Three days before Gov. Ron DeSantis’ stay-at-home order is set to expire if not extended, Putnam County’s number of COVID-19 cases remained at 87.
No new cases were reported Monday, according to the Department of Health in Putnam County. Thirteen of the confirmed coronavirus cases have required hospitalization.
Meanwhile, DeSantis said Monday the state would reopen from the COVID-19 economic shutdown in “baby steps.” He said regions of the state could reopen at different times and rates.
“Phase 1 is a baby step,” DeSantis said during a news conference at Tampa General Hospital. “We are deliberately going to be very methodical, slow and data-driven on this because I think people want to have confidence things are going in a good direction.”
DeSantis’ stay-at-home order went into effect April 3. It is scheduled to expire Thursday. The governor’s task force is expected to present an outline on reopening the state this week.
In Putnam County, the number of positive cases increased by six during the weekend. There were two new cases Saturday and four Sunday.
The state Department of Health also said it would provide one update daily at approximately 11 a.m. The department had previously updated cases twice daily.
Of the cases reported in Putnam County, 50 have been in Palatka. There are 14 cases in Interlachen, 12 in East Palatka, four in Crescent City, three in Satsuma, two in Welaka and one apiece in Hawthorne and Hollister.
People who have been diagnosed range in age from 6 to 88, with 42 as the median age.
Mary Garcia, administrator for the Department of Health in Putnam County, encouraged residents in an email Monday to “be a hero by reaching out electronically to someone to cheer them up.”
“Many elderly and compromised individuals, as well as others who are staying home and self-isolating to protect themselves can get lonely and a call, text or video may just be the thing they need to be cheered up,” Garcia said.
“Also, think about watching a movie and video calling at the same time with a family member, neighbor or friend. An act of kindness goes a long way.”
As of Monday, there were 32,138 reported cases in and 1,088 deaths in Florida. One death has been reported in Putnam County since the coronavirus outbreak started.
DeSantis said while Miami-Dade County and the rest of South Florida have had fewer per-capita confirmed infections than many parts of the country, they have the highest rates in Florida. That means it is likely that area will open more slowly than other parts like Tampa Bay, which have had a lower infection rate, he said.
“It is really a different ballgame when you compare Southeast Florida to the rest” of the state, DeSantis said. “Pretty much the rest of the state has really handled this very well. There has never been even close to a stress on capacity of health care resources.”
The state police chiefs association last week warned against a regional approach to reopening and called for a statewide plan, telling the governor’s task force its members fear Floridians would travel to less restrictive areas and potentially overwhelm those areas’ law enforcement. Others, including the chief of the state’s business licensing division, said a regional approach would be preferable.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.