State vs. Federal: which should be in charge of coronavirus in Florida?

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- It's been more than a month since President Donald Trump declared a national emergency concerning the coronavirus. Yet some Florida beaches still remain open, with a statewide lockdown just recently announced.

Despite a stay at home policy due to the coronavirus in Florida, beach goers enjoy the sun as cruise ships, without passengers, float offshore Saturday, April 4, 2020, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Although some of the county beaches remained open, with out parking, many beach goers remained at home. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Florida has the third largest population in the nation, with more than 21,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the state's Department of Health.

“By really failing to take action earlier, failing to enforce social distancing, allowed the virus to go across the state," said Maura Calsyn, the managing director of health policy at the Center for American Progress.

Experts like Calsyn at the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress say Florida’s governor acted too late in the stay-at-home order causing Florida to have what the CDC calls “widespread” cases of COVID-19.

Calysn says she thinks Florida is behind most states in their efforts to stop the virus, but she points out support from the federal government is what all states need to succeed.

"There is a lot that the federal government can do that the state government can't do," Calysn said.

The Center for American Progress says the state-by-state approach to providing sufficient testing and PPE, or personal protective equipment, supplies is not enough. They believe more national direction is needed.

Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott, also a former Governor, said he's trying to support initiatives other leaders in Florida have put forward when it comes to the needs of the community and the country.

"I'm doing everything I can to work with the administration and with local governments, local healthcare systems, to make sure when get more testing up." Scott said.

But Scott said prevention is the responsibility of everybody.

"I'm optimistic that around the state people are taking this seriously," Scott said. "And the more people take it seriously county-by-county, we're going to get past this faster."

In a statement to Gray DC provided by Gov. DeSantis, he emphasized that the county-by-county approach is what’s working for Florida due to the state’s size and diversity. He added that most of the coastal counties have closed or restricted beach access on their own.

"Fortunately, the data suggests we are flattening the curve, and the number of hospital beds available throughout the state remains above 40% - a significant number especially during this global pandemic." The statement reads. "This points to the Governor’s success in tailoring his efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in Florida with the support of local mayors, law enforcement, healthcare providers and First Responders."

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