Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried says it’s time for a statewide “stay-at-home” order.
Fried, Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat, called on Gov. Ron DeSantis to follow other large states and issue an executive order closing nonessential businesses and directing people to hunker down at home as best they can.
“I want to recognize the difficult choices the Governor has had to make in this public health crisis. No Governor in recent history would have expected to have to make a decision like California, New York, or Illinois have made in the past 72 hours,” Fried said in a prepared statement.
“Shutting down one of the nation’s largest states is a decision that will have an economic impact — but it is a decision that will save lives. Based on the data, we know we are a week behind California’s vast increase in COVID-19 cases. The individuals and businesses I’ve spoken with are growing more anxious by the day. As the nation’s third largest state, we need to go further, and we cannot afford to lose another week.”
Fried said an across-the-board order would be more effective than the current “piecemeal approach,” referring to the near daily escalation in closures and crowd-size limits.
Earlier this week, DeSantis ordered bars to shut down for 30 days and directed restaurants to limit their seating areas to half capacity. Friday, he issued an Executive Order closing restaurant dining rooms and gyms for the duration of the state’s state of emergency, which expires May 8, but can be extended.
Friday also saw the Governor issue an Executive Order shutting down all beaches in Broward and Palm Beach counties after Miami-Dade made the same move Thursday.
The executive activity has increased commensurate with the rise in Florida coronavirus cases. On Monday, there were 115 positive cases and four deaths statewide. On Friday, there were well over 500 cases and 10 deaths.
The pandemic is also taking a toll on the economy, leading to the worst week for the stock market since the Great Recession.
Additionally, more than a million Florida jobs are in hard-hit industries such as tourism and hospitality. Job loss figures are mostly anecdotal thus far, though data from the American Hotel & Lodging Association indicates the hotel industry has already cut more than 400,000 jobs in Florida.
Fried said the stay-at-home order could help stop the economic hemorrhaging.
“I encourage the Governor to take this decisive action today to save lives and preserve Florida’s economy for our shared future. I will stand by the Governor should he make this difficult decision, and I implore him to do so now,” she concluded.