Florida coronavirus update: DeSantis issues statewide stay-at-home order
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TALLAHASSEE — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order Wednesday as federal and local pressure mounted for him to abandon the county-by-county approach he had implemented during the coronavirus crisis.
DeSantis told reporters that he is issuing the order after consulting with President Donald Trump and White House advisers, who have said that Americans need to stay home throughout April.
DeSantis' move came hours after the U.S. surgeon general, Dr. Jerome Adams, said on NBC's "Today" show that he would tell DeSantis that the federal guidelines for social distancing should be viewed as "a national stay-at-home order."
The state's confirmed cases are approaching 7,000, with 86 deaths and almost 900 people hospitalized, and an outbreak model cited at the White House shows exponential growth in the coming weeks. More than 30 others states had already issued such orders, including other large states like California, New York and Illinois. Those all acted more than a week ago.
On Tuesday, Florida's Democratic congressional delegation blasted DeSantis for failing to impose a statewide lockdown, saying the virus does not respect county lines.
DeSantis had been defending his county-by-county approach, saying it wouldn't be fair to lock down the small, mostly rural counties with no or few confirmed infections. He issued a stay-at-home order Monday for Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties and the Florida Keys, last week ordered anyone arriving from the New York area and Louisiana into quarantine and issued some statewide measures such as closing bars and gyms and limiting restaurants to takeout and delivery.
Counties in the Tampa Bay area and central Florida issued their own lockdown orders and Jacksonville announced Wednesday that it would join them on Friday.
A University of Washington model is projecting that Florida will see a rapid increase in the number of deaths and hospitalizations in April, with 100 people dying daily by mid-month and over 175 by May 1, when the number nears its peak. It predicts that 10,000 people will be hospitalized by mid-month and 20,000 on May 1. The model predicts that more than 6,500 Floridians and more than 90,000 will die nationally from the virus by June 1.