TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As of Wednesday, Florida has the fifth-highest monkeypox case count in the nation. New York, California and Illinois have declared states of emergency regarding the virus, a process that enables a more streamlined response.
But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis indicated Wednesday he doesn’t believe that’s needed in his state.
“You see some of these states declaring states of emergency. They’re going to abuse those emergency powers to restrict your freedom,” DeSantis said at a press conference Wednesday. “We are not doing fear. They’re gonna do facts. And we are not going to go out and rile people up and act like they can’t go out and live their lives because of something.”
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, wrote a letter to DeSantis asking him to issue an emergency declaration.
“This is something that is preventative. As long as people know what to look for, ways to protect themselves, and make sure that they’re not spreading the virus,” she said at a press conference in Tampa on Wednesday.
The commissioner added that DeSantis has not responded directly to her letter.
So what do doctors have to say about the issue?
“I would say we should declare a public health emergency. The reason being: there is really nothing to lose,” said Dr. Jill Roberts, an associate professor at the University of South Florida’s School of Public Health. “Declaring the emergency really coordinates the response and it really motivates all that movement we need and we need that mobility.”