DeSantis tells at-risk residents to stay home, calls on all Floridians to limit movements
Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide order on Wednesday saying those 65 and older and those with significant underlying medical conditions should stay home. The order also calls on all Floridians to limit movements and personal interactions to “only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The order took effect at 12:01 a.m. this morning and will last at least 30 days.
However, the exemptions for people and businesses are so vast that the on-ground effect of the order has left many questions.
Essential services include dozens of industries and sectors of the economy including but not limited to government, media, emergency services, finance, hardware, food and agriculture, contractors, manufacturing, infrastructure, legal services, health care, trucking, childcare facilities, commercial facilities, telecommunications providers, construction, public works, transportation, architectural services, gas stations, marina services, factories, waste management services, hotels, businesses that aid in providing shelter, warehouses, transportation services, cleaning services, HVAC, accounting, veterinarian and pet care services, information technology and any businesses interacting with customers solely through electronic or telephonic services that use electronic, shipping, mailing services. There are no new limits on restaurants, which are allowed to provide takeout services.
DeSantis is following federal guidelines for essential services as well as a Miami-Dade County order on essential services and exemptions. DeSantis said he is following guidelines from President Donald Trump which he said amount to a “national pause” due to COVID-19.
“This thing is nasty,” DeSantis said.
On Thursday, DeSantis clarified his order to seniors and those with underlying medical conditions, saying “you really need to be staying at home and limiting your contacts with people.”
DeSantis noted that 86 percent of fatalities have been for people 65 and older. He said he also wants more information on those who have died from COVID-19 and how many had significant underlying medical conditions.
As for what essential activities are, DeSantis said the goal is to reduce contacts. “It’s less important what you do and how you do it.”
“We’re trying to reduce the transmission of the virus.” The virus typically transmits when people are in close contact, he said.
During a press conference Thursday, DeSantis also reiterated the supports religious services continuing.
“I don’t think the government has the authority to close a church,” he said.
DeSantis said he reached out to churches and synagogues early.
“In times like this, I think the service they are performing is very important to people.” He has asked religious leaders to conduct their services while abiding by social distancing guidelines.
“The Constitution doesn’t get suspended here,” DeSantis said. “We have an invisible enemy here. I think you have to keep your cool.”
“The more people behave based on hysteria and panic I think the harder this is going to be.”
“Keep calm and carry on.”
In reaction to a surge in unemployment due to the fallout from a dropoff in tourism as well as government actions to restrict dining at restaurants and other pressures on the economy related to the COVID-19 pandemic, DeSantis issued an executive order on Thursday that places a 45-day moratorium on evictions and foreclosures in Florida.
In addition, DeSantis said he will be calling on some of the state’s 25,000 employees who are currently working from home or who have been temporarily inactive, to join in responding to an overwhelmed re-employment assistance program.
DeSantis said more than 348,000 re-employment assistance claims have been filed in the last two weeks. That is more than all of 2019, when approximately 307,000 claims were made in the state.
“We’re in a situation where this system is not handling the needs of Florida in an adequate way,” DeSantis said in a press conference in Tallahassee.
The executive order directs all agency heads to assist the Department of Economic Opportunity with unemployment insurance. “This requires all hands on-deck,” DeSantis said.
“This is a very, very top priority.”
DeSantis said the state’s web platform is currently overloaded. He wants unemployed people to be able to fill out a paper application. He wants to beef up the state’s call centers and create alternative sites for people to proces their claims.
“We want to work on the processing to be much quicker than it has in the past,” he said. DeSantis is expecting unemployment claims to continue to be high. “This is a problem that could be with us more than just a couple weeks,” he said.
The state’s confirmed cases of the new and highly contagious coronavirus was 8,010 as of Wednesday.
For most, the disease causes mild symptoms but can turn into a type of viral pneumonia that can be deadly. Statewide there have been 128 deaths. In Lee County, there have been 10 deaths from COVID-19.
Here is the limited movement order: (The full report with the attachments concerning essential services and businesses is attached as are the orders related to the eviction and foreclosures moratorium, EO-94 and rememployment, EO 2-93.)
