Check­points set for Lou­siana driv­ers; no new ren­tals for 14 days

Orlando Sentinel - - Front Page - By Gray Rohrer

DeSan­tis or­ders state law en­force­ment to stop driv­ers from Louisiana from en­ter­ing the Sun­shine State.

TAL­LA­HAS­SEE — Gov. Ron DeSan­tis or­dered state law en­force­ment Fri­day to stop driv­ers from Louisiana at en­try points to the Sun­shine State to tell them to self-iso­late for 14 days. He also put a halt on any new va­ca­tion ren­tals for two weeks.

The or­ders are the lat­est moves by DeSan­tis to at­tempt to stop trav­el­ers from hotspots from “seed­ing” the coro­n­avirus pan­demic in Florida and wors­en­ing the spread.

De­spite hav­ing a much smaller pop­u­la­tion, Louisiana has 2,746 cases, just 154 fewer than Florida as of Fri­day af­ter­noon, and 119 deaths, com­pared with Florida’s 34. Of the Louisiana to­tals, 1,940 cases and 91 deaths come from the New Or­leans metro area, ac­cord­ing to the Louisiana Depart­ment of Health.

“There’s a fear that as New Or­leans be­comes more of a hotspot that you could have an in­flux of peo­ple into the Florida Pan­han­dle from Louisiana,” DeSan­tis said.

DeSan­tis is­sued or­ders ear­lier this week for law en­force­ment and state health of­fi­cials to check air trav­el­ers from New York, New Jer­sey and Con­necti­cut and tell them to self-iso­late for 14 days be­cause of the ram­pant spread in New York City. He said 3,400 trav­el­ers have been screened as part of those checks.

The 14-day mora­to­rium on new va­ca­tion ren­tals is part of that ef­fort as well. DeSan­tis said he’s con­cerned that shel­ter in place or­ders in other states might en­tice some res­i­dents to leave for Florida. He said cur­rent ren­tals won’t be af­fected.

“All we’re try­ing to do is keep our res­i­dents here safe,” DeSan­tis said. “If you’re com­ing from one of the epi­cen­ters, we prob­a­bly think you should fol­low one of the direc­tions of your state and lo­cal of­fi­cials and if they’re telling you to shel­ter in place then do that, but don’t come here be­cause we’re try­ing to pro­tect our folks.”

DeSan­tis has re­ceived crit­i­cism for not tak­ing more dras­tic mea­sures to pre­vent so­cial gath­er­ings to thwart the spread of COVID-19, the dis­ease caused by the coro­n­avirus. Pic­tures of par­ty­ing spring break­ers on Florida beaches led him to urge peo­ple to get off the beaches, but the de­ci­sion on whether to close them has been left up to lo­cal gov­ern­ments.

Agri­cul­ture Com­mis­sioner

Nikki Fried and other Democrats have said the lax ap­proach will lead to more rapid spread­ing of the dis­ease and have called on him to is­sue a shel­ter-in­place or­der as other gov­er­nors have done, some­thing DeSan­tis has re­sisted.

“DeSan­tis needs to lead right now,” Fried wrote in an email to her sup­port­ers Thurs­day. “He has to send a mes­sage to ev­ery­one in this state that we need to do what’s best for ev­ery­one and stay home!”

But DeSan­tis has de­fended his de­ci­sions as the best way to mit­i­gate the dam­age from the virus while al­low­ing ar­eas of the state with rel­a­tively few cases, such as the western Pan­han­dle, not to feel the pain of the eco­nomic crunch those mea­sures would bring. He’s re­stricted restau­rants to take out or de­liv­ery ser­vice only – af­ter first al­low­ing them to op­er­ate at 50 per­cent ca­pac­ity – and shut­tered bars and night clubs.

Many Florid­i­ans, aren’t heed­ing DeSan­tis’ calls to re­frain from gath­er­ing in crowds of more than 10, or even the re­quests of lo­cal gov­ern­ments to stay inside.

In re­ac­tion to that, he or­dered the Florida Fish and Wildlife Com­mis­sion to break up boat par­ties, where groups of more than 10 hang out on craft in state waters.

In other or­ders is­sued by DeSan­tis on Fri­day, Florida Na­tional Guard mem­bers will be sent to Palm Beach County to help boost the amount of tests be­ing con­ducted there. Palm Beach has 185 pos­i­tive cases con­firmed but has only com­pleted 1,488 tests, com­pared with the more than 5,800 tests in Broward and more than 5,300 in Mi­ami-Dade.


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