Florida governor orders some visitors from NY, NJ to self-quarantine as coronavirus cases top 1,200

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks on the coronavirus crisis during an appearance at the drive-through testing site at The Villages, Fla., Polo Club, Monday, March 23, 2020. The testing site is being operated by UF Health, with University of Florida medical students performing the tests. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)
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Orlando Sentinel (TNS)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday he is ordering anyone flying into the state from New York and New Jersey to self-quarantine for 14 days — all in a bid to stop more cases of coronavirus from entering Florida.

DeSantis cast blame at those states for their shutdown orders, claiming its driving their residents to come to Florida and possibly bring coronavirus with them.

Earlier Monday, the Republican governor said he did not see the need to order Floridians to stay home, as several other states have done, because he believes social distancing has helped stem the rate of coronavirus infections in the state.

But DeSantis, speaking to reporters on the polo ground at The Villages, said that while he’s ordered gyms, health clubs and bars closed statewide and closed restaurant dining rooms, he didn’t think a full stay-at-home order was necessary at the moment.

Meanwhile, state coronavirus cases soared past 1,200 and four new deaths have been reported as U.S. and global death tolls continued to mount Monday evening.

As of 6 p.m. Monday, Florida had 18 deaths as it tracked 1,227 cases. That includes 1,147 Florida residents and 80 non-Florida residents in the state with 1,101 cases pending.

South Florida counties continue to lead the case load with Miami-Dade’s 278, Broward’s 263 and Palm Beach’s 89.

Thirty new cases have been reported Monday in Central Florida. Orange County now has the most with 48 cases followed by Osceola’s 25, Seminole’s 22, Volusia’s 16, Polk’s 13, Lake’s 9, Sumter’s 8, and Brevard’s 7 cases. (See details on all Central Florida cases).

Of the 18 Florida-resident deaths, two have been Orange County cases, although one of them was of an Orange County woman who died in California after travel to Asia. There is at least one other fatality in the state not counted among Florida totals — a Georgia woman who died at a Tallahassee hospital.

Testing in Central Florida is not yet at the levels it is in South Florida, though, and the area won’t be getting its drive-thru testing site open at the Orange County Convention Center until Wednesday. But a new testing site opened for residents in east Orange County on Monday for those who meet CDC criteria for testing.

More closures and cancellations rolled out across the state in an effort to follow social-distancing guidelines from the CDC. That includes all 175 Florida state parks. In South Florida, Palm Beach County and Miami-Dade closed down marinas, while Broward County shut down all non-essential businesses.

More beaches shut down across the state as well over the weekend, with Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties shutting down several in the wake of South Florida beach closures last week. Brevard County continues to keep public parking closed, while Volusia County beaches have shut down access to driving on the beach, but has kept public parking open.

As of Monday afternoon, the national toll continued to grow with over 570 deaths, according to date from the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center.

More than 1.5 billion people — one-fifth of the world’s population — were asked or ordered to stay home on Monday to try to blunt the spread of coronavirus.

After just a few weeks, U.S. cases topped 42,800, as worldwide cases passed 374,000 with the death toll surpassing 16,300. Italy continues to have the highest number of fatalities, which now stands over 6,000.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever or coughing. But for some older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illnesses, including pneumonia.

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