Gov. Ron DeSantis has shut down bars and restaurants, cut off visitation at nursing homes and prisons and ordered senior citizens to stay home, as he attempts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus .
But the Republican governor’s efforts have sparked a partisan divide over whether he needs to do more to protect Floridians from COVID-19, the respiratory infection caused by the virus that can be deadly for seniors and people with serious health conditions.
Florida Democrats have been lambasting DeSantis for not issuing a statewide “shelter in place” order that would replicate directives governors, mayors and county commissioners in other parts of the nation have made to stunt the spread of the virus.
On Wednesday, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden joined the chorus of DeSantis critics, delivering a double-handed smack to the Florida governor and his close ally, President Donald Trump. Trump, too, has balked at issuing a national mandate similar to fiats delivered by New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine.
Cuomo and DeWine “are stepping up during this time of crisis to fill the void and protect our most vulnerable,” Biden said in a prepared statement issued by his campaign.
“Floridians deserve science-based action from Gov. Ron DeSantis,” the former vice president said, adding that the governor should “let the experts speak to the public and explain” why Florida hasn’t gone further.
“In this moment of growing uncertainty and anxiety, Floridians want — and deserve — to hear from the public health officials leading the charge,” Biden said in the statement. “To get through this, we need our leaders to listen to the public health experts and their guidance. The stakes are too high to wait any longer.”
DeSantis has issued a series of executive orders aimed at limiting face-to-face interactions and has encouraged Floridians to practice “social distancing” on their own. But the governor has eschewed a more hardline statewide approach, citing concerns about intensifying the virus’ negative impact on the state’s economy.
Instead, DeSantis has left decisions about home quarantines up to local officials, whose restrictions have run the gamut from mild, including allowing beaches to remain open to the public, to severe, including numerous counties’ stay-at-home orders.
DeSantis bristled Wednesday when a reporter asked him if the variety of mandates were sending a “mixed message” to the public.
“It’s not a mixed message,” he snapped.
The governor said Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, on Tuesday called Florida’s response to the pandemic “a thoughtful data-driven approach.”
“Dr. Fauci said not every instrument is appropriate in every population in the country,” DeSantis added, referring to Tony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who also serves on the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
DeSantis said he worked with Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties to issue orders that closed South Florida beaches.
“But I also think there are certain parts of the state where you have more sporadic cases and to order someone not to be able to earn a paycheck, when them going to work is not going to have any effect on what we’re doing with the virus, that is something that I think is inappropriate,” he said.
The governor also said he was considering the “second-order effect” of statewide shutdowns, such as New York’s shelter-in-place order, which DeSantis said sparked “thousands and thousands of people to flee” to other states.
“And so that’s going to make it more difficult, I think nationwide, for us to be able to, to get a grip on this stuff,” he said during a news conference at a Division of Emergency Management warehouse in Orlando.
DeSantis also pointed to images of crowded California beaches, after Gov. Gavin Newsome ordered the state’s 40 million residents to stay home.
“You probably are less dangerous just driving your car to the office than being with crowds of hundreds of people. So you just got to think it through, but I’ve supported the local things, and it’s a more surgical approach, but it also is mitigating any damage that would be done for blunt instruments being applied in places throughout the state where (it) wouldn’t be appropriate,” he argued.
State and national health officials, meanwhile, have been reticent about the need for statewide stay-at-home orders.
“I don’t think necessarily every single situation, every single region or location, needs to be that way. But certainly, in the response to the kind of situation that you’re seeing in New York, I think that was an appropriate move,” Fauci said Friday in an interview on “CBS Evening News.”
But with more than 1,600 cases of COVID-19, including 22 deaths, in Florida, Democrats aren’t backing down from their demand that DeSantis take a more strident stance.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried — the only Democrat elected statewide — said Wednesday that the “piecemeal approach” throughout the state has confused people.
“We need to be taking the full recommendation of all the experts we are seeing, not only across the state but across the country who are saying the only way to stop the virus from spreading is to do stay-at-home shelters,” Fried told reporters. “This is not a partisan issue. It’s not Democrat versus Republican. You are seeing Republican governors all across the country that are putting these types of order in place.”
