Florida’s deaths from the new coronavirus surpassed 1,000 Friday and the number of confirmed cases reached 30,000 as committees advising Gov. Ron DeSantis on how to fully reopen the state’s businesses and public places began wrapping up their recommendations.
Members of the committees issued conflicting pleas about when to reopen that have been shuttered for weeks over coronavirus concerns.
The head of the agency that licenses Florida businesses said many rural counties were ready to have their businesses back open, even if the state’s larger cities weren’t in a position to do that.
“These rural counties are different from large cities. Some of them are ready to reopen,” said Halsey Beshears, secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, during a presentation on small businesses.
Amy Mercer, executive director of the Florida Police Chiefs Association, asked the governor not to do that during a presentation on public safety at a separate meeting, saying that would cause other Floridians to travel to those regions and overwhelm those officers. For example, the Panhandle has had many fewer cases than South Florida.
Meanwhile, the more than half-million Floridians who haven’t received their first unemployment payments won’t be able to check their claim’s status this weekend as the system’s beleaguered computer system was partially shutdown Friday. A notice said it will reopen Monday. A portal for filing claims remained open, however.
Also Friday, Florida Keys officials said the island chain likely wouldn’t reopen to visitors until June 1, if not later. Monroe County, home to the Keys, weeks ago installed a checkpoint on southbound U.S. 1 to keep out non-residents.
The state Department of Health reported Friday that Florida had 1,012 deaths and since March 1 has had almost 31,000 confirmed cases. Miami-Dade County continued to be the state’s coronavirus epicenter with a third of the confirmed cases. Almost 5,000 people were hospitalized Friday statewide because of the virus.
The grim news Friday came as the governor’s task force continued to ponder recommendations for how to reopen businesses that have been shuttered, in many parts, since mid-March when local lockdown orders were issued. DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order at the beginning of April. DeSantis hoped to have the task force’s recommendations Friday, but some of the subcommittees indicated they will need to submit theirs over the weekend.
Florida surpasses 1,000 coronavirus deaths, 30,000 cases