Gov holds the line on closed bars and open gyms

Gov. Ron DeSantis discusses housing relief and other COVID-related issues during a press conference in Apopka in July. At left is Florida Housing Coalition President and CEO Jaimie Ross. Credit: The Florida Channel

Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a press conference Friday that he does not plan to reopen bars or close gyms as coronavirus infections rise in Florida and the daily death toll has been above 100 for four straight days.

He said the surge has been mostly among young people who tend to have milder symptoms or none.

“There’s no doubt we’ve seen, from southern California to South Carolina, including Florida, Texas, Arizona, we’ve seen an increase of spread, and obviously as I mentioned a spread among a lot of the younger folks,” DeSantis said.

But that doesn’t entice him to impose new restrictions on Floridians, the governor said, speaking in Apopka, near Orlando.

The ban on gathering in pubs and bars will not be lifted soon, he said, because too many failed to comply with requirements for safe distancing, resulting in local spikes in infections among patrons.

“In terms of gyms, we’ve not had lot of problems with that,” DeSantis said, answering a reporter’s question.

“Talk to any physician: If you’re in good shape, you have a very, very low likelihood of ending up in significant condition in terms of the coronavirus. …Taking that option away from people to be healthy just doesn’t make sense. I don’t think it would make sense to close it.”

The press conference was staged in Apopka so the governor could present a $7.26 million check to Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings to help people struggling with 13.3 percent unemployment there to pay their housing expenses. (Mayor Demings is the wife of Orlando Congresswoman Val Demings, a Democrat, who is up for consideration for a vice presidential pick by presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.)

The money comes from CARES Act federal funding to Florida during the coronavirus pandemic. (CARES stands for Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stimulus.)

DeSantis previously announced he earmarked $250 million of the funds to assist Floridians with their housing troubles, including $120 million to counties to provide housing relief, of which $75 million is being distributed to counties now.