May 18th COVID-19 Countywide Coordinating Meeting Highlights

Shannon Weiner, Monroe County Emergency Management Director hosted the weekly COVID-19 countywide coordinating meeting this morning.

A few highlights below:

Roman Gastesi, County Administrator:“We continue to coordinate with our counties to the north. We spoke with them many times during the weekend, individually. We have a coordinating call with them tomorrow. As you’ve probably heard Palm Beach is opening their beaches today. Broward is considering Tuesday after Memorial Day. Miami-Dade is still kicking it around. It’s probably going to be another week or so – or two. They’re not sure what they want to do yet. That’s what’s happening up there. Again, we’re coordinating with them. Of course the big news is that we decided yesterday to move on with opening up the checkpoint on June 1st and I’ll turn it over to the Mayor so she can give you some of the particulars on that.”

Heather Carruthers, County Mayor: “Yes. We are coordinating again with all the counties to the north and with the state and also looking at the cases that we’ve been seeing in the county and it really seems like we’ve been successful and the checkpoint has been very successful in helping control the influx of the virus down here. Clearly there’s a lot of pressure for things to start moving again as our economy is starting to falter. So, we feel like this is the time to do this, prudently, but we’re going to have a lot of new procedures in place for all of our hotels and our transient rentals. Our vacation rental folks are putting together their procedures that need to be approved by the administrator and the state. And we’re going to be looking at how we can better make sure that everyone complies with our new directives about things like masks and distancing within our businesses. So, life goes on and it will. So I think the message is people should not let down their guard and think that this means that the virus is over because it’s not. It’s just that now we have to make sure that we always have our protective measures in place so that we can live with it.”

Bob Eadie, DOH-Monroe Administrator: “The cases that we have seen over the past several weeks have been sporadic with the exception of the nursing home facility in Tavernier. You saw there was an increase in cases in Monroe County over the weekend. That came from the tests that we did Friday. Those were tests for the people that had been inconclusive on that first round. We will conduct another round of testing for that facility probably this week – or we won’t – but the Agency for Healthcare Administration will – and we’ll also – the Governor is emphasizing that we be testing – or that where elderly people are living in congregate settings – that they be tested – so moving to that too. There’s testing efforts going on. The bottom line is in Monroe County we have not had any hospitalizations in several weeks. I can’t even remember now when the last one was out. The hospitals will give the report but they’re ready should we see an uptick in cases. So, the reality is, right now, we don’t see very much active infection within Monroe County. Also there’s testing efforts going on throughout the Keys and we’ll see, but so far, the antibody testing that has been conducted is showing very – well none of them have shown positive and I think that over 200 tests have been conducted now. No positives other than a reconfirmation of known positives before. So, from the public health standpoint it seems as though we have the virus in check for Monroe County. Obviously our concern is going to be with the influx of individuals from outside Monroe County but we can’t live in a bubble forever and we need to figure out where we’re going from here and I think we’re prepared as well as we can be so we’ll move forward with that. The real message to be heard is that it is now more important than ever that individuals take care of protecting their own health. All of the recommendations that were made at the very outset of all of this with regard to washing your hands, social distancing, making sure that if you’re ill you stay at home or if somebody’s ill you have them stay at home. All of those -wearing a mask if you’re – all of those – I’m not going to preach that because they’re there. The CDC guidelines are very important for individuals to make sure they don’t get the disease because it’s not just individuals that are at risk but the community could be at risk also. You know, we’re entering a new phase but I think we’re as prepared as we can be.”

Cathy Crane for Monroe County: “Monroe County, as has been said, will be opening June 1st to visitors by suspending the checkpoints on US 1 and State Road 905. Also allowing lodging establishments to take guests at 50% occupancy. Also June 1st the airport screening and bus restrictions will be lifted. Monroe County will be open at 50% for non-essential services, 50% for essential services, and 25% for personal care services.”

Mariner’s and Fishermen’s Hospitals: “We’re green on staffing. We remain on green for surge capability. While we’ve taken down the surge tents we do have altered plans for cohorting of patients if need be. We’re still yellow on gowns but your staff has been exceptional. We’ve got about 10% in – the reusable washable ones. We have not had an in-house patient in – I think 13 days. And we have currently none in-house in either location.

David Clay, Lower Keys Medical Center: “We are green on supplies, staffing, and capacity. We have no PUI’s or positive in-house. To-date we’ve tested 210 patients with only 14 positive. We remain ready in case we have any surges.”

Shannon Weiner, Emergency Management Director: “Moving forward over the next two weeks as we move closer to the 1st the EOC has started over the past two weeks to very slowly transition some staff back to their full-time positions. We will continue to do so for the next two weeks. While I see the EOC workload easing as we move closer to the 1st, we’ll continue to support the screening operations at the airports and the checkpoints. Beyond the 1st we will continue to support the PPE mission to our county’s frontline workers and first responders. We will maintain the non-congregate shelter plan in the event that we need to utilize it and support the countywide disinfection of facilities and the set-up for reopening to the public. And of course, like Bob Eadie said, continue the CDC messaging and guidelines for safety and move in conjunction with the Governor’s safe step-by-step program for recovery.”

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