Fried said DeSantis is forcing mayors and city and county commissioners “to make drastic steps that they wish was coming from the governor’s office.”
A group of Florida congressional Democrats sent a letter to DeSantis on Wednesday, emphasizing the need for a statewide shelter-in-place order.
“With the highest concentration of older residents of any state, Florida is at even greater risk of serious impacts on the health of our residents and burden on our health care system. … We understand the grave economic consequences this action will have. But hoping to dull the impacts on the economy in the short term by delaying a shelter-in-place order will only exacerbate those impacts in the medium and long term,” the congressional Democrats said in the letter.
Trump’s campaign, however, blasted the Democrats for “politicizing a national emergency” while the president and DeSantis “are leading an unprecedented, comprehensive, and aggressive approach to slow the spread of the coronavirus and jumpstart the economy.”
“Instead of playing games, it is time to come together as Floridians and support critical aid for Florida’s families, businesses and health care community,” Trump campaign Florida spokeswoman Emma Vaughn said in an email.
–Dara Kam, News Service of Florida
You can't fix stupid says
The only way to get this under control is to test every person and mandate that all people in the US stay home!!! That is common sense. It is going to be more costly with this dragging on for weeks and months!! Come on Governonr, stop trying to be Trump and do what is best for Florida. Stop the friggin travel into this state, we don’t need this virus to be transferred from one place to another. Use some common sense for God’s sake! Shut this state down and test everyone!!!! You have had more than enough time to get swabs. When the US heard this was a problem in other countires months ago, we should have then started preparing with emergency medical supplies……SHAME ON YOU!
I cannot believe you opened our airports to let all these people from north come in when we are being exposed to the disease from people from New York New Jersey and Connecticut knowing that one of every flight Will be infected with this virus how stupid can you be. We have elderly we have children we are already getting up with the states that are infected severely and you want to put this on our shoulders you need to be voted out. You need to go along with Trump and all the rest of your Republican buddies. I didn’t vote for you then and I definitely will not vote for you now
Why continue to bash DeSantis? The man is working tirelessly to maintain a balance between a safe environment for Floridians as well as keep as many people employed as possible. If people want to stay home and self quarantine then they certainly can. If others decide to work, then they can. If the people that so badly want Florida to lockdown are staying home, then they’re safe, so quit bashing the people who aren’t choosing to self quarantine. They know the risks. They are adults. Everyone has weighed their options and chosen the best path for their household. If we were ordered to lockdown then there would be another wave of people bashing him for that decision. Leave DeSantis alone and let the man work without being so rudely criticized constantly!
Gary R says
People aka Debbie Downer’s are going to whine and complain about anything because it is their nature. In the meantime 60% percent of Americans indicated in the poll they approve of the way the president is steering the country in response to the pandemic, with 38% saying they disapprove.
What about the workers? It’s not our choice to come to work for people who are bored and want to come out to shop. That’s how it spreads. People are too ignorant or selfish to worry about those around them.
The last time I checked, neither Cuomo, nor Biden, are Governor of the the state of Florida. Ron DeSantis is. And, he is doing what is in the best interest of our state, and our citizens.
I would strongly urge all politicians to mind your own state’s business. And leave Florida’s handling of this crisis in the hands of our elected officials.
Basically….mind your own business!
That may he true but desantis could definitely take lessons from them instead of licking Trumps boots.
Failure one after another. Desantis wont be getting my vote. His lack of independent leadership has shone through and hopefully will not be forgotten by constituents. All over our County crowds of close people. Few cases cuz noone being tested . Smuck
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
Why is DeSantis taking such a careless approach to this deadly virus? I used to be a big DeSantis supporter, but he has made two irresponsible choices lately, the other being the refusal to close the beaches statewide. I’m reserving judgment, but I hope he isn’t “just another politician “ after all.
I am a little concerned with the slack issues. Testing hasn’t been as aggressive and where we live we have to travel over an hour to get tested. Shelves at stores still empty. Now we have to worry about northerners coming down here. To infect the Florida residents. To my knowledge no authority is monitoring it.
@The orange ring around rev desantis’ nose
isn’t a sign from God or symptom of illness. He just needs to be careful about his social distancing from resident rump.
Tinbird two says
Need I say more our governor is a stupid fool who is putting the health of all Florida citizens in jeopardy.
