Congress members raise ‘grave concerns’ with DeSantis’ plan to open Florida

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Democratic members of Congress from South Florida have co-written a letter to Ron DeSantis sharing their “grave concerns” with his plan to reopen Florida amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“A rushed reopening may very well serve only to increase the human loss caused by an already historic public health crisis, as states moving forward with reopening are seeing increases in new COVID-19 cases,” the letter sent Friday says.

Among the members who signed the letter are South Florida-based Reps. Alcee Hastings, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ted Deutch, Frederica Wilson, Lois Frankel, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Donna Shalala.

Orlando-area Reps. Darren Soto and Val Demings, and Al Lawson of northern Florida, also signed the letter.

The letter presses the governor for answers more questions about coronavirus testing, contact tracing and social distancing guidance.

DeSantis on Monday launched Phase 1 of his reopening plan for most of the state, leaving out Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties because of the high concentration of COVID-19 cases.

He said during a visit to Miami Gardens on Wednesday that South Florida may be ready to join the reopening plan “soon.”

Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner on Thursday wrote a letter to DeSantis asking for permission to open.

The push to reopen non-essential businesses comes as the nation’s unemployment rate has hit 14.7%, the highest since the Great Depression.

Democratic leaders are urging DeSantis to prioritize the health of residents over the economy.

“You have, since the rise of this crisis, resisted the implementation of science-based and data-driven mitigation strategies and withheld valuable data from the public. Florida is not an experiment and its residents are not case studies,” the Congress members wrote in Friday’s letter. “As our state and our nation grapple with the complexities and risks of reopening, we need forthright assurance, tangible evidence and relentless effort to ensure every decision you make in this process is based on the best scientific fact and public health guidance experts have to offer.”

The full letter can be read below: