Florida Surpasses 10,000 Coronavirus Cases, Death Toll Reaches 170

State's COVID-19-related death toll jumps to 170; more than 1,300 hospitalized

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What to Know

  • Florida surpassed 10,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases Friday, with nearly one-third of the cases in Miami-Dade
  • More than 1,300 people were hospitalized throughout the state
  • The state's death toll jumped to 170, with nearly half in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach

Gov. Ron DeSantis' statewide stay-at-home order began early Friday, as Florida's confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 10,000 and the state's death toll from the virus rose sharply to 170.

Florida's total confirmed cases rose by more than 1,200 since Thursday to 10,268, according to figures released by the Florida Department of Health. The number includes 9,925 Florida residents and 343 non-residents.

The state's coronavirus-related death toll rose to 170, and more than 1,200 people were hospitalized due to the virus statewide.

Miami-Dade County continues to lead the state with 3,364 cases, about 32 percent of the state's total. Broward was second with 1,598 cases, followed by Palm Beach with 858. Monroe County had 40 cases.

The death toll in Miami-Dade rose to 25 Friday, while Broward had 22 COVID-19-related deaths. Palm Beach led all Florida counties in reported deaths, with 33, and Monroe County reported its first death linked to the virus.

DeSantis issued the statewide stay-at-home order Wednesday as federal and local pressure mounted on him to abandon the county-by-county approach he had implemented to combat the coronavirus pandemic, a position he had defended for weeks.

DeSantis told reporters he decided to issue the order after consulting with President Donald Trump and White House advisers, who have said Americans need to stay home through April. His order went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday and will last at least 30 days.

At a news conference Thursday, DeSantis encouraged people to get out and get exercise but not with large groups of people.

"It's less important what you do than how you do it," DeSantis said. "If you want to go for a 10-mile run by yourself and come back, more power to you. But you wouldn't be able to do a 20-person road race in the neighborhood with 19 of your friends."

The governor said it made sense to expand stay-home measures statewide now “even though there are a lot of places that have very low infection rates.” His move came the same day two other Republican governors in the South, Brian Kemp in Georgia and Tate Reeves of Mississippi, also issued stay-home orders after repeatedly refusing to do so.

After weeks of criticism for not issuing a statewide stay-at-home order, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday that one would go into effect starting midnight April 3rd. The order will be in effect for 30 days.

“This is what we are going to be fighting for a month," DeSantis said. "There is not going to be any kind of return to normalcy. People thought Easter. … That is not going to happen.”

The order makes exceptions for buying food, medicine and gas, visiting doctors, outdoor exercise and commuting to jobs deemed essential. All businesses not considered essential must close, but can let employees work from home where feasible.

It also permits travel to religious services, although it was unclear whether such services would be subject to previous statewide orders prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people. On Monday, police arrested a pastor in Tampa who violated the order by holding services for hundreds.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce said it backs the governor's decision as long as essential business is not impeded.

'While safety is the top priority, we also believe that it is important for essential workers to be able to get crops to the grocery store, ensure that our first responders' vehicles are maintained and ready to move and that we can get front line health care workers the safety equipment that they desperately need," spokeswoman Edie Ousley said.

A day after several sick passengers left Port Everglades, healthy passengers are leaving the port.

DeSantis conceded that the order's success will mostly depend on the goodwill of residents as police won't in most cases know by sight if a person's reason for being out falls under an exemption. Violating a quarantine order in Florida can result in a 60-day jail sentence.

“I see some of these stories across the country … where someone steps out and someone tries to get them arrested. Look, at some point you do need to just exercise good judgment. The government can't ham-fist everyone into their bedroom,” he said.

DeSantis had been defending his county-by-county approach almost daily for the past two weeks as other governors in similarly heavily populated states including California, New York and Illinois, issued statewide lockdown orders.

The governor had said a statewide order wouldn't be fair to small counties with no or few confirmed infections and to the workers who would lose jobs. Instead, he issued a stay-at-home order Monday for hard-hit Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties and the Florida Keys. Last week he also ordered anyone arriving from the New York area and Louisiana to self-quarantine for two weeks. He also issued some statewide measures including closing bars and gyms and limiting restaurants to takeout and delivery.

Counties in the Tampa Bay area and central Florida issued their own lockdown orders, and Jacksonville announced Wednesday it would join them on Friday.

NBC 6 and AP
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