The State of Florida Issues COVID-19 and Tropical Storm Laura Updates 08/21/20

8/21/2020

The State of Florida Issues COVID-19 and Tropical Storm Laura Updates 08/21/20

The State of Florida is responding to COVID-19 and Tropical Storm Laura.

This is the last weekly update from the Joint Information Center on COVID-19 the State of Florida will issue regarding COVID-19 state agency response actions. Moving forward, updates will be provided as necessary. Updates about actions taken by state agencies will be available through their respective websites. However, the Florida Department of Health will continue to update the COVID-19 dashboard and post the state report daily. Additionally, the Governor launched a daily newsletter this week which the Governor’s Press Office will post every morning Monday through Friday.

Governor Ron DeSantis is in constant communication with Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz and State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees as the State of Florida continues to monitor and respond to the threat of COVID-19 and Tropical Storm Laura.

This week, Governor DeSantis announced the launch of a new survey tool for self-assessment and safe behavior scores on COVID-19. This survey will allow Floridians to make important self-assessments on their COVID-19 behaviors through the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. More information is available here.

On Wednesday, Governor DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis hosted a mental health roundtable discussion regarding COVID-19 in Altamonte Springs. The roundtable is available to view here.

The Governor’s Task Force on the Safe and Limited Re-Opening of Long-Term Care Facilities held two meetings this week and both were streamed via The Florida Channel. The meeting from Tuesday is available here and the meeting from Wednesday is available here.

On Friday, Governor DeSantis was briefed by the Florida Division of Emergency Management on Tropical Storm Laura. Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-209, declaring a state of emergency in counties in Tropical Storm Laura’s path.  

Recent actions the state has taken to respond to COVID-19:

