MIAMI — The two remaining Florida counties still in Phase One of reopening will be allowed to move to Phase Two Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis said Friday during a news conference.
The governor made the announcement while visiting the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Miami along with Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools Alberto Carvalho.
"Floridians are working hard to protect themselves from spreading or contracting COVID-19; businesses are operating in a safe manner; and parents should be able to choose to send their children back to school," DeSantis said in the order.
The governor said the latest reported positivity rate for Miami-Dade County is 4.8 percent, which is much lower than it was during the county's peak in July, which saw the positivity rate "in the 20s," DeSantis said. He added that COVID-19 hospitalizations are down almost 75 percent since the July peak.
As for Broward County, the governor said its positivity rate is 3.4 percent according to the latest report, and its hospitalizations have decreased almost 70 percent since the July peak.
DeSantis said the most important aspect of moving these two counties into Phase Two means there will a uniformity of choice for parents to send their children back to the classroom for in-person instruction.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools is the state's largest school district. Students returned to an all-remote learning plan Aug. 31. Now that both counties will be entering Phase Two, parents will be allowed to send their children to brick and mortar buildings, as outlined in the Florida Department of Education's emergency order on July 6.
Palm Beach County had initially been kept in Phase One of reopening along with Miami-Dade and Broward counties, but DeSantis approved the county's request on Sept. 4. Palm Beach County officially moved into Phase Two on Sept. 8.
While indoor capacity at retail locations is limited under Phase One, the second phase allows for full capacity with appropriate social distancing, according to the state's "Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery." Gyms also can operate at full capacity.
Restaurants still are allowed to operate with 50-percent indoor seating and proper social distancing. However, Miami-Dade's mayor said the county will not be opening bars and nightclubs at this time.
The number of new COVID-19 cases each day in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, much like the rest of the state, has been on the decline since the beginning of August, according to the Florida Department of Health.
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