Highlights from the May 11th Countywide COVID-19 Coordinating Meeting

This morning the Monroe County Emergency Management division hosted the weekly COVID-19 coordinating meeting attended by government officials countywide.

Below are some highlights:

County Administrator Roman Gastesi: “Had a call on Saturday morning and the Mayor of Miami-Dade County, Carlos Hermenez, says he’l’l probably be opening to Phase 1 next week, Monday the 18th and Palm Beach County was carved out of the three county group. Now there’s only two counties that are coordinating and that’s Broward and Miami-Dade County. The rest of the counties are following the governor’s orders. Also it was mentioned that the governor is thinking of going to 50% on the restaurants. I’m not sure when that’s going to happen but there is some discussion on that.”

County Mayor Heather Carruthers: “As of today we are allowing salons, barbershops, those kinds of things to open provided they maintain [] protocols, most of which are common in that industry anyway. So, it’s another continuation of soft opening down here. Just one little tidbit that I just heard on a previous call this morning. You probably know Naples had opened their beaches and they had to close them again this weekend and the word is that most of the people that were not social distancing at those beaches were people not from Naples but from the counties to our north which I think provides us more ammunition for why the checkpoint has been so helpful to us.”

Bob Eadie, Admin of DOH: “We’re continuing to test and our biggest concern for right now – a situation update – is longterm care facility in Tavernier. There is a joint task-force team in there both from agency from the Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA) and the health department. So, we have been testing in there and so far there are eleven people who have tested positive and I imagine that number will go up because the test results are still coming back in and there will be some retesting that will be needed because of difficulties with some of the tests that we had. But the good news for everybody is that there is ongoing scrutiny for that facility. It is doing what it is supposed to be doing and the patients are being protected and infection control is being emphasized even more than it was. I realize there are ongoing communications issues with the facility from people from the outside but that’s not anything that the health department can control. It’s not under our jurisdiction but I do recommend to the staff when I get a chance to talk to them to be as transparent as they can. And aside from that we are in the process of trying to figure out how to expand testing and also to augment our contract-tracing staff. We have a meeting of the testing task-force this afternoon so we’ll have an update later in the week.”

Andy Newman, TDC: “I was curious to know if you had any sense of why there are so many cases in that facility especially given the governor’s lockdown of all these ALF’s and nursing homes around the state stemming back to late February. And then also because you had so many cases your active – your cumulative case total – confirmed case total for Monroe County jumped up by – you have like a 10-11% up – jump – should that be viewed as something where – you know we were stabilized for quite some time until the addition of those nursing home cases. And I’m just wondering how that should be viewed. Do you still believe that we’re sort of stabilized in Monroe County or because of those additional 9-10 cases – is that cause for concern for the county – a lot more concern than normal?

Eadie: “The answer is yes it is concerning, Andy. And the reason being that that’s a source of infection that if you have people coming in and out that can be spread. You have employees coming in and out. Some of the employees have tested positive. We’re following up on that, from our perspective, with contact-tracing and also the state is too. But yes it’s a matter of concern and if you look at the statistics it’s a major source of infection and a major source of fatalities from the disease. Does it affect us going forward? I can’t tell you right now because it’s early days of contact-tracing, but so far we have not identified any positive cases coming out of that facility into Monroe County other than a Monroe County employee. So, I’m not sure how that fits in but we’ve not seen an uptick in that area having infections. So yes it’s concerning but it won’t drive our decisions as to whether this is a major issue. We need to look at it very closely. We’ll see where it goes. That’s the best I can give you. I’m optimistic.  It’s not been as bad as I thought it was and I’m hoping it will continue that way.”

Newman: “What is the total number of patients?”

Eadie: “There were I think 78.”

Emergency Management Situational Update: “As of May 9th, the governor’s executive order 20-120 extending Phase 1 – the Safe, Smart, Step-by-Step Plan for Florida’s Recovery in addition to the Monroe County Emergency Directive 20-08 amendment which was also issued May 9th for the implementation of executive order 20-112 and executive order 20-120 expanding Phase 1 increasing essential-business capacity to no greater than 50% and allowing for businesses performing personal care services such as barbers, salons, nail salons and massage studios to open with a 25% capacity. As far as testing, changes in Monroe County, today CHI is offering free walk-up testing from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Frederick Douglas Community Center Gym in Key West, There is no appointment necessary. Aside from what Bob just reported the cases through today they were at 88 and that was an increase of 8. No increases of deaths or hospitalizations.”

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