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Gov. Ron DeSantis: Feds need to 'look at' domestic air travel

He applauded the president's move to enact and expand a European travel ban, but DeSantis said there are people in the U.S. who are bringing COVID-19 to Florida.
Credit: AP Photo/Steve Cannon
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis answers questions at a news conference at an emergency management warehouse about the spread of the coronavirus, Friday, March 13, 2020, in Tallahassee, Fla.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he cannot seal off the state from the rest of the U.S., but the federal government could take steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus.

It may mean taking to the skies, limiting from where planes can travel and to what extent.

The Florida Department of Health on Sunday announced the number of positive COVID-19 cases affecting Florida residents surpassed 100 cases, with many of those travel-related. Florida defines "travel-related" as a known history of exposure of COVID-19 associated with travel outside of Florida.

Four Florida residents have died from COVID-19.

"When we constantly have it being brought in, it makes it more difficult," DeSantis said during a news conference Saturday.

RELATED: Florida Health: 39 new COVID-19 cases statewide, including 5 in Tampa Bay region

DeSantis credited President Donald Trump's administration move to restrict air travel on foreign visitors from most of Europe last week, with the U.K. and Ireland going into effect at midnight Monday. However, visitors from places like New York, DeSantis said, are contributing to increasing numbers COVID-19 cases.

"I think the administration needs to look at domestic flights from certain areas where you have outbreaks," DeSantis said Saturday. "And, obviously, that involves a lot of things with the economy and everything, but I just think what we're seeing here -- is we're seeing cases now where people clearly would have acquired it somewhere else in the United States, brought it here.

"... You just have a lot of interaction."

DeSantis and Trump's administration are in communication, the governor said, though there has been no official announcement regarding changes to domestic air travel.

"I'm speaking with the administration and [we] are concerned about the domestic flights, said DeSantis, "but at the end of the day, someone wants to get in their car and come to Florida, it's going to be hard to us to seal off the state from other states in the United States."

"That's just the nature of how the country works."

RELATED: Live updates: Florida sees a spike in positive coronavirus cases

RELATED: Coronavirus live updates: Top infectious disease expert Dr. Fauci urges US to 'hunker down significantly'

Credit: 10News

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it "does not generally issue advisories or restrictions for travel within the United States" but people should be mindful of the ongoing outbreak and may conclude it's best to postpone or cancel plans.

Consider the following when making such a decision, the CDC says:

  • Is COVID-19 spreading where you’re going?
  • Will you or your travel companion(s) be in close contact with others during your trip?
  • Are you or your travel companion(s) at higher risk of severe illness if you do get COVID-19?
  • Do you have a plan for taking time off from work or school, in case you get exposed to, or are sick with, COVID-19?
  • Do you live with someone who is older or has a severe chronic health condition?
  • Is COVID-19 spreading where you live?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told "Meet the Press" Sunday that people in the U.S. "should be prepared that they're going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing" to help prevent a rise of COVID-19 cases.

That includes refraining from joining mass gatherings in public and visiting bars, restaurants and the like.

"I would prefer as much as we possibly could ... I think we should really be overly aggressive and get criticized for over-reacting," Fauci said. 

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