Florida Gov. DeSantis defends refusal to close beaches, points to NYC subway

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NEW YORK — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Saturday that he doesn’t regret leaving the beaches open for spring break even as the coronavirus outbreak spreads through the state.

Instead, the Republican governor compared people in Florida in the “sunshine, heat and humidity” to New York and the subways where people are “packed like sardines.”

“Do you hear the same people complaining about the New York City subway system being open?” he said at a press conference. “I mean, give me a break. Which one is more conducive to having COVID-19 spread or any respiratory virus? It’s not even close.”

DeSantis has been criticized for his slow response to the pandemic, leaving most of the lockdown decisions up to individual cities.

Despite DeSantis’ refusal, government officials have closed some of the state’s most popular beaches and set curfews on others.

The governor announced last week a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone flying into Florida from New York, New Jersey or Connecticut. Checkpoints have also been set up on the interstate near the Florida-Georgia border to screen for people driving in.

As of Saturday evening, 4,038 people in Florida have tested positive for coronavirus. Of those, 3,877 are residents. Fifty-six people have died so far.


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