March 16, 2020
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.
President of the United States and Coronavirus Task Force Address Nation
At a press conference held today, March 16, the President and members of the Coronavirus Task Force addressed the nation and strong recommended that every American avoid restaurants, bars, public food courts and gatherings of more than 10 people, for the next 15 days. In addition, the guidelines for America recommend the following actions to slow the spread of COVID-19:
More information can be found at www.coronavirus.gov .
County Declares Local State of Emergency
As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads across the globe, and with the State of Florida's cases now exceeding 130, Leon County has declared a local state of emergency to further prepare and respond to the pandemic. With a state of emergency in place, the County will be able to quickly obtain critical supplies, expedite County emergency response efforts, enable the County to seek federal reimbursement, and further streamline agency coordination at the statewide level.
Locally, the state of emergency was not triggered by any specific development but was rather declared in an abundance of caution to ensure the community’s strongest public health response. The declaration builds on the County’s ongoing coordination with the Florida Department of Health, which began in January after the first identified case of COVID-19 in the United States.
For more information, visit the Leon County Emergency Information Portal at www.LeonCountyFL.gov./ei .
Tuesday's Presidential Preference Primary (PPP) Voting Continues
For Tuesday's PPP, two precincts have been relocated. All other precincts locations remain unchanged for Tuesday, March 17. Specifically, this means that County facilities that are closed for day-to-day use until Sunday, March 29, are open for the express purpose of voting on Tuesday.
The two precinct changes are 4152 and 5101. To learn more about these changes and how the Leon County Supervisor of Elections continues to ensure a safe and healthy voting experience in line with national health guidance, click here.
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 4, 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 telephon
- e 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.
- 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.
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 Monday, March 30.
- Florida State University will conduct all classes online the two weeks following spring break (March 23-April 6). More here.
- Florida A&M University will conduct all classes online the two weeks following spring break (March 23-April 6). More here.
- Tallahassee Community College will conduct all classes online the two weeks following spring break (March 23-April 6). More here.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
For local businesses, the CDC also recommends the following guidance to prevent workplace exposures to acute respiratory illnesses in non-healthcare settings. These guidelines discuss sick leave, doctor’s notes, telecommuting and other considerations.
Also, if you are a business owner, please consider posting proper handwashing posters and signs in your bathroom locations to encourage good hygiene.
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.
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.