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More than half of Americans under orders to stay home. Why not Florida, Georgia?

Both state’s governors point to pockets not yet impacted by COVID-19

Street performer Eddie Webb looks around the nearly deserted French Quarter looking to make money in New Orleans. Like many cities around the country, New Orleans is currently under a shelter-in-place order as it grapples with a growing number of coronavirus cases. (Photo by Gerald Herbert, File)
Street performer Eddie Webb looks around the nearly deserted French Quarter looking to make money in New Orleans. Like many cities around the country, New Orleans is currently under a shelter-in-place order as it grapples with a growing number of coronavirus cases. (Photo by Gerald Herbert, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Editor's note: On Wednesday, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry issued a safer-at-home order beginning at 12:01 a.m. Friday.


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Even before the nation’s top infections-disease expert estimated that coronavirus could infect millions of Americans and kill more than100,000, half of the governors and the mayors of many large cities made mandatory what health experts advise: stay at home unless it’s absolutely necessary.

On Sunday, President Donald Trump extended guidelines recommending people stay home until the end of April after Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made the dire prediction of fatalities.

Dozens states and cities being hard hit by COVID-19 or wanting to avoid what they see happening in some of the nation’s hotspots coming to their communities have gone beyond recommendations. Whether calling their executive orders “shelter in place,” “stay at home" or “safer at home,” governments are mandating their citizens not go to work, not go to school, don’t even leave the house at all unless you have to.

According to the New York Times, 265 million people in at least 32 states, 80 counties, 17 cities, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are being told to stay home, and that list grows each day.

So far, Florida and Georgia are not on that list, although Gov. Ron DeSantis has ordered a similar restriction for just Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe and Palm Beach counties.

“We do this until the middle of May, and then we’ll see where we’re at,” DeSantis said at a news conference in South Florida on Monday. “Hopefully, once we get this thing under control, then we can go back and start enjoying life the way we used to.”

A week ago, DeSantis urged anyone over 65 or the medically challenged to stay home, but it wasn’t mandatory. He has resisted calls to extend the order applying to four Southeast Florida counties to the rest of the state, saying some smaller communities have not reported a single case of COVID-19, so they should not be forced to close down,

“No corner of our state is immune and a piecemeal, patchwork approach will not cut it,” Miami Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez said in a prepared statement.

Administrators in Florida counties that are not waiting for a statewide order include Alachua, Leon, Hillsborough, Orange, Osceola and Pinellas counties. Palm Coast has voluntary stay-at-home order.

UPDATE: On Wednesday morning, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry issued a safer-in-place order for Duval COunty effective 12:01 a.m.

In Georgia, Atlanta ordered its residents to stay at home early last week, as did Dougherty County, Savannah and Athens-Clarke County. Camden County has instituted a mandatory curfew between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Gov. Brian Kemp has ordered a statewide stay-at-home order for the medically fragile, but stopped short at asking everyone to stay home.

“We still have over 50 counties that don’t have a case,” Kemp said over the weekend. “We’re trying to balance all those things and going on that data we have and supporting local elect officials.”


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