Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Florida AgricultureCommissioner Nikki Fried, an independently-elected member of the cabinet, is issuing a cabinet proclamation declaring November as “COVID Impact Month,” in an effort to recognize and honor all those who have been affected by the virus. As October nears an end and the state has seen over 4,000 new coronavirus cases per day in the past week and and a death rate which has increased in the past three months, COVID Impact Month is a way to recognize the significant challenges that Floridians are still facing due to the virus.
“As the coronavirus continues to sweep across our state and nation, I want to remind Floridians that this pandemic is not over — that’s why here in Florida, November will be COVID Impact Month,” stated Commissioner Nikki Fried. “Whether you lost a loved one, battled the virus firsthand, supported someone who got sick, struggled due to the pandemic’s economic impact, or were affected in any way — we recognize your struggle, and we will come together to get through this. During COVID Impact Month, I hope we can all reflect on the grave challenges this virus has posed, the loss it’s caused, and remember that only together, by all doing our part, can we beat COVID-19.”
Yesterday, Commissioner Fried sent a letter to Governor DeSantis and the Department of Management Services requesting that the Florida State Capitol be illuminated in the color red from November 2 to November 8 to serve as a symbol and a display of love, unity, and perseverance.
Many small businesses have shared that they have experienced financial struggles, with 85 percent indicating they have lost revenue. Throughout the month, Commissioner Fried will be speaking with small business owners, essential workers, educators, frontline healthcare staff, and more, to hear how they have been impacted by COVID-19. Recordings of these one-on-one Zoom conversations will be posted to the Department’s social media pages to help share these stories of Floridians who have been affected by the virus.
Context:Earlier this month, Commissioner Fried issued a cabinet proclamation recognizing October 16 to October 23 as “Mask Up Florida Week” in the state of Florida to raise awareness on the importance and effectiveness of mask-wearing as a way to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. In August, Commissioner Fried launched Be SMART Florida, a consumer awareness campaign asking Floridians to take small actions with proven results to slow the pandemic’s spread, including wearing masks. The awareness campaign uses an acronym to ask Floridians to Social distance, Mask up, Avoid crowds, Remember to wash or sanitize hands, and Throw away disposable PPE items like masks, gloves, and wipes.
Background: Commissioner Fried has been a strong proponent of mask-wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic and called on the governor in June to institute a statewide mask order. As COVID-19 cases spiked to record-breaking rates statewide in July, Commissioner Fried also made available the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (FDACS) Division of Consumer Services helpline to hold bad actors accountable for ignoring COVID-19 directives, such as local government mandatory mask orders. In September, Commissioner Fried and FDACS launched a nine-part video series to provide guidance on COVID-19 safety precautions for farmworkers, including wearing masks, social distancing, and more.
WHEREAS, COVID-19 disrupted society as we knew it and caused a dramatic loss of life in Florida, nationally, and worldwide.
WHEREAS, in March of 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic after it swept into at least 114 countries and killed more than 4,000 people.
WHEREAS, to date, over 784,330 Floridians have contracted COVID-19 and at least 16,648 lost their lives.
WHEREAS too many Floridians have a loved one or know someone who has been infected with the virus and suffered through the symptoms.
WHEREAS, the virus continues to pose an unprecedented challenge to public health, food security, and our economy.
WHEREAS, tourism and agriculture, two main drivers of Florida’s economy, became casualties of the virus following travel bans and the shutdown of the food service industry.
WHEREAS, thousands lost their jobs and too many families battle to keep their homes, while also making the tough decision of whether to send their children back to school.
WHEREAS, the matter of food insecurity amongst school-aged children worsened, hunger rates increased across the state.
WHEREAS, the virus shook our workforce as business owners closed their doors, costing nearly 169,000 Floridians their jobs.
WHEREAS, despite the horrific impact COVID-19 has caused, we can reclaim our lives by banding together and employing the basic values that have allowed humanity to survive for centuries — love, unity, and perseverance.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Nicole Fried, Commissioner of Agriculture for the State of Florida, do hereby proclaim that November 2020, shall be known, designated, and set aside as
COVID-19 IMPACT MONTH
in the state of Florida. During this month, we remember everyone who has been affected by COVID-19, whether they have battled the virus firsthand, supported a loved one or a friend who has suffered through the virus, lost their job or business, struggled with a lower income due to the pandemic’s economic impact, or been impacted in any way — we recognize your struggle and suffering — and we will come together to get through the COVID-19 pandemic.