Florida Gov. Suggests He'll Enforce Stricter COVID-19 Measures If White House Recommends Stay-at-Home

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said during a press conference on Tuesday that he would consider issuing a stay at home order for his state if it were specifically recommended by the White House coronavirus task force.

So far, DeSantis has only issued a stay at home order for four counties in South Florida, but not a blanket order for the entire state.

Recent data indicated 6,741 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Florida with 85 deaths attributable to the virus.

DeSantis was the recipient of a letter signed by 13 Florida Democrats on Tuesday asking him to issue a stay at home order for all of Florida. Signees included Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Debbie Mucarsel Powell.

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

While DeSantis said the state would follow general coronavirus guidance from the White House, he had not received a request from the Trump administration to close down the entire state.

ron desantis
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Tuesday he would consider issuing a stay-at-home order for all of Florida if it were recommended by the White House coronavirus task force. Joe Raedle/Getty

"I'm in contact with them and basically I've said, 'Are you guys recommending this?'" DeSantis said. "The task force has not recommended that to me. If they do, obviously that is something that would carry a lot of weight with me."

"If any of those task force folks tell me that we should do X, Y or Z," DeSantis added, "of course we're going to consider it. But nobody has said that to me thus far."

Newsweek reached out to Governor DeSantis' office for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Social distancing doesn't work unless people practice it, DeSantis said, telling reporters that people have gathered in crowds in coronavirus hotspots California and New York.

"I was flying out of Miami yesterday looking at the coast," DeSantis said Tuesday. "Guess what? Closed beach. Were there people out there? You're damned right there were."

DeSantis refused to close all of Florida's beaches because viruses are transmitted in "closed spaces with close contact."

"If you have a family that's just sitting out there in sunshine, heat and humidity in an open space," DeSantis said Saturday, "that's not as big of a problem."

Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said in March there is no guarantee the coronavirus will be obliterated by hot weather.

"Viruses tend to like cold, dry weather versus warm, moist weather," Fauci said. "That is a fact, but we have no idea, since this is a brand new virus, if this virus is going to follow that paradigm."

President Donald Trump warned Americans during Tuesday's coronavirus task force news briefing that the country should be "prepared for the hard days that lie ahead" as the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. is expected to rise.