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The State of Florida Issues COVID-19 Updates

April 02, 2020

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Contact: Joint Information Center on COVID-19 for the State of Florida (850) 815-4940, ESF14@em.myflorida.com

The State of Florida Issues COVID-19 Updates

 

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The State of Florida is responding to COVID-19. In an effort to keep Florida residents and visitors safe and aware regarding the status of the virus, the Florida Department of Health will issue this update every day, seven days per week.

Governor Ron DeSantis is in constant communication with Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz and State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees as the State of Florida continues to monitor and respond to the threat of COVID-19.

Today at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, Governor DeSantis announced additional efforts in the state’s response to COVID-19:

  • Governor Ron DeSantis announced that after consultation with President Trump, the US Coast Guard and Broward County officials, the Zaandam and Rotterdam cruise ships have docked in Port Everglades. Nonresidents will be safely transported back to their home state or country.
  • Today, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-93, directing the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and other executive agencies to take necessary actions to improve DEO’s Reemployment Assistance Program.
  • Today, the Governor also issued Executive Order 20-94, providing targeted, temporary relief from certain mortgage foreclosures and evictions for 45 days, without relieving an individual’s obligation to make mortgage payments and rent payments.

Actions the state has taken to respond to COVID-19:

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

  • At the direction of Governor DeSantis, State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees declared a Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 in Florida.
  • Governor DeSantis announced that the State ordered an additional 2,500 test kits to supplement the adequate resources already available to test for COVID-19. These additional test kits will enable the Department of Health, working with Florida health care providers, to test up to an additional 625,000 individuals. The Governor also suspended non-essential in state and all out-of-state travel for state employees for 30 days.
  • Established an Incident Management Team to coordinate response operations.
  • Defined a high-level phased response strategy for COVID-19.
  • Activated a dedicated incident command post for on-site response activities.
  • Conducted three public health and health care stakeholder conference calls to provide statewide updates on the current outbreak situation, response actions and guidance for pandemic planning. Over five hundred participants joined the calls.
  • Established a public call center for questions regarding COVID-19. The call center launched Monday, March 2 and is open 24/7.
  • Developed and distributed COVID-19 presentation materials to County Health Departments (CHD) for use at community meetings.
  • Activated the Joint Information Center in coordination with the Division of Emergency Management.
  • Developed and implemented protocols for investigation, surveillance and monitoring for COVID-19 to rapidly detect and contain cases. 
  • Established mechanisms for monitoring and coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding epidemiological activities.
  • Distributed CDC Interim Guidance for public health personnel evaluating Persons Under Investigation (PUI) and asymptomatic close contacts of confirmed cases at their home or non-home residential settings to CHDs.
  • Approved and disseminated an updated Clinician Screening Tool for identifying COVID-19 PUIs.
  • Implemented testing at all three State Public Health Laboratories.
  • Distributed updated CDC guidance for schools to CHDs and the Department of Education.
  • Distributed updated laboratory guidance regarding implementation of testing at State Public Health Laboratories.
  • Developing a laboratory surge plan.
  • Identifying and monitoring close contacts of presumptive cases. Any close contacts with symptoms will be tested.
  • Implemented private lab testing.
  • Developed and disseminated pandemic planning guidance.
  • Advised CHDs and HCCs to retain expired personal protective equipment until further until further notice.
  • Developing infographics for first responders (fire, law enforcement and EMS) regarding infection control and personal protection for COVID-19.
  • At the Governor’s direction, a public-private partnership has been put in place between Memorial Healthcare in Broward and the National Guard to set up a mobile testing unit.
  • At the direction of Governor DeSantis hiring additional epidemiologists from university health programs to help with workload.
  • Governor DeSantis directed the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to extend all existing nursing home and assisted living facility licenses for 90 days to remove distraction from patient care.
  • Launched an interactive data tracking dashboard on floridahealthcovid19.gov that is updated twice daily.
  • Developing protocols for County Health Departments in the protection of their staff and clinic activities through the development of safety and health guidance.
  • Continue to have daily hospital calls and began having daily calls with the aging and vulnerable population groups.
  • Continue to coordinate efforts for obtaining lab testing supplies.

DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

  • Florida is receiving its third shipment from the SNS. Once the shipment has been received in its entirety, Florida will have received the following from the SNS. These materials are being distributed across the state.
    • N95s                     540,000
    • Faceshields           246,000
    • Coveralls               1,026
    • Gloves                   714,354
    • Surgical Masks     1,290,000          
    • Gowns                  201,000
  • After conducting a thorough assessment of needs, Director Moskowitz has requested the following supplies through Direct Federal Assistance. Supplies are being delivered on a rolling basis, and inventory is being distributed throughout the state 24 hours a day.
    • 5 mobile intensive care units
    • 5,000 ventilators
    • 5,000 hospital beds
    • 50,000 two oz. bottles of hand sanitizers
    • 250,000 coveralls
    • 500,000 gloves
    • 500,000 gowns
    • 500,000 collection kits
    • 100,000 16 oz. bottles of hand sanitizers
    • 150,000 Personal Protective Equipment kits, including coveralls, gowns, and goggles  
    • 2 million N95 face masks
  • To support communities responding to COVID-19, Governor DeSantis has directed FDEM Director Jared Moskowitz to expedite the delivery of more than $170 million in Hurricane Irma reimbursements to cities, counties and hospital districts that have now reached the 50-percent auditing threshold to receive funds.
  • Find more information on DEM’s response to COVID-19 here.

AGENCY FOR HEALTH CARE ADMINISTRATION

  • The Agency launched a new hospital bed capacity dashboard to assist in COVID-19 response efforts throughout the state. The dashboard offers real-time, critical information on total hospital bed availability and ICU bed availability at both the county and hospital level.
  • AHCA and the Department of Children and Families have been working together to ensure current Medicaid recipients maintain benefits during the COVID-19 state of emergency. Agencies have also extended Medicaid application deadlines.
  • AHCA has made on-site visits to over 900 long-term care and residential facilities since the onset of the COVID-19 emergency. Additionally, AHCA has made over 2,000 telephone calls to residential providers statewide to assess infection control and prevention strategies, ensure county health department and local emergency operations center contact information are up to date, and assess supplies--specifically PPE.
  • Find more information on ACHA’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL REGULATION

  • DBPR has updated the dedicated webpage for filing complaints related to compliance with executive orders related to department stakeholders. The page, available at http://www.myfloridalicense.com/DBPR/eo-complaints/  now provides a field for reporting compliance concerns related to vacation rentals as restricted by Executive Order 20-87. The Department’s Division of Hotels and Restaurants continues to monitor, review, and assign complaints received through this form for follow-up by division inspectors.
  • Find more information on DBPR’s response to COVID-19 here.

DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

  • DCF worked with DOH to develop precautionary protocols for child welfare professionals and adult protective investigators who may have to make in-person visits to ensure the safety of those vulnerable populations.
  • Under Governor DeSantis’ Direction, DCF temporarily increased SNAP recipients’ benefit amount to the maximum monthly allotment based on household size.
  • Find more information on DCF’s response to COVID-19 here

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

  • FDC is aligning operations with the CDC Interim Guidance on Management of COVID-19 in Correctional and Detention Facilities .  
  • New inmate commitments from county jails will undergo additional screening and 14-day quarantine before placement within the general population.
  • FDC as suspended visitation and volunteer programs at all correctional institutions statewide through April 5, 2020.
  • Outside inmate work squads have been restricted.
  • Find more information on FDC’s response to COVID-19 here

