Democratic lawmakers, Ag Commissioner, pressuring DeSantis to issue stay-at-home order

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (in yellow), also known as 2019-nCoV, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S. as it emerges from the surface of cells (in blue/pink) cultured in the lab. Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, an agency of the National Institutes of Health

Florida Senate Democrats continue to pressure Gov. Ron DeSantis to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order for Floridians to combat the outbreak of COVID-19.

“Experts in infectious diseases from around the world are in agreement that the only effective way to stop the transmission of this deadly disease is by limiting physical contact,” Sen. Audrey Gibson, the Jacksonville lawmaker who leads the 17-member Democratic caucus, said in a statement today.

“Many infected individuals are carriers, unknowingly passing the virus to colleagues, friends, and family,” Gibson said. “We can limit spread, further negative impact to our economy, and prevent the tragedies that unfolded in Italy and Spain by taking steps these countries now concede they should have implemented much earlier.”

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the only Democrat holding a statewide office, also has been calling on DeSantis to keep Floridians at home to blunt the coronavirus.

“I recognize the difficult decisions Gov. Ron DeSantis has already had to make. But there are things only a governor can do,” Fried said in a statement on Tuesday. “That’s why last week, I asked the governor to implement a statewide ‘stay-at-home’ order, just as twenty states have now done.”

“Floridians should be asked to sacrifice together, staying home and allowing only essential business, first responder, and health-care operations to continue, for a reasonable time,” Fried said. “This is critical to flattening the curve of transmitting this virus that is twenty times deadlier than seasonal flu.”

Other Senate Democrats calling for stronger action from the Republican include Sen. Lori Berman of Palm Beach County, Sen. Victor Torres of Orlando, Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez of Miami and Sen. Annette Taddeo of Miami-Dade County.

“Tracking information continues to show the virus will continue to spread if we don’t take a stronger approach that only a complete shut-down of non-essential businesses will accomplish,” Berman said in a statement.

“Let’s not put more Floridian’s lives at risk. We must join California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Ohio, Oregon, Nevada, Pennsylvania and every other state that has imposed a complete shelter-in-place order,” she said.

In a Tuesday press conference, DeSantis defended his decision to not adopt a statewide shelter-in-place order but instead to focus the more severe restrictions on areas where there are more coronavirus cases, such as Broward and Miami Dade counties.

“Some people think the governor should just be a dictator and order and imprison everyone in their homes, I don’t think that would be an effective approach,” DeSantis said.

“These blunt measures, you wouldn’t want to do them on a community where the virus hasn’t spread through a community,” DeSantis said. “There is a lot of negative impact from those blunt measures.”