  • The State Emergency Operations Center continues to be activated at a Level 1 as the State Emergency Response Team responds to Tropical Storm Laura and COVID-19.
  • The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) has pre-staged a mobile hospital unit in Marion County in anticipation of Tropical Storm Laura. The mobile hospital unit is ready to be deployed to hospitals that may experience impacts from the storm.
  • The Division has prepared shelter PPE kits to distribute to shelters that may open in response to Tropical Storm Laura. The kits contain hand sanitizer, masks and gloves, with equipment for kids, adults and shelter staff.
  • FDEM is hosting daily calls with County Emergency Management Directors to deliver updates regarding Tropical Storm Laura and provide assistance to counties as they prepare to respond to the storm.
  • To date, the Division has sent the following PPE to support health care workers and first responders:
    • More than 63 million masks
    • More than 6 million gloves
    • More than 2 million face shields
    • More than 1.2 million shoe covers
    • More than 2 million gowns
    • More than 109 thousand goggles
    • More than 75 thousand coveralls
  • The Florida Department of Health (DOH) assessed current state oxygen supply inventory in anticipation of Tropical Storm Laura impacts.
  • DOH is monitoring Tropical Storm Laura and is ready to provide additional support to special needs shelters in impacted counties if necessary.
  • To date, DOH has reported more than 2,600 contact tracers who are assisting with COVID-19 efforts across the state.
  • The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) has made more than 5,200 onsite visits to facilities and more than 43,500 telephone calls to residential providers statewide to provide support and determine emergent needs of facilities.
  • AHCA is closely monitoring Tropical Storm Laura’s projected path for any potential impact on health care facilities and Agency field offices.
  • This week, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) published FAQs Related to Restaurants and Food Establishmentswhich provided updated guidance on employee screening protocols, sanitation and safety, and occupancy and seating of patrons in connection with the recent issuance of Executive Order 20-192.
  • Today, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) held a briefing with agency leadership regarding Tropical Storm Laura. The team discussed disaster plans, identified needs that could arise in the coming days, and made it clear that the goal is to keep the workforce safe, while still maintaining high-quality service delivery for Florida’s children and families.
  • FDC is conducting broad-based COVID-19 testing at institutions when indicated by a positive case. More than 80,000 inmates have been tested.
  • 10,535 inmates who have tested positive have been cleared from medical isolation.
  • More than 50 percent of all staff who have tested positive (1,468) have been cleared to return to work following CDC guidelines.
  • FDC is taking proactive steps to ensure public safety and make sure the individuals entrusted to our custody are safe and secure as Florida prepares to respond to Tropical Storm Laura.
  • FDC staff have begun working to make necessary preparations for inmates housed in facilities located in the path of the storm. Decisions to evacuate facilities will be made on a case-by-case basis and on what is in the best interest of the public, staff and inmate safety.
  • Offenders on community supervision will be given specific instructions from their probation officers in the event evacuations are deemed necessary or if their probation office closes during normal reporting hours.
  • In the event of an institution evacuation, announcements will be made upon completion. Inmate locations will be posted on the website approximately 24-hours after relocation, per standard protocol.
  • Individuals are encouraged to visit the Department website or social media channels prior to contacting individual institutions. Frequent updates regarding visitation and office closures will be posted on Facebook, Twitter and www.dc.state.fl.us
  • The Florida Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) is holding calls with DOEA Emergency Coordinator, the AAA directors and their Emergency Coordinators to discuss and plan for Tropical Storm Laura.
  • DOEA is holding CARES Supervisor calls to prepare for COVID-19 related discharge planning activities, if needed, in anticipation of Tropical Storm Laura impacts.
  • This week, Governor Ron DeSantis, First Lady Casey DeSantis and DOEA Secretary Richard Prudom announced the launch of the Florida Safe Survey CV19 CheckUp. The Florida Safe Survey was developed to help improve health habits during the age of COVID19. All Floridians are encouraged to take the survey at FloridaSafeSurvey.com.
  • DOEA Secretary Prudom presented with HHS Deputy Secretary/Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Aging Lance Robertson on the effects and solutions for mitigating social isolation at home and in long-term care facilities on a virtual conference hosted by The Alzheimer’s Association and DOEA.
  • DOEA Secretary Prudom participated in two Governor’s Task Force on the Safe and Limited Re-Opening of Long-Term Care Facilities meetings.
  • DOEA and the Aging Network have provided nearly 9 million home-delivered meals since the beginning of COVID-19 in March; 411,000 meals were delivered last week alone.
  • Since its inception, the DOEA Restaurant Meal Initiative has served over 1,731,000 meals in partnership with the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association with delivery through the Department’s 11 Area Agencies on Aging.
  • For the 16th straight week, Florida’s Aging Network has delivered at or above 200% more meals to older adults and disabled individuals than prior to COVID-19.
  • Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is closely monitoring Tropical Storm Laura and stands ready to assist.
  • Since March 1, 2020, Floridians have conducted over 2.4 million motor vehicle and credential transactions virtually through the department’s online services webpage. FLHSMV encourages Floridians who can, to complete their driver license or motor vehicle transactions online, rather than in person at a driver license office.
  • All Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) facilities and centers are on alert for Tropical Storm Laura, monitoring weather advisories and completing pre-storm preparations.
  • The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and its law enforcement partners are activated in anticipation of impacts from Tropical Storm Laura.
  • The Florida Department of Management Services (DMS)’s State Purchasing Team continues to lead Emergency Support Function 7 in the State Emergency Operations Center and provides critical procurement and consultation support during the state’s COVID-19 and Tropical Storm Laura response.
  • DMS is coordinating with communication service providers to identify and pre-position resources in anticipation of impacts from Tropical Storm Laura in the event of a service disruption.
  • DMS’ Real Estate Development and Management team continues to work with facility managers in regions in Tropical Storm Laura’s path for coordinating state building closures.
  • DMS is encouraging state employees in regions in Tropical Storm Laura’s path to make plans, prepare disaster supply kits and stay informed.
  • Approximately 1,198 Florida National Guardsmen are mobilized to support Florida’s response to COVID-19.
  • The Florida National Guard continues to support the state’s testing efforts and has assisted in the testing of more than 1,162,657 individuals for COVID-19.
  • The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) has activated its Emergency Response Team and will begin holding regular conference calls to prepare for the possible impact of Tropical Storm Laura.
  • The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is currently monitoring Tropical Storm Laura and will shore up construction sites and monitor drainage in and around the state’s roadways to help ensure the safety of the traveling public.
  • FDOT continues to coordinate with airports and airlines to monitor airport activity as well as industry impacts.
  • The Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA) is monitoring Tropical Storm Laura and is reminding Floridians that State Veterans’ Nursing Homes, VA Medical Centers and VA Outpatient Clinics are not designated hurricane evacuation shelters.
  • The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)’s Division of Law Enforcement is communicating with partners, monitoring current weather patterns and assessing resources to deploy such as shallow draft vessels and four-wheel drive vessels.
  • VISIT FLORIDA's three official Florida Welcome Centers, located at major access points into the state, transitioned into emergency information centers offering the latest details on Tropical Storm Laura. The welcome centers are operating with sanitization and social distancing measures recommended by public health officials. Nearly a half-million face masks have been provided by DOH and FDEM and are being made available to visitors.
  • As Tropical Storm Laura approaches Florida’s coast, Volunteer Florida is working with partners and Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) to prepare resources and potential response efforts. The agency is also preparing to assist with coordinating volunteer opportunities through Volunteer Connect, Florida’s official volunteer opportunities platform.

Additional actions the state has taken to respond to COVID-19:

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

  • The Florida Department of Health (DOH) assessed current state oxygen supply inventory in anticipation of Tropical Storm Laura impacts.
  • DOH is monitoring Tropical Storm Laura and is ready to provide additional support to special needs shelters in impacted counties if necessary.
  • DOH has updated the Florida COVID-19 Response page to include a map with state-supported and county health department supported COVID-19 Testing Location Sites. This map will be updated once a week.
  • DOH issued a revised Public Health Advisory recommending the following:
    • All individuals in Florida should wear face coverings in any setting where social distancing is not possible.
    • All individuals should refrain from participation in social or recreational gatherings of more than 10 people.
    • All individuals over the age of 65 and all individuals of any age with high-risk health conditions should limit personal interactions outside of the home.
  • DOH has posted a list of Agency for Persons with Disabilities Licensed Group Homes with positive COVID-19 cases. This report will be updated weekly and is available here.
  • DOH reminded all Floridians to protect the vulnerable by avoiding the Three Cs: Closed Spaces, Crowded Places and Close-Contact Settings and by wearing a mask in public:
    • Closed Spaces. Avoid closed spaces with poor ventilation that could allow contagious droplets to linger in the air.
    • Crowded Places. Avoid crowded places with many people nearby; the greater the number of individuals in an area, the greater the chances of COVID-19 spreading from person-to-person.
    • Close-Contact Settings. Avoid close-range conversations and stay at least six-feet from others.
    • All individuals should refrain from participation in social or recreational gatherings of more than 50 people.
  • To date, DOH has reported more than 2,600 contact tracers who are assisting with COVID-19 efforts across the state.
  • DOH announced that the list of long-term care facilities in Florida associated with COVID-19 cases will now include active cases in each facility in order to provide real-time data. The list of long-term care facilities with active COVID-19 cases is available here
  • DOH is providing a report detailing surveillance data for every Florida county. Previously, this information was only available for select communities. The surveillance data report is available here.
  • DOH established a public call center for questions regarding COVID-19. The call center launched Monday, March 2, and is open 24/7.
  • More information on DOH’s COVID-19 response is available here.

