Treasure Coast Covid-19 update March 19 2020
The Department of Health is now reporting 328 coronavirus cases in Florida, including eight deaths.
As of Wednesday, there are still no COVID-19 cases on the Treasure Coast, but doctors say now is not the time to let your guard down as the number of cases overall continue to ramp up. Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Moti Ramgopal believes this virus will change the way we live moving forward. He said Wednesday he’s pleasantly surprised no coronavirus cases have been confirmed on the Treasure Coast. He believes one reason is that airport and port services are limited.
He and his colleagues agree social distancing is important, along with the basic message of good hand washing, and every sniffle or cough isn’t coronavirus that needs a test. Ramgopal doesn’t know whether the virus’s impact will diminish in the hot weather. The doctor says this is a very serious situation, and it’s important to be informed and up to date but not driven by an irrational fear.
His office is still seeing patients regularly but is restricting access. In some cases, they are testing patients outside. Ramgopal believes with so many scientists working on the virus, a treatment could be available in the next two to three months, and a vaccine in a year or so. Until then, he says do your part to stay healthy.
In the wake of the economic tsunami caused by covid-19, Governor Ron DeSantis is ordering the call center at the Department of Economic Opportunity to expand.
Many are about unemployment compensation but the governor says others are from small businesses seeking more information about low interest bridge loans in order to keep their doors open.
Virus poses risk
While a CDC report on Wednesday confirms that seniors are most at risk at developing a serious illness from the coronavirus, the virus also poses a risk to younger adults, according to the guidance. The CDC’s report, which is contrary to a popular belief that the coronavirus only affects older people, stated that 20% of coronavirus hospitalizations in the United States were from people age 20-44. While fatalities among younger Americans were relatively rare, a number of cases required intensive care. Anywhere between 2 and 4 percent of confirmed coronavirus cases among ages 20 to 44 required intensive care. Also, up to 20% of cases among young adults required hospitalization. While the risk of serious illness isn’t minuscule for younger Americans, the risk for older Americans increases with age. The guidance released by the CDC on Wednesday shows that cases among those over age 85 result in death in more than 10%, and hospitalization in between 30 and 70 percent of cases.
“The risk for serious disease and death in COVID-19 cases among persons in the United States increases with age,” the CDC said. “Social distancing is recommended for all ages to slow the spread of the virus, protect the health care system, and help protect vulnerable older adults. Further, older adults should maintain adequate supplies of nonperishable foods and at least a 30-day supply of necessary medications, take precautions to keep space between themselves and others, stay away from those who are sick, avoid crowds as much as possible, avoid cruise travel and nonessential air travel, and stay home as much as possible to further reduce the risk of being exposed.”
Publix grocery stores were already closing early, now they’re opening later–at 8 a.m.–to allow for cleaning and restocking of shelves.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Florida continues to rise. The Department of Health is now reporting 328 people have tested positive statewide and eight people have died. Governor Ron DeSantis says there has clearly been community-spread of coronavirus in two South Florida counties.
A South Florida congressman is the first federal lawmaker to get the coronavirus. Republican Mario Diaz-Balart, of the 25th District, announced last night that he tested positive for COVID-19. He has been working from home under quarantine since Friday and says he’s feeling much better.
The Florida Department of Education is now advising school districts to be prepared to extend school calendars until June 30th, if needed. Governor Ron DeSantis had already canceled classes across the state until at least April 15th.
As cases of COVID-19 grow, the state is ramping up efforts to prevent a shortage of medical supplies. Florida Emergency Management officials now requesting millions of items from the federal government.
On the list; 5,000 ventilators, 5,000 hospital beds, a half-million gloves, gowns and swab collection kits. Plus, 2 million face masks.
The call for supplies is especially loud at facilities caring for the state’s most at-risk population, nursing homes.
The demand has now prompted the president to take action. Trump saying Wednesday he’d be invoking the Defense Production Act.