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

  • DEO, at the request of Governor DeSantis, recently announced waiving the requirement for Floridians to wait a week to receive Reemployment Assistance benefits through May 8, 2020. The waiting week has been waived so eligible Floridians may receive the support they need to help recover from the current economic impacts of COVID-19.
  • DEO has recently launched a new mobile friendly website that provides Floridians and businesses with available resources to assist in recovering from the economic impacts of COVID-19. Please visit, FloridaJobs.org/COVID-19 form more information.
  • DEO recently announced $100 million of additional funds available to local governments in communities impacted by Hurricane Irma through the Rebuild Florida Infrastructure Repair Program. Local governments may apply individually or as a regional group for funding. Funding can also be used as leverage to match funding for other federal programs to carry out eligible, federal CDBG-DR infrastructure activity. The deadline to complete an application is June 30, 2020. For more information about the program, including how to complete an application, visit the Rebuild Florida Infrastructure Repair Program’s webpage. 
  • Governor DeSantis waived the work search and work registration requirements for individuals requesting Reemployment Assistance benefits. Individuals filing an application in CONNECT, the online Reemployment Assistance application, for benefits from March 15, 2020 until May 2, 2020, will not be required to complete the work registration in Employ Florida. For additional questions about Reemployment Assistance, please visit the  Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Florida’s 24 local workforce development boards are available to provide career and business services remotely, with services and technology varying by location.  For more information, visit careersourceflorida.com.
  • Governor DeSantis’ request to the federal U.S. Small Business Administration to make the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program available for Florida’s small businesses impacted by COVID-19 has been granted. Small businesses are eligible to apply for the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans that offer up to $2 million in economic assistance to help small businesses overcome the temporary loss of revenue resulting from COVID-19.
  • The Business Damage Assessment survey is activated to assess the impact of COVID-19 on Florida’s local business operations. The survey, managed by DEO, will evaluate businesses affected by COVID-19 and the impacts the virus has had on the local economy so actions to implement appropriate relief programs can begin. The survey can be taken online here.
  • Find more information on DEO’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

  • FDOE has compiled resources, information, and best practices for distance learning on its emergency response page.
  • The Florida Virtual School has created the Online Learning Community with engaging and informative content for teachers and parents of K-12 students.
  • Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran has recommended that all Florida public and private K-12 school campuses extend campus closures through May 1, 2020, following White House guidance and the CDC’s extension of social distancing guidelines until April 30th.
  • Find more information on The Department of Education’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF ELDER AFFAIRS

  • Pursuant to Executive Order 20-52 issued by Governor DeSantis, and the Division of Emergency Management’s Order 20-006, DOEA Secretary Prudom issued an Emergency Order pertaining to the Office of Public and Professional Guardians providing relief to some in-person visitation requirements where COVID-19 response and mitigation measures prevent such visits.
  • DOEA provided valuable Guidance in furtherance of Order 20-01 for Public and Professional Guardians to remain in compliance with Florida Statute 744.361(14).
  • Provided technical assistance to all 11 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) on the Families First Act Funding regarding billing, advance requests, and contract amendments.
  • Provided Shopping Assistance and Telephone Reassurance service codes and descriptions for Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and authorized the use of these new services for homebound elders.
  • Find more information on DOEA’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

  • Florida State Parks are supporting the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Food and Nutrition program by providing the main parking lot of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park as a pick-up location for child lunch services until schools reopen.
  • On April 1, DEP issued an Emergency Final Order granting a 30-day extension to its regulated facilities to submit routine paperwork and reports due to understandable delays resulting from impacts of COVID-19 response activities.
  • The Department will continue to carry out all inspections, testing, data and file reviews and other compliance verification activities to ensure full compliance with regulatory and pollution prevention requirements, including the pollution notification requirements.
  • Find more information on DEP’s response to COVID-19 here

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAY SAFETY AND MOTOR VEHICLES

  • The Florida Highway Patrol is assisting with the implementation and enforcement of Executive Order 20-86 at the direction of Governor DeSantis.
  • At the direction of Governor DeSantis, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has issued an Emergency Order extending all Florida driver licenses, commercial driver licenses and identification cards that will expire now through April 15, 2020.
  • Pursuant to Executive Order 20-52 issued by Governor DeSantis, FLHSMV Executive Director Rhodes has waived commercial truck hours of service regulations and other related regulations so that emergency supplies, equipment, commodities and resources can be moved more quickly and efficiently throughout the state.
  • Find more information on FLHSMV’s COVID-19 response here.