FLORIDA DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

  • The State Emergency Operations Center continues to be activated at a Level 1 as the State Emergency Response Team responds to Tropical Storm Laura and COVID-19.
  • The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) has pre-staged a mobile hospital unit in Marion County in anticipation of Tropical Storm Laura. The mobile hospital unit is ready to be deployed to hospitals that may experience impacts from the storm.
  • The Division has prepared shelter PPE kits to distribute to shelters that may open in response to Tropical Storm Laura. The kits contain hand sanitizer, masks and gloves, with equipment for kids, adults and shelter staff.
  • FDEM is hosting daily calls with County Emergency Management Directors to deliver updates regarding Tropical Storm Laura and provide assistance to counties as they prepare to respond to the storm.
  • FDEM continues to prioritize testing for symptomatic individuals, individuals 65 and older and children under the age of 18. More information about the state’s COVID-19 testing initiative is available here.  
  • To date, the Division has sent the following PPE to support health care workers and first responders:
    • More than 63 million masks
    • More than 17.6 million gloves
    • More than 2 million face shields
    • More than 1.2 million shoe covers
    • More than 5.2 million gowns
    • More than 109 thousand goggles
    • More than 75 thousand coveralls
  • At the direction of Governor DeSantis, the state currently supports 60 COVID-19 testing sites across the state, with the capacity to conduct up to 30,000 tests per day. The state continues to expand testing capacity, in addition to supporting county-run testing efforts, to ensure all Floridians can receive a COVID-19 test. A list of state-supported testing sites can be found here.
  • Find more information on DEM’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA AGENCY FOR HEALTH CARE ADMINISTRATION

  • The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) has made more than 5,200 onsite visits to facilities and more than 43,500 telephone calls to residential providers statewide to provide support and determine emergent needs of facilities.
  • AHCA is closely monitoring Tropical Storm Laura’s projected path for any potential impact on health care facilities and Agency field offices.
  • AHCA added an additional tab to the Hospital Bed Capacity Dashboard to reflect hospitalizations with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19.
  • On June 16, AHCA issued Emergency Rule 59AER20-4 and Emergency Rule 59AER20-5. These rules require nursing home and assisted living facility staff to be tested for COVID-19 every two weeks with testing resources provided by the state and to submit test results to their employer/facility.
  • AHCA issued Emergency Rule 59AER20-2 and Emergency Rule 59AER20-3. These rules require nursing homes and assisted living facilities to grant access to the Florida Department of Health or their authorized representative for the purpose infection prevention and control, including mandated COVID-19 testing of both on-duty and off-duty staff when arranged by the Department.
  • At the direction of Governor DeSantis, AHCA issued Emergency Rule 59AER20-1 requiring hospitals to test all patients for COVID-19, regardless of symptoms, prior to discharge to long-term care facilities.
  • AHCA sent out an email to nursing homes requiring the transfer of residents with verified or suspected cases if they cannot be appropriately isolated and adhere to the CDC recommendations for COVID-19 response.
  • AHCA issued a provider alert announcing additional flexibility within the Medicaid program made at the direction of Governor DeSantis. Authorization requirements and services limits for medically necessary behavioral health care for are now waived.
  • AHCA created a new temporary Personal Care Attendant program to help long-term care facilities fill staffing shortages. The program provides an 8-hour training on assisting with direct care so that personal care attendants can temporarily perform additional duties.
  • AHCA has been working with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to ensure current Medicaid recipients maintain benefits during the state of emergency. Medicaid application deadlines have also been extended.
  • Find more information on AHCA’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL REGULATION

