Gov. Ron DeSantis says he won't issue 'shelter-in-place' order in Florida

Posted at 7:25 AM, Mar 23, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday he won't issue a shelter-in-place order for the state right now, calling it "not advisable."

"It would be a very blunt instrument," the governor said in Tallahassee. "You simply cannot lock down our society indefinitely with no end in sight."

DeSantis said a sweeping stay-at-home order, which has been enacted in several other states across the country to stop the spread of the coronavirus, would put hundreds of thousands of Floridians out of work.

"You're throwing their lives into potential disarray," the governor said. "If you look at Florida's situation right now, this is not a virus that's impacting every corner of the state."

DeSantis said 20 counties in Florida, including Okeechobee County, have no cases at all.

"It's also not clear to me that doing a massive shutdown of the entire state would even work," Gov. DeSantis said.

The governor added he will sign an executive order mandating that anyone who travels to Florida by airplane from New York and New Jersey must self-isolate for 14 days.

Earlier on Monday, speaking at a new drive-through COVID-19 testing site in The Villages in Sumter County, Gov. DeSantis said the hospitalization rate from the coronavirus is going down, as is the death rate.

"When we started this after the first few weeks, the number of people who tested positive had a hospitalization rate of almost 40 percent. So that was very problematic. Now that hospitalization rate is going down, it's now under 20 percent. The case fatality rate has gone down," DeSantis said.


FULL NEWS CONFERENCE: Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at coronavirus testing site in The Villages

According to the latest numbers from the state, there are more than 1,100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Florida, and at least 14 people have died.

"If you look at those numbers, we were expecting that, we're expecting to continue to see more. That's just the nature of this, and partly the nature when you're expanding testing, you're gonna see more cases," the governor said.


DeSantis announced Monday that the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital will operate a new drive-through COVID-19 testing location in The Villages.

"It'll be tailor-made for The Villages, because you can do your car through or you can do your golf cart through," the governor said. "I know a lot of the residents here are going to appreciate doing that."

More than 100 medical professionals with work together to operate the testing site.

According to state figures, more than 11,000 people have been tested for the virus. That's more than most states, but less than New York.

In Miami-Dade County, a drive-through testing site is now open at Hard Rock Stadium.

People at least 65 years old who are showing symptoms of COVID-19, along with first responders and health care workers, can now get tested at the stadium.

A testing center at Marlins Park will also open in the coming days, officials said.

DeSantis said Monday that his goal is for every nursing home and assisted living facility in Florida to have personal protective equipment, or PPE.

"We want all nursing homes and ALF throughout the state to have enough personal protective equipment so that any staff member that interacts with a resident at least has one of those respiratory masks," the governor said.

Over the next 48 hours, the Florida Department of Emergency Management will send 60,000 N95 masks, 141,000 procedure masks, 27,000 shields, 22,000 gowns, and 78,000 gloves to facilities across the state.

"That is something that's very important, particularly given the demographic we're looking to protect against COVID-19," Gov. DeSantis said.

COVID-19 causes only minor flu-like symptoms in most people, who recover in a matter of weeks. But it is highly contagious and can cause severe illness or death in some patients, particularly the elderly and those with underlying health problems.

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