'Safer at home' order issued for SE Florida, retired healthcare workers and law enforcement can return to work, Governor says

On Monday morning, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that he has signed an executive order to mandate "safer at home" guidelines across southeastern Florida. So, this is directed at people in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties, which combine for nearly 60 percent of the state’s cases.

With this order, essential businesses that remain open must practice social distancing or they will be shut down.

“This will build off what Mayor Gimenez has already done and gets all four counties operating under the same sheet of music,” DeSantis said.

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In addition, the Governor said that he has also signed an executive order to allow retired law enforcement and healthcare workers to go back to work immediately if they chose to. Current law requires six-months before returning to work after retirement, but the Governor is suspending this to meet the increasing demand as the pandemic continues. 

"We need to have folks who are willing to return to service," Governor DeSantis said.

He also announced that several South Florida hospitals have already received chloroquine, a drug that could potentially treat coronavirus, and rapid COVID-19 tests that can show results with 45 minutes. 

With these, he said that another drive-thru testing site will open in Palm Beach County. This site should yield results sooner.

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Governor DeSantis also reiterated that those coming into Florida are being screened. Drivers are being stopped on I-10 and I-95 south. Those coming from areas of concern, like the New York area, are told to self-quarantine for 14 days. 

He also mentioned an incoming cruise ship that just passed through the Panama Canal and is expected to dock in Fort Lauderdale with sick passengers on board. He said that medical personnel will be sent to the ship so that hospital beds on land can be saved for South Florida residents who need them.

The county has reportedly yet to make a decision though as to if they can dock in Florida. Officials are working out the details and will make a decision soon, especially as they meet to discuss the situation on Tuesday morning.

With that, he said that about 30 percent of hospital beds across the state are currently available. 

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“We’re going guns blazing, doing all that we can, to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Governor DeSantis said. "We'll do this until the middle of [April] and then see where we are at."

He ensured the public though that "we learn more every day" and that "every day that you can make progress is a huge, huge deal" and that "I think a lot of the stuff that has been done has been helpful. I think this will continue to be helpful. And, hopefully, once we get this thing under control, then we can go back and start enjoying life the way we used to.”

The local leaders of Southeastern Florida backed the Governor's decision, citing that "we must take personal responsibility and stay home as much as possible. We must act like we all have the virus and stay home. Safer at home."


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NOTE: Governor Ron DeSantis originally said that the safer-at-home order would go until the middle of May, but after the news conference, he corrected himself and said it will go until mid-April.