August 19, 2020 - over 5 months of COVID
Florida coronavirus information hotline: 1-866-779-6121 or email COVIDemail@example.com with questions.
Florida now has the 2nd highest number of positive coronavirus cases, after California, with over 580,000 people infected. Only 2 months ago, Florida was at the 60,000 mark. That is a significant rise in just 2 months.
In a reversal of state bans and quarantines, Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis, removed the restrictions on New Yorker's coming into Florida, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is now requiring travelers from Florida to quarantine for 14 days.
Florida Gov. DeSantis has not added any restrictions and has been lifting restrictions on businesses and residents in the state despite the increase in cases. Any restrictions are mostly from local governments or businesses.
And while most officials are following recommendations to wear masks and social distancing, only in Florida do we have a leader of a sheriff's office, acting like a rebel child. Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods banned mask wearing by all of his employees, police officers, as well as those entering the police stations. He changed the policy for those entering the stations after a national backlash, but has stuck to the no mask policy for his employees stating that the ones in the field who are in high risk jobs or entering other establishments such as the courthouse which requires a mask, are the only ones allowed to wear them. It is a seemingly clear message during a time when police are already low on the trust radar that this police department is not showing that it deeply cares about the lives of it's citizens. Either that or an ego believes that they are smarter than the 1000s of experts globally who say wearing a mask saves lives.
While theme parks have reopened, visitors to the parks are below the allowed social distancing attendance limits and tourism overall has drastically declined and doesn't show much rebounding in the coming months. More people are staying on the cautious side and staying home.
Updated Travel information quick links for each park:
Florida's parks and beaches offer better social distancing options, especially during weekdays. While most parks have re-opened, check with the Florida State Parks website and the National Park Service website specifics. Most beaches are open, though some still have restrictions or restricted hours. Check with the local city or county for specifics.
Traveling to Florida is open and quarantine requirements have been lifted. All airports are open but check up on guidelines for each airport and airline before traveling. Toll roads currently have no toll workers and cars are being billed through toll-by-plate (snapshots or your plate with a bill sent to you in the mail). Most of the tourism industry is open including hotels and vacation rentals in most counties.
With schools being threatened by reduced funding if they don't re-open, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis doubling down on schools opening, there is a lawsuit from the Florida's teachers union against the state order to re-open schools that is still in mediation. Despite this, Florida schools opening and are being creative with ways to accommodate students and open their doors.
Back to School in Florida amid Worst Coronavirus Numbers has many parents keeping their kids home. Seminole county, for example, reported 44% enrollment. Most school districts in Florida have post-poned the start date from the beginning of August, to the middle or end of August. Many are starting virtually while others are providing options to attend school or stay virtual. See our Public School Calendar Guide for more details on each school district.
For those who are attending school, some districts are requiring masks while in other districts masks are optional. With less in person attendance, desks are spaced out for social distancing and some schools even have plastic barriers around each desk.
The Florida High School Athletic Association voted to allow schools to start fall sports on August 24th despite a recommendation from their medical advisory panel. We haven't heard of any precautions that are being taken yet, but will follow up to see how these sports are going.
Schools are facing tough challenges and will have decisions to make with every new coronavirus case. Teachers will test positive and have to be quarantined. Students and parents desperate to send their kids to school may not be responsible to wear their masks or to let the school know about symptoms which will spread the virus. Keeping children wearing masks and/or social distancing will be an ongoing challenge. Some schools will close and move to virtual if there are outbreaks
A Parent's Choice
Every parent does their best and makes choices for their children based on the families and children's needs. Whether sending your kids to in-person school or keeping them at home virtual, it is important that we all support each other in our decisions. For those going to school, one of the most important aspects of in-person schooling is socializing with their friends. As a parent, it is important to teach your children about choices that others are making and to respect them. While some kids might be wearing masks and others might not be, keeping the negative comments from one group to the other will be important to prevent bullying in schools. This is a time when we need to support each other and understand that everyone is valuable and everyone can make choices.
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Remember to check the Florida Health Department website daily to stay up to date on the coronavirus.