Haskell headquarters in Jacksonville, FL.

July 29, 2020

Florida CEOs Implore Floridians to Contain COVID-19


Haskell President and CEO Jim O’Leary is among a group of 135 CEOs across Florida who have signed an op-ed letter titled Stop the Spread: Failure to Contain COVID-19 is Not an Option. 

The op-ed piece decries the fact that “By every key metric, our state has recently been reaching record levels on an almost daily basis.” Further, it implores Floridians to “join us in renewing our commitment to following safety guidelines, recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

More than a dozen daily newspapers across the state, including the Florida Times-Union and the Orlando Sentinel, and numerous weekly publications will carry the op-ed in coming days.

The op-ed reads as follows:

The COVID-19 virus is testing our resolve, and the numbers here in Florida tell an extremely concerning story. 

By every key metric, our state has recently been reaching record levels on an almost daily basis. These include the number of new COVID-19 cases, and the percentage of those tested for COVID-19 who are positive.  Our hospitalization rates are alarming. Since March 1, Florida has reported more than 400,000 COVID-19 total cases and over 5,500 deaths.

As leaders serving Florida, we are urgently asking our community to join us in renewing our commitment to following safety guidelines, recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to stop the spread of COVID-19 and prevent more people from getting infected, becoming sick or unfortunately even dying. We all need to take personal responsibility to do the right thing for ourselves and one another to avoid our community experiencing an even more severe impact from COVID-19 like we have seen in other parts of our country.

The most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed in the first place. There are simple steps we can take to effectively reduce the risk of transmission and turn the tide in our community.

  1. Wear a mask when you’re outside of your home. Wearing masks should not be a controversial or a divisive issue. Masks can help save lives, just like seatbelts, traffic lights and life vests. Multiple studiesincluding a recent article in the Annals of Internal Medicine, show that individuals with no symptoms or mild symptoms can transmit the virus to others. But wearing simple cloth masks can stop more than 90% of the droplets that transmit the virus.
  2. Practice social distancing. Where possible, keep at least six feet between you and other people outside your home. Remember, even people who do not appear sick can still spread the virus to you if you are too close. Avoiding close proximity to other people will help to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.
  3. Wash hands frequently. Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in public or blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, can help stem the spread. If soap and water is not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes with unwashed hands.
  4. Avoid the Three Cs. The World Health Organization has recommended avoiding “Crowded” places with many people nearby, “Close” contact settings where people have close range conversations, and “Confined,” enclosed places with poor ventilation.  If you do make the decision to gather with others, it is much safer to do so outdoors rather than indoors.

In addition to these important preventative measures, there are ways for those who have contracted and fully recovered from COVID-19 to help combat the virus.  Individuals who fully recover have antibodies to the disease that researchers believe can potentially help people with severe COVID-19 fight the virus.  If you fall within this category, talk to your primary care physician about whether donating convalescent plasma through your local blood donation center is an option for you.

We know these tactics to fight COVID-19 work because we have seen them successfully deployed here in Florida and in other states and countries. Spikes like those we are experiencing have been overcome through concerted efforts that adhere to proven approaches.

We are leaders from business, community organizations, and health care and academic institutions. Our perspective is based solely on research and science. Our role is to help guide and protect the public health and well-being of our community.

Working together, we can take simple but important steps to protect one another and bring the virus under control throughout Florida.  Feeling safe and being safe will be the cornerstones of our economic recovery as health and prosperity are inextricably linked.  Now more than ever, our collective actions will dictate our shared future.


