Surgeon general says White House guidelines represent national stay-at-home order
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Surgeon General Jerome AdamsJerome AdamsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Coast-to-coast fears about post-holiday COVID-19 spread Health officials warn of post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 case surge Sunday shows - Health officials warn pandemic is 'going to get worse' MORE said Wednesday that the White House coronavirus guidelines should be interpreted as a national stay-at-home order.

“My advice to America would be that these guidelines are a national stay-at-home order,” he said on NBC's "Today."

His comment was in response to a question about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump, Biden clash over transition holdup, pandemic plans Group of Florida mayors calls on DeSantis to issue mask mandate DeSantis promises to keep Florida open despite recent coronavirus case surge MORE (R), who has said he was waiting for a directive from the White House to initiate a stay-at-home order for his state.

“Governors have tough choices to make. They have to decide whether or not they feel their citizens will listen to them without a stay-at-home order,” Adams said.

When asked if there’s a good reason for any governor to not have a stay-at-home order, he responded: “That’s the whole point of these guidelines that we put out. We want, nationally, people to understand the importance of social distancing."

“We live in a nation that has a system of federalism and the governors get to make the decision, but we’re going to give them the best possible guidance we can,” Adams added.

As of Wednesday, at least 30 states and Washington, D.C., have issued stay-at-home orders. Those states have a combined population of 225 million people, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the country's population.

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Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Wednesday that Texas and Florida — two of the largest states not to issue a stay-at-home order — are a “wild card” that could determine how the virus spreads across the country.

On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an executive order asking citizens to remain at home for all of April except for essential travel, though he declined to label it a stay-at-home order.

In Italy, which has fewer cases but a higher mortality rate than the U.S., the country has been under a nationwide lockdown since March 9. Health officials on Tuesday extended the lockdown to April 12.

On March 24, India became the largest country to order a lockdown.

Updated at 11:03 a.m.