Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issues statewide 'safer-at-home' order following criticism from lawmakers

Posted at 1:16 PM, Apr 01, 2020

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide "Stay-At-Home" order Wednesday, the day after a group of Congressional Democrats from the Sunshine State urged him to be more forceful in his response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

DeSantis' order, which goes into effect April 2 at midnight, asks Floridians to stay in their homes outside of some "essential activities" which include but are not limited to going to grocery stores, gas stations, health care facilities, pharmacies and child care centers.

DeSantis did not order the closure of non-essential businesses.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 6,741 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Florida, the fifth-most of any state in the nation. At least 85 people had died in connection with the disease.

DeSantis' order comes days — and in some cases, weeks — after other states had already issued "shelter-in-place" or "stay-at-home" orders. California, the first state to issue a lockdown, did so on March 20.

Because the virus can be more severe in the elderly, Florida's large population of retirees are at risk of serious complications should they contract COVID-19. According to Statista, Florida had the fifth-highest median age among U.S. states

Statistic: Median age of U.S. population in 2018, by state | Statista
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On Wednesday, 13 Florida Congressional Democrats penned a letter to DeSantis, asking him to issue a statewide "stay at home" order.

"This pandemic has not respected global borders, so it certainly will not respect county borders," the letter read. "We cannot wait, and we cannot leave the decision to county and municipal governments. We urge you to immediately issue a statewide stay-at-home order to save lives."

Previously, DeSantis said he thought it was inappropriate to issue a statewide mandate because some pockets of the state had not yet reported any cases of the virus.

DeSantis said he made his decision Wednesday after speaking with President Donald Trump.

"I did speak with the president about it," he said. "He agreed with the approach of focusing on the hot spots. But at the same time, he understood that this is another 30-day situation and you gotta just do what makes the most sense."

At a Tuesday press conference, Trump — who has downplayed the impact of the virus and compared it to the flu in recent weeks — and his health experts said they hope to limit coronavirus-related deaths to 100,000 at a minimum.