At a press conference on March 30 outside the Hard Rock casino hotel, Gov. Ron DeSantis emphasized the statewide and, specifically, South Florida message of, “Safer at home.”

“Safer at home is the right thing to do,” DeSantis said. “We’ll do this until the middle of May.”

Later that day, DeSantis announced he had misspoken and had intended to say, “middle of April.”

The “Safer at Home” message was repeated by the mayors of four South Florida counties — Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach — all of whom attended the 10 a.m. press conference while standing 6 feet from each other. 

The message differs from the “shelter in place” directive of other cities, states and regions. Floridians are encouraged to stay inside, but it is not mandatory as long as proper social distancing is practiced by keeping 6 feet between people. Locally, fitness trails in some parks remain open, as do essential businesses, including restaurants offering takeout and delivery

Monroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers explained at the Monday press conference that the Keys have closed their hotels and marinas, and installed a checkpoint that limits entry to the island chain to residents, property owners, essential workers and deliveries.

We hate to ask our visitors to stay home, but now is the time, Carruthers said.

“We’re a very resilient community and I think we can set an example for the nation,” she said.

DeSantis also announced a new executive order that will allow recently retired law enforcement and medical personnel to return to work immediately.

“Typically they have to wait six months after retiring, but today’s executive order lifts that requirement,” DeSantis said on Monday morning.

“We’ve also procured the hydroxychloroquine,” he said. “The FDA yesterday approved its use under the right circumstances to treat the virus. We’ve also deployed 1,750 of the 45-minute rapid tests to Broward County and we’ve asked for a lot of the five-minute tests.”

DeSantis also said he believes the virus that brought the world to its knees was present in Florida before the state began testing for it.

“I’ve gotta believe this thing was swirling around Miami during the Super Bowl,” the governor said. “I think this was circulating in Florida, but we weren’t doing any testing for it. I don’t think the CDC believed the virus was really present in our country. Perhaps that was incorrect and if we’d been testing here in February, I believe we’d have had more positive tests.”

DeSantis also praised “private industry and American innovation” for their efforts in the fight against COVID-19.

When asked about a cruise ship that’s near the Panama Canal and seeking to berth in Florida, DeSantis said he has been in direct touch with the White House, and said “there’s no reason for it to come to Florida other than convenience.”

DeSantis said he’d prefer to see medical personnel dispatched to the ship rather than having it come into a Florida port. 

“We have almost 22 million in Florida. Having people flee here from other states, or having a cruise ship come in, could cause serious problems,” he said.

Finally, DeSantis took a moment to welcome his newborn daughter to the world, but added that he wasn’t present in the delivery room in order to conserve the personal protection masks, gowns and other equipment that is in short supply nationwide.

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