Florida Senate President Bill Galvano Confident About Reopening The Sunshine State

May 1, 2020

Florida’s state parks will reopen on Monday as part of a broader move to reopen the state. Governor DeSantis made the announcement today in Jacksonville. Restaurants and retails stores will also reopen at 25 percent capacity if local governments allow.

The governor is making an exception to those reopening rules in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, where there is the highest number of coronavirus cases in the state.

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Florida Senate President Bill Galvano agrees with the governor’s plan to jump-start the state’s economy in phases. Galvano appeared on the Florida Roundup with host Tom Hudson to discuss the why now is a good time for Florida to start getting back to normal.

Here is an excerpt from the conversation.

TOM HUDSON: Do you support the governor's actions that he took this week for the phased reopening for most of Florida that begins on Monday?

BILL GALVANO: Absolutely, I support the actions that the governor has taken. I had the opportunity to work with him on the task force, as well as directly in how these decisions are being made. And it's based on the medical benchmarks and where we are to start this step by step, measured reopening.

Share with us the data that gives you the confidence that most of Florida is ready to take these measures. 

Well, when we were back a month or so ago, there were some very dire predictions that we were going to be like New York, or that Florida would be the next Italy.

And for example, in Florida, you know, we are now case wise 5.2 cases per 100,000 people. And you compare that to New York that's 117 per 100,000 folks.

But here in Florida, what's the data today that gives you the confidence as a member of this executive task force to endorse the governor's reopening plan?

Well, that's what I'm sharing with you. And when I look at the percentages for 100,000 when I look at capacity and medical assets, that we've got almost a 40 percent capacity with our hospital beds. That from a medical hardware ventilator standpoint, we have a like 74 or 75 percent capacity. We're down to like 2.8 ICU booking per 100 hundred.

And in the way that the governor has approached it in and that the task force has approached in a very, very measured manner. But we have to realize that in addition to the primary goal of protecting public safety, you also have the impact on people's civil liberties and the ability to actually earn a living. And that in and of itself is having another set of negative ramifications. So, we have to have that balance and move forward.

Tell us about striking that balance. The governor in announcing this phased-in approach and you just alluded to some of the previous predictions that were made for the state of Florida in terms of infection rates and hospital utilization. Most of those projections, if memory serves me right, were done without a stay-at-home order. Of course, the governor did institute a stay-at-home order about 5, 4-and-a-half weeks or so ago. What effect do you think that stay at home order had on the data that you are now pointing to that allows for this phased reopening? 

Well, I think that it did have a positive effect. I think all of the actions that we have taken, although hard to specifically quantify, seems to have had a positive effect. But I will say this, even with some of the modeling that was out there with the showing a stay at home order, that, for example, you had a prediction and modeling of 465,000 cases. Then that model is modified to go down to 185,000 with three months of social distancing.

And then the Florida experience is even better. So, there you see everybody working together as we have. And I really put a lot of credit on the people of Florida beyond just the government. I mean, people are making real sacrifices day-to-day. So, for some who are more vulnerable and that's making a difference. It's working, and we have to, as you say, have that balance going forward.