  • Pat Geraghty, President & CEO, GuideWell Mutual Holding Corporation & Florida Blue
  • The Board of Directors, GuideWell Mutual Holding Corporation & Florida Blue
  • Carlos Alfonso, CEO, Alliant Partners, LLC/Alfonso Architects
  • Maria C. Alonso, CEO, United Way of Miami-Dade
  • Douglas Baer, President and CEO, Brooks Rehabilitation
  • John D. Baker, II, Executive Chairman, FRP Holdings, Inc.
  • Jason Barrett, President & CEO, Flagler Hospital
  • Rodney Barreto, President & CEO, Barreto Group, Inc.
  • Wael K. Barsoum, President & Chief Transformation Officer, Health Outcomes Performance Company
  • Richard A. Beard, President, R.A. Beard Co.
  • Richard Berkowitz, Founding & Executive Chairman, Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors & CPAs
  • Alan Bomstein, CEO, Creative Contractors, Inc.
  • Michelle Braun, CEO, United Way of Northeast Florida
  • Colin Brown, Chairman, JM Family Enterprises, Inc.
  • Henry Brown, CEO, Miller Electric
  • Kenneth Burdick, Executive VP, Markets & Products, Centene Corporation
  • Walt Bussells, President, Forbes Street Capital, LLC
  • Kathleen Cannon, President & CEO, United Way of Broward County
  • Hugo Castro, Executive Vice President, Equitable Advisors, LLC
  • Ravi Chari, President & CEO, HCA Healthcare West Florida Division
  • Gary Chartrand, Chairman & Philanthropist, The Chartrand Family Foundation
  • Jose Cil, CEO, Restaurant Brands International, Inc.
  • Michael J. Clare-Salzler, Director of the Center for Immunology and Transplantation, University of Florida
  • Peter Collins, Co-Founder and Managing Principal, Forge Capital Partners
  • Chris Corr, President, Raydient Places & Properties, RAYONIER
  • Tim Cost, President, Jacksonville University
  • Brett Couch, Executive Vice President, Regions Bank
  • John D. Couris, President & CEO, Tampa General Hospital
  • Thomas Crowley, Jr., Chairman & CEO, Crowley Maritime Corporation
  • Nathalie Doobin, Owner & CEO, Harvard Services Group
  • Roger Dow, President & CEO, U.S. Travel Association
  • Dan Doyle, Jr., President & CEO, Dex Imaging
  • Ray Driver, Jr., Founding Partner, Driver, McAfee, Hawthorne & Diebenow, PLLC
  • William T. Dymond Jr., President & CEO, Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor and Reed, P.A.
  • Zachary Faison Jr., J.D., President & CEO, Edward Waters College
  • Mark Faulkner, President & CEO, Baptist Health Care
  • Michael T. Fay, Principal, Managing Director-Miami, Avison Young
  • Jeff Feasel, President & CEO, Halifax Health
  • Aurelio M. Fernandez, III, President & CEO, Memorial Healthcare System
  • Michael A. Finney, President & CEO, Miami-Dade Beacon Council
  • Fred Franklin, Managing Partner, Rogers Towers
  • Julio Frenk, President, University of Miami
  • Laurie George, President & CEO, United Way of Palm Beach County
  • Deborah C. German, Dean, College of Medicine, University of Central Florida
  • Tim Giuliani, President & CEO, Orlando Economic Partnership
  • Rick Goings, Executive Chairman, Tupperware Brands Corporation
  • Gary M. Goldfarb, Chief Strategy Officer, Interport Logistics LLC
  • Lucio Gordan, President & Managing Physician, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute
  • Charles Gressle, President & CEO, HCA Healthcare East Florida Division
  • Walt Griffin, Superintendent, Seminole County Public Schools
  • Leon Haley, Jr. CEO, UF Health Jacksonville and Dean, UF College of Medicine-Jacksonville
  • Richard Hammett, President & CEO, HCA Healthcare North Florida Division
  • C. (Ceree) Harden, CEO, Harden
  • Debbie Harvey, President & CEO, Ron Jon Surf Shop, Inc.
  • Ben H. Hill, III, Chairman, Hill Ward Henderson, P.A.
  • John Hogan, President & CEO, Capital Health Plan
  • Anthony Hucker, Southeastern Grocers
  • Richard Hume, CEO, Tech Data
  • Kevin E. Hyde, Managing Partner, Foley and Lardner, LLP
  • Joseph Iannotti, Interim CEO & President, Cleveland Clinic Florida
  • Tommy Inzina, CEO, BayCare Health System
  • Pam Iorio, President & CEO Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
  • Barbara Jenkins, Superintendent of Orange County Public Schools
  • Todd Jones, CEO, Publix
  • Joseph G. Joyner, President, Flagler College
