Governor: No plans to close Florida child care centers over coronavirus concerns

'I think that will cause huge issues throughout the state,' DeSantis says
Posted at 3:41 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 17:34:44-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday it's not necessary at this point to close child care centers across the state over fears of the coronavirus.

"I think the parents have such, they're under tremendous amount of pressure with the schools, and I don't think it's as simple as saying, you close them and everything is going to work out great," the governor said at a news conference at the state Emergency Operations Center. "I think that will cause huge issues throughout the state."

While K-12 public and private schools in Florida are closed through April 15, child care centers are considered private institutions that take direction from the Florida Department of Health.

Health officials said they cannot close a child care facility under the current circumstances without a state order.

"I have not had the public health people come to me and say, you need to do this to protect public health," DeSantis said. "That's just not something that's been presented to me as being, as something that would be necessary at this point, and I also think it would create a huge amount of issues."

The governor also stressed the need for more COVID-19 testing kits and swabs to allow more Floridians to be tested for the virus, especially at drive-through sites.

"If we have enough swabs and we set up the drive-through sites, you can swab people," DeSantis said. "So a huge supply of swabs will let us ramp up the number of people that can be tested very, very quickly."

DeSantis added the state has ordered half-a-million swab test kits.

"We put in an order, probably a week and a falf ago, for half-a-million swabs," the governor said. "Have not gotten that fulfilled yet."

DeSantis again highlighted the importance of closing bars and nightclubs across the state for 30 days.

"We want to avoid large crowds throughout the state right now. I don't want to shut every aspect of life down. I think that wouldn't be effective," the governor said. "But at the end of the day, you have people crowding into these places and that is creating the type of activity that we are being warned against."

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus | What's open, closed?

South Florida is currently at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Sunshine State.

According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, Broward County leads the state with 80 confirmed cases, followed by Miami-Dade County with 76 and Palm Beach County with 19.

Among the newest cases in Palm Beach County is a 6-year-old child who tested positive for coronavirus.


For the latest information about coronavirus cases in Florida, click here.