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Latest Update from Florida Department of Health regarding coronavirus pandemic

The state of Florida issues its latest COVID-19 update for Friday, March 20. (MGN)
The state of Florida issues its latest COVID-19 update for Friday, March 20. (MGN)(WJHG)
Published: Mar. 20, 2020 at 8:23 PM CDT
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Today, in a briefing at the State Emergency Operations Center, Governor DeSantis announced more actions on COVID-19:

Today, Governor DeSantis issued four executive orders:

Executive Order 20-69: this Executive Order waives in-person meeting requirements so that public officials can safely continue their duties without impediment.

Executive Order 20-70: this Executive Order directs all movie theatres, concert houses, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys, arcades, gymnasiums, fitness studios and beaches to close in Broward County and Palm Beach County.

Executive Order 20-71: this Executive Order directs all restaurants and food establishments within the state to suspend on-premises food and alcohol consumption for customers. The order also requires the closure of all gyms throughout the state.

Executive Order 20-72: this Executive Order prohibits medically unnecessary, non-urgent or non-emergency procedures or surgeries.

The Broward Memorial Healthcare System drive-through test site has collected 407 samples as of 4 p.m., nearly double the amount anticipated. This site will continue to be open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

The Department of Health has more than 700 school nurses ready to help with the COVID-19 response.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has approved the first two Small Business Emergency Bridge Loans to businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Governor DeSantis directed DEO to Waive Job Search Requirements for DEO Reemployment

Enables DEO to no longer require a claimant to register with the state job search portal to actively seek employment.

Governor DeSantis directed DEO to waive penalties to employers

Currently an employer is “charged” for every employee that is laid off and this cost is reflected in the employer’s unemployment insurance paid to the state.

Waiving this penalty will eliminate any perverse incentive an employer may have to keep an employee on the payroll but with dramatically reduced or deferred hours thereby preventing them from seeking unemployment assistance.

Governor DeSantis directed DCF to waive work requirements for SNAP and TANF.

The federal “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” allows states to suspend these work requirements.

Governor DeSantis directed DCF to work with the USDA to submit a plan to allow families whose children are eligible for free and reduced-price school lunch to receive SNAP benefits.

The federal “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” encourages utilization of this proposal which will provide additional benefits to parents of more than 2.1 million children in Florida.

Governor DeSantis directed DCF to pursue extending food, cash and Medicaid benefits for an extra two months for those families who are scheduled to recertify to ensure that health care, food and cash assistance benefits are provided without interruption.

This will provide continuity for Florida families who are currently receiving SNAP, TANF or Medicaid benefits without requiring them to interact with the department during this public health emergency.

What you Should Know

COVID-19 can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, including when an individual coughs or sneezes. These droplets may land on objects and surfaces. Other people may contract COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days following exposure. Most people recover from COVID-19 without needing special treatment. The elderly and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes are more likely to develop serious illness.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The Department recommends everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;

Staying home when you are sick and avoiding contact with persons in poor health;

Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;

Covering your cough or sneezing into a tissue, then disposing of the tissue;

Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing;

If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty; and

Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

The CDC does not recommend that asymptomatic, healthy people wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

A person that experiences a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after travel from any other destination with community transmission should call ahead to their health care provider and local CHD and mention their recent travel or close contact.

If a person has had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from this area or been in contact with a person with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, he or she should call ahead to a health care professional and the CHD. The health care provider will work with the Department to determine if the person should be tested for COVID-19.