TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Senate Democrats reiterated their call for a special legislative session Wednesday, rolling out a set of proposed measures they argue are critical to protect the health of Floridians as the state's coronavirus cases soar.

What You Need To Know

  • Democratic state legislators are calling for special session to address COVID-19

  • They want to roll out proposed measures they believe will help curb spread

  • Special session seemingly unlikely due to Republican praise of DeSantis' work

​Pointing to the heightened rates of infection among farmworkers and others working in close confines, the Democrats called for passage of a set of new workplace protections designed to prevent the spread of the virus.

Requiring employers to provide workers with masks that must be worn when social distancing isn't possible tops the list.

Other proposals would mandate testing of new hospital patients and an expansion of the state's contact tracing program, which the Democrats described as inadequate. Gov. Ron DeSantis' handling of the coronavirus crisis, they told reporters, has made it necessary for the legislature to get involved.

"We're a day late and a dollar short with regard to these spikes, and the families that I'm talking about are the least that can afford not to have some type of protection, and that comes from leadership taking this thing seriously," said Sen. Perry Thurston (D-Ft. Lauderdale). "Not just thinking, we can just brush away because of the age of the individuals that you think are being affected."

But a special session appears unlikely anytime soon, with the Republican leaders of the House and Senate praising the governor's leadership and expressing confidence that state reserves will help Florida weather the fiscal shocks the crisis is exacting.

"We are the beneficiaries of good decisions made by past legislatures and Governors to spend within our means," House Speaker Jose Oliva (R-Miami) said in a statement Monday, shortly after DeSantis signed the 2020-21 state budget. "Governor DeSantis continues in that tradition, and I believe we are better off for it in the present and the people of Florida will reap the benefits of this sustainable budgeting well into the future."

Sign up now for one of our newsletters that will show up in your inbox every weekday at 1 p.m. The newsletters highlight the most important stories of the day that you need to know for your area.

Spectrum News 13 newsletter

Spectrum Bay News 9 newsletter