- The Washington Times - Friday, September 11, 2020

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday said Florida’s two most-populous counties can resume in-person learning on Monday, pointing to progress against the coronavirus pandemic and his pledge to let parents choose between online learning or the classroom.

Mr. DeSantis highlighted the option as part of Miami-Dade and Broward counties’ move into “phase 2” of the COVID-19 recovery, as businesses and schools across the country try to regain a sense of normality amid the pandemic.

“It really clears the pathway for in-person learning to resume — of course, at the parent’s discretion,” Mr. DeSantis said.

He said it is critical to let students see their teachers and mentors in person.

“That will soon be a reality,” he said.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez said the new phase allows him to open a series of sites, including the local zoo, though he will not be opening bars and nightclubs at this point.

Florida was one of several Sun Belt states that saw an alarming uptick in COVID-19 cases and deaths after Memorial Day, squandering gains made after a nationwide effort to separate people and control transmission.

While Midwest states see cases surges, the Sun Belt has gotten its spike under control.

Mr. DeSantis said the number of coronavirus-positive hospital patients in Florida is down 70% from July. Miami-Dade has driven the percentage of tests returning positive to 4.87% and Broward’s positivity rate is down to 3.19%.

Experts say communities should strive for a positivity rate below 10% to ensure they are catching enough cases.

President Trump is pushing businesses and schools to resume in-person activity, as reported COVID-19 cases and deaths decline. The seven-day rolling average of daily cases is at roughly 36,000, down from 66,000 in late July, according to a New York Times tracker.

It’s higher than the 22,000 the U.S. averaged per day in early June, however, so parents, teachers and employees are worried about ongoing spread or a spike if classes and commerce resumes as normal.

Some colleges have reported hundreds of cases and, citing struggles getting students to follow with COVID-19 rules, issued strict policies that can lead to expulsion for non-compliance.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he will allow indoor dining New York City to resume, but he’s taking a cautious approach. Establishments must start at 25% capacity on Sept. 30. Officials will assess the situation Nov. 1 and allow capacity to expand to 50%, if infection rates do not increase.

JPMorganChase asked senior managers in its sales and trading unit to return to the office in New York and London as of Sept. 21, according to CNN. There are exceptions for employees who are vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19, live with someone at high-risk, or might struggle to provide child care.

Mr. Trump praised the bank.

“Congratulations to JPMorgan Chase for ordering everyone BACK TO OFFICE on September 21st,” he tweeted Friday. “Will always be better than working from home!”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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