Gov. Ron DeSantis will be adding highway checkpoints and adding travelers from Louisiana to the state’s quarantine order to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in Florida.
The Governor announced the move Friday as a way to address concerns from leaders in the Panhandle that travelers from New Orleans are bringing the virus to the gulf coast. Louisiana has 2,746 confirmed coronavirus cases while Florida has 2,900 cases as of Friday.
“There’s a fear that as New Orleans becomes more of a hotspot that you could have an influx of people into the Florida Panhandle from Louisiana,” DeSantis said.
Counties and the Florida Highway Patrol will be able to enforce those checkpoints at the “main thoroughfares” to the Gulf Coast, including Interstate 10. Vehicles with certain license plates would be flagged to pull over at those checkpoints.
New York City remains the country’s biggest hotspot of coronavirus cases as the United States became the country with the most reported cases in the world Friday.
On Monday, DeSantis ordered plane travelers from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to self-isolate for 14 days upon entering Florida. And on Tuesday, he ordered all travelers from those states who returned in the last three weeks to self-isolate for 14 days.
The state has screened 3,400 travelers disembarking in Florida from the restricted region. The 14-day isolation order has reduced air traffic from the New York City area.
“All we’re trying to do is keep our residents here safe. If you’re coming from one of the epicenters, we probably think that you should follow the directions of your state and local officials, and if they’re telling you to shelter in place, then do that, but don’t come here because we’re trying to protect our folks,” DeSantis said.
But the Governor has said a stay-at-home order statewide would not be effective in Florida since the spread of the virus is uneven. Several communities began implementing their own varying lockdown orders this week.
South Florida remains the state’s hotspot of reported COVID-19 cases and with growing reports in Hillsborough and Orange counties.
The restriction does not apply to commercial transportation.
DeSantis will also suspend vacation rentals for two weeks to help limit the number of visitors. People already in a vacation rental will be allowed to complete their stay.