Shortly after finally signing a statewide stay-at-home order on Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) quietly signed a second order that undermines the efforts of local governments to keep their citizens safe, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
DeSantis has faced criticism for his handling of the coronavirus outbreak, from allowing spring breakers to continue to party on the state's beaches to permitting people to still gather in large groups for worship. On Wednesday, he became one of the last governors in the country to effectively order a "shelter in place" for his constituents, only to later order that the state's new guidelines "shall supersede any conflicting official action or order issued by local officials in response to COVID-19." In other words, writes the Tampa Bay Times, "local governments cannot place any limitations that would be more strict than the statewide guidelines."
Authorities in the state, though, are in a panic trying to prevent their localities from becoming the next coronavirus hotspot; regions like Hillsborough County, for example, that had put into place stricter measures are now seeing those regulations rolled back. "For reasons I can't fathom, the governor is using his power to remove safe guards that Hillsborough County and other counties have put in place to save lives," explained Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren.
DeSantis additionally deemed that gun and ammo shops are included as "essential services" that can remain open during his state's lockdown. The New York Times reports that coronavirus cases jumped by more than 1,000 on Tuesday in Florida's largest single-day increase, and by Thursday they had surpassed 8,000, with more than 100 COVID-19 deaths. Jeva Lange