Escambia County COVID-19 Update

March 17, 2020

Here is the Tuesday midday update from Escambia County:

Escambia County has declared a state of emergency and activated the Emergency Operations Center.

Ascension Medical Group Sacred Heart
On Monday, March 16, Ascension Medical Group Sacred Heart opened the first regional drive-through testing center for COVID-19.

  • IMPORTANT:  All patients are required to be screened before arriving at the drive-through testing center by calling the Ascension Sacred Heart COVID-19 Screening Call Center at (850) 746-2684.
  • The screening call center will open March 16 at 6 a.m. and will be open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • For the week of March 16, the hours of operation for the drive-through testing center for COVID-19 will be 9 a.m-1 p.m.

Baptist Health Care

  • Baptist Health Care continues to see patients as scheduled.
  • Baptist Health Care has no presumptive positive or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any of our facilities at this time.
  • Baptist Health Care continues to see patients as scheduled.
  • Baptist Health Care continues to screen patients according to CDC guidelines and is currently testing those who are eligible at existing locations.  Baptist is considering a centralized testing site, but details have not yet been finalized.  We will continue to follow our current process until further notice.
  • As always, we ask that visitors who are not feeling well consider other ways of connecting with loved ones who are hospitalized, such as through FaceTime.
  • We continue to follow all CDC protocols, including implementation of screening protocols and measures to provide for the greatest access while ensuring the safety of our patients, visitors and team members. Physical isolation areas have been set up in the ERs at all three BHC hospitals (Baptist, Gulf Breeze and Jay) for those who meet CDC criteria for possible COVID-19. The modifications and air handling are constantly monitored to ensure that they meet regulatory requirements.
  • We are continually updating our website and encourage the public to visit eBaptistHealthCare.org for information and updates.

Health Information Provided by the Florida Department of Health .

  • The COVID-19 test is not designed to be a screening tool for asymptomatic people.  If you meet the screening criteria for COVID-19 (experiencing symptoms, have a travel history, or exposure to a COVID-19 patient), contact your healthcare provider. Call, do not visit, your health care provider and tell them about your symptoms and your travel history or exposure to a COVID-19 patient. They will determine if you meet the criteria for testing.
  • Escambia County has had 1 positive COVID-19 case.
  • Public health efforts at this time are focused concurrently on containing spread of this virus and mitigating the impact of this virus. A technique called contact tracing is frequently used during such efforts. Contact tracing tracks and prevents the spread of disease. Epidemiologists work to find everyone who has been in contact with the positive case. Persons identified to be at-risk through the contact tracing process are interviewed, evaluated, and educated on their risk factors and what to do.
  • FDOH-Escambia encourages our residents and visitors to take steps to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19. Everyone can do their part to help. Your cooperation is integral to the ongoing public health response to try to slow the spread of this virus.
  • If you don’t have a health care provider or health insurance, call, do not visit, Community Health Northwest Florida at 850-436-4630 or other community walk-in locations, and tell them about your symptoms and your travel history or exposure to a COVID-19 patient. They will determine if you meet the criteria for testing.
  • Assistance with the steps outlined above may be obtained by calling the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County’s Coronavirus information line at 850-595-6500, option 6.
  • 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:
      • 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 sneeze with 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 Department of Health updates Florida’s COVID-19 information page daily. Please visit www.flhealth.gov/covid-19 for the latest information.
  • For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, please contact the Department’s dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling 1-(866) 779-6121. The Call Center is available 24 hours a day. Inquiries may also be emailed to COVID-19@flhealth.gov.

