Florida Agriculture Commissioner calls for governor to implement stay-at-home order

Other states like California, Connecticut and Illinois have implemented similar measures in the last week.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on Friday asked Gov. Ron DeSantis to implement a statewide “stay-at-home” order in response to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the state.

Other states like California and Illinois have implemented similar measures in the last week.

“I want to recognize the difficult choices the Governor has had to make in this public health crisis," Fried said in a statement. “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. 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.”

Fried said that based on the data, Florida is a week behind California’s vast increase in COVID-19 cases. The Florida Department of Health released a new round of data on Friday evening that shows an additional 44 cases of the disease, increasing the statewide total to 564 cases and 10 deaths.

“The individuals and businesses I’ve spoken with are growing more anxious by the day,” she said. “As the nation’s third-largest state, we need to go further, and we cannot afford to lose another week. I am asking the Governor to consider implementing a statewide “stay-at-home” order, closing all non-essential businesses for a reasonable timeframe, after which time the situation could be reassessed.”

Fried said a piecemeal approach of closing certain communities and businesses risks sowing further confusion.

"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 continued.

In an executive order released Friday afternoon, DeSantis ordered that all restaurants and food establishments in Florida to suspend on-premises food and alcohol consumption, effective immediately. Their kitchens can remain open for delivery and take-out services.

This supersedes DeSantis order earlier this week limited businesses open to the be limited to 50% of legal capacity. On Tuesday, DeSantis also ordered all bars and nightclubs to closed.

The new order also lifts a ban on delivery or take-out sales of alcohol for food establishments. The order will last as long as the state of emergency for coronavirus is in effect.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California on Thursday ordered 40 million Californians to stay in their houses as much as possible in the coming weeks to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.