As South Florida remains the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in the state, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday he’s issuing an executive order to unify the region’s response.
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“This gets all four counties operating under the same sheet of music,” DeSantis said during a news conference outside Hard Rock Stadium, where the Florida National Guard and the state have been running a drive-through testing site.
The order aims to codify a common set of rules that address “safer at home” – sometimes described as shelter-in-place – rules for the southeastern part of the state: Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach counties.
DeSantis said about 60 percent of confirmed cases have emerged in South Florida as testing efforts continue to expand. As of early Monday morning, there are so far nearly 5,500 total cases in Florida.
DeSantis announced the order alongside the mayors of the four affected counties. He said this latest order builds off the regulations instituted in Miami-Dade County.
DeSantis has been reluctant to issue a statewide order, citing that not all counties have the same number of confirmed cases. Local governments have had to issue their own orders that often have different definitions and requirements.
During Monday’s news conference, Monroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers said a unified response urges local governments to focus on the same goal.
“South Florida is an extremely diverse community and each one of our communities has its own character,” she said. “So we’re all gonna respond slightly differently to this but within the same rubric that we’re all trying do – which is to let people know that you’re safer at home.”
The Florida Keys installed two checkpoints between the island chain and mainland to bar visitors. Only residents and people who have business in the Keys are allowed to enter.
The four counties also agreed not to call for a countywide curfew, but several municipalities, like Miami and Miami Beach, have already taken that step.
“In most of our four counties, a curfew is not necessary,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who was concerned that a curfew could “overburden” law enforcement in the county. “We must act like we’re all carrying the virus and stay safer at home. That’s the key message.”
The governor also announced that retired law enforcement officers and medical personnel can return to work immediately to help with COVID-19 response efforts.
In regards to testing, DeSantis said a Palm Beach County drive-thru testing site is set to open Tuesday at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
ICYMI: A new #COVID19 testing site will be available in Palm Beach County at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches this Tuesday. Telephone registration and appointment scheduling are required.✅ 561-642-1000 #PBCGov #COVID19PBCUpdate #COVID19PBCSafety #SaferAtHome pic.twitter.com/YCUI3zOdgk
— Palm Beach County (@pbcgov) March 30, 2020