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DeSantis should act now to reopen businesses

OPINION

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

Georgia Governor Kemp just announced that businesses like gyms, barbers, and hair stylists will be allowed to reopen this Friday, while theaters and restaurants will open on Monday, April 27. In addition, he said that localities could not be more or less restrictive than the state guidelines. (Adjusted for population, Georgia has 1.5 times as many COVID-19 cases and nearly double the number of deaths reported by Florida.)

Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has formed a task force to figure out how to “safely” reopen Florida businesses. According to the Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, the task force was “reported to be comprised of small business owners and locally elected officials.”

Now we have the Executive Committee of the task force:

  • Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, Lieutenant Governor of Florida
  • Jimmy Patronis, Florida Chief Financial Officer
  • Ashley Moody, Florida Attorney General
  • President Bill Galvano, President, Florida Senate
  • Speaker Jose Oliva, Speaker, Florida House of Representatives
  • Senator Wilton Simpson, President-Designate, Florida Senate
  • Representative Chris Sprowls, Speaker-Designate, Florida House of Representatives
  • Commissioner Richard Corcoran, Commissioner of Education
  • Jamal Sowell, President & CEO, Enterprise Florida, Inc.
  • Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Mayor, Miami-Dade County
  • Mayor Dale Holness, Mayor, Broward County
  • Mayor David Kerner, Mayor, Palm Beach County
  • John Couris, President & CEO, Tampa General Hospital
  • Josh D’Amaro, President, Walt Disney World Resort
  • Todd Jones, CEO, Publix Super Markets
  • Syd Kitson, Chairman, Board of Governors for the State University System
  • Paul Reilly, Chairman & CEO, Raymond James Financial
  • Alex Sanchez, President & CEO, Florida Bankers Association
  • Eric Silagy, President & CEO, Florida Power & Light Company
  • John Sprouls, CEO, Universal Orlando Resort, Executive Vice President, Universal Parks & Resorts
  • Patrick Sunderlin, Vice President, Global Supply Chain, Lockheed Martin Corporation
  • Joe York, President, AT&T Florida and Caribbean

Do you see any small businesses on there? How about representation from North Central Florida or any rural areas (State Senator Wilton Simpson is the only member of the task force to represent any sort of rural area)?

Governor DeSantis didn’t need a task force to declare a bunch of businesses “non-essential” and shut down the state’s economy. Now that we know the models that predicted catastrophic death counts were WAY off, he should immediately move to let businesses reopen.

None of the businesses represented on the task force will shut down if this goes on for a few more weeks, but there are probably tens of thousands of small businesses that are already on the verge of shutting down permanently.

Leaders of big businesses can afford to sit around in committee meetings for a few weeks, but many small businesses and their furloughed employees are in truly desperate situations. The task force showed no urgency at all in getting Floridians back to work during their first meeting.

Like Governor Kemp, Governor DeSantis should move immediately to let all businesses reopen. Yes, he will be ridiculed unmercifully by the media, who are much more invested in calling out the (minute) possibility of virus transmission on Jacksonville beaches than the ideal transmission conditions on the subways in New York City.

Governor DeSantis, the media will never love you, but if you act boldly to reopen Florida businesses, the people will.

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