  • This week, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) published FAQs Related to Restaurants and Food Establishments which provided updated guidance on employee screening protocols, sanitation and safety, and occupancy and seating of patrons in connection with the recent issuance of Executive Order 20-192.
  • DBPR reported the emergency suspension of an alcoholic beverage vendor license related to four license holders on August 10, 2020. This emergency license action is based on a finding that immediate danger to public health, safety, or welfare requires suspension of the license to avoid future harm.
    • BEV 3900906 (Pegasus Lounge & Package-Hillsborough)
    • BEV 5802634 (Mathers/Shots/Joysticks- Orange)
    • BEV 4700216 (Pockets Pool & Pub- Leon)
    • BEV 4606799 (Rusty’s Raw Bar and Grill- Lee)
  • DBPR issued Emergency Order 2020-09, effective June 26, 2020, that suspends the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises for all vendors licensed for such sale who derive more than 50 percent of gross revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages. Such vendors may continue to sell alcoholic beverages in sealed containers for consumption off the premises in accordance with Executive Order 20-71, Sections 1 and 2.
  • DBPR issued Emergency Order 2020-08 which extends the deadlines for examination eligibility and licensure eligibility through December 31, 2020, for professional licenses regulated pursuant to Chapter 455, Florida Statutes, and the related professional practice acts. The Order supersedes section 4 of DBPR Emergency Order 2020-03, which had previously extended these deadlines through May 31, 2020.
  • DPBR has distributed Additional Information for Barbershops and Cosmetology Salons Pursuant to Executive Order 20-120 and FAQs for Executive Order 20-120 – Expanding Phase 1: Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery to provide additional information and guidelines for barbershops, cosmetology salons, and cosmetology specialty salons.
  • Find more information on DBPR’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

  • Today, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) held a briefing with agency leadership regarding Tropical Storm Laura. The team discussed disaster plans, identified needs that could arise in the coming days, and made it clear that the goal is to keep the workforce safe, while still maintaining high-quality service delivery for Florida’s children and families.
  • Governor DeSantis announced federal approval for the implementation of Florida’s Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program, which allowed the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to issue more than $662 million in benefits during the month of June to more than 2.1 million children who have temporarily lost access to free and reduced-price school meals during COVID-19-related school closures. 
  • Per DCF’s request, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved Florida’s waiver to permit the state to launch a pilot project that allows families to purchase groceries online with their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card beginning April 21, 2020.
  • As part of her Hope for Healing Florida initiative, First Lady Casey DeSantis announced that DCF will be receiving a $1.9 million emergency grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which will provide crisis counseling and other mental health support for Floridians impacted by COVID-19.
  • DCF continues to work diligently with the Department of Health (DOH) to develop precautionary protocols for child welfare professionals and adult protective investigators who may have to make in-person visits to ensure the safety of those vulnerable populations.
  • Find more information on DCF’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

  • The Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) has sourced PPE to correctional institutions since the onset of the pandemic, and these numbers continue to grow:
    • More than 250,000 N95 masks
    • More than 2.5 million surgical masks
    • More than 430,000 boxes of gloves
    • More than 5,000 pairs of eye protection
    • More than 50,000 gowns and coveralls
    • More than 800 hand sanitizer dispensers (for use by FDC staff)
    • More than 6,000 gallons of hand sanitizer (for use by FDC staff)
  • FDC is conducting broad-based COVID-19 testing at institutions when indicated by a positive case. More than 80,000 inmates have been tested.
  • 10,535 inmates who have tested positive have been cleared from medical isolation.
  • More than 50 percent of all staff who have tested positive (1,468) have been cleared to return to work following CDC guidelines.
  • FDC has resumed modified volunteer activities at select institutions.
  • FDC has distributed cloth face coverings to all correctional officers and inmates at correctional institutions statewide.
  • FDC is closely aligned with the CDC Interim Guidance on Management of COVID-19 in Correctional and Detention Facilities.
  • New inmate commitments from county jails undergo additional screening and 14-day quarantine before placement within the general population.
  • FDC has suspended visitation at all correctional institutions statewide.
  • Find more information on FDC’s response to COVID-19 here. 
  • FDC is taking proactive steps to ensure public safety and make sure the individuals entrusted to our custody are safe and secure as Florida prepares to respond to Tropical Storm Laura.
  • FDC staff have begun working to make necessary preparations for inmates housed in facilities located in the path of the storm. Decisions to evacuate facilities will be made on a case-by-case basis and on what is in the best interest of the public, staff and inmate safety.
  • Offenders on community supervision will be given specific instructions from their probation officers in the event evacuations are deemed necessary or if their probation office closes during normal reporting hours.
  • In the event of an institution evacuation, announcements will be made upon completion. Inmate locations will be posted on the website approximately 24-hours after relocation, per standard protocol.
  • Individuals are encouraged to visit the Department website or social media channels prior to contacting individual institutions. Frequent updates regarding visitation and office closures will be posted on Facebook, Twitter and www.dc.state.fl.us.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

