As Florida’s confirmed coronavirus cases climbed toward 800 on Saturday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he’s considering his most drastic move yet: Moving certain people at risk to isolation shelters.
DeSantis said his administration might put those who test positive for COVID-19 or show symptoms of the disease in shelters, such as abandoned convention centers or hotels, to prevent them from returning home and infecting those they live with.
It would be a dramatic change in strategy toward combating the spread of coronavirus, which has killed a dozen people in Florida.
For weeks, state and federal officials have encouraged people to stay home if they feel sick. But China, where the outbreak started, discovered that sending sick people home causes family members getting sick as well, DeSantis said.
The country has found success by instead isolating in hotels and other sites people who don’t require hospitalization. For the first time since the outbreak started, the country reported zero new local infections of the coronavirus this week.
“What China started figuring out was, as much as you can believe them, people would get infected, you would send them home and they’d infect the people in their house,” DeSantis said Saturday. “Don’t go back home with your family, because the people you’re most likely to infect are those very close persistent contacts.”
DeSantis said he’s asked agencies to explore the use of such sites. Hotels have also offered their rooms and spaces to the government, he said.
DeSantis did not say when he would implement the plan.
“Hopefully it doesn’t get to that,” he said. “But we’re planning for that, for sure, because I think that’s a prudent thing to do.”