  • Brian E. Keeley, President & CEO, Baptist Health South Florida Inc.
  • Scott P. Keith, Regional President, Truist Bank
  • John Kelly, President, Florida Atlantic University
  • Thomas D. Kmetz, President, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital
  • Keith Koenig, CEO, City Furniture
  • Jack Kolosky, President, Moffitt Hospital
  • Mari Kuraishi, CEO, Jessie Ball duPont Fund
  • David Lawrence, Jr., Chair, The Children’s Movement of Florida
  • Senator George LeMieux, Chairman of the Board, Gunster
  • Paul Leone, CEO, The Breakers Hotel
  • Charles J. Lockwood, Sr. VP USF Health, University of South Florida
  • Eric K. Mann, CEO, YMCA of Florida’s First Coast
  • Amy Margerum Berg, President, The Better Angels Society
  • Alex Martins, CEO, Orlando Magic
  • Brett McClung, President & CEO Baptist Health
  • Carlos A. Migoya, President & CEO, Jackson Health System
  • David Miller, Executive Chairman, Brightway Insurance
  • Jeanne M. Miller, CEO, Jacksonville Civic Council
  • Michael Munz, CEO Rummell Munz Partners, LLC
  • David R. Nelson, President, UF Health University of Florida
  • Rusty Newton, Chairman, Timucuan Asset Management
  • Gary Norcross, Chairman, President & CEO, FIS
  • James O’Leary, President & CEO, Haskell
  • Donna Orender, CEO, Orender Unlimited
  • Joc O’Rourke, President & CEO, The Mosaic Company
  • Lisa Palmer, President & CEO, Regency Centers
  • Fred Pezeshkan, Chairman of the Board, Summit Management Group-Florida
  • Lou Plasencia, CEO, The Plasencia Group
  • Olga M. Ramudo, President & CEO, Express Travel
  • Paul Reilly, Chairman & CEO, Raymond James Financial
  • John Rivers, CEO, 4 Rivers
  • Kenneth D. Robinson, President, Dr. Phillips Charities
  • Frank Rodriguez, Chairman Emeritus, Corporate Creations
  • Christopher Roellke, President, Stetson University
  • Mark B. Rosenberg, President, Florida International University
  • Peter Rummell, Chairman, RummellMunz Partners, LLC
  • Mike Santarone, CEO, Stellar
  • Gino R. Santorio, President & CEO Broward Health
  • Shawn Seipler, CEO/Founder, Clean the World Foundation
  • Kathleen Shanahan, Co-Chair, Turtle & Hughes
  • Linda Sherrer, Founder & Chairman, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty
  • Kent Shoemaker, CEO, Lipman Family Farms
  • Eric Silagy, President & CEO, Florida Power & Light Company
  • Kelly Smallridge, President & CEO, Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, Inc.
  • Greg Spencer, CEO, Timbers Resorts
  • Martin (Hap) E. Stein Jr., Executive Chairman, Regency Centers
  • Robert (Bobby) L. Stein, President, The Regency Group
  • Stuart Sternberg, Principal Owner, Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Rowdies
  • Cindy Stover, North Florida Market President, TD Bank
  • David Strong, President & CEO, Orlando Health
  • David T. Sweeney, CEO, RS&H Inc.
  • Bob Swindell, President & CEO, Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance
  • J. Szelistowski, President, TECO Peoples Gas System
  • David M. Szymanski, President, University of North Florida
  • Bradley Talbert, President and CEO, Memorial Hospital Jacksonville
  • Hugh Tappan, President & CEO, HCA Healthcare South Atlantic Division
  • John J. Taylor III, President & CEO, J.J. Taylor Companies, Inc.
  • Troy D. Taylor, Chairman & CEO, Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, LLC
  • Kent R. Thielen, CEO, Mayo Clinic in Florida
  • Russ Thomas, CEO, Availity LLC
  • Daryl Tol, President & CEO, Advent Health/Central Florida Division
  • Nancy Tower, President & CEO, Tampa Electric Co.
  • Tom Vanosdol, President & CEO, Ascension Florida
  • Ronald L. Vaughn, President, University of Tampa
  • Jeff Vinik, Owner, Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Bob Ward, President & CEO, Florida Council of 100
  • Will Weatherford, Managing Partner, Weatherford Capital
  • Eric Woolworth, President of Business Operations, Miami Heat
  • Bill Yeargin, CEO, Correct Craft
  • Sam Zietz, President & CEO, TouchSuite

Haskell delivers $2± billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 2,200 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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