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Words to live by: Safer At Home

April 8, 2020
North Fort Myers Neighbor

A "limited movement" mandate is now in effect throughout Florida.

Gov. Ron DeSantis last Wednesday issued an executive order that states that as of 12:01 this morning, those 65 and older and those medically at risk "shall stay at home and take all measures to limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19."

The order further mandates that "all persons in Florida shall limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities."

Finally, it limits business interactions to "essential services" as outlined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce manual issued March 28. The order does not affect work-from-home, delivery, carry-out or curbside services outside of the business or orders placed online or via telephone.

It's been a rough, tough -- and confusing -- week for Floridians, including those of us in Lee County which also saw Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel add commercial lodgings to their short-term rental bans as the number of coronavirus positives are expected exceed 500 this week. Ten days ago there were 34.

A couple of things.

Count us among those who were hoping for voluntary, common-sense compliance: That people who should and could stay home would do so; that businesses would enact policies that would mitigate exposure to staff as well as customers and clients. (The Breeze Newspapers implemented work-from-home options for our team members early on and while we remain fully operational for readers and advertisers, all of our offices have very limited public access.)

Government mandates are too often problematic and Gov. DeSantis' order is an illustrative example.

The Lee County Board of County Commissioners called a special meeting shortly after the governor's pronouncement Wednesday, seeking guidance from the county attorney as to what it means, exactly to members of the community.

Businesses, which were urged to wade through the Homeland Security manual and earlier Executive Orders defining essential businesses for Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties, continue to have questions: If they fall into a category listed as essential, what if their type of business is not specifically listed?

So times are trying.

For everyone.

Those of us who have family members at high-risk or are high-risk ourselves.

Those of us on the front line treating not only those seriously sickened by COVID-19 but all the other illnesses and injuries our community normally incurs.

Those of us on the front line of "essential services," especially those in retail who are dealing with people who think a daily visit for yet another stockpile is a necessary trip and who insist on interacting with staff who, no, do not know when the next pallet of hand sanitizer will be in.

Those of us without a paycheck or a paycheck that has been greatly reduced although expenses have not.

Those of us with employees we cannot retain or pay.

Those of us with kids at home and limited or no childcare options.

And those of us with a family member sickened, or fallen, as the pandemic touches home.

What did County Attorney Richard Wesch say Gov. DeSantis' order means?

He tells us the use of the word "shall" makes the order a mandate: "Senior citizens and individuals with a significant underlying medical condition (such as chronic lung disease, moderate-to-severe asthma, serious heart conditions, immunocompromised status, cancer, diabetes, severe obesity, renal failure and liver disease) shall stay at home and take all measures to limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

"All persons in Florida shall limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities."

Safer At Home.

It's not only an Executive Order catch phrase.

These are words to live by.

- Neighbor editorial

 
 

 

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