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The State of Florida Issues COVID-19 Updates
March 31, 2020
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, Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference at the Florida State Capitol where he provided updates on Florida response to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Full Press Conference can be found HERE.
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
- 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.
- 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 sanitizer
- 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
- Find more information on DEM’s response to COVID-19 here.
AGENCY FOR HEALTH CARE ADMINISTRATION
- To address the ability of facilities to hire staff at this critical time and recognizing the inability to obtain timely fingerprints for background screening, AHCA has issued Emergency Order No. 20-001 establishing guidelines for health care providers, Medicaid providers, and health care contractors to conduct background screenings to prevent staff shortages during this emergency.
- Secretary Mayhew is working directly with hospitals and large health systems to identify potential vacant wings or buildings to provide additional hospital inpatient capacity should it become necessary.
- AHCA will be granting a 90-day extension to all licenses for health care providers and regulated facilities.
- AHCA is distributing information regarding regulatory flexibilities created by waivers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) related to skilled nursing facilities, critical access hospitals, home health agencies, durable medical equipment, provider enrollment, etc.
- 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 is working 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.
- To ensure Floridians can safely access SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid benefits, DCF has implemented a six-month recertification extension for those scheduled to recertify in April or May 2020.
- 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 have been temporarily restricted.
- Anyone entering a correctional institution will be screened in accordance with CDC and Department guidelines.
- FDC has 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.
DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY
- Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (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
- DOE created a website that consolidates hundreds of free resources for teachers, parents, and students as they transition to distance learning. It includes best practices for distance learning, frequently asked questions, guidance from the department, and resources in Spanish. It can be found here.
- To support students with identified IEP-related services who may have a disruption in services, school districts are given flexibility for the remainder of the school year to provide alternative services or delay services until later in the summer months, in coordination with a student’s parents and IEP team.
- Find more information on The Department of Education’s response to COVID-19 here.
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF ELDER AFFAIRS
- The Department created and sent the Dementia Care and Cure Initiative (DCCI) and DOEA Caregiver Tip sheet and additional tools to the Dementia Care and Cure Initiative task forces, each of the Area Agencies on Aging, and the Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias priority area of the State Health Improvement Plan.
- The Department has held conference calls with specific counties and Public Service Areas (PSA) on the rollout of meal delivery services through the partnership with the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA).
- The Department has hosted daily conference calls with all eleven Area Agencies on Aging to gather and address the met and unmet needs in each geographical location.
- Find more information on DOEA’s response to COVID-19 here.
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
- At the direction of Governor DeSantis and to successfully uphold CDC guidance to maximize social distancing and avoid gatherings larger than 10 people, DEP closed all Florida State Parks to the public effective Monday, March 23. Park field staff are on-site to maintain grounds.
- In addition, since Tuesday, March 24, public access to lands within DEP’s Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas has been closed. This closure includes state-owned uplands, such as beaches, islands, sand bars and emergent shoals within Aquatic Preserves. Vessel landings are strictly prohibited.
- 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
- 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 is coordinating with state logistics on providing sheltering at the I-10 and I-95 screening locations as rain is expected along all of Northern Florida through Thursday, April 2.
- FDLE is conducting a survey of all Law Enforcement Statewide to collect the number of COVID-19 positive sworn and non-sworn members each agency has.
- FDLE is leading the statewide coordination of law enforcement through the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Florida Police Chiefs Association for airport security screening.
- FDLE is coordinating with our ESF 16 partners on a variety of law enforcement missions statewide including traffic control for test collection sites.
- Find more information on FDLE’s COVID-19 response here.
- 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 1,567 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 and logistics support, airport screening measures, coordination, planning and operational mission sets. To date, the FLNG has assisted in the testing of over 15,200 individuals for the COVID-19 virus.
- 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’s support at the State Logistics Readiness Center (SLRC) remains at 24-hours-a- day operations.
- 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 will be 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 floridarevenue.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 completed a new survey of all 24 local workforce development boards to gather information on remote services being provided and additional communications needs for outreach and strategic planning purposes.
- All CareerSource Florida network locations are assisting employers and career seekers via online, telephone and email assistance, with some locations also available by appointment.
- 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 1,100 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 7,500 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
- Veterans Florida has suspended, through June 30, 2020, the requirement that Florida employers seeking veteran talent or workforce training funds under the VETS Program, s. 295.22 F.S., may only seek such assistance for full-time and permanent positions to allow for temporary or part-time positions as the state's manufacturers and economy shift to meet the requirements of addressing the pandemic.
- 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 has launched a data dashboard on VisitFlorida.org to track the impact that COVID-19 has had on Florida’s tourism industry.
- To protect the health and safety of the traveling public and staff, VISIT FLORIDA’s four welcome centers will be closed until further notice.
- Find more information on VISIT FLORIDA’s response to COVID-19 here.
- As the lead agency for volunteerism and service, Volunteer Florida is working to support voluntary organizations across the state and nation by pushing resources, surveying needs and requesting that continuity of operations plans be created to avoid any service delivery disruption.
- Find more information on Volunteer Florida’s response to COVID-19 here.
About the Florida Department of Health
The Florida Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @HealthyFla. For more information please visit www.FloridaHealth.gov.