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Miami Beach police officers patrol on the beach during spring break, Saturday, March 14, 2020, in Miami Beach, Fla. Portions of South Beach were closed late Saturday to avoid large group gatherings that could spread the coronavirus. (AP) Miami Beach police officers patrol on the beach during spring break, Saturday, March 14, 2020, in Miami Beach, Fla. Portions of South Beach were closed late Saturday to avoid large group gatherings that could spread the coronavirus. (AP)

Miami Beach police officers patrol on the beach during spring break, Saturday, March 14, 2020, in Miami Beach, Fla. Portions of South Beach were closed late Saturday to avoid large group gatherings that could spread the coronavirus. (AP)

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman March 17, 2020

Fact-checking a false claim about lockdowns in South Florida cities

If Your Time is short

  • Local governments have closed many facilities and limited gatherings due to coronavirus.

  • We looked at announcements from several major local governments in south Florida and found no complete lockdown announcements.

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis closed bars and nightclubs statewide.

While many local governments in Florida have shuttered schools and recreational facilities, a Facebook post inflates the closures to suggest that city or county officials have banned people from leaving their homes in south Florida.

"At this time the coronavirus has now spread it throughout the West Palm Beach Dade County Broward County area," states the March 13 Facebook post, which is written as a long run-on sentence. "All children and adults must remain in their homes we repeat this is a 24-hour shutdown city service announcement."

The post then contradicts itself and states "you and your family and your children are in danger if you remain in your homes."

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) That’s because it’s wrong.

"This directive certainly is NOT from Broward County government," county spokeswoman Kimberly Maroe said. 

Spokespersons for the city of West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami-Dade also told PolitiFact that they had issued no such warnings. 

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Broward had the highest number of cases in the state at 43, as of about noon March 17, followed by Miami-Dade with 32 and Palm Beach with nine. (Volusia also had nine.)

Statewide, Florida had 192 COVID-19 cases. The state has a population of about 21 million.

We looked at announcements from the city of West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Broward County and Miami Dade County and found that they have closed many recreational facilities and taken other steps to reduce large gatherings, but none banned people from leaving their homes.

Miami-Dade County’s order March 17 made it clear that grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations remain open.

Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an order March 17 closing all bars and nightclubs statewide for 30 days and restaurants are now required to limit customer entry to 50% of capacity. (Some local governments had already announced rules related to restaurants designed to steer business toward take-out.)

As for this Facebook warning, we rate it Pants on Fire.

Our Sources

City of Fort Lauderdale, Update on coronavirus, March 15, 2020

City of West Palm Beach, COVID-19 update #11, March 17, 2020

Miami-Dade County, Emergency order, March 17, 2020

Broward County, COVID-19 information and updates, March 17, 2020

Florida Department of Health, What you need to know now about COVID-19 in Florida and Florida's COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard, Accessed March 17, 2020

Tampa Bay Times, Florida bars and nightclubs to close, students ordered home, DeSantis says, March 17, 2020

Email interview, Chaz Adams, City of Fort Lauderdale spokesman, March 17, 2020

Email interview, Kimberly Maroe, Broward County spokeswoman, March 17, 2020

Email interview, Myriam Marquez, Miami-Dade County Office of the Mayor spokeswoman, March 17, 2020

Telephone interview, Kathleen Walter, West Palm Beach spokeswoman, March 17, 2020

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Fact-checking a false claim about lockdowns in South Florida cities

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