The move gives the president more authority to boost private-sector production and distribution of the medical supplies in high demand.
Virtual doctor’s appointments
With so many more families in need of medical advice, more people are going online instead of waiting in lines.
Virtual doctor’s appointments are increasing one day after President Trump expanded telemedicine access to help stop or slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Treasure Coast Medical Associates includes Stuart Urgent Care, Okeechobee Urgent Care, and Highlands Urgent Care.
Chief Operations Officer Kelly Adelberg says that now when a person makes a call to schedule an in-person appointment at one of their medical facilities, doctors or medical staff are now able to give more patients than ever the option to use telemedicine. The patient can also speak to a doctor over the phone if they do not have visual communication capabilities, such as FaceTime or Skype. The physician on the phone can review medication use, medical history, allergies, and evaluate a patient’s symptoms. From home, patients can also take their own temperature and share the results with the doctor. This keeps patients from having to visit medical facilities that are working to preserve medical supplies, practice social distancing, and prevent the spread of any kind of illness.
The lifted restrictions on telemedicine help expand who is able to use telemedicine, which medical facilities can use telemedicine, allow doctors to use their personal phones to talk to patients, and allow Medicare patients to use telemedicine at no cost. Adelberg treats a lot of conditions through telemedicine that does not require a hospital visit.
They can also follow health department guidelines for screening for possible coronavirus patients over the phone by asking specific questions. Dr. Adelberg says another benefit is that the average telemedicine call is just three to seven minutes. You can reach the Treasure Coast Medical Associates Telemedicine Hotline at 863-447-9440.
A study conducted by Lending Tree said that the average American spent $178.44 on supplies to prepare for a coronavirus outbreak.
As of March 13, 63% of Americans purchased supplies to prepare for coronavirus.
Of the 63% who said they are stockpiling in preparing for coronavirus, the most popular items purchased include:
Cleaning supplies: 77%
Paper products, such as toilet paper: 68%
Medication or vitamins: 47%
Entertainment, such as books or movies: 13%
Office supplies: 6%
Although millennials reportedly spent the most in preparing for the coronavirus, baby boomers were most likely to stockpile on paper products. The study found that parents spend $189.83 while non-parents spent $181.12.
The study also found that 39% of Americans have seen their wages decreased due to coronavirus. Simply put, Americans are spending more while making less because of the virus.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday it’s not necessary at this point to close child care centers across the state over fears of the coronavirus.
While K-12 public and private schools in Florida are closed through April 15, child care centers are considered private institutions that take direction from the Florida Department of Health. Health officials said they cannot close a child care facility under the current circumstances without a state order. The governor also stressed the need for more COVID-19 testing kits and swabs to allow more Floridians to be tested for the virus, especially at drive-through sites. DeSantis added the state has ordered half-a-million swab test kits. He again highlighted the importance of closing bars and nightclubs across the state for 30 days.
“We want to avoid large crowds throughout the state right now. I don’t want to shut every aspect of life down. I think that wouldn’t be effective,” the governor said. “But at the end of the day, you have people crowding into these places and that is creating the type of activity that we are being warned against.”
Walmart said on Wednesday that it is further restricting its hours while adding a one-hour-a-week “senior shopping event.”
Starting on March 24 through the end of April, Walmart locations will open for one hour (7 a.m. for most locations) for seniors only. Walmart said it plans to open its pharmacy and vision center for this hour.
Starting Today, Walmart stores will close at 8:30 p.m. and open no earlier than 7 a.m. until further notice.
“This will further help associates restock the shelves for customers while continuing to clean and sanitize the store,” Walmart said in a statement. “While the store hours change for customers, our associates will continue to have access to their regular scheduled shifts and full hours.”
Walmart is also implementing shopping limits on certain items including paper products, milk, eggs, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, water, diapers, wipes, formula and baby food. The announcement was made amid a buying frenzy at grocery stores nationwide during the spread of coronavirus.
