Gov. Ron DeSantis has extended Florida’s COVID state of emergency, but signaled that it won’t go on much longer.
An executive order the governor filed at 11:20 a.m. on Tuesday extends the emergency for another 60 days — the legal limit for these things — but touts the progress he said his administration has made toward containing the coronavirus.
“As Florida continues to realize a manageable trend in COVID-19 cases, over 8.5 million vaccinated individuals, a 4.7 percent unemployment rate well under the national average, and state revenues improving significantly from worst-case projections during the pandemic, gaining $4.1 billion additional projected revenue over three fiscal years from the August 2020 estimate, the state should prepare to resume non-emergency operations,” the order says.
DeSantis for months has been bragging that his handling of the pandemic has allowed Florida to avoid many of the high death tolls among seniors and economic hardships that other states have experienced.
Still, the order notes that the extension “is necessary to ensure Florida schools remain open for the remainder of the school year and to protect Floridians from being required to produce a so-called vaccine passport as a condition of participating in everyday life.”
The public schools are set to end their instruction years in late May, although some will extend into June. DeSantis in April 2020 ordered the schools closed for the remainder of that academic year but subsequently ordered them reopened for 2020-2021, although parents still could opt for remote learning.
“Vaccine passports” refers to cellphone apps or other documentation attesting that someone has been fully vaccinated against COVID. In early April, DeSantis banned state agencies from issuing or private businesses from requiring such documents, which he argues violate personal privacy. Businesses that defy the order would lose access to state grants.