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At the state level, no shortage of COVID-19 policies or spats

Caroline Tanner, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- States' responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have created a patchwork of policies and, in some states, opportunities for intrastate political skirmishes.

The dust-ups have occurred mostly in states where governors have let counties take the lead in imposing social distancing rules.

In Florida, 10 House Democrats wrote a letter March 25 urging Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to take statewide action in response to the coronavirus, calling for a shelter-in-place order for the entire state and limiting all travel beyond essential services, including grocery stores, health care providers and critical workers getting to and from the workplace.

Decisions about which businesses and public places in Florida can remain open have been left to local and county officials. Many public beaches remained open and were heavily used by tourists, especially young people during annual spring break festivities in mid-March.

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., warned of the severity of the pandemic in Florida, which he noted has the nation's highest concentration of older residents.

"Florida is at even greater risk of serious impacts on the health of our residents and burden on our health care system," he wrote in the letter.

 

"We cannot wait. We cannot leave this decision to county and local governments. We need your leadership. We strongly urge you to immediately issue a statewide shelter-in-place order," Deutch said in a tweet directed at DeSantis.

DeSantis' office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. When asked about a potential shutdown of all beaches at a March 23 news conference, he said he "pretty much did that" with his March 17 order limiting gatherings to 10 people or less.

Texas Democrats

In Texas, all but one of the state's House Democrats penned a letter to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on March 24, requesting that he declare a statewide stay-at-home order, following the lead of some counties.

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