As all corporate owned Planet Fitness locations closed last night, the largest chain of gyms in the US said it is offering free workouts on its Facebook page.
Planet Fitness said that the workouts will air live Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET and are no longer than 20 minutes long. Planet Fitness said that no equipment is required. Planet Fitness added that its smartphone app has hundreds of at-home workouts.
The company said that its corporate owned locations will be closed through the end of the month, and that it recommends its franchises follow suit. Planet Fitness said that its members will not pay for the time period when their club is closed.
All 5,000 Chase Bank locations nationally are either reducing hours or closing in an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
According to a Chase spokesperson, 20% of locations will close until further notice. Customers can check chase.com by Thursday morning to check which locations are closing until further notice. The remaining locations will operate from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, and keep existing weekend hours.
“The remaining 80% would continue to serve our customers in every one of our communities,” a Chase spokesperson said.
Chase is the second-largest bank in terms of numbers of US branches.
There is currently no scientific evidence that taking ibuprofen could make coronavirus symptoms worse.
There was a lot of concern after the French minister of health tweeted to avoid anti-inflammatories, like ibuprofen, because they might worsen an infection. However, the World Health Organization stated that it’s “gathering evidence” but “after a rapid review of the literature, is not aware of published clinical or population-based data on this topic.” If you are concerned, experts say you can take acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol. It works as well as ibuprofen in controlling a fever, which is one of the main symptoms of the virus.
City of Stuart
Statewide health emergency: COVID-19 Update #5
Stuart, FL – The City of Stuart is making the following changes to city operations in response to the growing threat of COVID-19:
City Hall – All offices within City Hall are now closed to the general public. The lobby (atrium) remains open to walk-in traffic for individuals making deliveries to departments in the building. The City of Stuart highly encourages all residents and customers to call us or use our 24/7 online service and payment portal, whenever possible. For all online applications, payments, and services, please visit the online Paymentus portal, which can be accessed from the convenience of your computer or mobile device by visiting: www.cityofstuart.us/365/Online-Services-Tools and selecting “Online Payments.”
10th Street Community Center: The center will be closed to the public and all after-school childcare programs and activities regularly scheduled in the facility are suspended until further notice.
Development, Building, Planning & Zoning Department: Effective immediately all transactions with the department will be conducted online or by phone only. Although the office will be closed to foot traffic, there is an in and out box located outside the department in City Hall where applications can be dropped off or permits picked up. In addition:
- There will be a delay of 3 days processing any paperwork left at the drop box as a result of CDC information identifying the length of time the virus may survive on paper.
- Permit technicians are available by phone to walk applicants through application processes if they are unfamiliar with online permitting.
- All air conditioner (A/C) and water heater inspections will be done by self-certification from the contractor on a form that will be issued to them.
- All other inspections will be handled according to regular procedure.
- All payments for permits or other fees can be completed by contacting the building department and using a credit card over the phone, by mailing a check to the department, or by delivering a check to the drop box located outside the department’s office.
For all other information, please visit: www.cityofstuart.us.
All City buildings are closed to the public with the exception of City Hall, Fort Pierce City Marina (open to existing tenants) and Indian Hills Golf Course. City Hall is open with limited access to the public. During this unpredictable time, citizens should expect delays at City Hall and instead are encouraged to take advantage of our online services, email and phone resources. For a staff directory, visit: www.cityoffortpierce.com/directory. Essential services like police, public works and solid waste collection are not impacted by these changes.
City parks are open; however, residents and visitors should abide by the social distancing recommendations set forth by the Governor by limiting their gatherings to no more than 10 persons.
E-mail building permit submittal has been expanded. For a list of building permits and documents that can be submitted electronically, visit: www.cityoffortpierce.com/131/Building-Department
To keep you informed with the most current information available to assist your business and employees during this challenging time, the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County established a COVID-19 Business Assistance Resource Web Portal. This tool was developed to have all federal, state and local resources at your fingertips.
