Editorial: Your stay-at-home order for Florida comes too late, Gov. DeSantis, but still …

Tribune Content Agency

We’ve wanted so much to say, “Good job, Gov. DeSantis! You’ve been on top of Florida’s coronavirus pandemic since the very start!”

We can’t say that, at least not with a straight face. So the only thing we’ll venture to say, now that DeSantis has issued a 30-day statewide stay-at-home order for all but those seeking essential services, is: “Finally.”

Now it’s up to the governor to speak with force and clarity as to what’s next. That means, first and foremost, ensuring that medical personnel, indeed, anyone in the vicinity of sick or potentially contagious people, throughout the state has the protective gear that they need to stay safe themselves, while protecting others.

DeSantis must ensure that there are hospital beds and vital equipment such as ventilators for the surging number of coronavirus cases in the state. If that means using his supposed clout with the White House, so be it.

That’s the very least he should be doing for Floridians, given that he waited — and waited and waited some more — until the Trump administration gave him the go-ahead to issue Wednesday’s order. Unlike some other governors, DeSantis ignored the obvious for too long, and Floridians likely are sicker for it.

In contrast, California, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide order on March 19, even before the state had its first coronavirus death. Tuesday, health care officials highlighted a tentative, but hopeful, trend line of a flattening curve. Washington state, too, issued an order early.

Dr. Deborah Birx, Vice President Mike Pence’s top adviser on the federal government’s coronavirus task force, said that the states that acted early “really talked to their communities and decided to mitigate” before they started seeing the number of coronavirus cases explode. “And now we know that makes a big difference,” she said. “If you wait till you see it, it’s too late.”

Well, Florida’s governor saw it — almost 7,000 coronavirus cases in the state by Wednesday morning — and still waited. His statewide essential services only order, though welcome, is indeed, too late.


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