By Harris Rosen and Rep. Anthony Sabatini
With the recent announcement of Florida moving into a new “full” Phase I in its fight against COVID-19, Floridians are excited and ready for a return to normalcy.
With a serious recession on the rise and unemployment at its highest rate since the Great Depression, it is clear we must get this economy moving again—and fast. We believe that this can be done safely. State and local governments have enacted various safety precautions and ramped up increased testing around the state and it is time for private industry to lead the rest of the way. Private industry must do its part in helping bridge the gap to a safe and fully open economy. The question then is “How is it possible to do both simultaneously?”
Here is an idea. We should announce that all businesses in the state may open to higher occupancy with two provisions: 1) that all employees in the business should be screened on a daily basis and 2) that all guests/customers should be screened before they enter the business. If a business wishes to require masks and/or distancing, or other restrictions or precautions, it may do so.
All businesses should open quickly and judiciously. Caution and discretion should be employed at all times. Basically, what we need now is a paradigm shift. We should not be concerned solely with testing alone. Massive testing by itself will not restore consumer confidence and get people moving around again. An emphasis on both testing and screening must take place.
We in private industry are in a unique position to help and are ready and willing to apply new screening technology in order to make every guest, employee, and member of the public feel confident in the approach private industry has taken.
Currently there exists new walk-through scanners that can help detect COVID-19 by checking the temperature, respiration rate and blood oxygen level of hundreds of people an hour. I believe our local government officials should partner with industry to make these resources available to as many employers as possible. Doing so should allow us to safely return to normal facility capacity levels.
We need to move the focus from the question of how many people should be permitted to enter a space; to instead whether those people actually have COVID-19. New technology makes this easier. We have successfully flattened the COVID-19 curve; now it is time to flatten the curve of unemployment in our State.
Harris Rosen is president and chief operating officer of Rosen Hotels & Resorts. Anthony Sabatini represents District 32 in the Florida House of Representatives.