March 20, 2020
Significant Changes Since Last Update
As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread globally, Leon County Emergency Management is committed to actively monitoring the disease and coordinating preparedness efforts with local health officials, healthcare providers, first responders, and other critical emergency response functions.
The following update provides a timely, accurate, and vetted source of official County and community information.
- Leon County will close public access to County offices effective Monday, March 23 through April 19, which may be extended in the future. During the closure, all Leon County work areas will be appropriately staffed to provide essential services through online- and phone-based systems during normal business hours. Please visit LeonCountyFl.gov for more information.
- Governor Ron DeSantis declared the following:
- All restaurants and food establishments within the State of Florida to suspend on-premises food and alcohol consumption for customers. Take-out and delivery still permitted.
- Any Florida Statute that requires a quorum to be present in person or requires a local government to meet at a specific public place is suspended.
- All state agencies are closed to the public until April 19.
- President Trump said Friday that interest on federally held student loans would be suspended.
- The U.S. Treasury Secretary extended the tax filing date to July 15, giving Americans an additional three months to file their income tax returns.
Rally for Tally
TOMORROW March 21, help support local restaurants as we #RallyforTally by ordering and picking up food through curb side pick up! Tallahassee Foodies will post participating restaurants and how you can order.
The restaurants will do their best to provide a little something extra for customers that come out— this could mean anything from a free dessert or an extra chicken finger.
We encourage you to #SupportLocal by purchasing from restaurants that are #OpenforTakeout, whether that be by purchasing gift cards, buying in store items online such as coffee, shirts, or more or by ordering take out. You can check out the Tallahassee-Leon County Office of Economic Vitality Open for Takeout Map to find out where you can pick-up or order from local restaurants. https://arcg.is/1zvPTn
Governor Ron DeSantis Activates Emergency Bridge Loan Program for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19
On March 16, Governor Ron DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The bridge loan program, managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), will provide short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that experienced economic injury from COVID-19. The application period opens March 17, 2020 and runs through May 8, 2020.
“As we mitigate against the spread of COVID-19, the health, safety and well-being of Floridians comes first,” said Governor DeSantis. “I understand the harm mitigation strategies will have on small businesses throughout our state. By activating the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan, we are providing the opportunity for Florida’s small businesses to receive cash immediately to ensure they can lessen the impacts felt as a result of COVID-19.”
The DEO will administer the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program in partnership with the Florida SBDC Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation to provide cash flow to businesses economically impacted by COVID-19. The short-term, interest-free loans help bridge the gap between the time the economic impact occurred and when a business secures other financial resources, including payment of insurance claims or longer-term Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. Up to $50 million has been allocated for the program.
Small business owners with two to 100 employees located in Florida affected by COVID-19 can apply for short-term loans up to $50,000. These loans are interest-free for up to one year and are designed to bridge the gap to either federal SBA loans or commercially available loans. The DEO will work with every borrower to ensure that repayment of the loan isn’t an overwhelming burden. To be eligible, a business must have been established prior to March 9, 2020 and demonstrate economic impacts as a result of COVID-19.
For more information on the program, visit www.floridadisasterloan.org. For questions regarding the Emergency Bridge Loan Program, contact the Florida Small Business Development Center Network at 866-737-7232 or email Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org. The phone line will be answered during regular business hours; all voice mails and emails will be responded to within 24 hours.
Coronavirus Guidelines - Federal Government
More information can be found at www.coronavirus.gov .
Resources for Local Businesses
- Tallahassee-Leon County Office of Economic Vitality (OEV) launches Open for Takeout initiative to support local businesses. The OEV team is committed to stepping in to promote our local businesses in ways that align with social distancing guidelines. To that end, the Open for Takeout imitative will spotlight restaurants remaining open and providing food service through delivery, take-out, curbside pickup, or drive up. Be sure to check out our map and support the many delicious local flavors. Learn more.
- Governor Ron DeSantis Activates Emergency Bridge Loan Program for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19. For more information on the program, visit www.floridadisasterloan.org. For questions regarding the Emergency Bridge Loan Program, contact the Florida Small Business Development Center Network at 866-737-7232 or email Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org. The phone line will be answered during regular business hours; all voice mails and emails will be responded to within 24 hours.
- Center for Disease Control – Interim Business and Workplace Guidance – This resource is from King County, Washington and is based on CDC guidance to employers. The guide walks business leaders through all the steps to plan, prepare, and if needed, implement action plans.
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Control and Prevention – OSHA provides general guidance for all U.S. workers and employers including those unlikely to have occupational exposures to COVID-19 and those with potential occupational exposures to COVID-19. The general guidance provides information about environmental decontamination and worker training and includes additional resources for specific groups and their employers.
- World Health Organization: Workplace Readiness – WHO experts produced a guide of simple ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The guide provides simple precautions to implement now and planning measures to consider in case COVID-19 arrives in the community. Topics include preventative measures, travel considerations, and contingency planning.