OFFICE OF INSURANCE REGULATION

  • At the direction of Governor DeSantis and to successfully uphold CDC guidance to maximize social distancing and avoid OIR has issued Informational Memorandum OIR-20-04M providing general guidance on the treatment of policyholders as part of the state’s ongoing efforts to protect Floridians.
  • OIR has issued Informational Memorandum OIR-20-03M directing all insurers and other entities regulated by OIR to review and update their business continuity and/or continuity of operations plans. Companies are directed to immediately contact OIR if their continuity plans are activated and/or if business operations become compromised so it can work with insurers to avoid any disruption in consumer services.
  • OIR has issued Informational Memorandum OIR-20-02M as a reminder to all health insurers, health maintenance organizations, and other health entities to allow for early prescription refills following the Governor’s Executive Order 20-52 declaring a state of emergency in Florida.
  • Find more information on OIR’s COVID-19 response here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF JUVENILE JUSTICE

  • The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has issued an emergency order that will suspend visitation at all state-operated juvenile detention centers and juvenile residential commitment programs until April 15, 2020.
  • DJJ has also instituted additional screening measures for outside vendors who work within juvenile facilities.
  • Pandemic plans have been developed and disseminated for all state-operated juvenile detention centers and juvenile residential commitment programs.
  • Find more information on DJJ’s COVID-19 response here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT

  • FDLE and ESF-16 partners are working with the Florida Sheriffs Association to provide support for FHP at all screening points.
  • Find more information on FDLE’s COVID-19 response here.

FLORIDA LOTTERY

  • To protect players and employees during COVID-19, Florida Lottery Headquarters and district offices closed to the public on Monday, March 23, and remain closed until further notice.
  • The Lottery continues to evaluate mission critical positions that have the ability to telecommute and is preparing accordingly to keep Lottery operations running should further social distancing be needed in the future. 
  • Find more information on Lottery’s COVID-19 response here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF MANAGEMENT SERVICES

  • As directed by Governor DeSantis in Executive Order 20-52, DMS has amended the state employee health plan benefits plan documents to include delivery of covered benefits through telehealth at no additional cost to the employees and to ensure all state employees have access to telehealth through the state’s contracted HMO and PPO organization plan without cost sharing during this public health emergency.
  • As directed by Governor DeSantis in Executive Order 20-52, DMS has amended the state employee health plan benefits plan documents to cover immunizations at participating in-network retail pharmacies at no cost to the member during this public health emergency.
  • Find more information on DMS’ COVID-19 response here.  

DEPARTMENT OF MILITARY AFFAIRS

  • There are 1,615 Florida National Guardsmen activated in support of COVID-19.
  • The Florida National Guard (FLNG) continues to support the State's COVID-19 response through operational support of Community Based Testing Sites (CBTS), augmentation to airport screening measures,  statewide logistics support, coordination, planning and operational mission sets. The Florida National Guard supports CBTS in Broward, Miami/Hard Rock Stadium, Orange County, Miami-Dade/Marlins Park and Palm Beach County continued sampling operations.
  • The Florida National Guard continues to support the Florida Dept. of Health and airport authorities in application of the Governor's order to conduct screenings at airports in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Palm Beach International and Ft. Myers. These missions will support the Governor's recent travel ban guidance in an attempt to significantly reduce the number of infected individuals entering the State from areas with a high amount of community spread. Department of Health continues to supply the required PPE enabling FLNG to conduct this support requirement.
  • The Florida National Guard has activated our medical professionals, Army Combat Medic Specialists and Air Force Medical Technicians in support of the Florida Department of Health's (DOH) Community Based Testing Sites. Our Guardsmen have reported in and formed Task Force Medical.
  • The Florida National Guard has activated Guardsmen to augment the State Logistics Readiness Center (SLRC), the State's Logistics Branch, as well as facilitate statewide logistics needs of the Florida National Guard formations on mission. The FLNG support to the SLRC remains at 24-hours-a- day operations. Logistics professionals continue to support the State's Emergency Operations Centers as well as sustaining the mobilized FLNG personnel. Additional guidance has been issued for twice daily screenings and temperature checks to FLNG Service Members performing duties at the SLRC.
  • The Florida National Guard has activated Guardsmen to augment the State Emergency Operations Center and local emergency management offices across the state.
  • Find more information on DMA’s response to COVID-19 here.

AGENCY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

  • APD licensed group homes in Broward County are receiving assistance from the Broward County Health Department this week. The Health Department will be providing masks for both the staff and the residents of the group homes as a precaution to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19.
  • APD has posted information important to its customers, providers, and Waiver Support Coordinators its new COVID-19 webpage on the agency’s website at https://apd.myflorida.com/covid19.  
  • Find more information on APD’s response to COVID-19 here.

DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE

  • The Department of Revenue encourages taxpayers with questions about the sales tax due date extensions to visit our designated taxpayer COVID-19 information webpage .
  • The Department has a dedicated COVID-19 webpage for child support customers at com/childsupport/coronavirus. The page provides comprehensive information for alternative options for handling many routine child support case activities without visiting a local child support office.
  • Find more information on DOR’s response to COVID-19 here.

CAREERSOURCE FLORIDA

  • CareerSource Florida has launched a digital advertising outreach campaign directing employers statewide to small business loans and resources via CareerSource Florida’s COVID-19 webpage.
  • Additionally, the CareerSource Florida Network is continuing to provide career and business services virtually or by appointment to minimize risk of the COVID-19 pandemic to customers and employees. Recruiting, hiring and training services are being provided via phone, online and email, as well as by appointment in some locations.
  • Find more information on CareerSource Florida’s response to COVID-19 here.

STATE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM

  • The SUS has directed all state universities to continue remote instruction through the end of the spring semester.
  • The SUS has directed that traditional on-campus commencement ceremonies will not be held in May. Instead, each university is directed to develop an alternate schedule or method of delivery.
  • Find more information on SUS’ response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

  • FDOT is leading the coordination of DOH and the Florida Highway Patrol to implement Executive Order 20-86. To date, more than 2,000 traveler forms have been collected at the I-10 and I-95 checkpoints.
  • FDOT continues to coordinate with seaports across the state to monitor port activity.
  • FDOT continues to coordinate with public use airports, DOH and law enforcement to implement Executive Order 20-80. To date, more than 8,700 traveler forms have been collected at public use airports across the state.
  • Find more information on FDOT’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS’ AFFAIRS

  • FDVA is restricting visitor access to its state veterans’ homes until further notice, with the exception of essential visitors. In addition, admissions in our network of state veterans’ homes are temporarily being suspended.
  • Veterans enrolled for care within VISN 8 can continue to call the VISN 8 Clinical Contact Center at 1-877-741-3400 (toll free) or use the VA Health Chat App for 24/7 virtual urgent care. Veterans who are concerned they may have symptoms of coronavirus, flu or cold should contact the center first before coming to a VA facility.
  • All VA facilities continue to use mandatory and enhanced screening protocols for all patients, employees and visitors. VA facilities have restricted visitations to certain units, and taken many other actions to mitigate the infection and spread of the virus.
  • The New Port Richey VA Clinic is closed for face-to-face patient visits and the pharmacy is closed. For refills, call (727) 869-4272.
  • Find more information on DVA’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA HOUSING FINANCE CORPORATION

  • As the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (Florida Housing) continues to be committed to the health and well-being of all Floridians, we have compiled a list of resources with relevant information for homeowners, residents, developers, apartment owners, management companies, participating lenders, Realtors and SHIP administrators regarding COVID-19.
  • Find more information on Florida Housing’s response to COVID-19 here.

VISIT FLORIDA

  • To protect the health and safety of the traveling public and staff, VISIT FLORIDA’s four welcome centers will be closed until further notice.
  • While VISIT FLORIDA’s welcome centers remain closed, VISIT FLORIDA’s welcome center staff are assisting in DEO’s response to high call volume from impacted businesses and employees across throughout the state.
  • VISIT FLORIDA has launched a data dashboard on VisitFlorida.org to track the impact of COVID-19 on Florida’s tourism industry.
  • Find more information on VISIT FLORIDA’s response to COVID-19 here .

VOLUNTEER FLORIDA

  • As the lead agency for volunteerism and service, Volunteer Florida is working to support voluntary organizations across the state and nation by sharing resources , surveying needs and requesting that continuity of operations plans be created to avoid any service delivery disruption.
  • This week, Volunteer Florida is hosting a series of webinars to discuss the functionalities of Volunteer Connect, Florida’s official volunteer opportunities platform, and to explore different volunteer opportunities such as virtual volunteering.
  • Find more information on Volunteer Florida’s response to COVID-19 here.   

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