Bay County update on COVID-19

The state of Florida issues its latest COVID-19 update for Friday, March 20. (MGN)

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (PRESS RELEASE) - Bay County is responding to COVID-19. In an effort to keep Bay County residents and visitors safe and aware regarding the status of the virus, the Bay County Joint Information Center will issue daily updates. The Florida Department of Health has launched a COVID-19 dashboard that will be updated twice daily. Sunday, as of 5 p.m., there is one case of COVID-19 in Bay County.

Saturday, Bay County received confirmation of its first positive case of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.

The person ill with the virus is a 47-year-old male non-Florida resident from Texas. The case has been ruled as domestic travel-related.

The Florida Department of Health in Bay County (DOH-Bay) has completed its contact investigation. Individuals who will need to self-monitor for symptoms for a 14-day period have been identified. Contact investigations are a critical way for staff epidemiologists to track and prevent the spread of disease.

Information about where the person was staying or where they visited as well as their current condition are protected by the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA). DOH-Bay's goal is to always protect patient privacy.

Additionally, DOH-Bay reached out to our partners Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center and Ascension Sacred Heart Bay for information on ICU beds and ventilators. Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center reports they have 20 ICU beds, 28 NICU beds, and four PICU beds that they are licensed for by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), but they are prepared to go above those numbers if needed. Ascension Sacred Heart Bay has 42 ICU beds and 24 ventilators.

At any time if either partner has additional needs, DOH-Bay will work with them to make requests to the State through the Emergency Support Function 8 (ESF 8), Health and Medical.

The Florida Department of Health in Bay County (DOH-Bay), is urging residents to stop the spread and call ahead. If you are having symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, and difficulty breathing) and you believe you have been exposed to the virus, call ahead to your health care provider and DOH-Bay at 850-872-4455. Your health care provider and DOH-Bay will screen to see if you meet Centers for Disease Control testing criteria. Persons who meet the criteria will be given directions on where, when, and how they will be tested.

Sunday as of 5 p.m., 26 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Bay County. 24 residents and two non-Florida residents. 22 results are negative. Three are pending.

The Panama City Beach City Council has called a COVID-19 workshop for 10 a.m. Monday, March 23, at City Hall. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the ongoing COVID-19 state of emergency. Capacity for public attendance will be severely limited. Members of the public are encouraged to watch the meeting live stream on our website or city Facebook page.

PanCare Health will begin conducting COVID-19 testing in Bay County as of Monday, March 23. PanCare Health clinics do not have testing kits on-site. Testing is only being conducted at an off-site location; if you present to a PanCare Health clinic for testing, you will be turned away and asked to complete the 4-step process outlined below.
Testing will only be performed on people who meet the current CDC criteria for testing.

If a person is exhibiting symptoms of acute lower respiratory illness (e.g., fever, cough, and shortness of breath) AND meets one or more of the following criteria for testing:
1. Persons who have had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 case
2. Persons hospitalized with acute lower respiratory illness of unknown origin
3. History of travel to or from an affected geographic area with widespread community transmission
4. History of international travel or a cruise
5. ≥65 with chronic health conditions
6. Immunocompromised persons
To qualify for testing, you must complete all of the 4 following steps, or you will be turned away at the testing site.
Step 1: Exhibit symptoms and meet the criteria as stated above.
Step 2: Call the PanCare COVID-19 response line at (850) 215-4181.
Step 3: Conduct an over the phone screening to ensure CDC criteria has been met.
Step 4: Upon qualifying for testing, you will be assigned a unique id number and given an appointment date and time. You must present this id number at your appointment with your photo id when you arrive at the off-site testing location.

COVID-19 response line team is available at (850) 215-4181 Monday-Friday 9 am-4 pm to conduct phone screenings. Due to high call volumes, you may need to leave a message, and team members will call you back at their earliest availability.

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