Florida coordinating reopening with five southern states

Florida is a part of the coalition of southern states coordinating to reopen their economies even as they see continuing coronavirus cases and lack the testing capacity some public health experts say is needed to safely reopen. 

“We have had a meeting with all the Southeastern governors — Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and Tennessee,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisFlorida emerges as world's new epicenter for COVID-19 Overnight Health Care: CDC to issue more guidance on school openings amid Trump criticism | Supreme Court upholds birth control coverage exemptions | US surpasses 3 million coronavirus infections GOP Miami mayor does not commit to voting for Trump MORE (R) said on “Fox & Friends” Tuesday.  “And we shared a lot of ideas. I think we will be the same page on some stuff.”

DeSantis's communications director Helen Aguirre Ferré tweeted that the governor's office “is working in coalition with regional southeastern state governors ... to safely re-open as well as working regionally within Florida to make sure we thread the needle properly.”

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Florida has experienced four deaths per 100,000 people, according to statistics collected by The New York Times. 

Other states in the South have been hit harder per capita, with Georgia experiencing 7.6 deaths per 100,000 people.

Louisiana is the hardest-hit southern state so far and is not a part of the coalition. It has experienced 30.2 deaths per 100,000 people. Many think Mardi Gras events earlier this year contributed to the spread of the coronavirus in the state.

The southern states moving forward with openings as part of the coalition all have Republican governors. Louisiana has a Democratic governor.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced Monday that he would lift his state’s stay-at-home order on April 30. His plans have come under criticism from some who say the state is moving too quickly.

Florida’s stay-at-home order also expires April 30, though DeSantis announced last week that he would close K-12 schools for the remainder of the academic year. 

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As of Tuesday morning, the six states had collectively tested about one-tenth of 1 percent of their total populations, half of what states in the northeast have tested, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

Kemp has been the subject of criticism since announcing his state would begin to reopen Monday. He admitted that cases will likely increase as bowling alleys, gyms, nail salons, massage therapists and movie theaters reopen next week. 

“Gyms, nail salons, bowling alleys, hair salons, tattoo parlors: It feels like they collected a list of the businesses you know that were most risky and decided to open those first,” Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Tuesday on CNBC.