- Cleaning and Disinfecting Recommendations for Community Facilities - Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in community settings. Transmission of coronavirus in general occurs much more commonly through respiratory droplets than through fomites. Current evidence suggests that novel coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials.
- Leon County Guidelines for Supervisors - In February, the County Administrator convened an internal workplace committee to review and enhance policies in preparation for a possible pandemic. The included guidelines follow the latest CDC guidance, including sick policies, telework, and other important personnel items. The link above could provide additional guidance to local businesses as they review and revise their own policies.
- Agency for Health Care Administration extends licenses for all assisted living facilities. To allow staff to focus on patient care and management AHCA has extended all licenses for facilities for 90 days.
Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19 Testing
- Should I get tested for COVID-19 and how should I get tested? Florida Department of Health has guidance. Learn more.
- If your travel history has not put you at risk, take note: If you have been in close contact with someone who may have or had COVID-19, and you have symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath, or you have an underlying medical condition like diabetes or heart disease, or a history of cancer.
- Call, do not visit, your CHD or health care provider. It’s IMPORTANT to call ahead before visiting your CHD or health care provider. Offices must take proper steps to avoid further spread of COVID-19 when a concerned patient arrives for a medical appointment.
- How testing is done. A person who is tested will have three specimens taken: oral, nasal and saliva. Samples will be given to the CHD and from there, shipped or delivered to the closest laboratory. Test results are available within 24–48 hours.
- Leon County service changes:
- CLOSED - County libraries, active park facilities, and community centers through Sunday, March 29.
- CANCELED - All UF/IFAS Extension Leon County programs, events, and meetings scheduled through April 30.
- CANCELED - Household Hazardous Waste Collection (April and May 2020).
- CANCELED - All senior programming at County Community Centers effective now through April 10. More here.
- CANCELED - County's Tire Amnesty collection events in April.
- Leon County Sheriff's Office suspends in-person visitation at Detention Facility. Outside contact for inmates will be limited to telephone and postal mail. Attorneys are requested to contact detention facility personnel to schedule any meetings at this time. Also, citizen ride-a-longs with deputies are also suspended until further notice.
- Big Bend Pop Warner cancels upcoming season. From Big Bend Pop Warner: "Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic we are cancelling our upcoming season and a full refund will be returned to you within the next two weeks. We care deeply about the wellbeing of the families that participate in our program and we want to make sure we operate with an abundance of caution. Thank you and please stay safe."
- Florida Department of Corrections suspends visitation. Following the State of Emergency issued in response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Florida, the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) has suspended visitation at all correctional institutions statewide. FDC has no known or suspected cases of COVID-19 at this time. More here.
- Governor restricts senior living facility visitation. Gov. Ron DeSantis expanded an emergency order prohibiting all visitation to nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other long-term care facilities until mid-April.
- Governor Ron DeSantis also declared the following:
- Restaurants shall conduct business at 50 percent capacity where customers are more than 6 feet apart.
- Restaurant employees must be screened for health before reporting to work, including questions such as international travel, close proximity to a COVID-19 case, etc.
- Strongly encouraged residents to use takeout and delivery services.
- Ordered all Florida bars and nightclubs to suspend services beginning at 5 p.m. today for the next 30 days.
- Beaches shall host no group larger than 10 people.
Event Cancellations or Postponements
- State health experts and Governor recommend limiting or canceling mass gatherings. This recommendation comes from the Florida Department of Health and was issued by Governor Ron DeSantis at a press conference. For us at Leon County, consistent with the recommendation, we have postponed Leon Works and other similar events until further notice. Also, County Emergency Management is strongly encouraging local event organizers to consider limiting or canceling mass events in Leon County at this time.
- Leon County cancels or postpones Leon Works Expo, Jamey Johnson concert, and Newsboys concert.
- Springtime Tallahassee and Word of South canceled due to COVID-19.
- Honor Flight Tallahassee postponed. With the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recently issued advisory that adults over the age of 60 are particularly at risk of infection and should avoid all nonessential air travel, the Honor Flight Tallahassee Board of Directors has made the decision to postpone the April 18, 2020 flight. Guardian training scheduled for April 4, 2020 and April 11, 2020 has also been postponed. At this time, a rescheduled flight date has not been determined.
- LeMoyne Chain of Park Arts Festival postponed. "Due to the Governor's orders and the inability to predict the status of the COVID-19 virus by April, the Chain of Parks Art Festival will be postponed. We are looking at dates in late June." More here.
Consumer and User Protection
- COVID-19 price gouging hotline started. Following Executive Order 20-52, Attorney General Ashley Moody today activated Florida’s Price Gouging Hotline for all consumers in the state. The opening of the hotline comes as Governor Ron DeSantis declares a state of emergency in response to positive test results of 20 coronavirus-infected patients in Florida. The Attorney General’s Price Gouging Hotline can only be activated following a state of emergency declaration issued by the Governor and covers essential commodities outlined in Florida Statute, Section 501.160.