Escambia County

  • Escambia County and City of Pensacola are following the CDC recommendation that organizers cancel or postpone all publicly-permitted, in-person events that consist of 50 people or more beginning Monday, March 16, until further notice. Event cancellations: Census 2020 Kick-Off Event, AARP Tax-Aide Services at Pensacola Library, Molino Branch Library, and Southwest Branch Library are suspended as of March 16 until further notice.
  • Due to concerns related to COVID-19, Escambia County will postpone scheduled public activities, events, park rentals and programs held at county community centers and county parks effective today, Tuesday, March 17, until further notice, based on a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This does not impact elections locations. Escambia County outdoor parks will remain open at this time for general use.
  • Escambia County is taking additional preventative action to ensure public facilities such as community centers, libraries and public buildings are sanitized.
  • Staff and contractors are increasing the disinfecting of restrooms, customer service areas, exterior entrances, door knobs, hard surfaces and other high-traffic areas.
  • Escambia County staff continue to follow the general cleaning and precautionary guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health organizations. The contracted custodial provider has been informed of CDC recommendations and ensures their process is in line with those recommendations. Commercial hospital-grade disinfectant is being used with each cleaning following the manufacturers recommendation for dwell time.
  • Sanitizer dispensers have been placed throughout various high-traffic buildings such as the M.C. Blanchard Judicial Building.
  • Additional sanitizer dispensers have been ordered for high-volume buildings like community centers and the ECAT facility. CDC signage has been placed in bathrooms in county facilities.
  • The library will continue to offer hand sanitizer at all help desks and Lysol wipes to wipe down computers. Library staff will continue to use Lysol wipes on all computers before the library opens each day, and they have increased wiping down work surfaces throughout the day. Library staff sprays door knobs with Lysol multiple times per day as an additional precaution.
  • ECAT’s fleet maintenance team is constantly working to make sure vehicles and facilities are continuously sanitized. All revenue service vehicles are disinfected daily. Commercial grade disinfectant is currently being used every night by ECAT bus cleaners, which was added as part of the enhanced comprehensive bus cleaning process. The county has communicated with the contracted paratransit provider to relay CDC information and has ensured the steps they are taking are sufficient.
  • Escambia County has established a Joint Information Center to streamline distribution of public information regarding COVID-19. The JIC is located in the Escambia County Public Safety Building, 6575 N. “W” St. The Emergency Operations Center is not currently activated. Escambia County will disseminate coordinated releases around 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, consisting of any updates from all partner agencies related to COVID-19 preventative actions, cancellations, or preparedness activities. Individual organizations will continue to send their own news releases.
  • The Tax Collector’s Office reminds citizens that they can protect their health and the health of others while still doing business with the office and encourages citizens to utilize online services by visiting EscambiaTaxCollector.com. Citizens can also get in line online prior to visiting an office, to limit their in-person wait time.
  • Effective immediately, the following services are available online only at EscambiaTaxCollector.com
    • Property Tax Payments – Property tax payments are due by the end of March
    • Business Tax Receipt – Businesses can renew and print their businesses tax receipts online
    • BTExpress – Citizens and business owners can apply for a new business tax receipt or edit information on your current account
    • Vehicle/Vessel Registration (Express Lane) – Renew online and pick up the same or next business day in one of our convenient drive thrus or have the registration mailed to you
    • Hunting and Fishing License – Purchase or renew online

