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DeSantis seizes ‘opportunity’ to spur road projects with stay at home order

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference at a drive-thru coronavirus testing site in front of Hard Rock Stadium on Monday, March 30, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla.

By John Haughey | The Center Square

After resisting calls to impose a statewide stay-at-home order for weeks, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday ended a national will-he-or-won’t-he debate by saying he will – effective 12:01 a.m. Friday and lasting through April 30.

When President Donald Trump extended federal COVID-19 guidelines for social distancing and public gatherings on Sunday, DeSantis said he realized, “It makes sense to make this move now,” and decided to impose a statewide stay-at-home order for nonessential activities.

“I think it is, in a sense, effectively a national pause. We are going to be in this for another 30 days,” he said. “Based on that, given those circumstances, I am issuing an executive order today directing all Floridians to limit movements and personal interactions outside the home to only essential activities.”

One answer, he said, is obvious.

“One of the things that struck me, the traffic, not as many people on the roads,” DeSantis said. “Traffic isn’t what it was. You can really make progress on some projects.”

Therefore, he said, the state will direct $2.1 billion into accelerating road projects in West Palm Beach, Orlando, Tampa and Miami over the next month.

DeSantis has withstood weeks of furious criticism by public-health experts and Democrats for not issuing a statewide stay-at-home order, not only in Florida but across the country.

On Sunday, former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb tweeted, “Florida is at risk of becoming major epicenter of epidemic spread of #COVID19 in the coming weeks” across the nation because “the state was slow to implement mitigation steps and probably exported a lot of its infection.”

University of Washington professor Ali Mokdad and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci are among White House coronavirus task force members who advised DeSantis to issue a shutdown.

DeSantis was lambasted on “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” for “scapegoating” New Yorkers for spreading COVID-19 while many of the Sunshine State’s beaches remained open. On Wednesday, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told NBC’s “Today” that DeSantis should view the federal guidelines as “a national stay-at-home order.”

“I don’t necessarily view that as the same solution for the entire state,” he said. “But I felt with 30 more days” ordered by Trump “we should just do it. That was a national pause button. At this point, I think even though there’s a lot of places in Florida that have very low infection rates, it makes sense to make this move now. We find ourselves in a situation where we have a national pause and we need to deal with this, front-and-center, and then figure out, in the back end, how to get out.”

The state will follow Department of Homeland Security (DHS) guidelines in defining what an essential activity is and many of the guidelines installed by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez in his stay-at-home order, DeSantis said.

Among those nuances, “Pets and taking care of pets is an essential activity. We understand how important that is for folks,” he said.

As of Wednesday, the Florida Department of Health reported 6,955 COVID-19 cases in the state – including 87 deaths – and 890 hospitalizations.

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus. The disease has caused at least 4,716 deaths in the U.S., with more than 211,00 confirmed cases in the country. COVID-19 symptoms appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing.

7 COMMENTS

  1. That former US. Food and Drug Administration commissioner seems to only want to point fingers at Florida speaking about how Florida probably exported a lot of its infection….well, I am not seeing anything he said about all these infections that were imported into this state, from various other states via cruise ships, planes, and travelers coming here, so let’s be fair.

  2. There are so many mixed messages being put out from the authorities and the different news sources. I heard about the pastor arrested for having a large church service then I heard Governor DeSantis announce on tv that going to church or to a synagogue to attend a service is okay. Then why was that pastor arrested? This evening I even heard Matt Austin on channel 6 make a reference about you can’t go to church…..so this is one example of these mixed messages we are receiving.

  3. This eveming on tv I really heard one….they announced all Florida beaches are shut down now, but then they added that you may still be able to swim in the ocean. I never heard the rest of that….so exactly how is that? I guess you COULD SWIM in the ocean if you get tossed overboard……

  4. I’m getting the implied hints that if you do contract this virus and get sick, it seems to me, our health system wants to pass the buck on. It seems to me, you will be on your own, no one wants to transport you, treat you, or care for you. They only want to identify you as positive test result for their statistics, or to stay the heck away from you, or to total up a giant bill, that is, if you actually do end up in a hospital and are accepted, and are not turned away for whatever reason.The real truth, IMO. It isn’t about saving you, from the doctor office, to the urgent cares, to ambulance transports, to the various hospitals….no one wants you! Sorry, but the truth hurts, as I envision what I am seeing happening.

  5. I do not have any criticism of our Florida governor about his handling of this covid-19 and I am a Democrat. I think he has tried to do the actions he belives are best for our residents, and I know he has a genuine concern with having a newborn baby, a toddler, and a wife plus other family members.

  6. Now, Trump’s handling of this pandemic….don’t even get me started about my criticisms of him, that is a different story!

  7. They were reporting that Hobby Lobby stores were not shutting down, defying orders, and that the Illinois attorney general sent them a letter that arts and craft stores are not ” essential” item stores, and if they didn’t shut the stores, they would face legal action. I thought our Hobby Lobby was closed, so I haven’t been there to see if they are open, because I like that store very much, it’s so clean, and they have so many nice items. I heard the same things were going to be enforced against Joann Fabrics and Michael’s Arts and Crafts too…in some states. They do sell fabric to make masks. Some people have griped, well then, why can Walmart sell arts and crafts supplies if those other stores can’t sell theirs, and now there was talk on the tv about forcing Walmart to close off their arts and craft sections, so they can’t sell their supplies….The world has lost their minds and gone nuts over this corona crap! Will things ever be normal again? I don’ t expect anyone to recruit me to join the optimist club. Lol

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