TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order Wednesday in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m going to be doing an executive order today directing all Floridians to limit movements and personal interactions outside the home to only those necessary,” he said. “To obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities.”
The governor’s order will go into effect Thursday at midnight and will be in place for 30 days. If any “essential service” is missing from the initial executive order, the governor says it can be added.
DeSantis said he consulted with the White House and spoke with President Donald Trump about the decision. He noted that the White House coronavirus task force’s extended guidelines from Tuesday night played a role in the decision, calling the president’s move a “national pause.”
“We’re going to be in this for another 30 days,” he said. “At this point, even though there’s a lot of places in Florida that have very low infection rates, it makes sense to make this move now.”
While the order is in effect and because traffic is expected to be lighter than normal, DeSantis has ordered $2.1 billion in transportation projects be accelerated. Those projects include the Howard Frankland bridge project in Tampa Bay.
DeSantis had been facing growing pressure to issue a statewide stay-at-home order. Thirteen lawmakers who represent Florida penned a letter to the governor earlier this week urging him to issue the order.
DeSantis said Tuesday he has been in touch with the White House coronavirus task force and members had not recommended a statewide shutdown.
“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.”
Shortly after that news briefing, Vice President Mike Pence – who is leading the task force – clarified that they were deferring those decisions to the states.
“We recognize that when you’re dealing with a health crisis in the country, it is locally executed by health care workers but it is state-managed,” Pence said. “So we continue to flow information to state governors, we continue to hear about the data that they’re analyzing. But at the president’s direction, the White House coronavirus task force will continue to take the posture that we will defer to state and local health authorities on any measures that they deem appropriate.”
He and the president did, however, compliment the governor and his actions.