WFSU News · Tallahassee · Panama City · Thomasville
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
State News

Florida Governor Urges Spring Breakers To Avoid Large Groups, Crowded Bars Amid Coronavirus Concerns

Several couples holding drinks are splashing in the ocean
Photo by Wells Baum on Unsplash

As spring breakers flock to Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis calls their gatherings “problematic.” DeSantis said large groups on the beach, as well as crowded bars and restaurants, could put more people at risk of contracting the coronavirus.

“Missing out on staying out and drinking at a bar—that is not the end of the world,” DeSantis said during a press conference Sunday evening. “You’re going to have time to do that for the rest of your life. What you don’t want is to be somebody who is helping to spread this illness—particularly if this virus ends up infecting people that are frail and that may not have immune systems that are capable of dealing with it. So all this spring break, as important as that is for a college kid, that is not as important as protecting the public here.”

DeSantis said students going to parties and large gatherings negates the purpose of keeping students home for an extended period after spring break and undercuts other efforts made to reduce the spread of the virus.

"Spring break, as important as that is for a college kid, that is not as important as protecting the public here."

The governor said he plans to work with local governments, the Department of Health and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to put more rules in place for parties, restaurants and bars. He expects the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue guidance on the issue Monday. DeSantis has already called for organizers of large events, including gatherings of 250 or more people, to cancel.

New guidlines issued by the CDC Sunday night reccomend cancelling gatherings of 50 or more people.

 Florida Prepares To Open Drive-thru Testing

During a press conference Sunday evening, DeSantis also announced plans to set up a drive-thru coronavirus testing site in Broward County.

“The idea is because we’ve had more cases in Broward than anywhere else, we want to be able to supplement the healthcare system there,” DeSantis said.

The current plan limits testing to people who are elderly or who have underlying medical conditions, and are also showing symptoms.

“We want to have the easiest way possible for them to test and then if need be to get treatment and to self-isolate. I think this is something that will be beneficial,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis says more testing in Broward will help officials better track the spread of the virus. The site will be a partnership with the state, Memorial healthcare and the Florida National Guard. About 170 guardsmen are in Broward now, DeSantis said several hundred more are expected to arrive Monday.