Gov. DeSantis issues statewide stay-at-home order

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday afternoon that he is signing an executive order issuing a statewide stay-at-home order.

TALLAHASSEE — After days of saying it wasn’t necessary, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday afternoon that he is signing an executive order issuing a statewide stay-at-home order.

The “safer-at-home” order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday, April 3, and expires Thursday, April 30.

The order requires that people stay home and “limit their movements and personal interactions to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential services.”

The order continues to advise the public to avoid all social and recreational gatherings of 10 or more people and to remain 6 feet apart. All those who can work remotely are advised to do so.

DeSantis said the state would use the list of essential businesses and services from the Department of Homeland Security. Visit https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce.

Other services included in an executive order in effect in Miami-Dade County have been added. A list of what is considered to be essential services will be posted at www.floridadisaster.org and www.floridahealth.org.

Essential services includes attending religious services, participating in recreational activities, taking care of pets and taking care of and assisting loved ones or a friend.

Businesses and organizations are encouraged to provide delivery, carry-out or curbside service outside their business with orders being placed online or via the telephone.

Senior citizens and those with underlying medical conditions, such as chronic lung disease, moderate-to-severe asthma, serious heart conditions, immunocompromised status, cancer, diabetes, severe obesity, renal failure and liver disease, are required to stay at home and take all measure necessary to limit exposure to COVID-19.

DeSantis said he had decided on putting the “safer at home” order in place after President Donald Trump announced another 30 days of strict mitigation practices to try to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

“This is a serious situation,” DeSantis said. “It’s really nasty and has caused a lot of harm to a lot of people.”

As of Friday morning, Florida Department of Health was reporting 6,955 cases of coronavirus statewide with 87 deaths. In Pinellas County, coronavirus virus cases were up to 170 with five deaths.

Pinellas County is meeting at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, April 2, to consider extension of its local state of emergency.

Howard Frankland Bridge project

The governor did announce a bit of good news for residents of Tampa Bay. He said due to the light traffic situation, he had asked Florida Department of Transportation to look at accelerating some road projects.

One is the $864 million Howard Frankland Bridge project that will be accelerated by about four weeks.

According to FDOT, the new bridge will be built north of the current southbound/westbound interstate bridge. It will consist of eight lanes; four general use lanes, two northbound/eastbound express lanes and two southbound/westbound express lanes and a bicycle/ pedestrian path.

The existing southbound/westbound bridge will be converted to the new northbound/eastbound I-275. When complete, the current northbound/eastbound bridge will be removed.

Construction activities had been scheduled to begin this fall and will take an estimated six years to complete.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.

Revised to include information in the executive order and revise previously published information. Revised to include information about Howard Frankland Bridge.