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Florida Governor Orders Statewide Lockdown

Englewood Beach in Charlotte County, Fla., was crowded on March 20. Public gatherings like these will be prohibited in Florida beginning Thursday.
Englewood Beach in Charlotte County, Fla., was crowded on March 20. Public gatherings like these will be prohibited in Florida beginning Thursday.

Florida has now joined the list of states that are ordering residents to remain in their homes for all but essential activities to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made the announcement at an afternoon briefing. It was just a few hours after he spoke to President Trump. DeSantis said he's issuing an executive order that will direct "all Floridians to limit movements and personal interactions outside the home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or essential activities."

With this order, Florida is joining more than 30 other states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico in ordering a lockdown. In total, the orders affect more than 85% of the U.S. population. DeSantis said the order will go into effect in Florida on Thursday at midnight.

Until now, Florida remained the holdout among states hit hard by the coronavirus in not ordering residents to stay at home. A number of cities and counties in the state previously issued stay-at-home orders for residents, including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, which have over 60% of the state's COVID-19 cases. DeSantis had defended his stance, saying that Florida is a large state where more than a dozen counties still have few, if any, cases.

DeSantis said he reevaluated his position after Trump ordered a 30-day extension of the White House's social distancing guidelines. At a briefing at the state Capitol, DeSantis said, "This is another 30-day period. At this point, even though there are a lot of places in Florida with very low infection rates, it makes sense to make this move now."

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