Florida Is the Only U.S. State With Over 5,000 Coronavirus Cases That Hasn't Issued A Statewide Stay At Home Order

UPDATE: Apr. 1, 1:50 p.m. EST — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced on Wednesday afternoon that he would sign an executive order mandating residents to stay at home for 30 days. The order will say that residents may only go out for essential activities.

Original story:

Florida is now the only state with more than 5,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus that has not issued a statewide lockdown.

As of Wednesday morning, Florida had more than 6,700 cases, making it the fifth highest of all states. Of those cases, 85 people have already died. But Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has declined to issue a statewide "stay at home" or "shelter in place" order, as many other states have already done.

DeSantis reiterated his reluctance to lock down his state on Tuesday, despite the urging of health experts. He argued that he had not been advised to issue a stay at home order by the White House.

"I'm in contact with [the White House coronavirus task force], and I've said, Are you recommending this?" DeSantis told reporters during a press conference. "The task force has not recommended that to me. If they do, obviously that would be something that carries a lot of weight with me."

Ron DeSantis
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a March 30 news conference in the Hard Rock Stadium parking lot in Miami Gardens. DeSantis has declined to implement a statewide stay at home order, even as coronavirus cases surge in Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty

Later on Tuesday, President Donald Trump was asked about DeSantis' comments. The president defended the GOP governor and backed his position. Trump described DeSantis as a "great governor who knows exactly what he's doing."

Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington who helped develop a model that predicted Florida could see thousands of deaths from the pandemic in the coming months, previously told The Miami Herald that he'd advised Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees to implement a statewide lockdown. Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus task force's response coordinator, cited the modeling from the University of Washington during a Sunday press conference, noting that it matched White House projections.

On Monday, DeSantis did issue guidelines for four counties in southeast Florida that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. "This executive order tells people [they'll be] safer at home. This goes through the middle of April, and then we'll re-evaluate how things are progressing," he said.

A growing number of health experts and doctors have been urging the federal government to implement a national lockdown to curb the spread of the virus. While Trump has issued stringent guidelines for social distancing through at least April 30, his administration has deferred to state and local leaders to implement strict stay at home or shelter in place orders at their discretion.

Meanwhile, the U.S. leads the world with the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases. As of Wednesday morning, nearly 190,000 had been reported nationwide, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker. Of those cases, more than 4,000 people have died, while over 7,100 have recovered.

On Tuesday, the White House projected that up to 240,000 people could die in the U.S. from the pandemic.

Florida Is the Only U.S. State With Over 5,000 Coronavirus Cases That Hasn't Issued A Statewide Stay At Home Order | U.S.