In response to Governor DeSantis’ recent announcement lifting restrictions on businesses, CDC Director Anthony Fauci says, it’s ‘very concerning’ that Florida is re-opening bars and restaurants at full capacity while reporting COVID cases at 10 percent. Ten percent is twice the level the World Health Organization says is safe.
We all understand the need to get businesses back to normal but there is a flip side to this equation that DeSantis is willfully ignores. When the country wonders why our state is not performing contact tracing or transparently sharing COVID data or isn’t allowing county health departments to consult openly with school districts, public confidence that Florida is doing all it can to keep the public safe erodes.
DeSantis has ignored the science at every turn but ignoring public sentiment is like trying to ignore the tide. The Governor can remove as many restrictions as he wants but until a majority of the public feels safe in our malls, shops, and restaurants, the economy is not going to recover, DeSantis can’t change this fact. Today, I heard a news announcer say, she will not be visiting Florida anytime soon. Her opinion is not unique, how many out of state tourists will feel the same way? How many families will not be bringing their kids to visit Gramma?
There is a solution to the problem. Put in place strong restrictions designed to stop the virus from spreading that are modeled after the CDC and WHO guidelines, at the same giving cities and counties the freedom to find creative ways to support businesses. Build covered outdoor seating when possible, set up a state loan program to help businesses make these changes, change zoning laws for outdoor service, close city sidewalks or parts of streets for seating, brainstorm ideas for each situation, anything that helps businesses and reduces the chance of spreading COVID should be considered.
We need a Governor who understands what Florida needs to navigate these issues. The Florida man driving our ship of state needs to change direction, his overtly political decisions are causing economic and physical harm to Floridians. This solution will take political courage, and that’s something DeSantis just doesn’t have.
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