JACKSONVILLE (CBSMiami/AP) — All restrictions on youth activities, including summer camps and athletics, are lifted effective immediately, according to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. However, Miami-Dade and Broward county will wait longer.
DeSantis made the announcement at a news conference in Jacksonville on Friday saying local organizations and governments can set rules and guidelines. The state won’t preempt those rules, he added and said the state will rely on parents,, coaches and physicians to run these activities in a safe way.
“I hope that this will be good for folks over the summer. I really trust parents. I trust the physicians who work with the kids, the local leaders, coaches, camps,” he said.
In South Florida, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties are not lifting restrictions on summer camps and youth activities.
Broward County said it is not going forward with any plans to offer youth sports or summer camps at this time.
Miami-Dade County officials also said summer camps and sports will remain closed until county authorities consult with local medical experts.
County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said, “I want to clarify that the governor’s order does not apply to Miami-Dade County at this time. I spoke with Governor DeSantis Friday, and we agree that the County’s current restrictions on youth activities and camps should remain in place while the County’s Youth Activities/Summer Camps Working Group continues to work with our esteemed medical experts to finalize recommendations on how operations can safely resume. My goal is for summer camps and other youth activities to be able to begin operations June 8th, once the doctors and health professionals have determined what measures need to be implemented to keep our children and community safe.?
The Florida Department of Health on Friday reported that 4,832 of the state’s 49,451 COVID-19 cases involved people who are under age 25. The state also reported 178 hospitalizations of people in that age group due to COVID-19 complications.
The Governor said there have been no fatalities of people under the age of 25.
“I think the data is pretty clear: Kids don’t seem to get infected at the same rates that adults get infected,” he said.
The governor, a father of three young children, said however, he is not comfortable having his kids participate in youth activities.
“I wouldn’t want my kids involved in things right now,” he said. “But if for some reason I didn’t think it was safe and my wife didn’t, then obviously we wouldn’t (lift restrictions).”
Helen Aguirre Ferre, a spokeswoman for the governor, later clarified that DeSantis does not want his kids out and about because of their ages — the oldest is 3 years old — not because the activities would pose risks to their health.
“Most youth activities are for older children, T-Ball, for example begins at 4-5 years of age. However, other parents should be able to make that choice for themselves,” Ferre said in an email Friday.
Attorney General Ashley Moody told The News Service of Florida on Friday that she is “excited and happy” to let her 10-year-old son participate in youth activities this summer, so long as there are precautions and safeguards to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We will research them,” Moody said. “It is wonderful to see that if we can do it in a safe way, a responsible way, that our children will be able to be with their friends and be productive this summer.”
A Tampa Bay Times analysis of medical examiner and state health records showed that 83% of coronavirus deaths are in people over the age of 65. DeSantis said many of the recent positive cases have come from long-term care facilities and prisons.
“We believe that this makes sense based on the data and observed experience. We are not going to be instituting a lot of rules, or really any rules,” DeSantis said. “At the end of the day, we trust parents to be able to make decisions in conjunction with physicians.”
Even so, Nichole Harrell, 31, of Tampa, has reservations about sending her 7-year-old son to summer camp this year. She said her only child is a social butterfly who loves to hug everyone and give high-fives. While she’s repeatedly explained social distancing to him, Harrell said he doesn’t “really know the significance of that.”
Harrell said with restrictions like staying apart and not sharing sports equipment could make camp, which is supposed to be fun, feel more like punishment. So, she is keeping him home for the summer.
“We don’t know if it’s really safe. We don’t know if it’s really gone. We don’t know if we’ll have a second surge,” she said. “There’s just too many unknown things.”
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press and News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)