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Florida Governor Issues Coronavirus Stay-At-Home Order

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04/01/2020 03:07 pm ET Updated 13 hours ago

After mounting COVID-19 cases and public pressure, GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis finally took a step he previously said he was waiting for the White House to order.

By Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Wednesday issued a statewide stay-at-home order to slow further spread of the coronavirus following increasing COVID-19 cases and rising pressure from the public and state lawmakers.

The order, which takes effect at midnight Thursday, directs Floridians to “limit movements and personal interactions outside the house” to only those deemed “essential,” DeSantis said at a news conference. The restrictions will remain in place for 30 days.

DeSantis, unlike governors of other states with burgeoning COVID-19 outbreaks, had for days resisted mounting pressure to act, including from state lawmakers. The governor said just a day earlier that he was waiting for the White House coronavirus task force to recommend a statewide stay-at-home order.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump hasn’t called for a national stay-at-home order, even as the U.S. has surpassed other nations as the epicenter of the pandemic. The nearly 200,000 reported cases in the U.S. as of Wednesday was more than double the number from less than a week ago.

Florida is among the states with the highest number of cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, with nearly 7,000 confirmed cases and at least 87 dead.

Areas of South Florida, including Miami-Dade County, have been under local stay-at-home restrictions for days. More than half of the state’s coronavirus cases so far have been in southern counties of Broward and Miami-Dade, DeSantis noted.

DeSantis said Wednesday that there were “a lot of places in Florida that have very low infection rates.” He said he spoke with Trump and the president “agreed with the approach of focusing on the hot spots,” but also “understood” the need for the statewide order.

Other states, including California and New York, have been under “shelter in place” or stay-at-home orders for nearly two weeks.

Earlier this month, DeSantis resisted calls to shut down beaches, even after college students from around the country descended on the state for spring break.

Terrie Rizzo, the chair of the Florida Democratic Party, said in a statement Wednesday that it was “distressing that Governor Ron DeSantis waited until the coronavirus had spread to so many Floridians before finally issuing a statewide stay-at-home order.”

“I hope this will finally slow the rise in infections and that his actions are not too late,” Rizzo added.






Just a few exceptions: churches, my husband said golf courses, but I don't know for sure. I know the little church in my neighborhood was deserted last Sunday...but I worry about Easter.



‘It's a sh-- sandwich': Republicans rage as Florida becomes a nightmare for Trump

By GARY FINEOUT and MARC CAPUTO 04/03/2020 05:02 AM EDT

TALLAHASSEE — The staggering unemployment exploding on President Donald Trump’s watch would worry any incumbent running for reelection, but troubles in Florida are injecting an added dose of fear into a jittery GOP.

Already anxious about Trump’s chances in the nation’s biggest swing state, Republicans now are dealing with thousands of unemployed workers unable to navigate the Florida system to apply for help. And the blowback is directed straight at Trump’s top allies in the state, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Rick Scott.

Privately, Republicans admit that the $77.9 million system that is now failing Florida workers is doing exactly what Scott designed it to do — lower the state’s reported number of jobless claims after the great recession.

“It’s a sh-- sandwich, and it was designed that way by Scott,” said one DeSantis advisor. “It wasn’t about saving money. It was about making it harder for people to get benefits or keep benefits so that the unemployment numbers were low to give the governor something to brag about.”

Republican Party of Florida chairman Joe Gruters was more succinct: “$77 million? Someone should go to jail over that.”

With hundreds of thousands of Floridians out of work, the state’s overwhelmed system is making it nearly impossible for many people to even get in line for benefits.

After a record number of claims were reported Thursday, DeSantis said the state would resort to paper applications, build a mobile app to handle the flood of traffic and deploy hundreds, even thousands, of state workers to provide stopgap help.

Congress last week delivered relief in the form of a $2 trillion stimulus package that directs cash to the unemployed. But to get that money into the pockets of Floridians, the state will have to duct-tape the rickety web-based unemployment system to deliver it.

It’s a monumental task. The system has had problems from its very start in 2013, and was one reason state senators refused in 2015 to confirm Scott’s pick to run the agency that manages unemployment benefits.

The new online system was part of a series of changes designed to limit benefits. The ultimate goal — which it delivered on — was to lower unemployment taxes paid by Florida businesses. A 2011 analysis done by the Florida Legislature estimated that the changes pushed by Scott would save businesses more than $2.3 billion between 2011 and 2020.

Now, as thousands of people try to get help, the system crashes or denies them access. Nearly 400,000 people have managed to file claims in the last two and half weeks. It’s not known how many have tried and failed.

Most of those who do submit applications won’t qualify for aid, and the benefits that are paid out are among the most meager in the country — a maximum of $275 a week.

