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Capital Report

April 24, 2020

On this episode of Capital Report, Governor Ron DeSantis ponders the possibilities of how to reopen an entire state and we review the data available to help accomplish that task. Also this week, Governor DeSantis wants to ramp up testing for the coronavirus, including testing more people who aren’t showing symptoms. We’ll also talk with some Florida business owners about their take on how best to get the economy safely working again. And we’ll talk with a veteran Capital Reporter about the state’s still dysfunctional unemployment system.

Florida seems to have passed its peak when it comes to coronavirus cases. Even though the state is still logging new infections, the rate of new cases overall appears to be decreasing. Meanwhile, Governor Ron DeSantis has gone on offense. Ahead of plans to reopen businesses that have been closed, DeSantis is attacking the same models the state has relied on to guide its COVID-19 response. Lynn Hatter has more.

Floridians are wondering what returning to day-to-day activities, like work and school, might look like when Governor Ron DeSantis lifts the state’s stay-at-home order. One thing is clear: testing for the coronavirus is likely to play a big part of the Sunshine State’s “New Normal,” as we hear from Regan McCarthy.

The task force Governor Ron DeSantis hand-picked to deliver recommendations for reopening the state economy has concluded its meetings, which ran every day this week. Ryan Dailey has a recap on how the groups workshopped the various suggestions.

Congress has agreed to put another $321 billion into the federal Paycheck Protection Program. President Trump signed it this afternoon. During the first round of the program, may small businesses were shut out with no relief. We reached out to seventy-four local businesses and twenty-five responded. As Robbie Gaffney reports, people are frustrated and concerned, but also remain hopeful.

As Florida officials push forward with plans to reopen businesses and other organizations that closed because of the coronavirus, one lawmaker says some groups will stay closed if they aren’t protected. St. Petersburg Republican Senator Jeff Brandes is working on legislation that would prevent COVID-19 contraction-related lawsuits if organizations are following guidelines. Blaise Gainey has the details.

Significant changes have been made to Florida’s unemployment system in the last decade, including a reduction in benefits. Now the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a record number of people filing for unemployment; and most of them are struggling to navigate an online system that hasn’t seemed to work properly in the 7 years since it launched. Gina Jordan talks about the history of the troubled system with WFSU correspondent, Sun-Sentinel columnist and long-time member of the Capital Press Corps, Steve Bousquet.