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County officials stress personal responsibility

Posted On: March 25, 2020

County officials stress personal responsibility

During a news conference today, Volusia County officials stressed the importance of personal responsibility and preparedness during the coronavirus pandemic.
 

Volusia County, along with other local governments and agencies, is working around the clock to ensure the public has the most updated information so everyone can make educated, informed decisions.

“We continue to monitor, collaborate and plan with our partners to navigate this ever-changing situation,” said County Manager George Recktenwald. “We’ve implemented limited hours at county offices to ensure our employees are protected and stay well so they continue to serve the public.”

Until further notice, county offices will be open to the public from 8 a.m. to noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday; and from 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.

Closures and service changes

Many county services, including tag renewals and mosquito control requests, are available online at www.volusia.org. Some departments, including Veterans Services, are scheduling telephone appointments so clients do not need to leave their homes.

The splash pad at Sun Splash Park will be closed starting March 25. The park, which is a popular spot for off-beach parking, will remain open.

Three county-operated attractions – the Marine Science Center, Lyonia Environmental Center and DeBary Hall Historic Site – have been closed to the public but are planning Facebook live programs.

The public libraries are also closed to the public, but offer curbside pickup, digital resources and the ability to register for a card online.

Beach access ramps have been closed since this weekend to restrict cars on the beach. This has helped the Beach Safety Division to ensure that beachgoers follow social distancing guidelines. Staff is observing the beach, especially in high-populated areas, so they can make adjustments as necessary to reduce the number of people on the beach. County off-beach parking lots may be situationally reduced in size to prohibit crowding and congestion on areas of the beach where social distancing could become a concern. These decisions are also made in relationship to the tide, which can decrease the width of our beach.

“There are no additional closures to announce at this time,” Recktenwald said. “However, as we continue to stress, this is a highly dynamic and fluid situation that’s changing all the time.”

Social distancing

“We encourage all residents to adhere to the CDC guidelines regarding social distancing,” said Volusia County Chair Ed Kelley. “Social distancing means remaining out of group settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining a distance of six feet from others when possible.”

But social distancing does not mean social disconnecting, Kelley added. “This is a community event, and we need to be there for each other,” he said. “Check on your friends and loved ones. Keep up social contacts. Together, we can get through this.”

Florida Department of Health

Patricia Boswell, administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County, noted that the department continues to focus on identifying and isolating persons who are ill or at risk.

Anyone who has symptoms should contact their doctor or an urgent care center, she noted. She also encouraged residents to use the CDC online screening tool at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/index.html.

Volusia County Emergency Medical Services

Dr. Peter Springer, medical director for Volusia County Emergency Medical Services, noted that the first line of defense begins with the 911 dispatch center, where nurse triage practitioners are pre-screening patients over the phone to determine whether they’re in a special risk category and are exhibiting possible signs of infection. They will determine if an ambulance should be dispatched. However, if a person requests an ambulance, it will be dispatched.

Paramedics and emergency medical technicians are using personal protection equipment to protect them from becoming infected and infecting others. They also have additional protocols in place to provide early notification to hospitals when they transport a suspicious case.

EMS is in daily communication with hospital management to ensure staff understands all area hospital capabilities, Dr. Springer added.

Volusia Sheriff’s Office

“There is no reason to panic,” said Sheriff Mike Chitwood. “I implore you to return to life as normal as you can at this time. You don’t need to fill up two shopping carts every time you go to the store.”

He added that there is no expectation at this time to issue a curfew or stay-in-place order.

Hospitals

Physicians from Halifax Health and AdventHealth assured the public that their hospital systems are prepared for an influx of patients and that staff is using personal protective equipment.

Dr. Stephen Viel of Halifax Health noted that one person who tested positive for coronavirus was admitted to a special isolation treatment at Halifax Health Medical Center this weekend.

Dr. David Goldman, chief medical officer for AdventHealth, said staff has been working tirelessly to set up command centers to coordinate resources and set up security and crowd control measures.

The physicians urged people to practice “thoughtful preparedness” and frequent handwashing. Persons who are ill should remain home and call their personal physician for direction.

Relief assistance

The county’s Human Services Office offers utility and housing assistance to eligible persons impacted by the coronavirus. Persons may apply for assistance for a past-due utility account, a past-due mortgage, or an eviction or past-due notice from their landlord. Additionally, persons may apply for a credit to their utility account even if they are not yet past-due. To schedule an appointment, call 386-239-7757.

More information

For up-to-date information, visit www.volusia.org/coronavirus or visit: https://www.facebook.com/VolusiaCountyEmergencyManagement/

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