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Coronavirus Florida: Ted Deutch sends Trump his reopen America report

Staff Writer
Walton Sun
Walton Sun

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch on Tuesday sent a 34-page plan to President Trump, sharing his views on priorities and processes for reopening the U.S. economy from the coronavirus-forced freeze.

Deutch, a Boca Raton Democrat, is one of five Florida lawmakers serving on the White House’s Opening Up America Again Congressional Group. Republican U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott also serve on the panel. So do U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Pensacola, and Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat from Orlando.

Each was asked to submit their views on reopening the American economy to Trump.

Deutch’s plan emphasizes public health as central to restarting the national economy.

He said it is not only critical to “significantly increase” testing but also to implement quality controls to prevent false readings while also offering “businesses and individuals” added guidance as to “who, when, and how often” people be tested.

He added: “Workers will want to know when and how often they should be tested, whether they should seek PCR tests to detect active infections or blood tests to detect antibodies.”

He concluded: “As we contemplate next steps at this critical moment, I ask that you prioritize the public health response to prevent renewed outbreaks. If we do not reopen our economy safely, both the economic and human costs will continue to rise.”

Deutch also called for efforts to provide “high traffic businesses” with sufficient quantities of personal protective equipment as well as disinfectants. And he suggested companies receive “workable guidance” on cleaning and other safety standards.

Health and safety standards will be pivotal to restoring consumer confidence in airline travel, Deutch said. He recommended testing and screening passengers before they board a flight. That will require enormous preparation efforts, he conceded.

“TSA or airline crew members would need to be trained to check temperatures and screen passengers for COVID-19 and have robust access to PPE. Airports will need to have professional staff available that have adequate training to check passenger temperatures and screen for the virus,” the report stated.

Deutch also called for extending unemployment benefits, small business assistance and food relief programs to help Americans until the economy has fully returned. Those efforts should also include a freeze on evictions and tutoring for K-12 students.

Deutch wrote that not all businesses will be able to reopen immediately with new operating models and limits.

“Some proposals for reopening suggest that restaurants, movie theaters, and other businesses are allowed to reopen but limit their seating capacity to enable safe social distancing. But not every business can effectively scale down, which means that reopening at partial capacity has the potential to do tremendous additional damages to businesses that are already struggling,” the report said. “The federal government has to acknowledge this and recognize that we may need to offer assistance during the transition.”

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For more information:

– Florida Department of Health coronavirus web page

– CDC coronavirus web page

– Florida DOH coronavirus hotline (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday) is 866-779-6121 or email COVID-19@flhealth.gov