MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Monday that he would be signing a “Safer at Home” executive order to ensure that residents in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties are “operating under the same sheet of music” during the coronavirus pandemic.
DeSantis initially said he would be urging residents in those southeast Florida counties to stay home — except for essential reasons — until the “middle of May.” But at a later press availability, he clarified that he meant until the middle of April. The order is set to remain in effect until April 15.
“We have all four counties united in a common purpose,” DeSantis said at his initial Monday news conference at Hard Rock Stadium attended by mayors of those four counties. “People in South Florida know it’s not always easy to do.”
The governor has rejected calls for a statewide order and noted that 60 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the Sunshine State are currently in southeast Florida.
DeSantis also said the state will reconfigure its rules to allow retired law enforcement and health workers to come back to help out, adding more vital workers on the front lines during the outbreak.
He was joined at the Hard Rock Stadium news conference by Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Broward County Mayor Dale Holness, Palm Beach County Mayor David Kerner and Monroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers.
Gimenez said he felt there was no need for a state-wide curfew, but he said cities and municipalities within the county can enforce curfews if they choose to.
Gimenez said Miami-Dade County streets have been quiet and he did not want to burden law enforcement officers when they have enough on their plate at this time.
Bal Harbour and a dozen coastal communities, regular destinations for New Yorkers and other hot-spot states, are now mandating a two-week quarantine for any of those visitors, with reporting tools and criminal penalties layered on.
Hard Rock Stadium testing update
The Florida National Guard has set up a COVID-19 testing site in the parking lot of Hard Rock Stadium, which first opened to first responders on March 22. The location opened to the public the following day, and more than 5,000 tests have been administered at the site.
DeSantis’ news conference Monday was at that testing site, where a mistake had forced some people to be retested for COVID-19.
“There were some tests that were done in a bacterial culture medium that should have been done in a viral cultural medium when this site opened up early on. Everybody has received a call and many people have already come back and completed the retesting,” public information officer Mike Jachles said.
Some of those tests were rejected by the processing labs since COVID-19 is a viral disease. We’re told there were more tests that came back inconclusive.
It’s unclear how many people were affected, but all patients should have been notified.
The testing kits were administered at this one site only on Sunday, Monday, and half of Tuesday before the problem was detected.
The Florida National Guard apparently received and used the wrong types of kits that were shipped in.
“We are going to make it work, and it’s working,” Jachles said.
Despite that hiccup, things have moved rather smoothly since then at the testing site.
About 339 people were tested Sunday.