National health officials say they sent Florida-specific coronavirus guidance specific to the state weeks before Gov. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisFL governor’s counsel allegedly pressured Miami Herald law firm to drop public records law suit: report Overnight Health Care: Trump calls decision on reopening US biggest of his life | Trump to convene council to advise | Health officials push back on May opening | States see virus cases rise | Global death toll passes 100K 16 things to know about coronavirus for today MORE (R) advised residents to stay at home.
Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told NBC’s “Today” show on Monday that Florida was among several states that received specific guidance on social distancing from the agency in late February or early March.
If true, Redfield’s remarks would mean that the state had received advice from federal officials on necessary steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus weeks before DeSantis publicly alluded to a lack of guidance from the White House coronavirus task force while facing criticism for his decisions not to shutter state beaches or issue a statewide stay-at-home order.
“As February 28 … as we got into March … we recognized the different areas that mitigation was now important. CDC sent recommendations to Washington, to California, to New York and to Florida recommending that they expand mitigation in those areas,” Redfield said Monday.
CDC officials did not immediately return a request for clarification from The Hill on what specific steps were advised for Florida. DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order for the southern portion of Florida on March 30, but at the time claimed that the White House had not recommended a full statewide order.
“I’m in contact with them, and, basically, I’ve said, ‘Are you guys recommending this?’” DeSantis said. “The task force has not recommended that to me. Obviously, if they do, that is something that would carry a lot of weight with me.”
The governor’s office did not immediately return a request for comment on the guidance it received from the CDC.
Florida has reported nearly 20,000 cases of coronavirus, with more than 460 deaths. Some state lawmakers have urged DeSantis to go further with his social distancing orders, pointing to spring breakers heading to Florida’s beaches as a key public health risk.
“The coronavirus is going to hit every nook and cranny of America,” said Rep. Lois FrankelLois Jane FrankelCDC chief says it’s wrong to call COVID-19 a ‘Chinese virus’ House lawmakers introduce legislation to promote women’s global empowerment Afghan Women: Essential for Peace MORE (D-Fla.). “Without a cure or vaccine, there is no time to waste. That is why a statewide order is necessary.”