OpEd: As Florida Moves to Phase III, DeSantis Continues to Keep Us in the Dark

By Kerri-Ann Nesbeth, Candidate for City of Miramar Commission Seat 1

Kerri-Ann Nesbeth, Candidate for City of Miramar Commission Seat 1

Kerri-Ann Nesbeth

MIRAMAR – Last Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis announced he was moving our state to Phase III of its reopening process in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the stroke of a pen, this lightly-detailed three-page executive order became law in Florida, leaving municipalities statewide in the dark.

DeSantis’ action was not only restrictive and unclear in its instructions for counties and municipalities, but in South Florida we are now faced with the reality that people will let their guard down against this nefarious virus.

Images abounded this past weekend of maskless partiers packing into newly-reopened bars and nightclubs with seemingly no concern about the virus.

We have seen a steady decline in the amount of new daily cases of coronavirus, but we are not out of the woods yet. The state is still often seeing upwards of 3,000 new cases per day.

With our kids returning to school beginning next week, the last thing we need is a return to the soaring numbers seen over the summer.

The governor’s new guidance is also contradictory and confusing in its instructions.

How is it logical that state health authorities continue to emphasize the importance of social distancing and minimizing crowd exposure in continuing our downward trend in cases if so many businesses will now be filled to full, unmitigated capacity?

Local governments are best equipped to identify the needs and desires of local businesses and work with them to ensure a safe and successful continued reopening process.

But the executive order makes it exceedingly difficult for local authorities to adopt any rules of their own without having to “quantify the economic impact of each limitation or requirement on those restaurants” –– an ambiguous demand that is at best murky and in most cases completely unworkable given the diversity of businesses’ needs. Businesses and municipalities aren’t the only ones facing confusing guidance sent down from Tallahassee.

Florida’s Education Commissioner, appointed by Gov. DeSantis, is putting pressure on school officials to open schools regardless of the local dynamics at play.

Miami-Dade and Broward counties, which both planned to reopen schools for in-person instruction later in October to ensure proper preparations are taken, are instead being pressured to open earlier.

We all want kids to be back in classrooms where they are best positioned to thrive, but having state authorities try and override local school officials and the recommendations from our teacher unions who know best in pursuit of the governor’s personal preferences is not right.

There is a way to continue reopening our economy, our schools, and helping our local businesses without causing widespread confusion and endangering Floridians’ health.

Overriding the needs of local governments and taking such a blatantly uncooperative approach is certainly not the way to do that.

The Governor’s latest moves are emblematic of the cavalier attitude he has taken to this pandemic since it began. He cares about press attention and party politics, not people’s lives.

 

 

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