  • Governor Ron DeSantis has directed the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) to continue waiving the work search, work registration and waiting week requirements for claimants through September 5, 2020.
  • To comply with federal law, effective May 10, 2020, claimants for all Reemployment Assistance programs, including state Reemployment Assistance, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, will be required to return to the CONNECT system every two weeks to request their benefits. In doing so, claimants will confirm that they are still unemployed and acknowledge that they are able and available for work should it be offered. For more information, click here. If claimants, currently receiving Reemployment Assistance benefits, no longer wish to receive benefits, they do not need to request their benefits, as payments will stop processing if weeks stop being claimed.
  • DEO, in partnership with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, launched a website to verify the identity of claimants who have been locked out of their CONNECT account, the online system for processing Reemployment Assistance claims. Individuals who were locked out of their CONNECT account have been notified and provided a direct link to verify their information so they can access their account.
  • DEO is administering the Federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. The program is offered by the federal CARES Act and provides up to 13 weeks of benefits to a claimant who has exhausted Reemployment Assistance. For more information, please click here.
  • The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program that provides unemployment benefits to those that may not otherwise be eligible under Florida’s state Reemployment Assistance program is available. Eligibility includes independent contractors, gig workers and individuals who are self-employed. Working Floridians who have been impacted by COVID-19 and believe they may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, can visit org and select "File a Claim" to apply and be considered for PUA. Individuals may also call 1-833-FL-Apply (1-833-352-7759) for any questions they may have.
  • DEO continues to provide updates on the efforts made to address the challenges to Florida’s Reemployment Assistance program in response to COVID-19. This includes the State Reemployment Assistance Claims Dashboard that is updated daily to reflect the total number of Reemployment Assistance Claims submitted, verified, processed and paid.
  • DEO announced more than 1,000 small businesses have been awarded more than $49 million from the Florida Small Emergency Bridge Loan program
  • The Business Damage Assessment survey is activated and continues to accept surveys to assess the impact of COVID-19 on Florida’s local business operations and determine the appropriate actions for recovery. Click here to access the survey.
  • Find more information on DEO’s response to COVID-19 here. 

 FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

  • As of August 14, the Florida Department of Education has approved 52 school district re-opening plans.
  • This week, 13 school districts across Florida reopened to provide in-person education to Florida students: Baker, Bradford, Calhoun, Dixie, Franklin, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hardee, Martin, Orange (virtually), Suwannee, Union, and Wakulla counties.
  • So far in-person student turnout is 93% in Baker County, 64% in Bradford County, 91% in Dixie County, 85% in Gilchrist County, 83% in Hamilton County and 67% in Suwannee County. Dixie County reported 100% teacher turnout and the other five reported nearly 100% teacher turnout.
  • Throughout next week, the week of August 17, Seminole, Gulf, Okeechobee, Manatee, Levy, Highlands, Glades, Walton, Lafayette, Holmes, Bay, and Citrus will open for in-person education as well as innovative models of learning. Duval County will open for in-person education for elementary school students, and secondary students will be starting in a hybrid model, alternating in-person and at-home education until September 14. FAU Lab School will be opening in-person for students in 10 -12.
  • Commissioner Corcoran hosted a call with the 67 School District Superintendents, to discuss re-opening across the state, prevention of COVID-19 in schools, and highlighted four key points to remember as districts reopen:
    • If you feel sick or see symptoms of sickness, stay home or send home.
    • Protect the vulnerable.
    • If a COVID case arises – don’t panic, be calculated not sweeping. Quickly asses and limit the impact.
    • Communicate, communicate, communicate; especially that the greatest threat to COVID in schools are adults, not students.
  • On June 11, the Florida Department of Education announced the full-reopening of Florida’s schools and CARES Act plan, visit here.
  • Florida Education Commissioner Corcoran issued Emergency Order 2020-06 - Further Guidance for Closing Achievement Gaps and Creating Safe Spaces for Learning that:
    • Ensures that Florida schools are open for in-person learning and in compliance with the many educationally important state and federal laws that ensure an equitable education for all types of learners, including our many at-risk students.  
    • Gave districts and schools flexibility to craft their own locally conceived plans, a request from districts, charters and private schools.
    • Gave districts and schools guidance and flexibility on how to compassionately maintain education for medically vulnerable students and families.
    • Guided that state and federally required services for at-risk students must meet the same high bars of quality set forth in law.
    • Created additional pathways for districts and schools to comply with state laws that numerous districts, charter schools and private schools asked for guidance on.
    • Provided districts, charters, privates and the many professionals that run schools the financial certainty that they will be supported as they support our students.
  • In order to receive the flexibility and continuity provided for in Emergency Order 2020-06, school districts must submit a reopening plan for review and approval that satisfies the requirements of the order. These plans are due to the Department of Education by July 31, and approved plans will be posted at www.fldoe.org/em-response.
  • Hosted multiple webinars providing guidance to Florida school districts, charter schools, private schools, and education stakeholders on plans to re-open. The recordings of the webinars can be found here.
  • Find more information on DOE’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF ELDER AFFAIRS

  • The Florida Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) is holding calls with DOEA Emergency Coordinator, the AAA directors and their Emergency Coordinators to discuss and plan for Tropical Storm Laura.
  • DOEA is holding CARES Supervisor calls to prepare for COVID-19 related discharge planning activities, if needed, in anticipation of Tropical Storm Laura impacts.
  • This week, Governor Ron DeSantis, First Lady Casey DeSantis and DOEA Secretary Richard Prudom announced the launch of the Florida Safe Survey CV19 CheckUp. The Florida Safe Survey was developed to help improve health habits during the age of COVID19. All Floridians are encouraged to take the survey at FloridaSafeSurvey.com.
  • DOEA Secretary Prudom presented with HHS Deputy Secretary/Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Aging Lance Robertson on the effects and solutions for mitigating social isolation at home and in long-term care facilities on a virtual conference hosted by The Alzheimer’s Association and DOEA.
  • DOEA Secretary Prudom participated in two Governor’s Task Force on the Safe and Limited Re-Opening of Long-Term Care Facilities meetings.
  • DOEA and the Aging Network have provided nearly 9 million home-delivered meals since the beginning of COVID-19 in March; 411,000 meals were delivered last week alone.
  • Since its inception, the DOEA Restaurant Meal Initiative has served over 1,731,000 meals in partnership with the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association with delivery through the Department’s 11 Area Agencies on Aging.
  • For the 16th straight week, Florida’s Aging Network has delivered at or above 200% more meals to older adults and disabled individuals than prior to COVID-19.
  • DOEA is providing an average of over 35,000 telephone reassurance calls to older adults throughout the state each month.
  • Pursuant to Executive Order 20-52 issued by Governor DeSantis, the Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) issued Emergency Order 20-01 on March 31 pertaining to in-person guardian visitation requirements where COVID-19 response and mitigation measures prevent such visits.
  • DOEA issued Guidance in furtherance of Order 20-01 on March 31 for Public and Professional Guardians to remain in compliance with Florida Statute 744.361(14).
  • DOEA has created a dedicated webpage to provide resources on COVID-19 including: tips for caregivers, information on closures of senior centers and adult day care centers, and alternative services for congregate meal sites.
  • Find more information on DOEA’s COVID-19 response here.

