Florida Lagged Behind Dozens of States on Coronavirus Restrictions

People on Clearwater Beach on March 18, 2020. City officials ordered all public beaches to close for at least two weeks beginning at 6 a.m. on March 23 to limit the spread of coronavirus.

People on Clearwater Beach on March 18, 2020. City officials ordered all public beaches to close for at least two weeks beginning at 6 a.m. on March 23 to limit the spread of coronavirus. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times)

March 24, 2020

As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases ballooned over the last week, states across the country put aggressive restrictions on businesses designed to slow the virus’ spread.

Florida has lagged behind dozens of them, a Tampa Bay Times analysis has found.

Gov. Ron DeSantis was part of an early wave of state executives to order the closure of bars and nightclubs Tuesday, bringing the revelry to a halt on St. Patrick’s Day.

But he was slower than at least 35 other governors to suspend in-person dining at restaurants and behind at least 22 in closing gyms and fitness studios.

DeSantis took both steps Friday afternoon.

As of Saturday, DeSantis had not taken the more extreme step of closing movie theaters and bowling alleys, as had governors in Arizona, Colorado and Ohio.

Governors in four of the six largest states — New York, California, Pennsylvania and Illinois — had gone as far as to issue statewide directives closing all non-essential businesses and telling residents to stay home.

Only Florida and Texas had not.

Some of the states that moved more aggressively than Florida had fewer positive tests for the virus.

Continue reading on Tampa Bay Times.

This story is part of a collaboration with the Tampa Bay Times through FRONTLINE’s Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Kathleen McGrory, Tampa Bay Times

Neil Bedi, Tampa Bay Times

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

blog comments powered by Disqus

More Stories

As Biden Announces End of U.S. ‘Combat Mission’ in Iraq, 21 FRONTLINE Docs Provide Context
President Biden said July 26 the U.S. combat mission in Iraq is drawing to a close. These documentaries illuminate the Iraq War and its aftermath.
July 28, 2021
THE PEGASUS PROJECT Live Blog: Major Stories from Partners
A curated and regularly updated list of news articles from our partners in “The Pegasus Project,” a collaborative investigation among 17 journalism outlets around the world.
July 28, 2021
‘A disturbing shooting’: Salt Lake County district attorney says officer was justified in killing handcuffed man
An exasperated district attorney tried to get two points across at a Thursday news conference. The first is that as the law is currently written, Longman’s shooting was justified. The second is that Gill thinks the law should be changed. 
July 22, 2021
What Is the Fatemiyoun Brigade and Why Does It Make the Taliban Nervous?
Amid the withdrawal of U.S. troops, Taliban leaders claim Iran is mobilizing its proxy militia the Fatemiyoun for civil war within Afghanistan.
July 20, 2021