Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has finally ordered the state residents to stay home in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The number of new cases in Florida kept increasing and hospitals in Fort Myers and Naples urged the public to donate personal protective equipment such as masks, gowns, and eye gear.
Many young people started to die from the virus. And yet, DeSantis resisted. What made him change the decision to order a statewide lockdown? A phone call with President Donald Trump and a grave reckoning.
In Florida, the number of cases rose to more than 1,000 on Tuesday, reaching the total of around 7,000.
DeSantis said in a news conference in Tallahassee, “People aren’t just going to go back to work” by April 15. He called for the stringent social-distancing orders, which take effect on Friday, considering it “a national pause button.”
Orders of social distancing have been adopted by 37 states, including most recently Mississippi and Georgia.
More than 100 people have died in Florida. And yet, testing, especially of asymptomatic and younger people, remains insufficient.
DeSantis’ stay-at-home order, which does not include the closing of public beaches, has been a great sign of relief to health officials and hospital administrators who have been urging for aggressive efforts to order people to stay home.
CEO and president of the Lee Health hospital system in Fort Myers Dr. Lawrence Antonucci said, “I am very happy to hear this news. This should help tremendously in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Florida.”
Florida’s economy largely relies on the tourism industry, which now faces a great risk after the lockdown. DeSantis said, “Obviously in Florida, the tourism is totally shot right now.”
Last week, DeSantis imposed a quarantine on travelers from the New York area. Later, he called Trump and complained that New Yorkers who are flocking to Fort Lauderdale and other nearby cities were bringing the virus with them. Trump responded by tweeting that he was considering a quarantine of the New York tri-state area, which baffled authorities in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.