Tampa Bay Times by Lawerence Mower
April 1, 2020
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday said he had no plans to issue a statewide stay-at-home order, partly because he says he hasn’t been told to do so by the White House task force.
More than 30 states and the District of Columbia have already enacted such restrictions.
During a news conference in Tallahassee, DeSantis was asked about a Times/Herald story that reported an epidemiologist advising the White House had told Florida’s top health official on Monday to issue a statewide stay-at-home order.
Ali Mokdad, a professor at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health and Metrics Evaluation, told the Times/Herald that he told DeSantis’ Surgeon General, Scott Rivkees, that the state should issue a blanket stay-at-home order mandating the closure of non-essential businesses and social distance to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
DeSantis expressed surprise about the story, which had been published Tuesday hours before his news conference.
“Who recommended that?” he asked the reporter.
After given more explanation, DeSantis said he has heard no such direction from anyone with the White House Task force team.
“I’m in contact with (the White House task force) and I’ve said, are you recommending this?” DeSantis said. “The task force has not recommended that to me. If they do, obviously that would be something that carries a lot of weight with me. If any of those task force folks tell me that we should do X, Y or Z, of course we’re going to consider it. But nobody has said that to me thus far.”
That deference to the White House was later applauded by President Donald Trump, who lauded DeSantis, a close political ally.
When asked if Florida needed to issue a blanket order, Trump replied that DeSantis is a “great governor who knows exactly what he’s doing.