Breaking News
More () »

DeSantis: Florida will look to White House reopening guidelines as baseline

President Donald Trump gave governors a road map Thursday for recovering from the economic pain of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference in Fort Lauderdale less than 24-hours after President Trump released a three-phase outline for recovering from the economic pain of the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump says the goal of the "phased and deliberate approach” is to restore normal activity in places that have strong testing and are seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases.

RELATED: President Trump unveils 'Guidelines for opening up America again'

When asked about how Florida will respond to Trump's three-phase plan, DeSantis said that the state will use it as a baseline but that doesn't mean Florida will follow it exactly or do everything. The governor says they need to look at several different things and more information is needed.

Testing Updates

DeSantis also gave an update on testing efforts, saying that over 56,000 tests have been issued statewide at drive-thru COVID-19 sites. He said this is number is much higher but doesn't reflect the tests given at hospitals and doctor's offices.

He says these drive-thru sites have been critical in stopping the spread of COVID-19 but that other measures have to be taken to include underserved populations.

"Not everybody is going have access to be able to go to a drive-in site," DeSantis said. "Maybe it's too far from where you live, maybe you don't have reliable ground transportation."

In Northeast Florida, he says there have been teams physically going into public housing communities to issue tests and that these efforts will continue in other parts of the state as well.

"We are excited to be able to continue to move the ball forward in regards to testing," DeSantis said.

As it stands now, 1 in 96 people in Florida have been tested for COVID-19 and that ratio is only getting better as the state works to do even more testing.

DeSantis says the state is continuing to work on ways to expand its total testing capacity.

Unemployment Assistance

The governor also spoke about updates to the state's unemployment assistance website, saying that it is and continues to be the #1 economic priority for Florida.

They have added 100 new servers to help deal with the new capacity of unemployment filings and have brought in over 2,000 people to man the call centers, manage the website and train. He says this is a stark comparison to the 30 employees that had a month ago, citing the massive surge in terms of manpower efforts.

RELATED: Coronavirus: Floridians out of patience with state's broken unemployment benefits system

Federal Express (FedEx) continues to work with the state to provide free internet and printing services for those looking to submit an unemployment application that may not have access to a computer. Find locations here.

DeSantis said his goal is to help streamline the process and get people paid in less than the typical 4 to 5 weeks. He has since waived prohibition on receiving payment, weekly recertification as well as required job search updates.

"The process has gotten better, still more work to do but we are doing all kinds of technological upgrades," DeSantis said. "People need to be able to put food on their table and pay their rent."

He says just this week his team has sent out over 100,000 payments.

RELATED: Coronavirus: Florida's unemployment claims office overwhelmed

Healthcare Updates

DeSantis said the '30 days to stop the spread' campaign was launched to make sure hospitals have enough capacity to meet the needs of those getting sick.

As of Friday, 43% of hospital beds set aside for that purpose are empty. He says the state is reporting 774 patients in ICU's, which is the lowest total number since April 9. 

Progress being made therefore new hospitalizations have been flattened. Healthcare centers say they are in a much better place than a month ago.

Last week, Florida's largest advocacy group for long-term health care workers and the elderly asked the governor to give their workers immunity from coronavirus lawsuits. 

When asked about this during the news conference, Desantis said he has not yet reached a decision.

RELATED: Florida health care workers ask for immunity from coronavirus lawsuits

First Coast News will continue to keep you updated regarding the latest information surrounding coronavirus and the state's response. 

You can text "FL COVID-19" to 888777 for additional information.

RELATED: Jacksonville beaches, parks reopen Friday

RELATED: Wall Street futures skyrocket Friday

RELATED: President Trump unveils 'Guidelines for opening up America again'

Before You Leave, Check This Out