Gov. DeSantis: Checkpoints installed along I-10 to screen travelers coming to Florida Panhandle

Posted at 7:31 PM, Mar 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 08:33:46-04

Gov. DeSantis says Florida is taking additional measures to keep travelers from heavily COVID-19 impacted states from coming into the Sunshine State.

During a press conference Saturday afternoon, DeSantis said that checkpoint has been installed along I-10 to stop cars with Louisiana license plates as they try to enter the Florida Panhandle. Checkpoints will also be installed along I-95 to stop cars with New York plates.

FDOT announced Monday morning that an additional I-95 checkpoint will be implemented. The department also said travelers from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will now be required to isolate for 14 days upon entry to Florida or for the duration of their visit, whichever is shorter.

Those travelers should also be prepared for additional monitoring, FDOT says.

"The point is, we need those folks coming in to self-isolate for 14-days," DeSantis said.

During the checkpoint, he said the state would collect information from the driver, instruct them to self-isolate and register them into a state database for a follow up.

Along with keeping travelers out, all Floridians across the state would soon receive a text encouraging them to practice social distancing according to the governor.

"What we're going to be doing today is, sending out a text message to all Floridians reiterating the public health advisory that the Surgeon General issued earlier during this fight. And that is that for people who are 65 years or older or who have a serious underlying medical condition, the advisory is that you should stay at home and protect yourself. Now is not the time to go outside," DeSantis said.

The governor also announced that the state will soon have access to rapid COVID-19 tests. Those tests will be sent to the most heavily-impacted areas of the state. So far, DeSantis says the state has done 40,000 tests.

Of the other things discussed at the conference, DeSantis said an additional $100 million will be available to local governments to help them keep their economies afloat. He said he would provide more details on that later.

"As most of you know, the whole idea of flattening the curve wasn't necessarily that fewer people would end up getting infected," DeSantis explained. "You want to shift those infections in a way that's not going to overwhelm a hospital system all at once."

The governor said the bed availability for sick people across the state stands at 33 percent. When it came to treating those who are already sick, DeSantis said the state has arranged to get hydroxychloroquine shipped in from Israel for COVID-19 treatment.

Earlier this week, ordered the state's airports in major Florida cities like Miami, Fort Myers, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville, to begin tracking and screening passengers coming from New York, New Jersey, Louisiana and other highly COVID-19 impacted cities so they can undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

DeSantis also asked smaller airports to do their part in keeping potentially infected persons out of the state.

Watch the full press conference below: