Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to Announce 'Stage Two' Coronavirus Response Task Force Team to Help Reopen State

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will set up a task force to explore what stage two of the state's coronavirus response will be, including ideas on how to help rekindle the economy.

Speaking at a press conference, DeSantis said the task force will be announced sometime this week and focus on what a reopening of the state's schools, restaurants and other businesses will look like after weeks of lockdown.

One of the things the task force will be looking into is finding ways for small businesses to have access to rapid coronavirus testing.

"There has to be an easy way for somebody, if you have a small business you have 20 employees and someone has symptoms, to be able to go get a test and get an answer in a reasonable amount of time," DeSantis told reporters.

"So we're working on what that would look like, we've got folks working on a committee to see what we can do to make this testing more prevalent.

"We're thinking about how to leverage the infrastructure we've already put in for a stage two where we have more activity in society but still have to identify who is infected, isolate them and then trace the contacts so you don't have an outbreak in some of these communities."

DeSantis said he is aware of the risks to the public of easing off social distancing guidelines too soon.

"Is there going to be this wave and then a second wave comes back in the fall? There are a lot of things you need to be prepared for," he said.

The task force will also look into how schools will be run in stage two of the COVID-19 response.

The current order imposed by DeSantis expires on May 1, meaning some students would be returning to class on May 4, unless there is an extension.

DeSantis previously said no decision has been made on whether to extend the deadline and delay students returning to schools.

"If it's safe, we want kids to be in school. I think most parents want that," DeSantis said.

The task force will also examine ways to get residents outside and exercising again to help their physical and mental health.

"My fear has been kind of in the last few months... I wonder how the physical activity has been," DeSantis said. "We've got to figure out a way to get people to be able to enjoy the outdoors, to be able to go out of the house."

Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference in the Hard Rock Stadium parking lot on March 30, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty

DeSantis has been criticized for his response to the outbreak, including waiting one month from Florida's first confirmed case of the coronavirus to issue a Stay-at-Home order on April 1. He was also condemned for refusing to close the state's packed beaches during Spring Break.

Desantis' office has also confirmed that the WWE has been reclassified as an essential business in Florida, allowing it to continue to operate in the state with no crowds.

"It is important to note that professional sports activities may only be considered essential if the event location is closed to the general public," a spokesperson from Governor DeSantis' office told Newsweek.

There are 21,628 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Florida and 571 deaths according to Johns Hopkins University. In total, 43,482 people have managed to recover from the virus across the U.S.

A map, provided by Statista, shows the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the U.S. as of April 14.

The spread of the COVID-19 virus in the U.S.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.

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