Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood posted the following message on his Facebook page late Friday.
“An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people”
Right now, we are suffering from a lack of certain information about the presence of coronavirus in our community.
Since I’m the chief law enforcement official in Volusia County, I think it’s my responsibility to provide more transparency than has been provided so far.
I can’t share the names or addresses of those who are being monitored related to coronavirus. But I think you deserve to at least know the cities where a total of 20 potential cases exist.
Daytona Beach: 1
Ormond Beach: 4
Port Orange: 3
New Smyrna Beach: 2
These are not all positive tests. There are only three presumptive positive results in Volusia County, and I don’t have the specific locations to share. This larger list of 20 includes locations where someone in the household is being monitored for a combination of reasons including symptoms/travel history/close contact with a lab-confirmed case, etc.
We in public safety have to be aware of these locations so first responders can protect themselves and prevent further spread of this virus.
We should expect these numbers to grow. I updated this post once already from 16 to 20.
I know this isn’t a lot of information, but it’s more than has been made available to this point. To my friends at the Florida Department of Health, I hope you understand my decision to disclose this information to the public, even if you don’t agree with it. And I hope you will continue to provide us with this vital information we need for the safety of all first responders, and by extension, the general public. If not, then I think something has to change at the Department of Health.
While we can’t predict the severity of this pandemic, we have to confront the reality of it. Now is not the time for panic. It’s the time for unity and transparency.
When the public is kept in the dark and when their legitimate questions aren’t answered several days into a national emergency, that’s when we start to see panic.
I stopped at Walmart tonight and found rows of empty shelves, with everything from water to sanitizer to toilet paper to dishwashing soap completely wiped out.
I think we have to open the flow of information. We can still work together to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect the lives of those who are vulnerable to it. We will do a better job of that with more information sharing, not less.
Please look out for your friends, family, and neighbors. Follow the common-sense advice of the CDC, and keep doing all the things you’d do to avoid catching any virus. Don’t hoard supplies for yourself when there are more vulnerable people out there in our community who might need them.
Be smart, stay safe and stay informed.