Delaware Joe is spreading the virus himself. He can barely get through an interview without a nasty cough and sneezing. Joe go back to Delaware you practically own it with the Duponts.
Why is Hobby Lobby still open during a global pandemic? Moreover why is their parking lot full of cars? This is NOT social distancing. FYI hobby lobby does not have special powers that prevent people from getting coronavirus. What they do have is a lot of right wing political clout oh, and probably coronavirus. Smh…
Trailer Bob says
OK…ENOUGH already. do what you have to do to be safe and don’t wait for others to tell you what to do. My wife and I don’t go anywhere or meet with out friends at this point, we stay home where we can only get the virus from each other, so that limits the odds of us getting infected. Is it boring? Hell ya. but we are adults and we will get through it, even if we end up having fights from the frustration and being in a different world than we are used to. I hope we don’t get it, but I highly doubt it would kill us. Lots of hand spraying with alcohol and watching what we touch. Like as said, we are getting short tempered with each other, but that is somewhat expected. Spray alcohol on your steering wheel and door handles…any surfaces that you touch often. This too shall pass, as they say. When it ends we plan on throwing one huge party.
He needs permission from “The Dear Leader”.
” We live in a warm climate and so we are not going to get the Coronavirus”. This is a quote from a cashier at Publix yesterday morning, as my husband (wearing a bandana and gloves). checked out our necessities, during his very quick trip. He was so aghast at her lack of factual knowledge . . . he had no words. . . he just wanted to “get the hell out of there”.
MISINFORMATION and CONFUSION ABOUNDS! This lack of comprehensive, cohesive government control and leadership. . . beginning in the White house, down to the state house. . . is already putting each of us at a much higher risk of illness than necessary. This is NOT a time to give our citizens the maximum latitude and flexibility to do as they damned well please. Obviously, our citizens are NOT prepared to keep themselves safe and healthy, much less do what is best for their neighbors and community.
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
Sherry, I can’t help but respond with my own Publix story. While I can’t say enough good things about how Publix, statewide, has handled the coronavirus challenge, or how tirelessly their great employees have worked to keep food on the shelves, there was this: About a week ago I made my last grocery-shopping expedition before going into lockdown mode. I had brought my own disinfectant wipe to use on the shopping cart handle. After wiping, I set it on its outer plastic packet in the child-seat area of the cart, intending to discard it in an outdoor trash can after leaving. I stood back as far from the checkout as possible as my groceries were being rung up. Then, without warning, the bagger, who decided he wanted to set a bag of groceries in the seat, picked up the used wipe, scrutinized it closely, then stuck it in his pants pocket! I was so shocked, I paid hastily and made a beeline for my car, where I cleaned my hands with another wipe. When I got home, I Lysol-sprayed every bag and grocery object that young man had touched. Needless to say, I’m counting the 14 days!
DeSantis needs to step up and stop this cruise ship, with sick people aboard, from docking in Florida:
@Hey ron, in addition to your admittance pass for Mar-A-Lardo, and memorizing big daddy’s go-to phrases, “Nobody knew. I know more than the generals… There are fine people on BOTH sides of a parade of Nazi flags. Etc, etc” you’ll be needing this too…
Pay attention – the whole world is watching
Governor DeSantis watch the news and take lessons from Governor Cuomo who is shining for all he has done for New York right now. You went to Yale, you have a brain in your head, stop listening to Trump who is failing our country right now out of his own greed. Stand up and do what is right for the State of Florida and its citizens young and old and then you too will shine like Governor Cuomo and get re-elected.
Put rules into place for every county in this state. You can do it use your own brain and stop being a follower and listening to Trump and Scott.
It’s only a matter of time before the number of deaths skyrocket from lack of action by some leaders and by people themselves.
35 million Americans have chronic lung disease.
34.2 million Americans have diagnosed & un-diagnosed diabetes.
77.9 million Americans have HBP and 20% are unaware.
121.5 million Americans have some form of heart disease.
1.8 million Americans have cancer.
50 million Americans have auto-immune diseases.