ENTERPRISE FLORIDA

  • Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI) recently launched a Virtual Trade Shows Grant Program to allow companies to identify international clients and generate new export opportunities. Traditional international trade shows are being temporarily replaced by virtual events to promote safe worldwide business opportunities. For more information, please contact one of EFI’s Regional Trade Managers.  
  • EFI created a virtual trade grant program to help Florida companies do business overseas as international travel is restricted. Businesses interested in learning more about the new Virtual Business Matchmaking service should contact one of EFI’s Regional Trade Managers.  EFI recently expanded this program to engage Canada and Mexico.
  • EFI conducted regional calls with stakeholders across the state to identify ideas for long-range economic recovery.
  • EFI suspended initial fees for its Microfinance Loan Guarantee Program to support Florida’s small business community impacted by COVID-19. Interested businesses must apply through a local lender. For further information please contact your lender or visit Enterprise Florida’s website.
  • See resources compiled by EFI for businesses impacted by COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

  • The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) continues to implement their phased reopening of the Florida State Parks. As these parks are reopening, DEP is taking measures to ensure the protection of staff and the public. During this phase of reopening, visitors should expect limited hours, capacity and amenities.
  • Areas of Florida State Parks managed by the Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection (ORCP) have been partially reopened, including remote access trails, beaches, and boat ramps at the Research Reserves. Islands, beaches, and submerged lands within the Aquatic Preserves are being reopened in accordance with local ordinances. See current information on ORCP-managed lands here.
  • Find more information on DEP’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA OFFICE OF FINANCIAL REGULATION

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAY SAFETY AND MOTOR VEHICLES

  • Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is closely monitoring Tropical Storm Laura and stands ready to assist.
  • Since March 1, 2020, Floridians have conducted over 2.4 million motor vehicle and credential transactions virtually through the department’s online services webpage. FLHSMV encourages Floridians who can, to complete their driver license or motor vehicle transactions online, rather than in person at a driver license office.
  • Pursuant to Executive Order 20-52 issued by Governor DeSantis, FLHSMV Executive Director Rhodes waived commercial truck hours of service regulations and other related regulations so that emergency supplies, equipment, commodities and resources can be moved more quickly and efficiently throughout the state.
  • Find more information on FLHSMV’s COVID-19 response here.

FLORIDA OFFICE OF INSURANCE REGULATION

  • OIR issued Informational Memorandum OIR-20-07M providing guidance to insurers on hurricane season preparedness and response. Insurers are advised to review and consider operational guidance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and encouraged to leverage technology to protect and best serve policyholders.
  • As part of its ongoing effort to keep policyholders informed, the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) published a list of resources to connect Florida policyholders with assistance being offered by insurers in response to COVID-19.
  • OIR issued Informational Memorandum OIR-20-06M providing guidance on the use of technology to help combat the spread of COVID-19, including encouraging insurers to broaden access to care for telehealth services, and requesting Pharmacy Benefit Managers to transition to an electronic audit process in order to avoid unnecessary risk and maintain social distancing.
  • OIR issued Informational Memorandum OIR-20-05M reminding insurers of applicable statutes regarding workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation insurers are expected to comply with all of the provisions of Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Law.
  • OIR issued Informational Memorandum OIR-20-03M directing all insurers and other entities regulated by OIR to review and update their business continuity and/or continuity of operations plans. Companies are directed to immediately contact OIR if their continuity plans are activated and/or if business operations become compromised so it can work with insurers to avoid any disruption in consumer services.
  • OIR issued Informational Memorandum OIR-20-04M providing general guidance on the treatment of policyholders as part of the state’s ongoing efforts to protect Floridians.
  • OIR issued Informational Memorandum OIR-20-02M as a reminder to all health insurers, health maintenance organizations, and other health entities to allow for early prescription refills.
  • Find more information on OIR’s COVID-19 response here. 

