STATEWIDE — Gov. Ron DeSantis sent a letter to President Donald Trump Monday formally requesting that Trump declare a Major Disaster as the state responds to the coronavirus outbreak.
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In his letter, DeSantis asked for the inclusion of several individual assistance programs in the declaration, including:
- Disaster Unemployment Assistance
- Crisis Counseling
- Community Disaster Loans
- Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Program
Read DeSantis' letter to President Trump below:
DeSantis orders travelers from New York, New Jersey to self-isolate
Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday he prefers to mitigate gatherings in areas where coronavirus is prevalent rather than issue a stay-at-home order at this time.
He also said he will sign an executive order that will require travelers from New York and New Jersey to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry into Florida.
DeSantis said in an address from his Tallahassee office that more than 100 such flights arrive daily in the state and he believes each contains at least one person infected with the new coronavirus.
He said he has been in contact with federal officials about curtailing such flights, but has not yet received a response. He said people will be screened when they arrived and told they must self-quarantine. He said those travelers will not be allowed to stay with family or friends, because that is one way the virus is spread.
Meanwhile, 6 p.m. numbers from the Florida Department of Health say there are 1,227 cases of coronavirus in the state. There have been 18 deaths, including the first death in Pinellas County.
Speaking to reporters Monday morning, DeSantis said 20 Florida counties don't have a coronavirus case. He said some areas of the state are doing a good job with social distancing but did call out people who are not following guidelines, such as large crowds at beaches.
California, New York and Illinois are among states to implement stay-at-home guidelines.
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The governor also said Monday that drive-thru testing is being set up at The Villages. More than 100 medical workers will operate the testing site there, and it's open for residents and non-residents.
He added that University of Florida researchers are investigating cases of asymptomatic patients - people who have coronavirus but don't have the symptoms.
Meanwhile, all state parks in Florida have been closed in an effort to prevent the further spread of coronavirus.
Officials with the state's Department of Environmental protection said Sunday they tried everything they could to prevent having to close the parks.
The agency said measures it's taken so far to reduce population density, such as limiting operating hours and capacity at busy parks "unfortunately has not resulted in the reductions needed to best protect public health and safety as Florida continues to mitigate the spread of COVID-19."
Florida has faced criticism from in-state residents as well as media abroad, showing pictures of spring breakers and other people packing Florida beaches and parks.
The DEP didn't say when state parks would reopen, only that "we look forward to welcoming you again to our award winning state parks as soon as possible."
This includes many popular spots across the state, including Honeymoon Island in the Bay area as well as popular Central Florida destinations like Blue Spring, Wekiwa Springs, Silver Springs and Rainbow Springs.
For more information on the parks closures, go to https://www.floridastateparks.org/ or call 850-245-2157.
Meanwhile, at a White House news conference Monday evening, President Donald Trump said he signed Executive Order 4512, which prohibits the hoarding of medical equipment and supplies, like hand sanitizer and masks, and provides for the prosecution of price gougers.
DEMOCRATS CRITICAL OF DESANTIS RESPONSE
While governors of some of the biggest states in the country have called for a complete “shelter-in-place” directive to crack down on residents’ movements to try to control the spread of the coronavirus, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has not done so yet, prompting two Florida Democrats to blast him for a lack of leadership on Monday.
“We have a situation in Florida where we have a governor who has been irresponsible and has had an absence of leadership,” said South Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz on a conference call organized by the Florida Democratic Party.
Spectrum News reporter Mitch Perry has more on this story.
FIFTH TSA WORKER FROM MCO TESTS POSITIVE
A fifth person who works for TSA at Orlando International Airport has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a message sent out by Federal Security Director Pete R. Garcia to personnel.
In the message, Garcia said the Transportation Security Officer who tested positive had not worked at MCO's security checkpoint since March 12. He said the employee will not return to work until cleared by a doctor.
Spectrum News has reached out to TSA for confirmation and comment.
FLORIDA COVID CASES PASS 1,200 MARK
DeSantis urged Floridians to stay home and not panic about the spread of the coronavirus, which had infected at least 1,200 people across the state as of Monday evening.
Eighteen people have died. Nearly half of the state’s positive cases are in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
“The vast, vast majority of people are testing negative for this,” DeSantis said.
According to Florida Health Department data released Sunday night, it's not only older people who have been exposed the coronavirus.
That includes a person in Marion County, where health officials confirmed overnight a fourth case in the area.
Officials said the person is a 40-year-old woman and is believed to have picked it up through travel. She is a Marion County resident. The local health department is contacting people at risk of exposure.
CONGRESSIONAL WORK GOES ON FOR RESCUE AID PACKAGE
WASHINGTON (AP) — Top-level negotiations between Congress and the White House churned late into the night over a now nearly $2 trillion economic rescue package, as the coronavirus crisis deepened, the nation shut down and the first U.S. senator tested positive for the disease.
As President Donald Trump took to the podium in the White House briefing room and promised to help Americans who feel afraid and isolated as the pandemic spreads, the Senate voted Sunday against advancing the rescue package. But talks continued on Capitol Hill.
“I think you’ll get there. To me it’s not very complicated: We have to help the worker. We have to save the companies,” Trump said.
Later, the president suggested the remedies may be more harmful than the actual outbreak, vowing to reassess after the 15-day mark of the shutdown. “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” he tweeted.
Inside the otherwise emptied out Capitol, the draft aid bill was declared insufficient by Democrats, who argued it was tilted toward corporations and did too little to help workers and health care providers. Republicans returned to the negotiating table.