On Wednesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order in response to the growing concern surrounding COVID-19. The order will take effect starting Thursday at midnight and continue for the following 30 days.
Florida has now joined the growing list of more than 30 states and the District of Columbia to have issued similar statewide measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. Just a little over a week ago, DeSantis was extremely vocal in the decision to not implement a statewide shutdown, stating, “it isn’t advisable. It’s a blunt instrument” according to the Tallahassee Democrat. His comments and views were immediately met with backlash. The New York Times reports that the reason DeSantis hadn’t imposed these orders sooner was that, “the White House coronavirus task force had made no such recommendation.” This past weekend, President Donald Trump and the coronavirus task force changed their tune on when they would reopen the nation, initially targeting Easter Sunday. At a press conference on Sunday, Trump extended social distancing guidelines until at least April 30. At the press conference, Trump was asked if the State of Florida needed to issue an order, though Trump replied that DeSantis is, “a great governor who knows exactly what he is doing.”
The first cases of COVID-19 within the state of Florida were reported a month ago in Manatee and Hillsborough counties.
While Wednesday was the first statewide mandate, DeSantis did, however, implement stay-at-home orders several days ago to heavily impacted counties in South Florida including Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Monroe. DeSantis also issued a 14-day mandatory quarantine for anyone traveling into the state from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and affected regions of Louisiana who have recently seen a spike in confirmed cases.
While many are thankful steps were taken to combat the spread of this virus, some believe this decision is too late. For the last few weeks, thousands of college students across the nation traveled to Florida for a typical spring break on the beach, where coronavirus did not hinder any of their social plans. CBS News interviewed one of those spring breakers, Brady Sluder, who said, “If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I’m not gonna let it stop me from partying.”
Over the last few days, the number of reported cases has been staggering. According to WCTV, as of today, the state health department reports almost 7,000 confirmed cases with the death toll approaching 90 statewide. On Wednesday evening, CNN updated its COVID-19 cases, reporting just over 210,000 cases with a death toll of just under 5,000 nationwide, numbers that unfortunately continue to grow.
For the safety of those around us, we hope that the growing restrictions will decelerate the spread of this virus that has already done too much damage.