City of Pensacola

  • Due to concerns related to COVID-19, the City of Pensacola is closing all community centers and programs to the public effective Monday, March 16, until further notice. In addition, event rentals with 50 or more participants at city facilities are canceled effective immediately for at least eight weeks, based on a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    • Exceptions:
    • Senior Meal Pickup Locations:
    • Seniors who usually get their meals at Fricker Resource Center can pick up meals at Cobb Resource Center. Seniors who usually get their meals at Gull Point Resource Center can pick up meals at Bayview Senior Center.
    • Seniors must call Council on Aging at 432-1475 before noon the day before pickup to reserve their meal.
    • For more information and updates, please contact City of Pensacola Parks and Recreation at 436-5670 or like Play Pensacola Parks & Recreation on Facebook
    • Voting locations:
    • City of Pensacola community centers that are used as polling locations will remain open for voting Tuesday, March 17, for the Presidential Preference Primary Election.
    • The community centers will be open for voting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for voters assigned to that precinct. To find your polling location, visit the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections website at escambiavotes.com.
    • The following city community centers will be open Tuesday, March 17 as polling locations only:
    • Event cancellations
    • Escambia County and the City of Pensacola are canceling all publicly-permitted events with 50 or more people in an abundance of caution related to COVID-19.
    • The action is being taken in response to a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.
    • This only applies to events that are permitted through Escambia County or the City of Pensacola. Private event organizers are encouraged to use their discretion and follow the directions of officials from the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine if event cancellations are necessary.
    • Per the CDC’s recommendation, the cancellation of publicly-permitted events will be in place for eight weeks. Escambia County and City of Pensacola officials will reassess the situation after eight weeks and determine whether to continue or lift the cancellations.
    • The city and county will work with event organizers to reschedule events as needed.
    • Residents are encouraged to use their discretion when it comes to attending public events.
    • Other city actions:
    • Public access at City Hall has been limited to the automatic doors on the east side of the building. The front entrance has been locked in order to limit public contact with door handles.
    • City departments have continuity of operations plans in place to ensure essential services will be maintained if the city’s workforce is impacted.
    • Based on guidance from the state, Pensacola Fire Department and the Pensacola Police Department have temporarily stopped fire station and police station tours in an effort to protect first responders and maintain critical public safety infrastructure.
    • The Pensacola Police Department Citizens Academy has been postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date.
    • Home smoke alarm installations are still available for city residents by calling PFD at 436-5200.

Pensacola International Airport

  • Pensacola International Airport continues to monitor coronavirus (COVID-19) and stay in regular contact with state and local partners to ensure a coordinated approach for any necessary response.
  • At this time, the airport is open and fully operational. Airport staff will continue to work to provide a safe and easy travel experience for passengers and will update as directives come from the Florida Department of Health.
  • Travelers who are not feeling well are encouraged to please stay home and reschedule travel plans. Some airlines are waiving cancellation fees due to the public health concerns in regard to COVID-19. Please check with your airline to confirm if this is an option for your flight.
  • The airport has increased the frequency at which public touch points are cleaned, such as elevator buttons, escalator handrails, chair armrests, counter tops and other high-traffic public areas. Hand sanitizer stations are also located throughout the terminal for the public’s use.
  • Pup Patrol activity in the terminal will cease until further notice
  • Airport USO center is closed until further notice.
  • United is cancelling the Chicago flight for the month of April.

Escambia County Supervisor of Elections
Supervisor of Elections David H. Stafford today offered Escambia County voters some tips to prepare for Election Day, Tuesday, March 17, including actions the Election Office is taking to for COVID 19 Preparedness.

  • The health and safety of our community – including voters, poll workers and staff is our top concern.
  • Voters and election workers are reminded to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, like COVID 19 by taking everyday precautions.
  • We have directed our poll workers and staff to wipe down equipment frequently, to wash their hands thoroughly and often, as stay home if they’re sick.
  • Our office is providing each polling location with a limited supply of hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and tissues; however, voters are encouraged to bring their own sanitary items with them to the polls as desired.
  • “Over-the-counter” Vote-by-Mail ballots can be picked up by voters (or their designees) at our office Saturday until 5p.m., Monday, and Election Day (emergency only).
  • Confirm the location of your polling place prior to Election Day:  It is listed on your sample ballot, voter information card, online at EscambiaVotes.com, or call 595-3900.
  • Several polling locations have changed since the last election. A list of the changes is attached.
  • Busiest times at the polls tend to be from 7 – 9 a.m., and from 4 – 6 p.m.
  • If you are unsure of your registration status, check EscambiaVotes.com, e-mail us at soe@escambiavotes.com, or call 595-3900.
  • If you need to update your address, contact us prior to Election Day so you can be directed to your proper polling location.
  • Photo and signature ID is required for all voters – if you do not present an approved form of ID, you may vote a provisional ballot.
  • Florida holds closed primary elections. Only registered Republicans and Democrats are eligible to vote in this election.
  • Registration books closed on February 18 – new registrations and party changes for this election may not be made at the polls.
  • You may not return your completed vote-by-mail ballot to your precinct on Election Day – it must be returned to the Elections Office by 7 p.m.
  • If you requested a vote-by-mail ballot but chose not to return it and wish to vote at your polling place instead, please bring your unvoted ballot package with you so it can be cancelled

