First Escambia County COVID-19 Death Reported; Case Count Inches Up In Escambia, Santa Rosa

April 4, 2020

The first COVID-19 death in Escambia County was reported Saturday morning  by the Florida Department of Health. The fatality was a 75-year old female.

Santa Rosa County has recorded two deaths since the pandemic began.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Escambia County increased by five on Saturday, the Florida Department of Health said, while Santa Rosa positive cases increased by three

As of the Saturday evening report, the number of cases in Escambia County is now 118 with nine in the hospital, an increase of four hospitalizations since Friday. There are 50 confirmed cases in Santa Rosa County with seven in the hospital.

Escambia County cases:

  • Total cases — 118 (+5 since Friday)
  • Pensacola — 84
  • Cantonment — 19
  • Bellview — 5
  • Perdido Key — 1
  • Century — 1
  • Residents: 110
  • Nonresidents — 7
  • Hospitalizations:  9
  • Deaths — 1
  • Men — 61
  • Women — 57
  • Youngest: 2
  • Oldest: 94

Santa Rosa County cases:

  • Total cases — 50 (+3  since Friday)
  • Navarre — 15
  • Milton — 15
  • Gulf Breeze — 11
  • Pace — 5
  • Jay — 1
  • Residents: 48
  • Nonresidents — 0
  • Hospitalizations — 8
  • Deaths — 2
  • Men — 30
  • Women — 20
  • Youngest: 2 months
  • Oldest: 81

Florida cases:

  • Total cases: 11,545
  • Florida residents: 11,173
  • Deaths — 195
  • Hospitalized — 1,470

State Attorney’s Office Employee Tests Positive For Coronavirus

April 4, 2020

The Office of the State Attorney announced Friday that an employee of the Pensacola office tested positive for the Covid-19 virus.

The employee was sent home and will not return until being medically cleared.

As a result of the positive test, the office has contacted the Florida Department of Health and is following all recommended procedures. Any employee who has been in close contact with the individual who tested positive will be out of the office for 14 days or until medically cleared

. All areas of the office were deep cleaned and individual’s work area was cordoned off for 72 hours.

The employee who tested positive is a non-courtroom employee and has had little or no contact with any agencies outside the State Attorney’s Office.

“This situation will not affect the ability of our office to perform the duties of our office. No further information will be provided,” the State Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Escambia (AL) Schools Cancel Free Meals For Kids In Response To Governor’s Stay-At-Home Order

April 4, 2020

The Escambia County (AL) School System reacted to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s stay-at home order by canceling free meals for kids.

The district began offering free meals on March 30 to ages 18 and under at school across the county.

“Food distributions have been suspended due to the stay at home order by Governor Ivey,” was posted with no further explanation on the district’s Facebook page.

It was not clear what portion of the governor’s order led to the decision — Ivey’s order states that persons can leave home to obtain food, government-funded services or benefits, and it’s a critical function for schools to prepare meals for eligible students.

Florida Dept. Of Corrections Resumes Inmate Intakes, Establishes Quarantine Procedures

April 4, 2020

The Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) has resumed intake of new commitments from Florida counties.

Under CDC guidelines, FDC is asking county jails to quarantine inmates scheduled to be transferred to prison for 14 days prior to transfer, when possible.

“This two-week pause in new intakes gave us the time we needed to establish robust precautions against introducing COVID-19 into the inmate population,” said FDC Secretary Mark Inch. “We appreciate Florida’s law enforcement community working with us as we took this preventative measure and move forward with a new protocol during this evolving health emergency.”

New intakes will be placed on a 14-day quarantine limiting movement and interaction with the general inmate population except in emergencies. Inmates will be socially distanced as much as possible within their housing units. All meals will be served to the inmates within their housing unit. Medical staff will monitor the inmates twice daily to ensure no inmates show symptoms of illness. At the conclusion of the 14-day quarantine, the inmates will be moved to the general population and the entire dormitory will be sanitized.

