With the recent news of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Florida, Rep. Chip LaMarca (R-Lighthouse Point) today received an update from Florida ports and transportation leaders on preventative measures to ensure the health and safety of port employees and those coming in and out of the port, and on the potential economic impact of coronavirus.
Participants on the call included the Florida Ports Council and directors from Port Everglades, Port Miami, Port Canaveral, Port Tampa, and Port Jacksonville, as well as the Florida Port Pilots and the Florida Department of Transportation.
Rep. LaMarca said “As cases of coronavirus are confirmed here Florida, our ports and transportation sector should be one of our top concerns when it comes to preventative health measures for employees and the impact to our economy. Florida ports generate nearly 900,000 direct and indirect jobs and contribute $117.6 billion in economic value to Florida. It is my goal to update residents on the impact on the state’s economy and health. Our port system is the backbone of the Florida economy. Whether it is fuel supplies, the trucking and rail industry getting goods to our consumers, or our tourists visiting through our cruise terminals, it all originates at our ports.”
“Florida’s ports are resilient and well equipped to handle a variety of emergency situations. The Coronavirus has impacted the manufacturing sector in Asia, so we anticipate a reduction in Asian products coming in,” said Doug Wheeler, President & CEO of the Florida Ports Council. “But we have already seen rebounds in volumes and ship calls at Chinese ports, therefore we are not anticipating a dramatic reduction in Florida’s overall annual tonnage or cargo value.”
Rep. LaMarca also said “it is imperative that our state and federal transportation and law enforcement organizations are coordinating to take preventative measures to contain the spread of this virus. I am proud to report that our ports are in fact taking these additional steps to keep our tourists, workforce, and citizens protected.”
Our Florida ports are taking action under the supervision of the U.S. Coast guard, the Center for Disease Control, and state and local health organizations to help contain the spread of the coronavirus. They are taking steps to sterilize and clean cruise terminals before and after a vessel inbounds with passengers. They are continuing to monitor inbound vessel’s passengers.
Rep. LaMarca would also like to thank Governor Ron DeSantis, Lt. Governor Nunez, and Florida’s Surgeon General for taking a lead on this issue and for organizing a call this week with members of the Legislature to give an update on how Florida is preparing.
Under the leadership of our Governor, the Florida Department of Health has set up a 24-hour hotline if anyone has any questions or concerns. The hotline number is 1-866-779-6121.
Please stay informed, not panicked.