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Florida Governor DeSantis shifts stance with stay-home order

Jonathan Levin

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a stay-at-home order for the state, shifting position after weeks of rejecting calls for such a measure.

DeSantis became the latest state leader to alter his stance toward how to contain the pandemic as President Donald Trump extended social-distancing guidelines through the end of the month and acknowledged grim projections for the weeks ahead.

The White House now projects the virus will kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans.

The order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday and will be similar to guidelines in Miami-Dade County, the state’s top population center. Amid an outbreak in South Florida, Miami-Dade issued its own stay-home rules.

“This thing is really nasty,” DeSantis said Wednesday. “It’s something that’s caused a lot of harm to a lot of people, and I think that we need to have all levers going.”

DeSantis’s order comes after similar steps Tuesday in Texas, another late mover. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves issued a stay-at-home order for one county Tuesday.

DeSantis said individuals should stick to essential activities such as getting groceries under the order. Asked for the reason for the about-face, he said he was in part following Trump’s lead.

Projections suggest a potential surge in Covid-19 deaths in Florida, home to one of the biggest concentrations of older Americans, including those living in assisted-living facilities.

For weeks, DeSantis took only incremental steps, allowing crowds in some parts of the state to flock to beaches and flout social-distancing guidelines. He said he opposed using a “blunt instrument” such as a stay-at-home order, arguing that conditions varied widely across the large state of 21.5 million.