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF JUVENILE JUSTICE

  • All Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) facilities and centers are on alert for Tropical Storm Laura, monitoring weather advisories and completing pre-storm preparations.
  • DJJ is resuming limited family visitation to facilities who have no active COVID-19 cases. Programs with COVID-19 cases remain under visitation restriction.
  • DJJ has instituted additional screening measures for essential personnel and vendors within juvenile facilities.
  • Find more information on DJJ’s COVID-19 response here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT

  • The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and its law enforcement partners are activated in anticipation of impacts from Tropical Storm Laura.
  • FDLE is working with DBPR and providing guidance for enforcing the closure of bars and 50 percent seating capacity limit for entertainment businesses.
  • FDLE is working with the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Florida Police Chiefs Association on traffic assistance at testing/collection sites statewide.
  • FDLE continues to work with the Florida Police Chiefs Association and the Florida Sheriffs Association to monitor law enforcement staffing impacts and staffing needs due to COVID-19.
  • Find more information on FDLE’s COVID-19 response here.

FLORIDA LOTTERY

  • Effective March 23, Florida Lottery Headquarters and district offices are closed to the public until further notice.  
  • Find more information on the Florida Lottery’s COVID-19 response here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF MANAGEMENT SERVICES

  • The Florida Department of Management Services (DMS)’s State Purchasing Team continues to lead Emergency Support Function 7 in the State Emergency Operations Center and provides critical procurement and consultation support during the state’s COVID-19 and Tropical Storm Laura response.
  • DMS is coordinating with communication service providers to identify and pre-position resources in anticipation of impacts from Tropical Storm Laura in the event of a service disruption.
  • DMS’ Real Estate Development and Management team continues to work with facility managers in regions in Tropical Storm Laura’s path for coordinating state building closures.
  • DMS is encouraging state employees in regions in Tropical Storm Laura’s path to make plans, prepare disaster supply kits and stay informed.
  • DMS launched a dedicated telework pagewith resources and tutorials for employees and employers operating in a remote work environment.
  • At the Governor’s direction, DMS Secretary Jonathan Satter issued an emergency order to ensure federal benefits granted through The Families First Coronavirus Response Act are available to employees.
  • As directed in Executive Order 20-52, DMS has amended the state employee health plan benefits plan documents to expand covered telehealth benefits at no additional employee cost.
  • Also directed in Executive Order 20-52, DMS has amended the state employee health plan benefits plan documents to cover immunizations at participating in-network retail pharmacies at no cost to the member during this public health emergency.
  • Find more information on DMS’ COVID-19 response here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF MILITARY AFFAIRS

  • Approximately 1,198 Florida National Guardsmen are mobilized to support Florida’s response to COVID-19.
  • The Florida National Guard continues to support the state’s testing efforts and has assisted in the testing of more than 1,162,657 individuals for COVID-19.
  • FLNG continues to support the state's COVID-19 response through statewide logistics support, coordination, planning and operational mission sets.
  • Find more information on DMA’s response to COVID-19 here.

AGENCY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

  • The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) has activated its Emergency Response Team and will begin holding regular conference calls to prepare for the possible impact of Tropical Storm Laura.
  • APD issued Emergency Rule 65GER20-1, which requires all APD-licensed homes and APD-operated residential facilities to conduct Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing of staff every two weeks. This action is being taken to try to stop the spread of COVID-19 into facilities overseen by APD.
  • APD residential providers and facilities have begun to receive their Curative Labs testing kits and are developing their testing plans to comply with the Emergency Rule.
  • APD is now providing group-home specific COVID-19 test data to the Florida Department of Health as part of its weekly COVID-19 statewide update. This is in addition to the existing COVID-19 report published on APD’s website.
  • APD received eight pallets of cloth masks from the State Emergency Operations Center and will be distributing the masks to APD customers in supported living, group home residents and employees and to other providers to protect APD customers.
  • APD sent out a Guidance Booklet to Providers and Waiver Support Coordinators recently to outline waiver changes and flexibilities as a result of COVID-19. It also included information on infection control measures and recommended actions when faced with various scenarios.
  • APD issued Emergency Order 20-03, which temporarily suspends face to face visits to administer the Questionnaire for Situational Information to determine the level of need of APD customers.
  • Find more information on APD’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE

  • The Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) has expanded its capacity for responding to child support customers who choose to handle their cases by email. The Department has also added a direct link to the email form for ease of access: floridarevenue.com/AskChildSupport. In addition to email, child support customers can contact the Child Support Program by webchat, fax, phone, or online using eServices.
  • DOR has created a dedicated webpage for child support customers who have questions about the child support offset for Economic Impact Payments under the CARES Act. Under federal law, these payments are subject to federal offset for persons who owe past-due support.
  • DOR has a dedicated COVID-19 webpage for tax-related questions and information.
  • Find more information on DOR’s response to COVID-19 here.

CAREERSOURCE FLORIDA

  • The CareerSource Florida network has continued to provide employment and business services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and now offers in-person assistance by appointment as well as a full range of career and business services virtually.
  • Free online career training and scholarships for training programs are available for Floridians interested in sharpening their skills or starting a new career. Please find your local team by visiting careersourceflorida.com/career-services/ or for a list of Florida’s local workforce development boards and their contact information, please click here.
  • The state workforce board and all 24 local workforce development boards are assisting with CONNECT PIN resets and processing Reemployment Assistance applications.
  • CareerSource Florida has launched an integrated public and business outreach campaign, Help is Here, a comprehensive resource for employment and business services.  