STATE OF FLORIDA
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
EXECUTIVE ORDER NUMBER 20-91
(Essential Services and Activities During COVID-19 Emergency)
WHEREAS, on March 1, 2020, I issued Executive Order 20-51 directing the Florida Department of Health to issue a Public Health Emergency; and
WHEREAS, on March 1, 2020, the State Surgeon General and State Health Officer declared a Public Health Emergency exists in the State of Florida as a result of COVID-19; and
WHEREAS, on March 9, 2020, I issued Executive Order 20-52 declaring a state of emergency for the entire State of Florida as a result of COVID-19; and
WHEREAS, on March 16, 2020, President Donald J. Trump and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) issued the “15 Days to Slow the Spread” guidance advising individuals to adopt far-reaching social distancing measures, such as avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people, and in states with evidence of community spread, recommending restrictions to certain establishments conducive to mass gatherings and congregations; and
WHEREAS, on March 29, 2020, the President extended such guidance to be in effect until April 30, 2020; and
WHEREAS, on March 31, 2020, the President updated the guidance, renaming it “30 Days to Slow the Spread”, and along with the White House Coronavirus Task Force urged Americans to continue to adhere to the guidelines and expand community mitigation efforts; and
WHEREAS, the majority of individuals in Florida that have tested positive for COVID-19 have been concentrated in its southeastern counties and other urban cores; and
WHEREAS, positive cases of COVID-19 have continued to rise in other states in close proximity to Florida, resulting in increased risk to counties in northern Florida; and
WHEREAS, many thousands of people fled the New York City region to Florida following New York State issuing a “shelter-in-place” order, thereby jeopardizing the health and safety of Floridians; and
WHEREAS, on March 23, 2020, I issued Executive Order 20-80, requiring all individuals that fly into Florida from states with substantial community spread to self-isolate in Florida for 14 days or the duration of their trip, whichever is shorter; and
WHEREAS, on March 27, 2020, I issued Executive Order 20-86, requiring all individuals that drive into Florida from states with substantial community spread to self-isolate in Florida for 14 days or the duration of their trip, whichever is shorter; and
WHEREAS, persistent interstate travel continues to pose a risk to the entire state of Florida; and
WHEREAS, on March 24, 2020, I issued Executive Order 20-83, directing the State Surgeon General and State Health Officer to issue a public health advisory urging the public to avoid all social or recreational gatherings of 10 or more people and urging those who can work remotely to do so; and
WHEREAS, it is necessary and appropriate to take action to ensure that the spread of COVID-19 is slowed, and that residents and visitors in Florida remain safe and secure.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RON DESANTIS, as Governor of Florida, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Article IV, Section (l)(a) of the Florida Constitution, Chapter 252, Florida Statutes, and all other applicable laws, promulgate the following Executive Order to take immediate effect:
Section 1. Safer At Home
A. Senior citizens and individuals with a significant underlying medical condition (such as chronic lung disease, moderate-to-severe asthma, serious heart conditions, immunocompromised status, cancer, diabetes, severe obesity, renal failure and liver disease) shall stay at home and take all measures to limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
B. In concert with the efforts of President Trump and the White House Coronavirus Task Force to fight COVID-19, and based on guidance provided by Florida Surgeon General and State Health Officer, Dr. Scott Rivkees, all persons in Florida shall limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities.
Section 2. Essential Services
A. For purposes of this Order and the conduct it limits, “essential services” means and encompasses the list detailed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, v. 2 (March 28, 2020) (attached) and any subsequent lists published.
B. Essential services also include those businesses and activities designated by Executive Order 20-89 and its attachment which consists of a list propounded by Miami-Dade County in multiple orders.
C. Other essential services may be added under this Order with the approval of the State Coordinating Officer, in close coordination with the State Health Officer. The State Coordinating Officer shall maintain an online list of essential services, as specified in this Order along with any approved additions. The online list shall be available on the Division of Emergency Management’s website at www.floridadisaster.org and the Florida Department of Health’s website at www.floridahealth.gov.
D. Nothing in this order prohibits individuals from working from home; indeed, this Order encourages individuals to work from home.
E. All businesses or organizations are encouraged to provide delivery, carry-out or curbside service outside of the business or organization, of orders placed online or via telephone, to the greatest extent practicable.
Section 3. Essential Activities
A. For purposes of this Order and the conduct it limits, “essential activities” means and encompasses the following:
Attending religious services conducted in churches, synagogues and houses of worship; and
Participating in recreational activities (consistent with social distancing guidelines) such as walking, biking, hiking, fishing, hunting, running, or swimming; and
Taking care of pets; and
Caring for or otherwise assisting a loved one or friend.
B. Other essential activities may be added to this list with the approval of the State Coordinating Officer, in close coordination with the State Health Officer. The State Coordinating Officer shall maintain an online list of essential activities, as specified in this Order along with any approved additions.
C. A social gathering in a public space is not an essential activity. Local jurisdictions shall ensure that groups of people greater than ten are not permitted to congregate in any public space.
Section 4. Local Orders in Response to COVID-19
This Order shall supersede any conflicting official action or order issued by local officials in response to COVID-19 but only to the extent that such action or order allows essential services or essential activities prohibited by this Executive Order.
Section 5. Previous Executive Orders
This Executive Order does not supersede any Executive Order related to COVID-19.
Section 6. Effective Date and Expiration Date
This Order is effective 12:01 a.m. on April 3, 2020. This Order shall expire on April 30, 2020 unless extended by subsequent order. Executive Order 20-68 (bars, restaurants) and Executive Order 20-71 (alcohol sales, restaurants) shall remain in effect through the duration of Executive Order 20-52, including any extensions.