Pictured: Century Correctional Institution. NorthEscambia.com file photo.

Century’s Mayor, Good Samaritans Donated Medical Supplies To Local Practice

April 4, 2020

Century Mayor Henry Hawkins and several good Samaritans recently donated medical supplies to Community Health Northwest Florida’s Century adult practice. They delivered bandages, gowns, gauze sponges, glucose testers, and more supplies are on the way.

Century’s Clinical Office Manager Jennifer Johnson said she is “grateful and humbled”.

Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

DeSantis Suspends Mortgage Foreclosures And Evictions For 45 Days

April 3, 2020

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Thursday that suspends foreclosures and evictions for 45 days. The order does not relieve an individual’s obligation to make mortgage payments and rent payments.

DeSantis’ order suspends all statutes “providing for a mortgage foreclosure cause of action.” For evictions, the order only specifies tenants may not be removed for nonpayment, which seemed to indicate evictions for other reasons would be allowable.

“I,m not sure you’re going to rent out a lot of new places anyways, but you never know how people are going to act.” DeSantis said during a press conference.

ECAT To Receive $10.3 Million In Federal Funding; Temporarily Suspends Fares

April 3, 2020

Escambia County Area Transit (ECAT) is expected to receive $10.3 million in COVID-19 stimulus funding, and they are temporarily suspending all fares.

The CARES Act funds are for capital and operational expenses during COVID-19 for local transit services. It’s 100% funding with no local match required.

Beginning Monday, April 6, ECAT will temporarily suspend fare collection for passengers of ECAT bus services due to COVID-19 In addition, bus passengers will be instructed to enter and exit through the rear doors only and sit behind the accessibility-reserved seating area. Front-door access will be permitted only for passengers needing the boarding ramp or operator assistance to access the bus. ADA accessible seating space near the front of the bus is reserved for individuals in mobility devices, individuals in need of special assistance and families with children in strollers.

The changes will provide some separation between the operator and the passengers—and between passengers. The changes are being implemented in addition to precautions already implemented by ECAT, including increased sanitizing efforts of every bus on a daily basis.

Escambia County Mass Transit Director Tonya Ellis stated, “In continuing service during this state of emergency, our priority remains the safety and health of our employees and passengers. By eliminating close interactions at bus fareboxes, we can better implement social distancing by avoiding interaction in this high contact area.”

UWF Making 3D-Printed Face Shields For Medical Workers

April 3, 2020

As a shortage of full face shields for healthcare workers grips the nation in the battle against COVID-19, the University of West Florida responded by asking one of the University’s direct support organizations to manufacture, manage and distribute 3D-printed full face shield supplies at its Sea3D Additive Manufacturing Laboratory in downtown Pensacola. The full face shields will be free of charge and distribution is set to begin on Tuesday, April 7.

“By now most of us are aware of the shortage of face shields for healthcare workers,” said UWF President Martha D. Saunders. “At UWF, we are simply doing what we do best, deploying our resources for the good of our community. Fighting COVID-19 is a critical mission and we’re all in this together.”

The production team will print components for the shields on-demand for distribution after a short application process. Distribution will occur at the Sea3D lab, located inside the UWF Historic Trust’s Museum of Commerce in downtown Pensacola. The goal is to make 60 per day, six days a week, for four weeks, resulting in approximately 1,440 shields per month. While the University is donating these face guard kits, each unit costs $6.50 in materials and roughly $4 in labor. UWF Business Enterprises, Inc., a direct support organization of the University, is sponsoring the initiative and managing the manufacturing and distribution.

Healthcare providers may request the shield kits by completing an online form and satisfying the conditions of acceptance. Priority may be given to local nonprofit healthcare providers serving at risk populations including the elderly, low income and the homeless. After completing a web request and signing a waiver, representatives from healthcare agencies may pick the face guard kits up at 4 p.m. each weekday at the Museum of Commerce.