The web portal can be viewed online at www.youredc.com. As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, the EDC will be monitoring all available resources and will share updated information as it becomes available on the web portal.
Businesses impacted by COVID-19 are also encouraged to visit www.SBA.gov for additional information regarding guidance and disaster loan programs.
SLC PUBLIC INFORMATION HOTLINE
St. Lucie County’s Emergency Management staff has opened the Public Information Hotline to help residents answer general questions about local government efforts relating to COVID-19 (also known as Coronavirus. That number is 772-460-HELP (4357).
St. Lucie County’s Emergency Operations Center is at partial Level 2 activation. The Public Information Lines will be operational weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Florida Department of Education has announced that students will not return until April 15th.
All state assessments have been canceled for this school year. Online Instruction for students in St. Lucie Public Schools will begin on March 30th. More detailed Information will be shared in the coming days
We are committed to keeping our residents safe and informed – all public notices will be provided on the city’s website, social media channels and Fort Pierce TV Channel 27. Residents may subscribe to receive updates via email or text message through the “COVID-19 Information alert center” on the city’s website at www.cityoffortpierce.com.
St Lucie County
St. Lucie County Reduces Programs, Events to Limit Potential Spread of COVID-19
- LUCIE COUNTY – While St. Lucie County continues to provide essential government services, the Board of County Commissioners has canceled some programs and are closing some non-essential public facilities to help prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 (also known as Coronavirus).
St. Lucie County Planning and Development Services Department will continue to provide responsive permitting, planning, code enforcement and contractor licensing services through modified methods to ensure both the public and staff stay safe and follow the Center for Disease Control recommendations for social distancing. The county’s Planner of the Day and Plans Examiner of the Day will remain available for consultation by phone and email, but no in-person consultations will be available during this time.
Permit Applications, Development Applications, Code Enforcement documents and fines, and Contractor Licensing documents that need to be submitted in person will be accepted by our staff outside the main entrance, facing the 25th Street side of the complex. In-person payment will be accepted by check only, and credit card payments may be made over the phone. At this time, no cash payments will be accepted. All in-person transactions will take place outside, and the public will not need to enter the building.
Planning and Development Services will also accept electronic submittals of most required documents. Please contact the Planning and Development Services staff at 772-462-2822.
Because of these modifications, it may take a few days longer than usual to process permits and other applications. Please be patient with us as we work to ensure our staff is safe and stays healthy to serve your needs.
Beginning Thursday, March 19, all St. Lucie County Libraries will be closed. The library will not impose any fines for materials that might be overdue during this closure.
Staff reminds residents that numerous library services are available online including:
- E-books (Over Drive, Cloud Library, Tumble Books)
- Audiobooks (Over Drive, Cloud Library)
- Music (Freegal download and stream)
- Learn a language online
- Digital Learn (computer and tech training)
- Online research resources (Florida Electronic Library, Reference, business, financial, genealogy)
- Online journals and newspapers
Additional closures beginning Thursday, March 18, include the St. Lucie County Aquarium, Regional History Center, Lincoln Park Community Center, the Havert L. Fenn Center, the St. Lucie County Fairgrounds, Clover Park and the Oxbow Eco-Center. The Environmental Resources Department has suspended all guided hikes. The UF/IFAS Extension Office has also postponed/canceled programs including 4H, Master Gardeners and other education trainings.
St. Lucie County beaches, outdoor parks and preserves remain open; however some restroom facilities may be closed. The Savannahs Recreation Area will remain open for existing campers but no new guests/reservations will be accepted. Fairwinds Golf Course remains open with a revised schedule to allow for additional cleaning of the carts and clubhouse. For details visit https://fairwindsgolf.com.
St. Lucie County employees that normally work at facilities that are temporarily closed are being reassigned to other areas to help clean facilities and serve the community.
For additional information and updates, please visit: www.stlucieco.gov/covid-19 or call St. Lucie County’s Information Hotline at 772-460-HELP (4357).
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