Florida governor advises against 'packed' religious gatherings

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisOn The Money: White House warns there's likely no deal with no agreement by Friday | More generous unemployment benefits lead to better jobs: study | 167K workers added to private payrolls in July DeSantis blames Rick Scott for 'pointless roadblocks' in Florida unemployment system Trump notes GOP governor when asked why he backs mail-in voting in Florida MORE (R) is advising against attending "packed" religious gatherings ahead of the Christian and Jewish holidays this month, despite exempting such gatherings from the state’s stay-at-home order. 

“We want people during this time to be spiritually together, but to remain socially distant,” DeSantis said during a roundtable event Monday. 

“Please keep God close, but please keep COVID-19 away,” he added. 

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DeSantis’s comments follow a stay-at-home order he issued last week that made exemptions for “essential” activities including attending religious services in churches, synagogues and houses of worship. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends keeping at least six feet away from others when in public and avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people. 

DeSantis acknowledged Monday, however, that large gatherings, like a funeral that took place recently in Georgia, have the potential to become a “super spreader.” 

He noted that some churches have led services online or outdoors where people stay in their cars. 

DeSantis maintained last week that there’s no reason churches can’t continue to hold services as long as people are “spread out far enough.” 

Florida is shaping up to be a hotspot for the coronavirus, with 12,342 cases, including 220 deaths, as of Monday afternoon. South Florida has been the hardest, with more than 4,000 cases in Miami-Dade County.