Facing increasing pressure to implement measures to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced a statewide, 30-day “stay-at-home” order on Wednesday. DeSantis, a staunch Trump ally, had been heavily criticized for his loose restrictions on social distancing guidelines in Florida, which had almost 7,000 cases of the coronavirus as of Wednesday, as well as 80 deaths. Spring breakers and beach-goers have flocked to beaches in Florida in recent weeks due to lax restrictions. “We’re going to be in this for another 30 days and that’s just the reality that we find ourselves in,” DeSantis said. The order, which will go into effect Thursday at midnight, will require more than 21 million Florida residents to stay home and only leave for essential reasons. It does not, however, prohibit residents from “attending religious services conducted in churches, synagogues, & houses of worship,” which are known to further the spread of the virus.
Trump ordered an extension of social distancing practices until April 30 on Tuesday, after initially declaring that life would go back to normal by Easter. DeSantis backed down after he spoke with Trump on the phone this week, and ultimately decided to implement stricter measures, The New York Times reported. “When the president did the 30-day extension, to me, that was, ‘People aren’t just going to go back to work,’” the governor said at a news conference on Wednesday. “That’s a national pause button.”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf also announced shelter-in-place orders for their states on Wednesday. Reeves wrote on Twitter that his expected announcement “will require all of us to adapt in order to save lives.” Wolf called the statewide order “the most prudent option,” adding, “We appreciate the shared sacrifice of all 12.8 million Pennsylvanians; we are in this together.”