Florida governor issues statewide stay-at-home order

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantis Sunday shows preview: Leaders weigh in as country erupts in protest over George Floyd death The battle of two Cubas Disney World plans to reopen in July MORE (R) announced Wednesday that he will sign an executive order requiring the state's residents to limit their movement outside of their homes in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

DeSantis had faced mounting pressure to issue such a directive, as at least 30 other states have issued stay-at-home orders and a number of counties in Florida have implemented their own mandates seeking to limit nonessential activities.

"I'm going to be doing an executive order today directing all Floridians to limit movements and all personal interactions outside the home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities," DeSantis said at a press briefing.

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The order will take effect Thursday and will remain in place for 30 days.

DeSantis, amid intense scrutiny for refusing to issue such an order for the entire state, opened the door to the move on Tuesday, saying a White House recommendation to invoke a state-wide order would “carry a lot of weight."

“I’m in contact with them, and, basically, I’ve said, ‘Are you guys recommending this?’” he said, referring to the White House’s COVID-19 task force. “The task force has not recommended that to me. Obviously, if they do, that is something that would carry a lot of weight with me.”

Surgeon General Jerome Adams, a member of the task force, said Wednesday morning during an appearance on NBC's "Today" show that the White House coronavirus guidelines should be interpreted as a national stay-at-home order.

Experts have warned in recent days that the U.S. could see more deaths from the coronavirus unless states like Florida take tougher actions to help curb the spread of the virus.

“I don’t understand why those governors have not acted more forcefully right now,” former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said earlier Wednesday on CNBC. “Especially when you look at a state like Florida."

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Gottlieb said that Florida "has a very large epidemic underway" with "multiple hot spots" developing into "large clusters.”

He warned that the state was "only two weeks behind" New York, which has seen the most coronavirus cases and deaths, unless stricter measures were implemented.

DeSantis issued a "safer-at-home" order on Monday for Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Monroe counties through the middle of May and he filed a major disaster declaration in Florida on Tuesday.

Last week, he announced a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine on any travelers entering from Louisiana, which has seen an exploding number of coronavirus cases, in addition to a mandatory two-week quarantine for those traveling from the greater New York City area.

As of Wednesday, there were nearly 7,000 coronavirus cases in Florida, with the epicenter of the outbreak in South Florida.

The governor has faced backlash for his response to the crisis in the state as spring breakers flock to South Florida's beaches and bars.

While he closed beaches in Broward and Palm Beach counties, closed gyms and fitness centers and ended in-dining service in restaurants, he has not closed beaches statewide.

Ten Democratic members of the state’s congressional delegation sent a letter to DeSantis last week calling on him to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order.