Volusia reports ‘slight leveling off’ on new virus cases

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SPECIAL TO THE DAYTONA TIMES

Volusia County continues to response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, county officials are finding rays of hope and reasons for optimism.

During a Tuesday briefing, council members were told that there are slight signs of new cases levelling off and protective gear and hospital beds appear to be adequate to meet the need.

“We see here a slight leveling off, which gives us some optimism for how things are progressing,” said Dr. Randa Matusiak, a special projects coordinator with Volusia County Public Protection.

(As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 22,511 Florida cases with 242 Volusia cases and eight Volusia deaths.)

Efforts paying off

Matusiak was among about 15 key staff members who briefed council members Tuesday on the county’s ongoing efforts to mitigate the crisis. Matusiak has been crunching data and analyzing projections and information sources daily.

“There’s a generalized trend upward, but there is maybe a little bit levelling off.”

To County Manager George Recktenwald the hopeful signs are indicators that residents are complying with stay-at-home and social distancing directives and all the efforts and sacrifices are paying off.

“The reason that we’re getting some better projections now it’s not just the data,” said Recktenwald. “The data is representing of the fact that what we’re doing is working. We’re flattening that curve just like we were asked to do. We’re doing it.”

Decline in calls

County Chair Ed Kelley said the information was evidence that the county is doing a good job managing the situation.

“I think that what we’ve seen today, everyone should be reassured that everything is in good hands, thoroughly being done and being taken care of,” Kelley said at the close of the meeting.

The number of medical calls for service and ambulance transports also have declined, officials were told.

Meeting recap

Here is a summary of the information that came out of the council’s update on Tuesday regarding the actions, activities, and initiatives that county government has undertaken in response to the COVID-19 outbreak:

Public protection

Continuing daily planning conference calls with cities, state agencies, first responder agencies and health agencies.

With the impending start of the hurricane season on June 1, public protection is developing a hurricane sheltering plan in conjunction with the school district that takes into account the possibility of COVID-19 still being present in the community.

Jail inmates are assisting with making masks.

The burn ban remains in effect.

Working with four local hotels to serve as non-congregate sheltering sites for public safety, health care workers and homeless individuals should they need to be isolated for a 14-day period.

Beach safety

As of Monday, beach safety personnel had issued three written citations and in excess of 1,300 verbal warnings enforcing the rules regarding physical activities permitted on Volusia County beaches.

Monitoring beach conditions daily through use of a drone.

Logistics

The county’s logistics center operating out of the exhibit hall in the Ocean Center continues to distribute protective supplies to local hospitals, health care facilities, nursing homes and first responders.

They have submitted orders through the state for items such as N95 masks, isolation/procedure masks, face shields, goggles, gowns, gloves, shoe covers, coveralls and hand sanitizer.

Community services

The county has provided $70,000 in grant funds to the Second Harvest Food Bank to assist with food needs. The funds are being shared among four community organizations – Halifax Urban Ministries, Food Brings Hope, the Neighborhood Center and the Jewish Federation.

A COVID-19 positive homeless plan has been completed and is now in place.

Community services along with human resources has organized a series of sewing rooms where employees are making masks to supply to county employees to keep them safe and on the job serving the public. More than 60 employees are involved in the effort and 177 masks have been completed so far.

Boat ramps

While county boat ramps remain open, an executive order enacted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) limits recreational vessel occupancy to no more than 10 people per-vessel and requires a minimum distance of 50 feet between recreational vessels.

The FWC and Volusia Sheriff’s Office’s Marine Patrol Unit didn’t report any violations over the holiday weekend.

Daytona Beach International Airport

Approximately half of all flights have been cancelled, resulting in an average daily passenger count of 157, compared to approximately 2,200 passengers per-day last year.

Twenty airport tenants have made requests to have their rental fees either deferred, reduced, or waived.

Airport terminal and taxiway renovation projects that are under way remain on schedule.

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