Time to reopen South Florida? Palm Beach County makes plea to Gov. DeSantis

Palm Beach County says it is ready to open business and wants Gov. Ron DeSantis to let them. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. – As South Florida waits for its turn to start reopening non-essential businesses, one county is telling Gov. Ron DeSantis that it’s ready to go.

Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner sent a letter to the governor Thursday asking for permission.

“We are recommending you consider and grant our county the opportunity to reopen in Phase 1 of your plan in a similar fashion to other counties of the state outside of South Florida,” Kerner wrote, noting that the county’s commissioners have deemed them ready. “We would like to engage in discussions with you regarding the acceleration of this at the earliest possible date.”

On Friday morning, DeSantis’ staff announced that the governor will be holding a news conference along with Kerner and Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew at 1:30 p.m. at the West Palm Beach spring training ballpark where coronavirus testing is being done.

Miami-Dade and Broward counties have also been excluded in this first week of DeSantis’ reopening because of the high concentration of COVID-19 cases in South Florida.

As of Thursday, Palm Beach has reported 3,587 cases of COVID-19, with 222 deaths and 577 hospitalizations.

The numbers are fewer than those in Miami-Dade (13,585 cases, 454 deaths, 1,942 hospitalizations) and Broward (5,677 cases, 230 deaths, 1,125 hospitalizations).

DeSantis in a visit to Miami Gardens on Wednesday said that South Florida is getting closer to reopening, but he declined to give a timetable.

The local counties had spoken about aligning their reopening plans so that people from one county wouldn’t flock to another that had loosened its restrictions earlier.

DeSantis’ staff was aware of the letter from Palm Beach County on Thursday night but had no comment.

To see the governor’s phased plan for reopening, click here.