When will Florida be ready to reopen? Here’s where we stand

When will Florida be ready to reopen? Here’s where we stand

Bottom Line: Last week Florida held its re-open task force meetings with Governor DeSantis weighing next steps for our state’s reopening. One of the first agenda items for the governor is to get your input. On Saturday, Florida opened up an online portal for you to voice your opinion regarding the reopening of our state. Governor DeSantis said public input is “critical” to the state’s decision-making process going forward. So, is data. He along with other task force members made that much clear. Something else that’s become pretty clear is that just as South Florida was about two weeks ahead of the state’s stay-at-home order – we'll be the last to leave it as well. That being said, it’s possible even likely, that we’ll begin to see some relaxing of policy in South Florida as soon as this week. Wednesday is being targeted for a potential re-opening of public spaces such as parks – provided that people don’t congregate in groups.

I had several conversations with leaders at the state and local levels recently and learned the following. Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach Counties will act with unity on be re-opening decisions - independent of what the state decides to do. Additionally, the state favors President Trump’s three-phase plan, Opening Up America Again, for resuming life in the new normal. On Friday, speaking with state Senator Manny Diaz Jr. - who was serving as a spokesperson for Governor DeSantis – He suggested we could be on a timetable that’d potentially set the state begin to reopen by Thursday with South Florida on May 8th. The caveat, and it became a big one, is what about Thursday’s spike in new cases? This past Thursday Florida had the highest new daily diagnosed case count since April 3rd. Here’s a review of the federal guidelines for reopening the state.

Each phase has a series of benchmarks to be met with a series of actionable items once achieved. So, what needs to happen before we’re ready for phase 1? 


  • Downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) reported within a 14-day period & Downward trajectory of covid - like syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period


  • Downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period or Downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period (flat or increasing volume of tests)


  • Treat all patients without crisis care & Robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing

So how does Florida currently stack up against those benchmarks? The big question is if last Thursday reset the clock. If it did, the new target date is May 7th for the state with likely a May 15th timeline for South Florida – if improved trends continue. If it doesn’t, we‘re looking at April 30th for much of the state and May 8th in South Florida. Florida’s performing best against the “cases”criteria. After peaking at 11% of tests resulting in positive diagnosis on April 14th, we’ve seen steady progress since. Currently 9.1% of tests have come back positive. The most recent test results are producing steadily lower rates. Hospitalizations haven’t leveled off yet – the 4,849 currently hospitalized is the highest number yet – though you could argue that the state isn’t in “crisis care” mode generally. There’s still plenty of capacity if needed. This week will be a pivotal week for Florida. And for Georgia for that matter. On a relative basis Georgia is worse off than Florida and they’ve already taken aggressive reopening measures. What plays out this week there will likely also weigh heavily – good or bad – here. Fingers crossed. 

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