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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis talks coronavirus response with President Trump at White House

DeSantis to announce 'next step forward' Wednesday
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Posted at 10:44 AM, Apr 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 22:17:04-04

WASHINGTON — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis met with President Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday as questions loom about whether a sweeping "stay at home" order in the Sunshine State will be extended past Thursday.

The order, which only allows residents to leave their homes for essential services and activities, is set to expire on April 30.

The governor said during a news conference in the Oval Office that he'll make an announcement on Wednesday about reopening the state of Florida.

"I created a task force, and I have all kinds of folks," DeSantis said. "We have the great health systems, great docs, business folks, I've got elected officials. They've submitted a report to me. I'm going to be reviewing that today. Obviously we've been thinking about what we're going to need to do. So we'll announce it tomorrow about the next step forward for Florida."

DeSantis was referring to the Re-Open Florida Task Force, a group of health, political, business, and education leaders that's held multiple meetings over the last week to come up with safe strategies to reopen the state.

DeSantis said on Tuesday he's working with the White House on what Phase One of the reopening will look like for Florida.

"Going from where we are now to Phase One is not a very big leap," DeSantis said. "I think that will be able to be a small step for us. But we're gonna approach it in a very measured, thoughtful, and data-driven way."

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FULL NEWS CONFERENCE: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis holds news conference with President Trump

According to the Trump Administration's "Opening Up America Again" national guidelines, Phase One involves reopening parks, outdoor recreation areas, and shopping areas while encouraging the public to maintain "maximize physical distance from others."

Companies should continue to encouraging employees to work from home "whenever possible and feasible with business operations."

The guidelines said schools and organized youth activities that are currently closed will remained closed, while large venues like gyms, sit-down dining, movie theaters, sporting venues, and places of worship can operate under "strict physical distancing protocols."

It's unclear if Florida will follow a similar reopening strategy as the national guidelines.

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On Monday, DeSantis praised the leaders of Palm Beach County for their decision to reopen parks, golf courses, boat ramps, community pools, and other recreational activities starting on Wednesday.

"@MayorGimenez, @ReadyBroward and @pbcgov demonstrated a thoughtful approach to re-opening parks, marinas and golf courses," DeSantis posted on Twitter.

The governor added that Florida has flattened the curve of COVID-19 hospitalizations, the state continues to ramp up testing, and "we are on the right path to safely re-opening our economy."

DeSantis and other Florida officials are asking for the public's take on reopening the state.

The governor wants residents to submit their opinions about how Florida should get back up and running, and what restrictions should be lifted first.

According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, there are 32,846 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, including 1,171 deaths.

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