STATEWIDE — During a briefing Tuesday afternoon, President Donald Trump said he wants to "re-open" the country by Easter, calling it a "great timeline." He said the decision to loosen social distancing rules will be based on medical and economic data, though he didn't elaborate.
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He also touted FEMA's efforts, saying it's distributing more than 8 million N-95 respirators, 14 million surgical masks, 2.4 million face shields, and 1.9 million surgical gowns. Trump said 4,000 ventilators have been sent to the areas of greatest need and many, he says, are being sent to New York.
Also during the briefing:
Trump said the Army Corps of Engineers and National Guard are building four hospitals in New York, which would be operational "soon," though he didn't provide a timeline. He said four additional medical facilities, described as "temporary but incredible," were being built in different parts of the state, which has been hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
He said that although he activated the Defense Production Act "quite a long time ago," he insisted he doesn't have to use it, because private companies are "heeding the call" to produce medical supplies, but it would be weeks before factories can be retrofitted to be able to make them.
Trump said this illustrates how the U.S. needs strong borders and can never be reliant on a foreign country.
DeSantis Orders NYC Travelers to Self-Isolate, Dow Soars 2,000 Points
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday built on an executive order as it relates to people traveling from the New York City area.
DeSantis also said the state will issue a new health advisory that all citizens 65 and older should stay home. The advisory would also apply to people with underlying health conditions.
The governor said anyone who traveled to the New York City area in the past three weeks must self-isolate and report any contacts they've had.
"They'll have to meet on the flight. There'll be some information taken and I think they're going to do temperature checks and they're going to be told you need to self quarantine," DeSantis said.
This follows Monday's order that all travelers coming to Florida from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, also known as the Tri-State, to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry into Florida. Tuesday's announcement followed an influx of flights into the Bay.
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"As soon as that shelter in place order came down from the New York Governor, man the flights took off," DeSantis said. "People just got the heck out of dodge. So, we're ending up having to deal with this."
Traveler Donald Powell says he was told and about the quarantine and plans to follow it. He was asked to fill out a form with questions when he returned to the Tampa Bay area.
"Where you live at, do you live here? What's your plans? Is this for business or personal? Why you coming to Florida? Things of that nature," Powell said of the questionnaire.
The governor said there's a penalty for those caught cheating.
"It is actually a criminal offense if you violate the quarantine orders. People could end up being held accountable here in the state of Florida if they buck the law," DeSantis said.
2020 Tokyo Olympics postponed
In an unprecented move, the global coronavirus pandemic has prompted the postponement of the Olympics.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach agreed Tuesday to postpone the Summer Games for at most one year.
According to CNN, Abe put the suggestion to Bach, who agreed that the latest date the Olympics would be held would be summer 2021. The IOC had been facing mounting pressure to delay the Games, which were originally scheduled to take place from July 24 to August 9, amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The Olympics have never been rescheduled in peacetime. In 1916, 1940 and 1944, the Games were canceled because of world wars.
On March 17, Japan's Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto said the country was planning for a "complete" hosting of the Games, which she went on to explain meant an Olympics which "started on time and with spectators in attendance."
Elsewhere globally, India’s prime minister decreed a lockdown of the country of 1.3 billion people for 21 days.
Trump doubles down on “15 days to stop the spread”
In a Fox News virtual town hall held Tuesday, President Donald Trump stood by his "15 days to stop the spread" directive to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S.
He discussed reopening businesses nationwide at the end of the 15-day period, which is now in day 9. During the town hall, Trump said the U.S. “is not built to shut down."
The president stressed that he thinks the U.S. could be open and "back-in-business" by Easter, April 12 -- something health experts dispute.
As Congress moved closer to passing coronavirus aid package, the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 2,000 points for its biggest-ever point gain. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the top Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer, said agreement appeared close on the nearly $2 trillion package.
DeSantis orders Tri-State visitors to quarantine
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also ordered that all travelers coming to Florida from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, also known as the Tri-State, to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry into Florida.
He plans to sign an executive order soon. He says travelers will be screened when they arrive and told they must self-quarantine.
The governor says more than 100 flights from New York and surrounding areas arrive in Florida every day.
Orlando International Airport says it has 45 daily direct flights from the Tri-State area. Tampa International Airport has 50 daily flights from the region. On Tuesday, that number was 30.
Greater Orlando Aviation Authority CEO Phil Brown said OIA is working to comply with DeSantis's order.
“We support Gov. DeSantis’ order as a means to implement measures that promote the safety, security and health of our passengers and employees,” Brown said in a statement. “For our part, we mobilized quickly overnight to accommodate the executive order and are prepared to work with the Department of Health in screening passengers as they arrive in Orlando.”
It's unclear how or if this impacts flight attendants and other crew members.
The Florida Deparment of Transportation has asked for space at Florida airports to process the Tri-State passengers, with help from law enforcement. OIA leaders said they were working with FDOT and the National Guard to figure out how to enforce the quarantine.
The news comes as fifth TSA officer at Orlando International Airport received an "initial positive" test for the virus. The officer has not worked at a checkpoint since March 12, TSA says.
Hotel demand, vacation rentals, airline seat capacity plummet
Vacation rental bookings and hotel room sales have plunged statewide in the past month, according to recent data by Visit Florida. Vacation rental bookings were down 94.2% the week of March 23, compared with the same time period a year ago. For the week of March 14, bookings were down 11.6% from a year ago. Bookings starting taking a dive the last week of March, the data show.
Hotel room sales were down 22.1% the week of March 8, compared with the same week a year ago, according to Visit Florida. Nationwide, they were down 22.9%. For the week of February 23, hotel room sales were actually up 4.6% statewide.
Airline seat capacity was also way down domestically and internationally. According to Airline Data Inc., seat capacity for the period of March 1-May 31, 2020 was down 40.1% internationally and down 8.9% domestically as of March 24.