Florida GOP Lawmaker Says 'Time Is Now' to Reopen State as Coronavirus Cases Near 30,000

Republican Florida state Representative Anthony Sabatini wrote an essay arguing his state should "open all business establishments" and end the current lockdown.

The op-ed, titled "The time to open is now," was published on Thursday by several Florida-based news outlets.

Florida experienced a jump in positive coronavirus cases on Thursday, adding more than 1,000 new cases over a period of 24 hours and bringing the state's death toll to 987, according to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health.

At least 29,648 people have tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 disease.

Sabatini wrote that Florida had "passed the peak of COVID's damage" earlier this month.

"Beginning this weekend, the Governors of Georgia and South Carolina—based on the most recent scientific data—are re-opening the economies of their states. Florida should safely follow our neighbor's lead and do the same," he wrote.

"Like Georgia and South Carolina, Florida has passed the peak of COVID's damage. According to models from The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Florida saw its peak in deaths on April 2 and its peak hospital resource usage on April 14.

"Like Georgia and South Carolina, we are on the downward trajectory of the fight against COVID. And it is time to respond to these facts appropriately."

Florida coronavirus
Beaches in Florida were allowed to reopen beaches last week Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Sabatini added: "Instead of sitting around for an indefinite period awaiting total COVID elimination—while our economy lays in shambles—we should begin the process of re-opening as soon as possible. The curve of the virus has been flattened and now it is time to do what's right."

He argued Florida should open all business establishments including stores and restaurants and that people should be trusted to exercise personal responsibility.

"Business owners should follow CDC guidelines. Those who are elderly and those with pre-existing medical issues should remain at home," he wrote.

"But the rest of us should return to work. Each day Florida remains closed is another day that irreparable harm is caused to the working people of our state; small family-owned businesses lost forever.

"Each hour we remain shutdown furthers the massive blow to our state economy—not to mention the psychological damage that self-isolation has wrought."

Newsweek has contacted Sabatini for additional comment.

Florida's stay-at-home order began on April 3 and will remain in place until April 30.

Last week, however, Governor Ron DeSantis told local leaders in municipalities across Florida to reopen beaches as long as social distancing guidelines are followed. The Republican is currently working with the "Re-Open Florida" task force on a plan to reopen Florida's economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Florida Democrats said Monday that the state's economy should not reopen until more coronavirus testing is available.

"We have not won the day and cannot return to normal until testing has been expanded enormously," said state Senator Lori Berman, vice-chair of the Committee on Health Policy, the Herald-Tribune reported.

U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala, a Miami Democrat, added that "testing, testing, testing" is the only way the lockdown could be lifted.

According to the stay at home order, residents should only leave their homes to "obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities."

When leaving their homes, Florida residents should practice social distancing guidelines, which include remaining at least six feet away from people outside of your household.

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