DeSantis says Florida is proof that states can flatten the curve without 'draconian' orders

Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose state has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, told "Hannity" on Wednesday that health officials have reported significantly fewer hospitalizations than predicted.

"People were predicting us to be worse than New York, like another Italy," DeSantis said. "They said that this week, one of the newspapers in Florida said we would have 464,000 people hospitalized. The actual number is 2,200. So we beat that by 462,000. But what we did very early was focus on the populations who are most at risk: Our senior citizens, and particularly our nursing homes and assisted living facilities."

As of Wednesday evening, the Florida Department of Health had reported 28,576 confirmed coronavirus cases with 4,455 hospitalizations and 927 deaths across the state. The discrepancy in the hospitalizations could not immeidately be reconciled.

DESANTIS: FLORIDA HAS 'FLATTENED THE CURVE' WITHOUT 'DRACONIAN ORDERS'

DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order April 3, making him one of the last governors to do so in an attempt to curb the rate of infection in his state.

Host Sean Hannity told DeSantis he was particularly concerned about The Villages, one of the largest retirement communities in the U.S. with more than 128,000 residents, and praised DeSantis' leadership in protecting the vulnerable community.

THE VILLAGES AND HOW THEY FOUGHT THE CORONAVIRUS

"We instituted screening for all staff immediately, we stopped visitation, we required all staff to wear N95 masks," the governor explained.

"I charged the National Guard with doing strike teams and spot testing at the facility to try to figure out if any of the staff are asymptomatic. Whenever there was an incident at a nursing home, we send these quick response teams to go and try to limit some infections ... We’ve put out almost six million masks just to our nursing homes and assisted living facilities and so we understood the risk that this posed to the senior population."

THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK, STATE-BY-STATE

DeSantis said that while social distancing was strongly enforced across the state, Florida should serve as proof to local and state leaders across the country that "you don't have to be draconian."

"We worked with The Villages contructively on social distancing and ... they're playing golf just like they always do, but they're doing it with social distancing. So, they don't share a cart with anyone and they don't touch the flagstick and they've ended up doing very well," the governor said.

On Monday, President Trump tweeted, “Congratulations to all of my many friends at The Villages in Florida on having done so well, and with such great spirit, during these rather unusual times. So proud of everyone!”

"I think it’s been a team effort here in Florida," DeSantis said." We’ve got great public health people here at the county level, we've worked very good with the local governments as well, and we still have more work to do. But clearly, we have done way better than all the experts said we would and I think we did it by a data-driven approach."

DeSantis encouraged residents to get some fresh air outdoors, emphasizing that there was a way to engage in outdoor activities while safely practicing social distancing.

CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

"People would play golf with social distancing, would fish, while maintaining social distancing and I think that’s healthy," he said. "People sitting inside all day eating Cheetos and watching Netflix ... that’s not great. I think we’ve respected people, I think we did it the right way and I think it’s paid off. These draconian orders I don’t think have worked throughout the country."

On Monday, DeSantis appointed some of Florida’s most powerful political leaders and business executives to a committee that will map out the state’s reopening from the coronavirus shutdown.