equipment (PPE)

· The availability of widespread and frequent testing with rapid results

· Clear and consistent protocols drafted

Throughout the week several industry leaders including the LeadingAge Florida CEO, Steve Bahmer, expressed liability concerns. He said Floridians need to focus on who they’re caring for rather than who will sue them. The Florida Insurance Commissioner, David Altmaier, also chimed in and said there are litigation concerns from a variety of stake holders.

Meanwhile, PPE supply is the consistent theme for most of the healthcare professionals who have voiced their opinions in working groups this week. A representative with the Dental Board of Trustees said on Friday morning that the state should consider classifying dentists as front line providers so they are capable of purchasing protection equipment. The representative said dental offices don’t have a set timeline of when they will be back in business but say a gradual start is the safest options.

Overall, everyone had a similar take of wanting a phased approach for reopening the economy and allowing the community to be a part of the process. Rapid testing and strong partnerships to assure everyone has sufficient PPE was important to them too. A takeaway is that different areas in Florida have different needs. They’d like leaders drafting policies to keep in mind that geography matters in this decision and should help them decide how the reopening will work.

Cosmetology was also discussed during a working group meeting on Friday. A barber shop owner in Tallahassee voiced several ideas on how the new temporary normal could look like for an industry that is pro contact.

Here’s some ideas he presented:

· All barbers and clients gloves and mask requirements.

· One person in and one out system.

· Thinking about getting touch-less thermometers.

· Planning appointment on a mission to have less people at the same time.

· No contact points of payment

· Wants the state to send an email to all licensed professionals with guidelines

Dozens of industry experts from various fields including sports, education, amusement parks, agriculture, small businesses, shared their ideas in hopes to helping to develop a plan to reopen the states economy through the pandemic.

“We have obviously tried to compile in a very short time period a very robust discussion on a number of topics a number of industry sectors and our economy and we understand we have been challenged through this pandemic for likes of which we have never known,” said Lt. Governor Jeanette Nunez.

Governor Ron DeSantis says more than twenty hours were put in by working groups to listen to the concerns they have and what they want from the state in regards to potential policies.

A big takeaway is the want and need for a set of guidelines everyone can follow to assure safety of employers and the community.

"We also are looking forward to for ways to get our society back on a stronger footing as we go forward safely and I know you guys are going to be a very big part of that," said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

The Director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management is calling this record pandemic the biggest emergency management operation in the state’s history.

State leaders are trying to find ways to bring back a sense of normalcy to the economy while at the same time trying to limit the potential surge of cases.

The Task Force Working Group members were all asked to send concrete recommendations to the state via email by Sunday, April 26th.

Lt. Governor Nunez says the Re-open Florida Task Force Executive Committee will be working through the weekend and early next week to compile a report to present to the Governor to create the “most prudent and appropriate way” to reopen the state.