Flagler County’s Covid-19 cases increased to four this morning, the new case affecting a 68-year-old man who had recently traveled to Europe.
Florida’s total number of coronavirus infections went past 1,400, one of them a prison employee at the state prison in Ocala. The disease is affecting men more than women, by a difference of 57 to 42 percent, according to the Florida Department of Health (the department states that 1 percent of cases’ gender is unknown). Cases in the United States crossed 50,000 today, with 606 deaths.
The first Flagler County case to make headlines, that of Cynthia Corventino, a Volusia County resident whose children attend school in Flagler County, is reaching resolution: Corventino told WNZF she was released from AdventHealth Palm Coast Monday evening. But, she said, “the Health Department called this morning, they informed me that Vincent, my oldest son, has tested positive as well.” The boy, a student at Flagler Palm Coast High School involved with the Young Republicans and the Junior ROTC program was “on the phone right now calling other folks, letting them know they’ve potentially been exposed.”
Corventino said she was concerned for other members of her family, but the department had “refused to test my daughter or my next-door neighbor.” Chances of exposure at school would have been low since school let out almost two weeks ago (Thursday), with no reported cases affecting students yet, let alone any cases traced back to contact at school. The youngest individual affected so far in Flagler is a 45-year-old police officer in Flagler Beach. (The Volusia County Health Department is managing the investigation of the Corsentino cases.)
Tuesday was proving to be a day of mixed signals, with resilience and fortitude competing with challenges and more dispiriting numbers as various segments of society were rapidly adapting to life under different degrees of restrictions and still often unclear expectations. Other segments of society and government, starting with the president, were looking possibly to restart the economy and lift some of the more stringent restrictions.
The Flagler County school district on Monday started its daily breakfast and lunch distribution at four school sites (Bunnell Elementary, Indian Trails Middle, Wadsworth Elementary/Buddy Taylor Middle and FPC), relieving significant pressure on families whose children depend on school meals. The program is offered to all children 18 and younger, not just to schoolchildren or homeschooled children.
Food and Nutrition Services Director Angela Bush announced a plan to offer a few mobile feeding spots in addition to our school-based sites, thus reducing hardships on families that may not have the means to make it to one of the four school sites.
Two buses will serve four other areas in Flagler County beginning Wednesday. One bus will be at Hidden Trails Community Center from 10 to 10:30 a.m., then at Haw Creek Community Center from 11 to 11:30 a.m. The second bus will be at Carver Gym in Bunnell from 10 to 10:30 a.m., and at the Espanola Community Center from 11 to 11:30 a.m.
The meals are prepared by school staff (see the picture above) in a “grab and go” form for no cost to the student. They are available on weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. (Questions? Contact Flagler Schools Food Services at 386-437-7526, ext. 1155.)
Today the district was also issuing computers or tablets to students from 0 a.m. to 6 p.m. ahead of next week’s kick-off of weeks of remote education. The devices were being distributed at the same four schools distributing meals. “During these uncertain times, we can not guarantee additional dates will be available for device pick-up,” the district stated. “We will have staff ready to help make this drive-thru device pick-up go as smoothly as possible at each site.”
For families who can’t afford home WiFi, Spectrum is offering free broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription and at any service level up to 100 Mbps. (To enroll call 1-844-488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households.) AT&T and Comcast are also both offering free internet for students in need. Flagler County Schools has partnered with T-mobile and Sprint to provide hotspots for home use, but with limited supplies. (Complete this form to request a hotspot device.)
The Flagler Beach City Commission was not altering its plan to hold a city commission meeting on Thursday, when two newly elected members, Deborah Phillips and Ken Bryan are to be sworn in.
Commissioners today were smarting from learning only from FlaglerLive Monday evening that a Flagler Beach police officer had tested positive for Covid-19. There was no additional information about the condition of City Manager Larry Newsom, who has been in self-isolation and was not returning calls. “I decided I’d leave him alone until tomorrow,” Commissioner Jane Mealy said.
Days earlier he’d issued commissioners and city staff a “succession list” indicating who would be in charge in his absence, with Fire Chief Bobby Pace, Police Chief Matt Doughney, City Clerk Penny Overstreet and Finance Director Kathleen Doyle listed, in that order.
County government closed public access to the Government Services Building on Monday, with the Tax Collector continuing to provide business through its walk-up window, and allowing any of the government agencies within to use the window as well. “For the time being employees will continue to work in the building after they have been screened,” County Administrator Jerry Cameron told county commissioners in a memo Monday. “This means they will be asked the screening questions, have their temperature taken and be given a wristband to show they are cleared for the day.”
The county is working toward holding its County Commission meeting on April 6 virtually, Cameron told commissioners.
Today the county’s economic development office launched FlaglerOpen4.biz, enabling local businesses to create a live listing of services for residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. By completing a survey at the site, businesses can provide information about availability and services to the public in a mapped format that consumers can then navigate.
“We need to work together to keep our economy healthy and maintain our quality of life,” said Kat Friel, economic development manager. “We are asking everyone to share this information, because this is more than a sustainability tool. It’s a platform to springboard recovery.” Flagler County’s GIS team worked with Friel and her business partners at the Chamber and the tourism office to devise a plan to get business information to the public.
The Florida National Guard has 1,147 Guardsmen on active duty in support of the state’s emergency response, operating two Community Based Testing Sites that have administered 4,707 sample collections to date. The C.B. Smith Park CBTS in Broward County has administered 2,967 sample collections since operations began there last week. The Hard Rock Stadium CBTS in Miami-Dade county has administered 1,740 sample collections since operations began this week. The Orange County Convention Center CBTS in Orange county is projected to open Wednesday.
National Guards members are also assiting with screenings at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Miami International Airport, Orlando International Airport, Jacksonville International Airport, and Tampa International Airport.
President Trump on Tuesday said Tuesday he “would love to have the country opened up, and just raring to go, by Easter,” in 19 days, and said “We can socially distance ourselves and go to work.” New York cases were doubling every three days, leading New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ridicule the federal government’s dispatch of 400 ventilators. “What are we going to do with 400 ventilators when we need 30,000 ventilators?” the governor, whose state is now the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, said. There are more than 13,000 Covid-19 cases in New York City alone, and 125 deaths.