Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Wednesday issued a statewide stay-at-home order to slow further spread of the coronavirus following increasing COVID-19 cases and rising pressure from the public and state lawmakers.
The order, which takes effect at midnight Thursday, directs Floridians to “limit movements and personal interactions outside the house” to only those deemed “essential,” DeSantis said at a news conference. The restrictions will remain in place for 30 days.
DeSantis, unlike governors of other states with burgeoning COVID-19 outbreaks, had for days resisted mounting pressure to act, including from state lawmakers. The governor said just a day earlier that he was waiting for the White House coronavirus task force to recommend a statewide stay-at-home order.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump hasn’t called for a national stay-at-home order, even as the U.S. has surpassed other nations as the epicenter of the pandemic. The nearly 200,000 reported cases in the U.S. as of Wednesday was more than double the number from less than a week ago.
Areas of South Florida, including Miami-Dade County, have been under local stay-at-home restrictions for days. More than half of the state’s coronavirus cases so far have been in southern counties of Broward and Miami-Dade, DeSantis noted.
DeSantis said Wednesday that there were “a lot of places in Florida that have very low infection rates.” He said he spoke with Trump and the president “agreed with the approach of focusing on the hot spots,” but also “understood” the need for the statewide order.
Other states, including California and New York, have been under “shelter in place” or stay-at-home orders for nearly two weeks.
Earlier this month, DeSantis resisted calls to shut down beaches, even after college students from around the country descended on the state for spring break.
Terrie Rizzo, the chair of the Florida Democratic Party, said in a statement Wednesday that it was “distressing that Governor Ron DeSantis waited until the coronavirus had spread to so many Floridians before finally issuing a statewide stay-at-home order.”
“I hope this will finally slow the rise in infections and that his actions are not too late,” Rizzo added.
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