- For a list of the commodities covered under the state’s price gouging laws during the COVID-19 state of emergency, click here.
- Violators of the price gouging statute are subject to civil penalties of $1,000 per violation and up to a total of $25,000 for multiple violations committed in a single 24-hour period. For more information on price gouging, please click here.
- Price gouging can be reported by calling 1(866) 9NO-SCAM or by visiting MyFloridaLegal.com. For tips on reporting price gouging, click here.
- Malicious website pretending to be global COVID-19 map. A malicious website pretending to be the live map for Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins University is circulating on the internet waiting for unwitting internet users to visit the website. Visiting the website infects the user with the AZORult trojan, an information stealing program which can exfiltrate a variety of sensitive data. It is likely being spread via infected email attachments, malicious online advertisements, and social engineering. Furthermore, anyone searching the internet for a Coronavirus map could unwittingly navigate to this malicious website. Learn more.
Stay Informed on COVID-19
In coordination with the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) in Leon County, the County recommends the following sources to assist with community mitigation and preparedness. While health experts are working around the clock to learn more about COVID-19, you can also stay informed as new information becomes available.
Also, FDOH has activated a 24/7 COVID-19 call center at (866) 779-6121. Leon County residents can also call the County Health Department at (850) 404-6300, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Also, the best resource for Florida-specific COVID-19 information remains the following FDOH website: www.FLHealth.gov/COVID-19 .
Office and School Closures
- Leon County Schools shall remain closed until April 15.
- Florida State University will conduct all classes online for the remainder of the Spring semester.
- Florida A&M University will conduct all classes online for the remainder of the Spring semester.
- Tallahassee Community College will conduct all classes online for the remainder of the Spring semester.
International Travel Advisory
The Florida Department of Health is advising all individuals who have traveled internationally to follow the new CDC guidelines, which can be found here.
- Leon County Schools: COVID-19 – Local resource from Leon County Schools that references important information and provides parents and students with important updates.
- Guidance for Administrations of Childcare and K-12 Schools – A CDC guide for administrators at both the school and district level to plan, prepare, and respond to COVID-19. This resource provides information for schools which do not have COVID-19 identified in their community and for schools with identified cases of COVID-19 in their communities.
Travel Restrictions and Guidance
- CDC Information for Travel – Includes information about COVID-19 for travelers and travel-related industries and provides a risk assessment level per country.
- Travel Frequently Asked Questions and Answers – The CDC offers an in-depth frequently asked question page discussing airline and cruise travel, business travel, and guidance upon returning from travel.
- Department of State Travel Advisories – This online Department of State resource includes official travel advisories, information about screening procedures, and a list of embassy websites that provides the updated COVID-19 information on each country.
Download the Leon County Citizens Connect Mobile Application – Relaunched in 2017, the Leon County Citizens Connect app puts timely emergency notifications at your fingertips through push notifications on your smartphone or other device. Be the first to know of any emergency management messaging or service changes by downloading the app on the Apple Store or the Google Play Store.
Take Action to Stay Prepared
Now is the time to be ready and reflect on your personal preparedness and plans. At this time, experts do not recommend social distancing or isolating yourself unless you are sick or suspect transmission. To remain well, practice good hygiene measures like washing your hands and using hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of 60 percent or greater. Also, it is not too late in the season to receive a flu vaccine, as recommended by the CDC. Getting sick back-to-back (from flu and another respiratory illness such as COVID-19) can be severely challenging. Mitigate your risk now.
According to the CDC, the most effective ways to prevent transmission of not only COVID-19 but any respiratory illness is to avoid being exposed by washing your hands and cleaning regularly used surfaces (more info can be found here).
Leon County’s Emergency Management Role
On Tuesday, March 10 at 8 a.m., Leon County activated the Emergency Operations Center by request of the Florida Department of Health in Leon County to assist in convening agencies, providing coordination, and aligning public information efforts. On Monday, March 16, Leon County declared a local state of emergency.
Like with H1N1 swine flu (2009), Ebola (2014), and the Zika virus (2016), County Emergency Management serves as the coordinating and command liaison between our local Florida Department of Health and the many local and state agencies who help prepare and respond, such as law enforcement, schools, universities, tourism, and more.
Beginning on Jan. 21, County Emergency Management staff began close coordination with the Florida Department of Health and other healthcare experts. Building on that coordinating role, Emergency Management now:
- Convenes regular coordinating calls with K-12 school, university, healthcare, and emergency response representatives to ensure continuity of operations and information exchange;
- Stands ready to convene more responding agencies at the Emergency Operations Center to assist health experts in coordinating any public health emergency response, similar to the efforts before and after a natural disaster;
- Provides expert operational guidance across 18 different emergency support functions in support of the Florida Department of Health in Leon County’s operations and response;
- Receives regular statewide and local briefings on the developing situation;
- Coordinates joint information and messaging to ensure accurate, vetted, and unified messaging on COVID-19 and disease transmission.
Continue to follow www.LeonCountyFL.gov/eip for any local updates or changes to services.