“This is horrible for people. I don’t want to minimize that,” one DeSantis adviser told POLITICO. “But if we have to look past the crisis, it’s bad for the president and it’s bad for the governor.”

“Everyone we talk to in that office when we ask them what happened tells us, ‘the system was designed to fail,’” the adviser said. “That’s not a problem when unemployment is 2.8 percent, but it’s a problem now. And no system we have can handle 25,000 people a day.”

State auditors have routinely chronicled shortcomings with the CONNECT system, most recently in a report issued in March 2019, two months after DeSantis took office.

Scott spokesperson Chris Hartline did not directly address complaints about the CONNECT system. But he said Scott acted to ensure the state helped only those “who truly needed the assistance.”

“His goal was to make sure every Floridian who wanted a job could get one, and turned the program into a re-employment system so people could find employment,” Hartline said in an email. “As governor, he made investments to ensure the system worked and Florida’s unemployment insurance program is funded at record levels thanks to reforms under Governor Scott, meaning more Florida families can receive the help they need.”

Rep. Charlie Crist, a Democrat who as a Republican governor led Florida through the last downturn, said the state’s current economic catastrophe could doom Trump in the state the president needs if he wants to win reelection.

“If unemployment continues to go up, and if so many people stay unemployed, it’s a nightmare for the president in this state,” Crist said. “I should know. When I was governor and I was running for the Senate in the Great Recession — and there was nothing great about it — it was a nightmare.”

An adviser to Marco Rubio’s 2010 Senate campaign didn’t argue.

“We’ve got unemployed, pissed-off people. They can’t get benefits. And when they get them, it’s not going to be enough,” he said. “They’re there for the taking by the Democrats. We killed Charlie with the bad economy in 2010. Democrats are gonna repay the favor.”

Gruters downplayed the idea that a “flawed system that predates the DeSantis administration” would hurt the president or DeSantis. The governor and his team are “working around the clock to address its shortcomings,” he said.

Republicans in the Legislature share the blame, said Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Miami Democrat.

“Rick Scott is the most culpable human being when we look at who’s responsible for the failed system,” Rodriguez said. “But I don’t know of any Republican who resisted these efforts to make Florida the most Scrooge-like state in the nation.”



A hoax? Sure, all a hoax

Aleixandrea Macias
April 6 at 5:32 PM ยท
I haven't posted a true update in days because I could not find anything positive to say. I tried since Thursday to change my perspective and be a ray of light in this dark time, but I just keep being beat down. I have never seen anything like this before, never taken care of someone that is so healthy but at the same time so deathly sick. I've been working in a makeshift ICU for days now because there were no other nurses to staff the area. There are not enough staff even though we get new people daily, not enough experienced staff (because who on earth can be experienced for this level of sick?!), not enough supplies. I can't count the times I have heard "well we could try and do this but we don't have this". I'm not an ICU nurse at all, but neither is hardly anyone else working these units now. I've told Julio Macias 2 days in a row that I want to come home. But he talks me back off the edge each time because he knows how much I would regret leaving because at this point anybody at all helps. So I'm still here. Day 11 is done.
Of course we can't share patient info, but being in an ICU setting I am keeping my same patients day after day until they die. No one has left our unit yet except in a body bag. I've struggled to find my purpose being here, but strangely enough Julio knew why before I ever did. I have been translating Spanish for days for these people, in my own broken Spanish because anything is better than them understanding nothing. I've seen patients arrive on our unit not yet sedated or vented but in extreme respiratory distress and beyond frightened. I have explained what COVID is doing to their body, what the risks are of being intubated vs not, and I have listened as these people have called their family members for the very last time prior to being intubated. If I can leave here with anything at all, I can know that I helped give them those last moments with their family. After they are sedated, their personal belongings are still there. Their phones still ring. That's the worst is listening to the phones ring knowing someone is calling and praying they will answer just one more time. These people are not old. They are young. Many with no medical problems. Strong people, physically fit. One who even worked 5 jobs at a time until Covid ravaged his body. This virus kills people. They all die at some point, it's just been a game of seeing how long we can keep them half alive. I feel like our efforts are futile, but I still try so hard and get so upset because I know that if it were Julio or anyone in my family laying there I would want the same done. When their bodies finally give up fighting, we place them in a body bag. I've seen hundreds of people die as a nurse, but they are usually surrounded with loved ones or we give family time to see them to say their goodbyes. Not with COVID. There is no closure for anyone in this. I can't explain to you how bad this hurts, how real this is, and how afraid I am knowing that it could get like this in my own hometowns. I can't make you guys do anything, but I am literally begging you to listen to us healthcare workers and take this seriously. My heart hurts so bad tonight for these families who have lost people entirely too soon, for those who are sick and absolutely terrified, and for all of us who will surely have some form of PTSD after this is over.

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