“This is an opportunity for UWF students and faculty to collaborate with manufacturers and utilize their skills in this time of need,” said Nicole Gislason, interim assistant vice president of the UWF Haas Center. “We teach our students that real-world problems can be transformed into creative solutions through research, invention and discovery. There is no better time than the present for them to put that teaching to practical use.”

The production team consists of innovators from multiple departments at UWF, including nursing, engineering, art and business. UWF students and faculty will work alongside professionals from regional hospitals, the Escambia County Division of Emergency Management, Jupiter Bach, GE Renewable Energy and Alto Products Corp.

“There are thousands of inventors and makers around the globe generously sharing their ideas to address the pandemic,” said Thomas Asmuth, associate professor of the UWF Department of Art and a designer for the production team. “We are very grateful for the quick start from other designers around the world. You can be very agile in response to a problem when you are using rapid prototyping technologies. As a designer and maker, there is nothing comparable.”

Kids Pick Up Chromebooks, Other Virtual Instruction Supplies

April 3, 2020

Kids across Escambia County picked up Chromebooks and other essential items this week from their local school as the district transitions into all remote instruction.

Students in grades K-2 were assigned Chromebooks from a district stockpile. Every Escambia County School district student in grades 3-12 already had a Chromebook. Students without access to adequate internet service will receive lessons on flash drives or in paper packets.

If parents did not receive a call from their child’s teacher this week, they should call the school and leave a message. As of Friday, all teachers and staff are working from home.

Pictured top: A “kid” in the pick up line at Jim Allen Elementary School. First below: Supply distribution at Jim Allen Elementary. Pictured bottom photos: Chromebooks ready for Kingsfield Elementary School students. Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Friday Was Day One Of Florida’s Stay-At-Home Order

April 3, 2020

Florida’s stay-at-home order went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

Under the order, which Gov. Ron DeSantis calls a “Safer at Home” order, Floridians should limit movements to only essential services.

The order includes the following directives and information:

Safer At Home

  • Senior citizens and individuals with a significant underlying medical condition (such as chronic lung disease, moderate-to-severe asthma, serious heart conditions, immunocompromised status, cancer, diabetes, severe obesity, renal failure and liver disease) shall stay at home and take all measures to limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
  • All persons in Florida shall limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities.

Essential Services

  • For purposes of this Order and the conduct it limits, “essential services” means and encompasses the list detailed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, v. 2 (March 28, 2020) and any subsequent lists published.
  • Essential services include, but are not limited to:
    • Healthcare/public health
    • Law enforcement, public safety and other first responders
    • Food and agriculture
    • Employees supporting the energy sector, including electricity, petroleum and natural gas industries
    • Water and wastewater
    • Transportation and logistics
    • Public works and infrastructure support services
    • Communications and information technology
    • Other community or government-based operations and essential functions
    • Critical manufacturing
    • Residential/shelter facilities and services
    • Hygiene products and services
    • View the full list of essential services and guidance here.
  • Essential services also include those businesses and activities designated by the governor’s Executive Order 20-89 which includes a list propounded by Miami-Dade County in multiple orders.
  • Other essential services may be added.
  • Nothing in this order prohibits individuals from working from home; the Order encourages individuals to work from home.
  • All businesses or organizations are encouraged to provide delivery, carry-out or curbside service outside of the business or organization, of orders placed online or via telephone, to the greatest extent practicable.

Essential Activities

  • For purposes of this order and the conduct it limits, “essential activities” means and encompasses the following:
    • Attending religious services conducted in churches, synagogues and houses of worship
    • Participating in recreational activities such as walking, biking, hiking, fishing, hunting, running, or swimming
    • Taking care of pets
    • Caring for or otherwise assisting a loved one or friend
  • Escambia County strongly encourages all essential activities follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Other essential activities may be added to this list.
  • A social gathering in a public space is not an essential activity. Groups of people greater than ten are not permitted to congregate in any public space

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