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Democratic leaders call on Gov. DeSantis to issue statewide stay-at-home, mask order

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at July 14 COVID-19 roundtable with Miami-Dade mayors.
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at July 14 COVID-19 roundtable with Miami-Dade mayors. (WPLG)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Numerous Democratic members of the Florida Congressional Delegation sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday, calling for the governor to issue a statewide stay-at-home order and mask order.

The letter was signed by U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala (FL-27), along with U.S. Reps. Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-24), Kathy Castor (FL-14), Ted Deutch (FL-22), Frederica Wilson (FL-24), Lois Frankel (FL-21), Charlie Crist (FL-13), Al Lawson (FL-5), Stephanie Murphy (FL-7), Darren Soto (FL-9) and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26).

“As you know, the state hit record high numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the past week—including more than 15,000 positive cases, a nationwide record, this past Sunday,” the representatives wrote. “Florida is now the global epicenter of this pandemic…Over the past week, Florida reported its highest daily COVID-19 deaths twice and averaged 90 deaths per day. These are devastating trends, and we are concerned that you have neglected to take any meaningful action to bring the outbreak in our state under control.”

The letter comes after Miami-Dade County scaled back on its reopening, with Mayor Carlos Gimenez ordering restaurants to close indoor dining, requiring masks to be worn at all times while in public and issuing stricter requirements for gyms and fitness centers.

The county is also cracking down on those violating the county’s orders, by fining non-compliant businesses. Individuals may also be fined $100 for not wearing masks.

Broward County has not yet scaled back its reopening, but Broward officials say they may have to in the near future.

“It looks grave from where we are,” Mayor Dale Holness said Thursday. “We have to look at two measures — are the measures we are taking working ... two, if the hospitalization gets worse, we are gonna have to shut down. But as of today, I wouldn’t say shut down.”

Shalala said in a statement that she warned months ago that the state would have to shut down again if leaders did not heed experts’ warnings about the virus.

“With positive test rates sky rocketing and the number of available ICU beds dwindling, implementing a stay-at-home order now is the best chance we have of preventing this crisis from spiraling further out of control,” Shalala said in a statement.

The Democratic leaders warned in their letter to the governor that if the state does not reclose, Florida’s “economy will contract and shutter on its own, needlessly subjecting Floridians to both lost jobs and wages, as well as preventable death and illness.”

About the Author:

Amanda Batchelor is the managing editor for Local10.com.