TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday stood by his decision to not implement a statewide shutdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic, adding that he has been in touch with members of the White House coronavirus task force to discuss the issue.
“I’m in contact with them and basically I’ve said, ‘are you guys recommending this?’ The task force has not recommended that to me,” he said. “If they do, obviously that would be something that would carry a lot of weight with me.”
During Tuesday night’s news conference at the White House, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were asked about the governor’s comments. Pence clarified that, while he and the president approved of the job DeSantis is doing, they are deferring all decisions on shutdowns to be made by the states themselves.
In previous news conferences, DeSantis has said a statewide shutdown would be too much due to the number of counties that are still reporting no cases. As of noon Tuesday, only 14 counties were reporting zero cases.
“There’s really not much else you can do in southeast Florida,” DeSantis said, referring to the area of the state with the highest number of COVID-19 cases. “You just gotta kinda stay the course at this point…It’s just a different situation, we’re a big diverse state.”
The governor has also questioned the effectiveness of state shutdowns, pointing to New York and California as examples. He reiterated Tuesday that there are always going to be people who don’t listen to orders.
“The southeast Florida folks asked me to close their beaches so we did in one of our earlier orders. I was flying out of Miami yesterday looking at the coast. Guess what? ‘Closed beaches?’ Were there people out there? You’re damn right there were,” he said. “No matter what you do, you’re going to have a class of folks who do whatever the hell they want to.”
During his update, DeSantis encouraged everyone to not gather in groups of more than 10 and follow what the CDC says.
“Just take a step back and realize when we get on the other side of this, there’s going to be times to have a party – a big party at someone’s house – or this or that. Now is the time to avoid crowds, take care of yourself, take social distancing seriously,” he said. “If you do that, I think we’re going to be able to get back to normal much quicker.”