Escambia County School District
Escambia County School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas announced on March 12 that in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Escambia County School District will take the following measures to restrict students and employees traveling within and outside of our district, and specifically, out-of-state:

  • Following the order by the Governor and Commissioner of Education, all school districts in the State of Florida will be closed for Spring Break and one additional week.The start of state testing will also be delayed by a minimum of two weeks. For Escambia County, Florida, this means Spring Break will be March 16 – 20, and all employees that were originally scheduled to work during Spring Break should report to work next week as planned. Spring Break will be used to further clean and sanitize school campuses, district facilities, and school buses. This time will also be used to update the district’s educational continuity plan.
  • Escambia County School District’s Food Service Department is planning to begin providing supplemental school meals from March 23 to 27, at the following locations: Bratt Elementary School, Bellview Elementary School, Warrington Middle School, C.A. Weis Elementary School, Booker T. Washington High School, Breakfast and lunch will be available from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Meals will be distributed in a curbside pick-up operation. Food items will be in to-go containers and will consist of ready-to-eat food items that should be consumed when received or should be quickly refrigerated for consumption at a later time.  Meals are available for children and teens ages 18 and under.
  • If meals continue to be required after March 27, sites may be adjusted based on need and participation.
  • For the week of March 23 – 27, no student nor employee should report to school or to work. During the mandatory second week closure, all district employees will receive their regular pay.
  • The plan at this time is for all students and employees to return on Monday, March 30.
  • All student after-school activities and athletic events are canceled starting Monday, March 16 through Saturday, March 28.
  • The School Board of Escambia County will still hold their Regular Meeting on Tuesday, March 24 at 5:30 p.m., in Room 160, at the J. E. Hall Center, 30 E. Texar Drive.
  • Superintendent Thomas will be providing updates to families and staff by automated telephone messages.Parents and employees are encouraged to monitor district media sources, including the district website.
  • Effective immediately, all out-of-state school-related travel for both students and staff members is suspended for the remainder of the school year.
  • All student and staff school-related in-state travel is suspended for the next 30 days, at which time, requests may be re-evaluated to determine feasibility of travel within the state of Florida.
  • All student field trips will be suspended for a period of 30 days, and future requests will be evaluated after that time.
  • Outdoor sporting events will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Events involving teams traveling here from other counties will be canceled if that county has had any incidents of COVID-19. Example: The Aggie Classic has been cancelled.
  • Based on current guidelines from the Department of Health: Anyone (students/faculty/staff/etc.) who travels to any foreign country, must self-isolate for 14 days upon return. Anyone (students/faculty/staff/etc.) who goes on a cruise, anywhere, must self-isolate for 14 days upon return.

University of West Florida

  • The UWF John C. Pace Library is providing a limited number of laptops for students who do not have a computer to check out for the entire two-week period.
  • University of West Florida students resume classes Monday, March 16 with instruction from faculty delivered remotely. Last Wednesday, the State University System of Florida mandated all universities transition to remote instruction. Face-to-face instruction at UWF is currently set to resume on March 30.
  • All university-sponsored events scheduled from March 16 until March 30 taking place on campus, at other UWF instructional sites or off-campus must be postponed, canceled or virtually conducted.
  • Faculty and staff business meetings will continue as scheduled unless notified otherwise. Faculty and staff should consider hosting meetings virtually, when possible.
  • UWF Athletics: The Gulf South Conference has suspended all athletic competition, countable athletic-related activities, and off-campus recruiting for an indefinite period. This decision was made after thorough collaboration between the conference office, university presidents and chancellors, and the league’s athletic directors.
  • All university-sponsored domestic and international travel (business-related travel, study abroad, exchange, faculty-led programs) is prohibited until further notice unless approved by a University vice president. Only travel deemed essential by a vice president will be approved.
  • Additional information and Frequently Asked Questions are available at uwf.edu/coronavirus.