Some of these overlap but, the overall picture is America is a very unhealthy nation. We rank as the 64th healthiest country in the world. Spain and Italy are the number 1 and 2 healthiest nations in the world and look at what this virus is doing there, just imagine what it will do here. Have a health issue, take a pill. Have another one, take another pill. Have a surgery to fix this, and then take a pill for life. American’s rely on prescription medication to extend their lives. This virus, once unleashed in the unhealthiest parts of this country, will ravage families, towns, cities, and counties. It’s a real shame, it is, because a lot of people in this country will die unnecessarily.
Governor DeSantis should order a several-week halt to all short-term rentals in Florida and then re-assess the situation as time goes on. Some places that have put this important rule into effect: Oak Island, Estes Park, Southport, Miami Beach, Carolina Beach, Isle of Palms, Galveston.
This temporary action will help “flatten the curve” and prevent visitors from bring more Coronavirus into the Sunshine state.
He’s doing the right thing for our area.
Have faith in our leadership.
He needs to issue a statewide “shelter in place” order . And block south bound traffic on the major interstates. All I saw yesterday doing my gas route were cars from New York and New Jersey, and many other northern states heading south, from Jacksonville to St Augustine were my route ends. When they can’t fly they drive.
Concerned Citizen says
To All using wipes and masks,
I am a maintenance technician servicing commercial properties in the area. I am considered essential because my company provides 24 hour emergency services. So regardless of what happens I have to work. In the past two weeks we have recived many calls from our clients to come pick up trash out of their parking lots. Which is not part of our regular routine. But it keeps them from getting fined.
During the course of the time we have spent picking up trash and getting behind on more important tasking I have observed that it is mostly masks and wipes. I have personally watched adults discard their mask/wipes right on the ground when they are done by their car. I have personally asked people to please pick it up and been told to F Off. Thanks by the way. And I reply with a thumbs up.
Disposing of any garbage improperly is littering and a criminal offense. It doesn’t get enforced because the authorities have something else better to do. And by the way what makes you think that myself or the poor cashier sent to clean the parking lot wants to handle your nasty mask/wipes?
Lastly you aren’t providing US job security by littering. That’s just a smart ass remark used to make yourself’s feel more entitled.
Do the right thing and throw away your used mask/wipes or gloves. Keep a bag in the car. And throw it in your own can when you get home. It’s not really that hard to do.
If you got offended by what I had to say do some self reflection. How would you react if I stopped by your driveway and tossed my stuff in it?
Awesome and well said! People disgust me im gladly staying home and inside.
While we are on the subject of grocery shopping, here is good information about safer ways to unpack and store them:
Certainly hope many more of our fellow citizens and those hard working people at all grocery stores start to take this situation much more seriously.
Maybe I'm Crazy says
Stop flights from coming in and leaving Florida, close all businesses that can not work from home, it is not that hard to do. Everyone that is out and about could have this virus or be a carrier and we all need to understand this.
Unfortunately we must have wayyyy better leadership from the top down, unless each state locks theirs borders it’s pointless leaving things in individual states hands. Currently the numbers reflect what i can only assume to be an iceberg, with many more unconfirmed cases throughout the United States. The pandemic doesn’t care that you are left or right leaning so let’s get off Trump d#$& long enough to see what’s happening and take appropriate steps and measures to help one another.
I am praying for all of us to get through this freaking nightmare. It is so hard to wrap my head around this but it’s here and we must deal with it as we have no choice.
I was hoping that our Governor would shut down the state just to keep other people out. I mean the grocery stores are lacking and our hospital workers are over worked. God bless the workers at both.
This virus doesnt discriminate,doesnt care about race,religion,sexuality or political affiliation,maybe we can learn to FINALLY do the same, I know it’s hard,lol. I leave you all with this Matthew 18:19 New International Version (NIV)
19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
I will be looking out and praying for you and yours. Please do the same for me and mine. Stay safe
Carol R. says
Wow . . . most of the comments reflect facts from the medical community, however I am concerned that Government officials in charge of making Federal/State decisions are not sending out the same message. This is adding to the stress of all Americans. A common message would HELP everyone get on board and take this situation more seriously. Think about it . . . there are NO magic fixes for where we are at this time in society. A positive note to end this post . . . I have encountered more words of kindness & respect since this illness started. I like to think that “humans” will develop more empathy towards people in the future.