Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday he plans to expand his already far-reaching executive order mandating a 14-day self-quarantine or isolation period for travelers coming to Florida from airports in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
DeSantis, speaking at a press conference, said he will sign an additional order to make his original mandate apply retroactively to anyone who has traveled to Florida from those states in the last three weeks.
The additional order will also require travelers to provide the names of people they’ve been in close contact with in the state.
“Now is the time to take care of yourself, stay away from crowds, stay at home as much as you can and do the right things for yourself and your community,” DeSantis, a Republican, said.
The move to expand the first large-scale attempt by a state to impose a self-quarantine period for domestic travelers comes as more than 52,000 coronavirus cases were reported in the country by Tuesday night — roughly half of them in New York. At least 700 people in the US have died.
DeSantis’ press office said late Tuesday that the state had yet to issue a single quarantine order to individual travelers from the New York tri-state area.
“The EO went into effect today, and there have been no quarantine orders issued as of yet,” the statement said. “Quarantine orders will be issued by the Surgeon General as needed.”
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, referenced DeSantis’ order at a news conference later Tuesday while urging everyone who has left the New York area to self-quarantine for 14 days, wherever they are.
“To everyone who has left New York over the last few days, because of the rate of the number of cases, you may have been exposed before you left New York and I think like Gov. DeSantis has put out today, everybody who was in New York should be self-quarantining for the next 14 days to ensure that the virus doesn’t spread to others,” she said.
“No matter where they have gone whether it’s Florida or North Carolina or out to the far reaches of Long Island,” Birx added.
DeSantis said that members of the Florida National Guard were at Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Tuesday, providing information to travelers from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut in compliance with the executive order he issued Monday.
He said that the effort will be expanded to smaller airports as well.
“I think most folks understand that they need to do this, and I think most folks are going to be compliant, but there is teeth in this to be able to hold someone accountable if they don’t,” he said.
DeSantis also announced an expansion of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance to postpone or cancel gatherings of groups of 50 or more, saying no social or recreational groups of 10 people or more should gather in the state, even in private residences.
In addition to the travel measures, the surgeon general of Florida will be issuing a health advisory that encourages anyone 65 or older to stay home for the next 14 days. Anyone with chronic conditions — regardless of age — is also encouraged to stay home.
This story has been updated with further reporting.