Coronavirus in Florida: Dems, GOP split on how state should respond

Coronavirus

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida’s policies for fighting the coronavirus pandemic have, so far, largely mirrored those coming from the White House.

After President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he hopes to begin opening up the country, Gov. Ron DeSantis made it clear he also is looking to find ways to get business up and running.

At the same time, Florida Democrats are demanding stricter measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

President Trump set an Easter goal to begin opening up parts of the country, hoping for a speedy economic recovery.

“Because our country wants to be open. Our people want it to be open,” said Trump.

Gov. DeSantis is also looking to find the right balance between virus mitigation and economic impacts.

“Clearly we’ve got to do something about the virus and there’s no way a nine-month shutdown would possibly be sustainable,” said DeSantis.

Florida Democrats are calling for more strict measures. At least four state senators are demanding a statewide shelter-in-place order.

The calls are being echoed by the lone statewide elected Democrat, Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried.

“The only way to stop the spreading of this is to shut us down,” said Fried.

But DeSantis has pushed back, preferring to let local governments make those decisions.

“Some people think that the governor should just be a dictator and just order everyone imprisoned in their homes and I don’t think that would be an effective approach,” DeSantis said. “It’s certainly not warranted in certain parts of the state.”

DeSantis has also questioned the effectiveness of stay-at-home orders, pointing to massive block parties in states like California and New York.


WHAT TO KNOW:

  • Florida reporting 5,704 cases and 71 deaths
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis holding off on issuing ‘stay at home’ order
  • Pinellas and Hillsborough counties implementing ‘safer-at-home’ orders
  • Travelers from NY tri-state area and New Orleans coming to Florida must quarantine for 14 days under new executive order
  • Florida schools closed through at least May 1

But Fried believes things could get worse without extraordinary measures.

“Our ER doctors, our hospitals, they’re just not going to have the capacity to handle this if we have the type of outbreak that is expected if we don’t slow down this virus,” said Fried.

Most recently, the governor put new restrictions on travelers coming from New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, requiring a 14-day self quarantine on those entering Florida from the northeast.

DeSantis hasn’t officially endorsed the president’s Easter goal for reopening parts of the country, nor has he set any date for loosening precautions here in Florida.

LATEST ON THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC:

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