Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday sent a clear message to seniors – stay in your homes for the next 14 days to minimize exposure to the potentially deadly COVID-19 virus.
That order particularly hits home in The Villages, where many people have made the mega-retirement community their long-desired destination because of the busy social lives they can enjoy here.
Many events already have been canceled and facilities closed in the community where one resident already has tested positive for COVID-19. Those include nightly entertainment at the three town squares, indoor activities at recreation centers, swimming pools and dog parks, to name a few. Many businesses have closed and the restaurants Villagers enjoy frequenting have been forced to close their dining rooms and bars and go to strictly curbside or delivery services for meals.
“As we’ve seen with this virus, the folks who are 65 and plus are the ones that have the best chance to suffer a negative outcome,” DeSantis said during an afternoon press conference. “So, we want to make sure that those folks are protected.”
DeSantis said seniors and those with underlying medical conditions also need to be cautious when holding gatherings or parties at their homes. He said those situations can be just as dangerous as being out in public in large groups.
“You should assume that anyone you may come in contact with could be infected,” he said, encouraging everyone to continue maintaining a six-foot distance from each other.
DeSantis pointed out that any gatherings at homes, which are particularly popular in the many neighborhoods in The Villages, should be limited to 10 or less people.
“You should not right now be having 50 people for a party,” he said.
DeSantis added that it’s been disturbing to see images and videos of large gatherings coming from other places across the country that are under lockdown orders.
“They’re having these massive block parties in places like California,” he said. “For us here, we want to respect that guidance. We’ll end up being safer in the long run if we do.”
DeSantis also suggested that all non-essential business should be promoting tele-commuting for 50 percent of their workforce.
“That will help reduce density in the workplace and ultimately help keep people safe,” he said.
The governor, who was in The Villages on Monday to open a Coronavirus testing site at the polo fields and has been a frequent visitor to the community, also reiterated an announcement he made Monday vowing to put tough restrictions on travelers coming into from the New York area. He said flights into the Sunshine State – especially South Florida – ballooned after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all residents to shelter in place.
DeSantis said those travelers will be mandated to self-isolate themselves for 14 days. He said local or state law enforcement officials, along with someone from the health department, will most likely meet those flights, gather information, perform temperature checks and tell the travelers they will be required to be self-quarantined for two weeks. He added that staying with family members doesn’t meet the definition of self-isolation.
“We wish our friends in New York well. They’ve got a tough fight,” DeSantis said. “But we also have to protect the folks here in the state of Florida.”