Florida Surgeon General says 'stay home' to one-third of state's population: seniors

All individuals over the age of 65 and those with certain medical conditions are being urged to stay home, according to a new public health advisory signed by the Florida Surgeon General late Wednesday night.

The 2-page public health advisory is a major move for the state of Florida. Nearly a quarter of the sunshine state's population is made up of seniors, which appears to be one of the most vulnerable groups when it comes to COVID-19.

"Safe is better. We all love each other. I think as a community we want to protect those who are most vulnerable," said Tampa resident Ellie Baggett, whose parents are over 65.

According to the order, all individuals over the age of 65 and all individuals of any age with high-risk conditions should remain in their residence and take all measures to limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

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"If you're 65 or older or if you have a serious underlying condition such as serious heart conditions chronic lung disease if you have some problems with your immune system regardless of where you are in the state stay at home," Governor DeSantis said.

The Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees issued the new public health advisory Wednesday as doctors continue to warn of the risk COVID-19 poses to seniors.

"Their immune systems really are somewhat impaired. They don't have the ability to fight off the virus, like someone who is younger and healthier," Dr. Jo said.

MORE: Hillsborough approves 'safer-at-home' order; in effect Friday night

Baggett is one of many stepping in to help her parents who are both over 65.

"My mom Kathy is amazing and fantastic and the most important thing to me is keeping her safe," Baggett said.

As part of the public health advisory, they're also asking companies to make every possible effort to reduce their on-site workforce by at least 50 percent and allow those employees to work from home. The new rules went into effect yesterday and will last for 14 days.

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to covid-19@flhealth.gov. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

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