Economic reopening efforts across Florida were reflected Thursday in a report on initial unemployment claims, which fell last week below six figures for the first time since the coronavirus shuttered businesses in March.
The U.S. Department of Labor reported 1.5 million new claims nationally during the week that ended June 13, including an estimated 86,298 in Florida. The Florida estimate was down from 112,161 claims during the week that ended June 6, the biggest drop of any state.
Florida, which is engaged in the second phase of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ reopening effort, also had a nation-leading decline of 95,546 claims between the weeks ending May 30 and June 6.
On Tuesday, DeSantis vowed to keep advancing the state’s reopening efforts despite a surge in infections of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
“We are not shutting down. We are going to go forward,” DeSantis told reporters Tuesday. “We are going to continue to protect the most vulnerable. We are going to urge and continue to advise our elderly population to maintain social distancing and avoid crowds.”
DeSantis attributed the increases in COVID-19 cases to factors such as state efforts to target testing in high-risk areas, including nursing homes and prisons. Also, he pointed to several cluster areas in the state that he said skewed the percentage of positive cases upward.Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the only statewide elected Democrat, accused DeSantis of “recklessly reopening Florida despite the data screaming for caution.”
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