TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a press conference Monday afternoon, saying he is issuing an executive order that would require mandatory 14-day self-isolation for anyone traveling to the Sunshine State from the New York City area.
"I would reckon, given the outbreak there, that every single flight has someone on it who has COVID-19," Desantis told reporters.
New York has the highest number of known cases in the United States, with over 20,000 people testing positive for the virus. New Jersey has more than 1,900 known cases.
The governor said he is concerned about the number of daily flights from New York to Florida, saying he believes people may be fleeing the "shelter in place" order there.
However, DeSantis said he is not planning to issue a "shelter in place" order for the Sunshine State.
Citing a number of counties in northwest Florida with little to no known cases of coronavirus, DeSantis said such an order "would be a very blunt instrument" that would throw residents' lives "into potential disarray."
"If you look at Florida's situation right now, this is not a virus that is impacting every corner of the state," he told reporters.
DeSantis said about a third of Florida's 67 counties have no confirmed cases and another third have few, so he doesn't yet see the need to impose a near shutdown on their businesses that have been imposed in large counties such as Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach where the disease has spread into the community. Most of the counties with few or no infections are smaller ones along the state's northern borders or surrounding Lake Okeechobee.
DeSantis has ordered such statewide closures as bars and gyms and limited restaurants to takeout and delivery. Some counties have gone farther, closing not only nonessential businesses but also beaches, marinas and parks. State parks have been closed.
But DeSantis has not imposed a near-total statewide shutdown of nonessential businesses and bans on social gatherings that have been imposed in California, New York, Illinois and elsewhere.
He said he doesn't want to cause unnecessary financial hardship or create unintended consequences such as people fleeing the state and spreading the disease.
“In New York (City), when they did the stay-at-home order, what did people do? A lot of people fled the city and they are going to stay with their parents or fly (out),” DeSantis said during a press conference at The Villages, a retirement community of 80,000 residents north of Orlando. “We are getting huge amounts of people flying in. We are looking at how to address those flights.” He said he talked to President Donald Trump on Sunday night about that issue.
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to email@example.com. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know
AROUND THE WORLD: CoronavirusNOW.com
Map of known COVID-19 cases:
The Associated Press contributed to this report.