More COVID cases in nursing homes could be in Escambia’s future

Sources have shared the testing of local long-term care facilities has uncovered a boat of load of new positives, as many as 50 in facility in Commissioner Robert Bender’s district. Unfortunately, the state has been slow to update LTC data. The report released yesterday contained information as Tuesday, April 28.

According to April 30 SitRep, Escambia County EOC is: “Following positive cases at a LTC facility, site visits by FDOH­ Escambia and FDOH­ Headquarters are continuing.” However, no details were included.

Also from SitRep: “Manna will be getting 10 pallets of emergency meal kits today. Cantonment Improvement Group will be allowed to come get 200 meal kits.” ​

The county will hold a virtual press conference at 9 a.m. this morning to discuss the parks, libraries and the State-sponsored test site at UWF. Commissioners Bender and Underhill will discuss the reopening of the beaches.

The Escambia County Parks and Recreation Department and the Public Works Department are finalizing “Social Distancing” sign placement throughout Escambia County public beaches in preparation for reopening the beaches Friday, May 1. The posted signage includes beach hours of operation, 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset, and instructions on following social distancing guidelines. Two electronic messaging boards will be placed at the foot of the Bob Sikes Bridge and Theo Barrs bridges that state, “Please Practice Social Distancing.”

Effective Monday, May 4, outdoor athletics leagues can resume, but are asked to begin with a two-week practice phase before beginning competition

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will hold a press conference at 1 p.m. today at the University of West Florida Softball Complex, 11000 University Parkway.Congressman Matt Gaetz and Florida National Guard Adjutant General James Eifert are also set to speak.

No Little League – Nationally

Two days after the Escambia Board of County Commissioners instructed the county to open county ballparks for youth sports, Little League International announced that it will hold the Little League World Series and its qualifying events.

“Delivering this news comes with a very heavy heart,” said Little League International board chairman, Hugh Tanner. “We have never had to cancel our World Series tournaments, but, right now, as our world comes together, we must do everything we can to help stem the spread of this deadly virus. While we take this pause from the World Series and Regional Tournaments this summer, we are committed to working with our volunteers and staff to continue to provide an unparalleled youth sports experience to all children and be back stronger than ever in 2021.”

It’s a small world note: When I was elected Ole Miss student body president in 1978, Hugh Tanner was my campaign manager.

What will Phase 2 look like?

April 30, 2020

By Ana Ceballos, News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE — As Gov. Ron DeSantis begins to slowly reopen the state, recommendations issued by a task force offer a glimpse into what Florida could look like as it emerges from the coronavirus shutdown.

The final report from DeSantis’ Re-Open Florida Task Force, released on Thursday, includes plans for theme parks, restaurants, nightclubs, hair salons, casinos, vacation rentals and many other businesses that are crucial to keeping Florida’s economy afloat.

The task force recommendations offer a blueprint for reopening the state economy, but DeSantis is not bound to follow them.

On Wednesday, for example, the governor said restaurants and retail stores will be allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity starting Monday. But the report shows the task force suggested allowing food establishments, shops, hair salons and barber shops to operate at 50 percent capacity, guidelines the governor did not go along with in his first phase of reopening.

Touting a “small, deliberate, methodical” approach to reopening the state, DeSantis said his decisions to reopen will be based on data and facts. But he hopes the next step will take place in weeks — not months.

“If we start seeing cases where more and more people are going into the hospital and we think that it might be a surge that they can’t handle, that is something that we are going to look at and that is obviously something that we are going to take into account,” the governor said during a news conference Wednesday.

But DeSantis maintained there is no timetable for when the second phase of reopening will happen.

The task force recommended the next phase — done in consultation with public health experts — should include allowing people to resume non-essential travel and permitting restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, concert halls, bowling alleys, auditoriums and casinos to operate at 75 percent capacity, while keeping large sporting-event venues at 50 percent capacity.

Theme parks — a critical part of Florida’s tourism industry — “may consider re-opening with capacity limits, strict social distancing and proper measures to clean and disinfect,” under the phase-two recommendations from the task force, whose members included executives from Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort.

DeSantis has prevented people from renting vacation properties because of concerns visitors would bring the coronavirus into the state. The task force would still impose restrictions on vacation rentals during the second phase. For example, hosts would only be allowed to rent to Florida residents and would be banned from accepting reservations from international travelers or from visitors who live in cities that are known hotspots for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Hotels, motels, resorts and time-share projects would not be subject to the same restrictions as vacation rentals.

By the time the third phase comes around, the task force recommended local governments should return to in-person meetings after being allowed to meet in conference calls and video conferences to prevent spread of the virus. Also in the third phase, the task force recommended allowing bars, gyms, restaurants and nightclubs to operate at full capacity, theme parks to return to normal operations with “limited social distancing protocols” and vulnerable people to be allowed to “resume public interactions while practicing social distancing.”

Restaurants should also throw away paper menus after customers touch them and nail salons should not allow magazines or newspapers in service areas in phase three, the task force recommended.

Schools, state colleges and universities shut down their campuses in March and are providing online education for the rest of this academic year. While the task force did not set a plan for schools or universities in the second and third phases of the recovery, it said the education system should develop plans to resume “on-campus learning, full-time” next academic school year.