Florida’s DeSantis Wants ‘Major Disaster’ Declared for State

In a letter, Gov. Ron DeSantis asks the Trump administration to send the state funds to help with unemployment, crisis counseling, community-disaster loans, and food aid, which DeSantis says the state will need.

by Mario Ariza, Sun Sentinel / March 24, 2020

(TNS) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has asked President Donald Trump to issue a “major disaster” declaration to help the state survive the new coronavirus crisis.

In a letter, DeSantis asks the Trump administration to send the state funds to help with unemployment, crisis counseling, community-disaster loans, and food aid, which DeSantis says the state will need. The letter also provides previously unreleased details about the state’s response to the pathogen, providing a picture of the devastation already wrought.

According to the letter, Florida has spent or is projected to spend about $208 million fighting the virus. Additionally, there are currently 109 potential cases of coronavirus in the states’ nursing homes that are currently under investigation, and over 130,000 people called the state’s unemployment hotline last week seeking assistance.

In other news, the Florida Department of Health recently reported an additional death in Palm Beach County from the new coronavirus, bringing the total to three virus-related deaths in the county in 48 hours.

The Department of Health’s 6 p.m. Monday update brought the state’s total documented coronavirus cases to 1,227 infections.

Broward and Miami-Dade are the counties with the highest number of cases in Florida. Broward has 263 cases. Miami-Dade has 278. Palm Beach County has 89. There have been a total of 18 deaths attributed to the virus in the state.

In response to the outbreak, DeSantis says he issued an executive order instructing all travelers flying to the state of Florida from new coronavirus hot spots in the United States to self-quarantine for 14 days. The move to mitigate the spread of the virus came at the end of a speech in which the governor offered a defense of his decision not to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order to help stop the spread of the virus.

Latest developments

Broward County announced it was closing all its parks as of Monday night. Instead of having a plethora of outdoor options to choose from, many in South Florida watch their officials list off new activities that are suspended each day and wonder: What’s left for me to do?

A Holland America cruise ship with 42 sick people on board is hoping to disembark at Port Everglades on March 30 after being denied permission to dock in Chile.

Restaurants across South Florida quickly pivoted to takeout and delivery last week because of emergency regulations spawned by the coronavirus crisis. But now a grim reality is setting in: Thousands of restaurants and bars may not survive the pandemic’s devastating economic impact.

Nervous shoppers are questioning just how safe it is to head to the supermarket. There are things you can do to lower risk of infection.

On Sunday, a drive-thru coronavirus testing site opened at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. It opened Monday for the members of the public who meet certain criteria. Wondering where to get tested for the new coronavirus? Here’s our guide to drive-thru sites.

When New York imposed a coronavirus shutdown, some fled the city — and ‘huge’ number started flying to Florida.

A Miami Beach police officer has tested positive for the coronavirus, a city official confirmed Sunday. Other officers who may have been in contact with the officer who tested positive are being monitored. As the pandemic grows, South Florida’s health care and emergency workers find themselves at increased risk of infection.

The 2020 summer Olympics, scheduled to take place this year in Japan, have been postponed because of the coronavirus.

By the numbers

The first death in Palm Beach County was reported Sunday. The second was reported Monday morning, and the third on Monday evening. It is unclear when the people died.

Out of the 18 total deaths in the state, six have been reported in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

In the United States, there are over 42,000 confirmed cases, with at least 579 deaths.

There are more than 374,000 confirmed cases worldwide in more than 100 countries and territories, with more than 16,000 deaths.

The number of documented cases in a given location is not necessarily an accurate reflection of the actual number of infected people.

In South Florida, a well-documented testing bottleneck and the likely existence of widespread community transmission means that the number of infected persons may well be much higher than the total number of documented cases.

However, given the limited data, reliable estimates of the total number of infected persons in the state are not currently available as of Sunday, March 22.


©2020 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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