Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will issue a stay-at-home order on Wednesday after mounting pressure to do so amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
DeSantis had previously resisted issuing such an order, despite health experts’ warnings that the large crowds on Florida’s beaches were ripe for further spread of the coronavirus.
The governor had pushed back, arguing that a shelter-in-place order would hurt the economy and throw people’s lives “into potential disarray.”
“When you are ordering people to shelter in place, you are consigning probably hundreds-of-thousands of Floridians to lose their jobs,” he said last week.
DeSantis chose instead to have local officials decide what action, if any, to take to shrink down crowds in their districts.
Florida Democrats blasted the governor for allowing only piecemeal cautionary measures against the outbreak instead of enacting a sweeping order across the Sunshine State.
State Sen. Oscar Braynon (D) described DeSantis’ reasoning as “the dumbest shit I have heard in a long time” in an interview with Politico.
“This is going to be a disaster for Florida if the governor does not step up,” Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL) told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
“Without a cure or vaccine, there is no time to waste,” said Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), per the Herald-Tribune. “That is why a statewide order is necessary.”
However, the calls for a shelter-in or social distancing mandates weren’t necessarily partisan in nature: Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) said several weeks ago that Florida officials at “every level” ought to discourage people from gathering at beaches and other places.
“I think whether it’s the beaches, wherever we are, every part of the government’s got to start telling people, ‘Take some personal responsibility here. Don’t infect other people,’” Scott said during an interview on CNN.