Pensacola State College

  • The health and well-being of Pensacola State College students, faculty, staff, and the community are always the most important priority of the PSC administration.  PSC is in constant communication with local county health officials as well as state agencies regarding the COVID-19 virus, and we are continually monitoring the situation.
  • Pensacola State College will be on spring break the week of March 16 through March 22.  In addition, coinciding with the Governor’s required K-12 closings, all Pensacola State College classes are suspended from March 23 through 29.
  • During the time that classes are suspended, the PSC administration will monitor conditions to determine what further actions are needed after March 29.
  • All full-time employees will report to work the week of March 23. Kelly Services staff and work-study students will be permitted to return to work the week of March 23, as well.  Any employee with special circumstances that will prevent them from returning to work should contact their supervisor as soon as possible.
  • All PSC events have been postponed through the end of April, for example, the Lumberjack Festival that was scheduled for March 28.
  • PSC is asking that all students, faculty, and staff frequently check their email, the PSC website, social media, and the local media for further updates from the college.

Recreational Cancellations

  • Escambia County and the City of Pensacola are canceling all publicly-permitted events with 50 or more people starting Monday, March 16 as recommended by the CDC.

ECUA

  • Based on our commitment to and interest in public health, ECUA is immediately suspending the discontinuation of services for non-payment during the COVID-19 pandemic period.  This will apply to all residential and commercial accounts and will be in effect until further notice.  As a provider of essential services, ECUA is committed to helping our community cope with the extraordinary demands resulting from this outbreak.
  • ECUA is closely monitoring this dynamic situation and following guidance from public health officials and government agencies, most specifically the Centers for Disease Control and the Florida Department of Health.
  • The ECUA Citizens’ Advisory Committee meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 17, at 3 p.m., is canceled.
  • There is no effect on the water system due to the coronavirus, regardless the chlorination process ECUA utilizes in its water system is effective in inactivating the coronaviruses therefore, we are confident that the potable water supply is unaffected by COVID-19.
  • In addition to our regular cleaning procedures, ECUA has implemented increased sanitizing measures at all office locations, with extra attention to customer service and high traffic areas in our corporate office.
  • ECUA’s professional employees are critical to our ability to serve the community.  For their sake and that of our customers’, we have directed our staff to limit face-to-face meetings in favor of communication via email or conference calls, encouraged diligent attention to proper hand washing and hygiene, and to stay home if they are not feeling well.  We intend to continue to focus on prevention and do everything in our power to maintain quality services with little or no interruption.

Visit Pensacola

  • Visit Pensacola, Escambia County’s destination marketing organization is continually monitoring the COVID-19 situation and is in close communication and coordination with Escambia County, City of Pensacola, Visit Florida and state officials.
  • We remain a resource to our partners, stakeholders and community with current updates in this rapidly changing time. Visit Pensacola has representatives at the Emergency Operation Center and will continue to send the most up to date information we receive within our community as well as within the tourism industry.
  • The Visit Pensacola visitor centers (Pensacola and Perdido Key) remain open and continue to be provided with the latest COVID-19 information and resources to help keep the traveling public informed. We continue to ask that all stakeholders and partners, communicate what they are experiencing so we can best track and report the impact on our area.
  • While the two centers remain open, we are encouraging guests that do not feel well to please utilize our assistance by phone or visiting our website, www.visitpensacola.com. The safety of our staff is of the utmost importance; therefore, we are practicing safe distancing and increasing sanitary measures to the centers.
  • The Pensacola Beach visitor center will be a virtual office as of March 17, 2020. The office staff will be available via phone and email. However, the office will be closed to the public until further notice.

Comments

2 Responses to “Escambia County COVID-19 Update”

  1. Dawn Burrus on March 17th, 2020 9:33 pm

    Thank you for this update and further notifications. Many of us appreciate the extra work load this pandemic is causing.

  2. Concerned worker on March 17th, 2020 11:45 am

    Great, an employee came into contact with someone that’s confirmed to have it and we have no idea as to if we will be closed. Always Absent Owner wants to stay open for business but our health care insurance plan isn’t that good. Business is very slow anyways, so this may put me out of work for a few.





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