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Governor Ron DeSantis gave no indication this week that Florida is ready to move on from Phase 2 of reopening, though he did say he’s not planning to roll back to stricter rules.
The statement came as the Florida Department of Health (DOH) reported record-breaking daily case totals multiple times this week — the current record was set Friday, when DOH reported another 3,822 coronavirus cases.
The Governor mostly downplayed the spike in cases, saying it was a result of more widespread testing and not evidence of a resurgence. On Friday, however, he acknowledged some regions were reporting positives disproportionate to the rise in testing.
“When we started to see the positivity go up, you could kind of pinpoint some of the hot spots around the state. So, like in Collier County, that was 13% because you had the Immokalee outbreak. Martin County, that was 10%, 12% because you had the Indiantown outbreak,” he said.
“But now, I think what you're seeing in Central Florida and Tampa Bay, these are more community cases with younger people and it's passing around the community at a rate that is higher today than it was say maybe three weeks ago. So that's something that we've got to dig in for."
Indeed, other officials have noted the average age of the new cases is significantly younger than during the first few months of the pandemic.
The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) released a pair of emergency orders this week that would require all staff at assisted living facilities and nursing homes to be tested every two weeks, beginning July 7. The orders state that facilities “shall not admit into the facility any staff who has not been tested for COVID-19” in the past two weeks.
The orders say the tests will be conducted with resources provided by the state. Further, AHCA said “staff who have already been infected and recovered from COVID-19 do not need to be tested if they can provide medical documentation to the nursing home.
Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady issued orders this week amending prior guidelines for allowing courts to resume in-person jury trials.
The first administrative order updates the guidelines for state court operations in the pandemic to allow courts to tailor their operations based on the virus’ spread in their respective regions. The second administrative order updates guidelines for state courts to move into “Phase 2,” which permits limited in-person contact in courts.
Both alterations were recommended by the Supreme Court’s COVID-19 Workgroup. Earlier in the week, Canady extended the workgroup’s term through the end of the year.
This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced $107.2 million in funding for programs aimed at boosting the health care workforce in rural and underserved communities. The recipients span 45 states and territories. Among the Florida institutions receiving funding were Barry University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida International University, Florida State University, Nova Southeastern University, University of Miami, University of North Florida, University Of South Florida and Variety Children's Hospital.
Finance & Tax
The Internal Revenue Service released a notice this week outlining changes to the tax penalty for making an early withdrawal from retirement accounts, including IRAs. The CARES Act allows qualified individuals to take up to $100,000 in distributions from certain retirement plans between Jan. 1 and Dec. 30, 2020, without being subject to the 10% additional tax that generally applies to early distributions. Eligible individuals include those who test positive for coronavirus as well as anyone who “experiences adverse financial consequences” because of the pandemic.
WE ARE GRATEFUL FOR YOU
Our GReat client Devereux's staff member Ereka Watson Lee teamed up with her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters to sew facemasks for Devereux's Healthcare Heroes. Learn how you can be like Ereka and help Devereux during this time here.
COVID-19 Task Force
GrayRobinson's COVID-19 Task Force is aimed at helping businesses and local governments address evolving legal and regulatory challenges and emerge stronger from the pandemic. Keep up with our Task Force updates here.