STATEWIDE — Florida will suspend all foreclosures and evictions in the state for 45 days as part of a new executive order by Gov. Ron DeSantis Thursday.

"I think that those suspensions are warranted," DeSantis said. 

State lawmakers have been urging the governor to make the order in the last few weeks. While many county sheriffs have said they will not evict anyone during this time, this order offers further protection to people who fear losing their homes because they can't pay the mortgage or rent. 

The governor also signed a second executive order Thursday, directing state agencies to identify employees who can be redirected to help the Florida Dept. of Economic Opportunity handle the avalanche of calls and applications for unemployment. 

This comes as the head of that agency publicly apologized for the problems with the unemployment application system. 

This is a developing story. Check back for the latest.

Stay-at-Home Order Starts Friday

Florida is joining dozens of other states after Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday issued what is effectively a stay-at-home order for the entire state as coronavirus cases grow.

The order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on April 3 and lasts until April 30 unless there's a subsequent order. The governor's decision comes as the number of state COVID-19 cases continues to rise, nearing 8,000.

“Directing all Floridians to limit movements and personal interactions outside the home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities,” said DeSantis, who has been pressured to issue a stay-at-home order by many Floridians. 

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The order calls for all non-essential businesses to close.

So far the list of essential businesses that can stay open includes grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, laundromats and banks; among many others.

It also lists essential activities for Floridians, which includes:

  • Participating in recreational activities
  • Taking care of pets
  • Caring for or assisting a loved one or friend

More information about the order can be found here.

Meanwhile, more than 900 Americans died on Wednesday alone, the most reported in a single day so far in our country.

To limit the spread, additional states are enforcing some type of stay at home orders. That number is now up to 39 states, including Florida.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force has warned that up to 240,000 Americans could die from the coronavirus if these aggressive measures are not followed.

"The one thing we would hopefully have in place, and I believe we will have in place is a much more robust system to be able to identify someone who's infected, isolate them and then do contact tracing. The ultimate solution to a virus that might keep coming back would be a vaccine," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The Trump administration remains optimistic the nation could be back to business by early June. President Donald Trump had hoped the country would be back to business by Easter.

Meanwhile, as the list of countries now requiring the use of masks in public grows, the World Health Organization is now evaluating its original recommendations.

"WHO recommends the use of medical masks for people who are sick and those caring for them. However, in these circumstances, masks are only effective when combined with other protective measures," said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

WHO officials are gathering more evidence to see if masks should be used more broadly to control transmission.

WHO leaders also say the top concern remains that health workers have enough supplies to protect themselves from disease.