Florida ends dine-in sales of food, alcohol at restaurants, closes gyms, suspends non-essential elective medical procedures

Gov. DeSantis update on coronavirus following statewide executive orders

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Governor Ron DeSantis issued two executive orders on Friday, one suspending the dine-in sale of food and alcohol at restaurants and close all gyms statewide and a second suspending non-essential elective medical procedures

The move comes as the number of coronavirus cases in Florida rises above 500. Beginning Monday, there were 149 cases. But over the past few days, we’ve seen numbers jump by the hundreds. Now, there are 563 cases being reported and an 11th person has died.

The executive order from the governor says restaurants can continue to operate and package food for delivery, take-out or consumption off-premises. And restaurants can also package alcohol. For alcohol sales, food must be picked up or delivered and a valid ID is required.

The order also closes all gyms and fitness centers statewide. The full executive order is below:

Gov. DeSantis took additional action in Broward and Palm Beach counties, closing all movie theatres, concert houses, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys, arcades, gymnasiums, fitness studios and beaches through March 31.

In a second executive order, the governor suspended all non-essential elective medical procedures. The order states: “All hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, office surgery centers, dental, orthodontic and endodontic offices, and other health care practitioners’ offices in the state of Florida are prohibited from providing any medically unnecessary, non-urgent or non-emergency procedure or surgery which, if delayed, does not place a patients immediate health, safety or wellbeing at risk, or will, if delayed, not contribute to the worsening of a serious or life-threatening medical condition.”

More than half of Florida’s 67 counties are reporting cases, including: Alachua, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Duval, Escambia, Gadsden, Hernando, Hillsborough, Indian River, Jackson, Lake, Lee, Leon, Manatee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okaloosa, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, St. Johns, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Seminole, Sumter, Volusia, and Walton.

Monroe County is reporting its first case. Broward and Miami-Dade counties have traded spots for having the most cases, with Broward reporting 128 and Miami-Dade reporting 123. Palm Beach County has the next most with 42 but is followed closely by Hillsborough County, which has 32.

  • Sarasota and Manatee counties announced Thursday they will be closing their beaches. More information here.
  • Mall at UTC, Sarasota Square Mall, Westfield Siesta Key and Ellenton Outlets shut down due to coronavirus. More information here.
  • Area hospitals, including Sarasota and Manatee Memorial Hospitals, ban visitors. More information here.

An 11th person has died, at least the seventh this week. The deaths this week included a resident from Manatee County.

Locally, the health department says there are now 10 cases in Manatee County, an increase of one, and the cases include five men and five women. One of the cases is travel-related, one has unknown travel and eight are not travel-related.

The number of cases rose in Sarasota County from six to eight, including five men and three women. One of the cases is travel-related and seven are not travel-related. Three involve non-Florida residents. Sarasota Memorial Hospital, which says it has had six coronavirus patients, three of which have been discharged, has banned visitors starting Friday.

There are now 17,402 cases in the United States and 259,314 cases across the world. There have been 224 deaths in the United States and 11,286 worldwide.

In the United States, 121 people have recovered while 87,377 have recovered across the world.

To see a larger version of this map, which is best viewed on a desktop computer, follow this link.



Positive Cases of COVID-19 (as of 6pm, March 20):

  • Confirmed Cases in Florida Residents: 510
    • Confirmed by DOH: 261
    • Tested by private labs: 249
    • FL resident diagnosed & isolated out-of-state: 6
    • Deaths: 11
  • Cases in Non-Florida Residents: 53
    • Confirmed by DOH: 28
    • Tested by private labs: 25
  • Total Cases Overview: 563
    • Traveled: 156
    • Contact with confirmed case: 102
    • Travel & contact with confirmed case: 90
    • Under Investigation: 215
  • Number of People Tested: 7367
    • Negative: 5710
    • Positive: 563
    • Results Pending: 1094
    • Being Monitored: 1049

Monday afternoon, President Trump announced the CDC recommendation to all Americans to not gather in groups of more than 10 people, one of the steps he believes are necessary over the next 15 days to fight what he calls this “invisible enemy.”

The other recommendations are:

Below is additional information from the health department:

COVID-19 Public Website and Call Center

Please visit the Department’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage for information and guidance regarding COVID-19 in Florida.

For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, please contact the Department’s dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling 1-(866) 779-6121. The Call Center is available 24 hours a day. Inquiries may also be emailed to COVID-19@flhealth.gov.

Protecting yourself from coronavirus

What You Should Know

COVID-19 can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, including when an individual coughs or sneezes. These droplets may land on objects and surfaces. Other people may contract COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days following exposure. Most people recover from COVID-19 without needing special treatment. The elderly and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes are more likely to develop serious illness.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The Department recommends everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
  • Staying home when you are sick and avoiding contact with persons in poor health;
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then disposing of the tissue;
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing;
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty; and
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Below is additional information from the local county health departments:

Both health lines are available for residents of their respective counties to help answer any questions about the coronavirus and serve as a first stop before residents go to their doctor’s office.

“Calling the health department ahead of time allows us to coordinate with the health care system to assure appropriate infection control measures in our community,” Manatee Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Bencie said. “It also meets the guidelines laid out in Section 3 of the statewide Declaration of Public Health Emergency issued on March 1.”

Experts are available from 8am until 5pm, Monday through Friday. They’ll be able to interview callers to determine if they’re at risk for having coronavirus.

  • If you’re in Manatee County, call 941-242-6649
  • If you’re in Sarasota County, call 941-861-2883

The State Department of Health is also running a hotline for anyone who believes they may have coronavirus. If it’s after-hours, call 866-779-6121. That line is in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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