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A Message from the Florida Chamber
Published Monday, May 18, 2020


Welcome to Florida’s “Full Phase 1” which started this morning and allows Florida’s job creators to move further down the phased-in reopening timeline. We anticipate Governor DeSantis to make an additional transportation announcement today in Orlando, according to a media alert from his office, and we’ll cover the announcement in tomorrow morning’s membership update. 

As mentioned, liftoff to Full Phase 1 began at 12:01 a.m. this morning, that’s when Florida moved further along the White House’s phasing in criteria, providing all 67 counties the opportunity to infuse additional life back into their operations and continue reopening under Governor DeSantis’ Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step plan. Gyms and fitness centers are reopening at limited levels, restaurants, retail establishments, museums and libraries can operate at 50 percent capacity, and professional sports can practice and play without spectators (a charitable golf Skins game yesterday netted $5 million for COVID-19 relief and NASCAR returned as well). 

Just as Chamber members across Florida are reopening their doors, we’re phasing-out our remote work environment and returning to our Florida Chamber Headquarters located just two blocks from the state’s Capitol. After nearly 60 days of remotely working to protect our team of employees, many team members are back in the office and following safety guidelines outlined by the White House, EPA and the CDC. We learned a lot about the strengths of our team during our remote working experience, and I’m proud of their dedication and what we’ve provided for you:

  • Seven-day-a-week communication through our Daily COVID-19 Membership Update and our COVID-19 Resource Center,
  • Access to top state and federal leaders, including Governor DeSantis, U.S. Senators Rubio and Scott, U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Surgeon General Rivkees, AHCA Secretary Mary Mayhew, Governor DeSantis’ Chief of Staff Shane Strum and General Counsel Joe Jacquot, and more,
  • Research and analysis, including county-level COVID-19 trends, from org,
  • A customizable “Relaunch Florida” framework for reopening cities, counties and regions,
  • Saving you $62.5+ million (so far) in obscure Doc Stamp taxes from the PPP forgivable loan program, and
  • Sharing how your company is giving back to help others

For those of you that have already joined the fight for free enterprise, thank you. For those interested in fighting against special interests and who believe in Florida’s future – we invite you to join the fight. The battle for free enterprise continues and we welcome your support. Contact Jim Simpson at

INFRASTRUCTURE TO SPUR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: The Florida Chamber’s Infrastructure Coalition, led by former FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad, is working to ensure Florida makes the right investments in infrastructure to prepare for 4.5 million more residents and 3 million more drivers by 2030. Governor DeSantis has expedited road construction and improvements as one way to quickly put Florida back on the road to economic recovery, and he’s expected to share more details on this today from Orlando’s I-4 Ultimate project. While Florida’s fiscal prudence, focused investments and responsible budgeting have kept our state’s transportation trust fund healthy and sound, we’re not immune to the budgetary consequences that have resulted from COVID-19. Our team is taking action, and we’ve joined our partners in calling on Florida’s congressional delegation to allow Florida the flexibility it needs to allow relief funds to support Essential Critical Infrastructure. I know many of you are closely monitoring infrastructure issues. Please share your advice by emailing Christopher Emmanuel at 

TSUNAMI OF VIRUS-RELATED LAWSUITS: We’ve warned about the tsunami of virus-related lawsuits headed Florida’s way – perhaps the single greatest threat to chamber members who are reopening their businesses. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week that he won’t “stand idly by while a small group of wealthy lawyers vacuum up this relief money and redirect it into their own pockets.” We couldn’t agree more, and that’s why the Florida Chamber’s Litigation and Regulatory Reform Center is actively defending job creators in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C. Plus, we’re working to ensure trial lawyers don’t take even more control of the Florida Senate. We’re unifying business for good, and the Florida Chamber Political Institute has already begun its series of candidate interviews to learn where candidates for the Florida Legislature stand on important policy issues – including lawsuit abuse reform and moving Florida’s bottom five legal climate ranking into the top quartile in the nation. If you want more pro-business leaders in the Florida Legislature, email Marian Johnson at to learn how you can get involved. 

GIVING BACK MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH FREE ENTERPRISE: From the outset of COVID-19, Chamber members have been giving back to help their employees, customers and community. Your compassion to help the lives of millions has been a lifeline for so many Floridians, and we salute you. Chamber members like AT&T, FedEx, Valencia College, Piper Aircraft, Florida Trucking Association, Publix, NCH Healthcare System, Triumph Group, Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, Florida Blue, Verizon, Duda Fresh Farms, FPL, State Farm, U.S. Sugar and so many others are giving back to help others. Please continue to share how your company is giving back, and we’ll do our part by sharing how your kindness is helping Floridians from Perdido Key to Key West. 

RELAUNCHING FLORIDA’S ECONOMY: In addition to serving as President of the Florida Chamber, I serve as chair of the national council of state chambers, and on the leadership team with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Just as state’s are reopening under the White House guidelines, and Florida is reopening under Governor DeSantis’ Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step., local chambers of commerce are serving as a catalyst for relaunching local economies. And what I’m seeing from local chambers as they lead the restart and reopen plans locally is nothing short of awesome. Tomorrow, May 18 at 10 a.m. EDT, we’ll continue providing guidance on the Florida Chamber’s Restart and Recover Task Force to our federation of local chambers and our partners at the Florida Association of Chamber Professionals. Email Grant Holcomb at to join this event. 

COUNTY-BY-COUNTY COVID-19 TRACKER: Get the latest data and analysis to help Relaunch Florida’s 67 counties and 412 cities from the COVID-19 County Level Tracker available on

Florida recorded its highest number of tests yesterday, with 22,281 tested, bringing the overall total number of tests administered to 653,081. There are now 45,588 cases, an increase of 777 from yesterday. The average daily new cases are 679.3. Over the last seven days, 113,451 tests were administered, there were 4,992 new cases, putting Florida’s positive rate at 4.4 percent. Monroe County just hit 100 cases, Collier County is expected to break 1,000 cases this week, Duval County will hit 1,300 this week, and Lee County will hit 1,500 this week. Sarasota County broke 500 cases yesterday, and now stand at 508 positive cases. Yesterday we saw 9 additional deaths for a total of 1,973 deaths.

UNITING BUSINESS FOR GOOD: We’re uniting Florida’s business community for good, and if you want to see Florida succeed, Relaunch Florida is for you. Please continue to share this daily update with your executive team, family and friends, and encourage them to sign-up to receive their personal copy. 


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