Florida - COVID-19 Covered

Florida

Total Cases: 776,251 (October 25)
Fatalities: 16,417 (October 25)
Testing:
  • Information on COVID-19 testing in Florida can be found here. 
  • The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) announced that state-supported drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites will prioritize testing individuals who are symptomatic65 and older, and children under the age of 18 starting August 5. (August 4) 

ECONOMIC RESPONSE

Essential Service Designations:

  • Florida has entered Phase 1 of its recovery; restrictions on the majority of businesses in the state have been lifted. (May 14)
  • Governor DeSantis issued an executive order declaring the state’s list of essential services would follow US Department of Homeland Security guidance, which includes: healthcare services (including hospitals, clinics, labs); law enforcement and public safety (including first responders); food and agriculture (including grocery stores, pharmacies, food manufacturers, restaurants); energy (including gas stations, nuclear power, utilities); water and waste water; transportation and logistics (including DMVs, mass transit); public works and infrastructure support; communications and information technology; critical manufacturing; financial services; and certain commercial facilities. (April 1)

Labor & Workforce Guidance, Standards and Regulations:

  • Governor DeSantis issued an executive order that relaxes previous restaurant restrictionsThis same order also dropped travel restrictions on people coming to Florida from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. (August 6) 
  • Executive Order 20-139, establishing the second phase of Florida’s recovery, recommends retail businesses maintain social distancing and sanitation protocols. The order does not cover Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties, which remain in Phase 1. (June 3)
  • The Department of Economic Opportunity has begun approving unemployment claims from independent contractors, gig workers, and others who qualify for federal benefits under the CARES Act (April 24)
  • Executive Order No 104 suspended biweekly reporting requirements for recipients of unemployment benefits. (April 16)

Economic Stimulus & Relief:

  • Governor DeSantis ended the state’s participation in the Lost Wages Assistance program because Florida pays its unemployed workers too little to meet a 25 percent matching requirement. (September 16) 
  • Governor DeSantis announced that the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity will begin paying Lost Wages Assistance program benefits. (September 9) 
  • Governor DeSantis suspended Florida unemployment work search requirements for another two months. (September 4)  
  • Governor DeSantis suggested that he will extend Florida’s evictions moratorium. (August 31) 
  • Governor DeSantis announced $75 million in federal funding for rental and mortgage assistance. (July 20) 
  • Governor DeSantis announced $250 million in federal funding for rental and mortgage assistance for Florida families negatively impacted by the pandemic. (June 25) 

Business Support & Resources:

  • Governor DeSantis expressed support for legislation that would place limits on COVID-19-related litigation. (September 23) 
  • Palm Beach County will begin to distribute $60 million in grants for businesses hurt by the pandemic. $50 million of this sum will be reserved for businesses employing 25 people or fewer. (May 20) 
  • Executive Order No. 95 suspended the assessment and collection of taxes under Title I of the CARES Act, pertaining to the law’s Paycheck Protection Program that provides loans to small businesses. (April 6) 
  • Governor DeSantis has activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, which allows businesses with two to 100 employees to apply for up to a $50,000 interest-free loan with a one-year term. (March 16) 

SOCIAL RESTRICTIONS

Reopening:

  • Governor DeSantis relaxed restrictions for visits to long-term care facilities, allowing for children to visit indoors as well as for residents to take overnight trips. (October 23) 
  • Governor DeSantis announced that the state is moving to Phase 3 of reopening, enabling restaurants and bars to return to full capacity indoors. (September 25) 
  • Miami-Dade and Broward counties entered Phase 2 of reopening starting Monday, September 14. Entertainment venues like movie theaters, bowling alleys, playhouses, and arcades will reopen at 50 percent, but bars and nightclubs will remain closed.(September 14) 
  • Bars across Florida can reopen with 50 percent capacity starting Monday, September 14with exception to Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties. (September 11) 
  • Palm Beach County will enter Phase 2 of reopening on Tuesday, September 8. (September 4) 
  • The Florida Division of Emergency Management issued an emergency order that lifts visitation restrictions in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other long-term care facilities(Septembe2) 
  • A state task force officially recommended the reopening of Florida nursing homes. (August 26) 
  • Governor DeSantis announced that the state is not yet prepared to reopen bars. (August 24) 
  • Hillsborough County has extended its mask-wearing requirement. (July 13) 
  • Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez reversed a previous executive orderallowing fitness centers and restaurants with indoor dining to remain open with certain safety precautions in place. (July 7) 
  • Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez signed an executive order shutting down restaurants and gyms starting July 8. (July 6) 
  • Broward County and Miami-Dade County have shut down all onsite dining and onsite alcohol services after midnight. (July 2) 
  • Broward County and Miami-Dade County are requiring individuals to wear masks in all public spaces. (July 2) 
  • Miami-Dade County ordered restaurants to close on-site dining from midnight to 6:00 AM beginning July 1. Hotels, motels and commercial lodgings must restrict pool access and alcohol sales beginning July 3. (July 1) 
  • Seminole County issued a mask requirement for public locations. (June 30) 
  • Jacksonville joined a number of Florida cities that have issued a mask requirement for public and indoor locations. (June 29) 
  • Governor DeSantis signed an executive order moving the majority of the state (except Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties) into Phase 2 of its recovery beginning June 5. In Phase 2, bars, movie theaters, concert halls, and bowling alleys may reopen at 50 percent capacity. Tattoo parlors and tanning and massage spas may also open with appropriate guidelines outlined by the Department of Health. (June 3) 
  • Executive Order 20-139, establishing Phase 2 of Florida’s recovery, encourages senior citizens and vulnerable individuals to limit crowds; encourages avoiding congregating in groups larger than 50 persons(June 3) 
  • Governor DeSantis’ office approved reopening vacation rentals in the state’s panhandle counties – Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf, and Franklin. (May 19) 

SCHOOL PLANNING

K-12:

  • A judge ruled that Florida’s order requiring in-person classes is unconstitutional. (August 24) 
  • Governor DeSantis said parents should have the choice of whether to send their children to school for in-person learning or have them start with distancing learningadding, “We’re not going to force parents to put their child in in-person instruction.” (July 29) 
  • Palm Beach County schools will tentatively open on August 31. (July 21) 
  • Orange County schools will reopen on August 21, offering students the choice between on-campus and virtual classes. (July 17) 
  • Broward County schools will tentatively open with virtual classes only on August 19. (July 15) 
  • Palm Beach County school board members have agreed to hold classes online in the fall. (July 9) 
  • Miami-Dade County Public Schools released a tentative reopening plan. Parents can vote on whether they prefer to have their children attend traditional classes in-person or participate in virtual distance learning. (July 8) 
  • Hillsborough County students must wear masks when attending school in the fall. (July 7) 
  • The Florida Department of Education has ordered all public and charter schools to reopen school buildings at least five days per week this fallunless there are any health or executive orders issued to the contrary. (July 7) 
  • Duval County Public Schools approved the use of protective barriers in the classroom for the upcoming school year. (July 1) 
  • Broward County students must wear masks when attending school in the fall. (July 1) 

State Higher Education:

  • The University of South Florida will move to the second phase of its four-phase reopening plan, allowing for in-person classes on August 24. (August 7) 
  • A list of Florida colleges and universities planning to reopen in the fall can be found here.

Produced by Marathon Strategies, an independent PR firm that delivers intelligent communications and research solutions. For information, email Phil Singer at COVID-19@marathonstrategies.com