STATE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM OF FLORIDA

  • The State University System has directed all 12 state universities to develop alternate plans for summer commencement ceremonies, which include any rescheduled spring commencement plans that may have been postponed to summer.
  • Find more information on SUS’ response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE

  • Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-97, delaying elections in Pasco County at the request of Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley.
  • Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee announced the issuance of an emergency order and emergency rules to extend annual report filing deadlines for business entities, as well as outline changes to the candidate petition and candidate qualifying processes.
  • Find more information on the Florida Department of State’s Response to COVID-19 here. 

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

  • The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is currently monitoring Tropical Storm Laura and will shore up construction sites and monitor drainage in and around the state’s roadways to help ensure the safety of the traveling public.
  • Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Secretary Thibault held a roundtable with transportation industry leaders to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on this critical industry in Florida.
  • In accordance with Phase 2 of the Governor’s Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) deactivated the checkpoint for screening travelers seeking to enter Florida on I-10 at the Florida/Alabama state line. Upon deactivation, nearly 28,000 traveler forms had been collected at the I-10 checkpoint.
  • The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) deactivated the checkpoint for screening travelers seeking to enter Florida on I-95 at the Florida/Georgia state line. Upon deactivation, more than 48,000 traveler forms had been collected at the I-95 checkpoint.
  • Governor DeSantis and FDOT Secretary Thibault announced the opening of five new Interstate 4 (I-4)/State Road (S.R.) 408 flyover ramps. This work was completed more than three months ahead of schedule and increases safety and mobility in the heart of Florida.
  • Due to continued lower traffic volumes as a result of COVID-19, FDOT expedited more than 40 additional critical transportation projects by at least 650 total contract days, while also providing essential jobs to Floridians. Find more information about FDOT’s accelerated projects here.
  • FDOT Secretary Thibault and staff joined the Florida Trucking Association and the Florida Highway Patrol to hand out 500 meals to Florida’s truck drivers.
  • FDOT continues to coordinate with seaports across the state to monitor port activity.
  • FDOT continues to coordinate with airports and airlines to monitor airport activity as well as industry impacts.
  • Find more information on FDOT’s response to COVID-19 here.  

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS’ AFFAIRS 

  • The Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA) is monitoring Tropical Storm Laura and is reminding Floridians that State Veterans’ Nursing Homes, VA Medical Centers and VA Outpatient Clinics are not designated hurricane evacuation shelters.
  • For 24-hour counsel, call the National Veteran Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Veterans in Florida may also call the Florida Veterans Support Lineat 1-844-MyFLVet (693-5838) or 2-1-1.
  • To contact a teleworking FDVA Veterans’ Claims Examiner, call (727) 319-7440 or email VSO@fdva.state.fl.us
  • Veterans who are concerned they may have symptoms of COVID-19, flu or cold should call the VISN 8 Clinical Contact Center toll free at (877) 741-3400 before coming to a VA facility. Clinicians are available to provide 24/7 virtual care and support, including nurse advice and triage.
  • FDVA has restricted visitor access to its state veterans’ homes until further notice, with the exception of essential visitors. In addition, admissions in our network of state veterans’ homes are temporarily suspended.
  • Find more information on FDVA’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA FISH AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COMMISSION

  • The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)’s Division of Law Enforcement is communicating with partners, monitoring current weather patterns and assessing resources to deploy such as shallow draft vessels and four-wheel drive vessels.
  • FWC continues to be in close communication with the Governor’s Office, the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regarding the most recent COVID-19 status and guidance.
  • Find more information on FWC’s response to COVID-19 here.

FLORIDA HOUSING FINANCE CORPORATION

  • The Florida Housing Finance Corporation (Florida Housing) is administering $250 million in CARES Act funding for rental and mortgage assistance for Florida families that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more here. 
  • Florida Housing issued an Emergency Rule to property owners and managers to suspend rent increases during this public health emergency on properties funded by Florida Housing. Those who choose to implement rent increases that impact residents during this global pandemic could result in consequences for future funding opportunities with Florida Housing.
  • As Florida Housing continues to be committed to the health and well-being of all Floridians, we have compiled a list of resources with relevant information for homeowners, residents, developers, apartment owners, management companies, participating lenders, Realtors and SHIP administrators regarding COVID-19.
  • Find more information on Florida Housing’s response to COVID-19 here.

VISIT FLORIDA

  • VISIT FLORIDA's three official Florida Welcome Centers, located at major access points into the state, transitioned into emergency information centers offering the latest details on Tropical Storm Laura. The welcome centers are operating with sanitization and social distancing measures recommended by public health officials. Nearly a half-million face masks have been provided by DOH and FDEM and are being made available to visitors.
  • Find more information on VISIT FLORIDA’s response to COVID-19 and Tropical Storm Laura here. 

VOLUNTEER FLORIDA

  • As Tropical Storm Laura approaches Florida’s coast, Volunteer Florida is working with partners and Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) to prepare resources and potential response efforts. The agency is also preparing to assist with coordinating volunteer opportunities through Volunteer Connect, Florida’s official volunteer opportunities platform.
  • As the lead agency for volunteerism and service, Volunteer Florida is working to support voluntary organizations across the state and nation by sharing resources, surveying needs and requesting that continuity of operations plans be created to avoid any service delivery disruption.
  • Find more information on Volunteer Florida’s response to COVID-19 here
Updated: Friday, August 21, 2020
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