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DeSantis explains order, announces 45-day moratorium on evictions, foreclosures

April 2, 2020
Nathan Mayberg , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

At a press conference Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced two new emergency orders and further explained his order to seniors and those with underlying medical conditions, saying "you really need to be staying at home and limiting your contacts with people."

On Friday, the communications office of DeSantis further clarified that seniors can leave their homes for essential services and activities.

DeSantis noted that 86 percent of fatalities have been for people 65 and older. He said he also wants more information on those who have died from COVID-19 and how many had significant underlying medical conditions.

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As for what essential activities are, DeSantis said the goal is to reduce contacts. "It's less important what you do and how you do it."

The executive order allows people to continue doing such personal activities as walking, running, swimming, biking, fishing and hunting. DeSantis said the important thing is that people follow social distancing guidelines.

"Go shoot hoops all day, that's fine but your not going to be able to play a five-on-five pickup game," DeSantis said.

"We're trying to reduce the transmission of the virus." The virus typically transmits when people are in close contact, he said.

There are also dozens of industries and types of businesses considered essential that all Floridians can attend to.

During a press conference Thursday, DeSantis also reiterated the supports religious services continuing.

"I don't think the government has the authority to close a church," he said.

DeSantis said he reached out to churches and synagogues early. "In times like this, I think the service they are performing is very important to people." He has asked religious leaders to conduct their services while abiding by social distancing guidelines.

"The Constitution doesn't get suspended here," DeSantis said. "We have an invisible enemy here. I think you have to keep your cool."

"The more people behave based on hysteria and panic I think the harder this is going to be."

"Keep calm and carry on."


In reaction to a surge in unemployment due to the fallout from a dropoff in tourism as well as government actions to restrict dining at restaurants and other pressures on the economy related to the COVID-19 pandemic, DeSantis issued an executive order on Thursday that places a 45-day moratorium on evictions and foreclosures in Florida.

In addition, DeSantis said he will be calling on some of the state's 25,000 employees who are currently working from home or who have been temporarily inactive, to join in responding to an overwhelmed re-employment assistance program.

DeSantis said more than 348,000 re-employment assistance claims have been filed in the last two weeks. That is more than all of 2019, when approximately 307,000 claims were made in the state.

"We're in a situtation where this system is not handling the needs of Florida in an adequate way," DeSantis said in a press conference in Tallahassee.

The executive order directs all agency heads to assist the Department of Economic Opportunity with unemployment insurance. "This requires all hands on-deck," DeSantis said.

"This is a very, very top priority."

DeSantis said the state's web platform is currently overloaded. He wants unemployed people to be able to fill out a paper application. He wants to beef up the state's call centers and create alternative sites for people to proces their claims.

"We want to work on the processing to be much quicker than it has in the past," he said. DeSantis is expecting unemployment claims to continue to be high. "This is a problem that could be with us more than just a couple weeks," he said.

The state's confirmed cases of the new and highly contagious coronavirus was 8,010 as of Wedneday.

For most, the disease causes mild symptoms but can turn into a type of viral pneumonia that can be deadly. Statewide there have been 128 deaths. In Lee County, there have been 10 deaths from COVID-19.



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