By Jim DeFede

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The former Surgeon General of the United States under Barack Obama, called on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to immediately issue stay-at-home orders for the entire state.

“If you care about saving lives, if you care about the long-term health of the economy, you’ve got to issue those orders right now,” Dr. Vivek Murthy told CBS Miami’s Jim DeFede in an interview which aired Tuesday evening. “It should have been done frankly weeks ago.

“And every day that we wait is a day that the virus continues to spread.”

Murthy made the comments as the number of coronavirus cases in Florida approached 7,000. DeSantis has refused to issue a statewide stay-at-home order, leaving it up to most cities and counties to set their own policies.

Around the country, Murthy said, you can see that states that have taken aggressive action early have fared better. Tennessee, which had adopted a policy similar to Florida, has four times the number of coronavirus cases than neighboring Kentucky, whose governor moved quickly telling people to stay home.

“Because many states have put in strict stay-at-home measures, we are now starting to see some of the results of that, and I think we are on a better curve,” said Murthy, who is advising Joe Biden and is a member of the campaign’s public health committee. “But we are nowhere near out of the woods yet. And we still have many states that have not gone the full distance and made sure that stay-at-home orders are in place.”

Murthy, who grew in Miami and had family in South Florida, said, “Unfortunately, my home state of Florida is one of those states. And this is one of those times, when you cannot take half measures, you can’t say, `Well, we’ll do a little bit now in terms of shutting down a few counties and see how it goes.’ That is not how pandemics work. That’s not how viruses behave. They don’t care what county you are in, they spread quickly throughout counties. That’s why this is so important it’s a nationally coordinated effort and that we have all states move toward stay-at-home orders until we get the virus under control.”

Murthy said testing remains a problem.

“In many parts of the country, physicians have just given up on testing people who have mild to moderate illness because the shortage is so severe,” he noted. “They are trying to save the tests for people who are severely ill.

“This is not the way we need to be testing if we really want to know where the infection is,” he continued. “So, if you see the numbers and you think they are high, keep in mind that not only do these reflect people who were infected a week or two ago but they also reflect a picture that is incomplete. Because we very likely have somewhere between five to ten times the number of infections that are reflected in our numbers because we are just not testing enough to see the real numbers.”

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Jim DeFede