Volusia County lays out reopening plans in phases

Governor Ron DeSantis spoke during a news conference at the COVID-19 drive-through testing site at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on March 30, surrounded by socially distanced mayors of four South Florida counties.
AMY BETH BENNETT / SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL

BY THE DAYTONA TIMES STAFF

As officials continue to see hopeful signs in the coronavirus curve, Volusia County has begun preliminary plans for a phased-in resumption of county services.

According to Florida Department of Health statistics, more then 27,000 Florida residents have tested positive for coronavirus, resulting in more than 4200 hospitalizations and 893 deaths as of the Daytona Times’ press time late Wednesday night.

In Volusia County, 366 residents have tested positive, resulting in 60 hospitalizations and 13 deaths.

In Daytona Beach’s predominantly Black 32114 ZIP Code, 31 residents have tested positive for coronavirus.

No timetable

While no definite timetable has been established yet, county staff said Tuesday during their weekly COVID-19 briefing with the Volusia County Council that they want to be ready to reopen when the time is right. While critical public safety responses have continued uninterrupted, the pandemic has resulted in government buildings closing to the public, with many employees working from home.

Services like libraries have transitioned to online and curbside and the beaches have been closed to vehicles to prevent crowding.

Phased-in approach

On Tuesday, County Manager George Recktenwald told the council that the staff is actively working on plans to resume some traditional operations. But he said it will be a phased in approach and based on the best available data as well as guidance from Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“We do have a team in place, and we’re actively going over each of these areas of the government on what we can open up,” Recktenwald said.

Beach is a focus

Reopening the beach seemed to be uppermost in many people’s minds. Deputy County Manager Suzanne Konchan said the first phase will likely be providing better access for the disabled, re-opening some parking on the ramps and then deciding how best to reintroduce vehicle traffic on the beaches without creating overcrowded conditions.

“The departments have already begun meeting collaboratively on how best to relaunch
our county services across our departments and divisions,” Konchan said. “It’s a broad discussion.”

The goal, she said, with coastal access is to reopen it “in a logical way that follows the advice from our health professionals in a safe way to get people out enjoying the fresh air and the beaches.”

Opening the beach

To council members, it can’t happen soon enough. They want to make sure the county is ready to resume beach access when the governor gives the green light to reopen the state.

“My hope is we open it (the beaches) sooner than later,” said county chair Ed Kelley.

“Let’s get that beach open so people can go down there and enjoy it,” said Councilwoman Billie Wheeler.

Libraries and summer camps Other strategies the county is examining includes a phased reopening of library services, starting with public computer areas first and the possible installation of plexiglass shields in county work areas that have direct customer contact.

The county also is making preparations for the opening of its summer camps if medical experts say it’s safe.

Recktenwald stressed that whatever the county does, it will need to ensure the safety of its employees, coordinate with local cities and enlist the continued support and cooperation of the public.

“My recommendation is a phased approach,’” said Recktenwald. “We don’t want to jump out ahead and then have a relapse. So it is going to require the citizens to continue to work with us.”

8 COMMENTS

  1. I think you all are pushing for things to reopen wayyyyy to soon.A lock down needs to stay in place for all our sakes.DO PEOPLE not care about other people’s lives???I see more people out shopping now then ever before.it seems Our goverment doesn’t take this virus to seriously.I see in other countries all of the country us on lock down.They get 1 hour to go out and must sign out and in.Most have been like that since the start of all this and has been extended another 6 weeks.Here in America noone has been locked down.everyone has been free to come and go as they please no mandated wearing of masks or gloves nothing.all that’s been done us closing of buisnesses.thats it and people are crying cause the beach is closed the beach is like an amusement park.its always full of people Bad mistake to open anything right now.You need to get more strict with the demands of staying home.Lock us down.Or you will see this thing get so out of control if you start opening everything back up.This virus is more airborne then you think.Plus you all still dont know anything about this virus.Theres no data,no cure,I’d like to live to be old and gray,I want my children to live a long full life.so before you open shit back up.Think of all the children,the young adults ,the middle aged and the elderly lives you’d be putting at risk of getting this deadly COVID 19 virus.DONT DO IT.EXTEND THIS ANOTHER MONTH FOR NOW.

    • I agree with you, it’s way to soon to open everything up. When we go to the grocery store, there are so many people out there and not wearing a mask, what are people thinking??? This is crazy !!!

  2. My gosh u cld not have said any better then I, I sooo agree with u , ppl are not taking this serious and to re-open the state would be the biggest mistake.

  3. I stand in total agreement with you Ladies 💯 and..for real cause it isn’t nothing in this world that’s so good that I’m in such a hurry to go do , no one Ina hurry to go see ..I wanna live and I want ALL to have a fair opportunity to live..let’s not forget they put this shit in the atmosphere and they didn’t expect it to get out of hand the way that it has and now they’ve lost control of that shit..when darkness fall ,look at the sky I bet you won’t see no stars in the sky????????that goes to show u that they did this to us ..to America, and Americans..

  4. I am on Social Security and work part time. Have lived in Florida since 1957. So it is safe for anyone to think that I do love the state of Florida, I choose to live here.
    What has happened to the world, to our country, to our state, to my county, in the state of Florida, to say the least has been devastating. The fact that I have been off my job, since April 4, 2020, because of my age, it is safe to assume that if I was to catch the Covid – 19 virus, I would be in serious trouble.
    We have come this far through the month of April slowing down maybe, the virus, but we need to slow it down more. I have not gone through this financial hardship to have you tell me I need to go back to work when it really is not safe, and you know it. I do not like to be self isolated, I do not like not be able to go to the beach whenever I want, don’t like having to wear a mask and gloves just to go get some groceries, which by the way is limited, but getting better. I have only been to the grocery store one time since I self isolated. Been to the drugstore one time since I have self isolated. By the reports in January February and March, it was already known that it was coming, so I slowly started building up my pantry and refrigerator.
    Everyone needs to quit being so selfish just because they have to stay home for a while to make themselves, their friends, and their family safe. We are all in this together, as we all know. A lot of us are doing what we can with supporting the local businesses. It is the government’s responsibility to help like they said they would.

    Please don’t open up too early, listen to the scientist, listen to the doctors and nurses, and listen to the people who have lost loved ones or almost lost them, check it out, really check it out.
    Now you pick out your friends, neighbors, and family who you’re willing to lose when you open up the state. We need one more month.
    We’re only going to have this one chance to do it right, so please do it right!
    Thank you for taking the time to read this,
    Debra

  5. To eleminate the Coved 19 the who whole world should of been qurantine for three weeks at the same time and not how they been doing it partial, 1st China, Italy, UK, USA and so on…

    Today we all would been back to work and many lifes would been saved. Here we are five months later, and we still debating about staying home or not. Well, one day we all have to get out of the Qurantine, as the Canadian Doctor said: “People need to get immuned to bacteria, and if we keep them locked up, coverd up, and tell them to washing our hands for every time they touch something, people are going to be in a higer risk of getting sick”

  6. I’m total agreement with the comments posted up to now.If we sacrificed for 40 days+ what’s the point to reopen when people still dying and getting infected…?We had shamefully,beat the world record on lives taken and wild spread contagion.Do we really want to hit the records again for being the first country with the 2nd deadliest wave or highest number of people reinfected ?

  7. States have never closed for a flu bug before. However, they did find a successful way to implement martial law in the USA. It is nothing more than a game. The virus only exists in the test kits. It is an depopulation thing. Hospitals are the new extermination camps. But they can do that because people panic easily.

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