Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hinted that South Florida may be close to entering the second phase of reopening during a roundtable in Orlando on Wednesday.
Citing improving numbers in the fight against coronavirus in South Florida, DeSantis said he would soon be moving Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties into a less restrictive phase of his statewide reopening plan.
Miami-Dade's positivity rate for new tests dropped to 9.7 percent and Broward's was down to 6.1 percent -- both the lowest since June 21.
“I think the next step will be moving with our three Southern Florida counties about moving them to get into phase 2, Miami-Dade was under 10 percent today for the first time since June,” DeSantis said. “If look at the trends in all of those counties we’ve had really significant downward trends really for week snow.”
While details would be worked out after consultation with county leaders, Phase 2 -- which has been in place elsewhere in the state since early June -- could mean:
- Fifty percent capacity for indoor restaurants, theaters, concert halls, with certain precautions.
- Gyms and retail establishments could welcome full capacities -- again with certain precautions.
- Bars remain closed statewide under a separate order, but DeSantis said today talks are underway with business owners that could lead to that restriction being lifted in the future.
But, when it comes to South Florida, the governor was clear he is getting ready to move to lessen restrictions.
"I’m not saying I’m going to do it today, or I’m going to do it tomorrow," DeSantis said. "But clearly I think you see some of the numbers can be a blip here or there but these are sustained trends at this point and I think that’s a good thing."
In addition to lower positivity rates, hospitalizations of patients with COVID-19 as a primary diagnosis are down 40 percent statewide over the last three weeks.
Deaths -- the last of the metrics to decrease after the virus' spread slows -- remain relatively high, averaging about 170 new confirmed deaths a day in the last week. Most of those occurred a week or more before they were reported, as it takes time to confirm they are COVID-related.
And, when looking at the actual dates of death, it is clear the number of deaths is trending downward as well.