Please Note: Due to the nature of information being released frequently regarding COVID-19, changes at the local, state and federal level may have occurred since answers were provided.
QUESTIONS FROM VIRTUAL TOWN HALL - APRIL 8, 2020
The City of Palm Coast Virtual town hall that occurred on April 8, 2020 included Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland, Palm Coast City Manager Matthew Morton, AdventHealth Palm Coast Chief Operating Officer (COO) Wally De Aquino, Florida Department of Health-Flagler Dr. Stephen Bickel, and FDOH-Flagler Administrator Bob Snyder.
At the beginning of the town hall, Mr. De Aquino shared an AdventHealth update regarding recent changes to the screening process and visitation policy.
Following that, Mr. Snyder shared an update from the FDOH-Flagler on cases statewide and locally. He also mentioned the University of Washington projections for Florida to reach the top of the curve on April 21, and that's using social distancing and statewide/local actions including 'stay at home' orders and beach closings. The model assumes all states would maintain social distancing measures through the end of May - including those with schools and stay at home measures. Regarding testing, Flagler County Emergency Management, the health department, AdventHealth and other partners will soon hold a community testing event at Daytona State College campus in Palm Coast. The local testing site will prioritize tests to healthcare workers, first responders, those with clinical symptoms who had close contact with a confirmed case, those over 65 and those who are immunocompromised. The county will absorb the cost of the lab test. They are partnering with a local lab that can provide results in 24 hours. (Stay tuned for more details like date and time from Flagler County. It will be posted to Palm Coast Connect when available.) Please listen the Virtual Town Hall for more on the update.
QUESTIONS ARE IN ORDER OF DISCUSSION DURING TOWN HALL
Is AdventHealth (Flagler) ready for in influx of coronavirus patients? If not, why?
Yes, they have many services, infrastructure, personnel and technology ready for this situation. They are prepared for a surge. They have also performed drills throughout the facility. Tents have been set up outside, in case it's ever needed, for patients that do not require an extensive service or attention. (Answer begins at 10:00) Please also read about AdventHealth's updated frequently asked questions which discusses this topic. https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/article/AdventHealth-Coronavirus-Update-April-8-2020
How do I get my N95 masks to health care workers?
Please connect with the AdventHealth Foundation or the donation hub at [adventhealth.com/covid19relief].
How many coronavirus test kits does Palm Coast currently have and are they located at AdventHealth or the health department? Also, are the tests sent to Jacksonville with a five-day return for results or are they the 5-minute tests?
AdventHealth has tests at all hospitals and urgent care facilities, but they are only performed if a doctor orders it or the patient shows up with all symptoms. Because of the demand on the labs, they cannot predict how long it will take to get results. In addition to the hospital, Flagler County has some for a future testing event. The health department also has some. There are 250 commercial labs statewide and they are all in overdrive due to the demand. The Jacksonville lab is one of three public health labs in the state and they have a priority protocol for the most vulnerable. (Answer begins at 12:40)
We're told to clean surfaces obsessively. But let's say we've been in obsessive self-isolation for two weeks, with everyone healthy inside our P-section prison: why should we still clean surfaces like fiends, if there's no evidence of transmission of COVID-19?
Clean surfaces strategically. If no one has come in and nothing has come in to the home, then the virus won't multiply out of the blue in your home. Dr. Bickel explains more during the town hall. (Answer begins at 16:10)
How can we protect ourselves better at grocery stores and places like CVS and Walgreens? We are all touching the items on the shelves and bringing them home.
Dr. Bickel went into this during the answer to the previous question. Make sure you are washing your hands and using your discretion the rest of the time.
What does one do if we suspect one or more symptoms associated with COVID-19 and are 65 years or over? A flow chart would sure be helpful.
Please listen to Dr. Bickel's response during the town hall starting at 18:40 in the video.
If you feel you have symptoms and you don't have a regular doctor, whom should you contact?
Contact one of the local urgent care centers or the health department - but please call them ahead of time before showing up. (Answer begins at 20:20)
We can see online various projections at the country and state levels; e.g., U of Washington's .healthdata.org. Have you seen a county or city-level forecast, other than NYC?
Local experts have not seen county or city-level forecasts that are similar to the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). They have seen state forecasts. They regard that website - http://www.healthdata.org/ - as being a great source of information and education. More data would be needed to see a forecast for more specifics like county or city. (Answer begins at 21:58)
What are the current screening standards for people entering the hospital?
Every employee is screened - including temperature. Any patient that comes into a patient area - they are asked questions as guided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Mr. De Aquino elaborated on visitors. Watch the video to hear the full response. (Answer begins at 23:50)
Do we need to wear masks in public? How do masks work? Please explain the difference between aerosol and droplet transmission.
Aerosol means it comes out of somebody's mouth and somebody else could inhale it. Droplet transmission is where somebody coughs, a droplet settles on a surface, another person comes along and touches that surface and then they touch their mouth. Please listen to the full answer provided by Dr. Bickel as he also explains the transmission meanings and the use of masks. (Answer begins at 24:40)
Please also see the CDC guidelines on cloth face coverings: https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/article/Recommendation-Regarding-the-Use-of-Cloth-Face-Coverings-Especially-in-Areas-of-Significant-Community-Based-Transmission
What city offices are closed and the employees who are not working, are they still receiving their pay or using accumulated time?
All city facilities and buildings are closed, however, all departments are still functioning and working as open. The City ramped up extraordinarily and quickly. The bulk of the City workforce is successfully working remote. Some employees who did not have remote capability have been reassigned to other duties as needed. The City has adopted alternate work schedules and rotations to keep people distanced. So essential work continues. (Answer begins at 28:25)
How do you enforce 6' social distancing? Currently when you shop for groceries at least 1/2 the people do not respect any distancing.
The City has sent employees from the planning department to work with commercial retailors to ensure that social distancing is followed along with the Governor's Executive Order and other emergency orders. When the City received complaints about businesses, the City did respond. Please listen to Mr. Morton's full answer during the town hall. (Answer begins at 29:55)
Can you please speak to the Flagler County commissioners and open the beaches as they have in Volusia County? (Can you speak to how the decision was made?)
The decision was made in partnership between Flagler County and Flagler Beach. Prior to the beach being closed, local leaders were interested to see how well people were adhering to social distancing guidelines around noon at the beach. They found that people were still too close, not six feet apart, etc. and from there the decision was made to close the beach. To open the beach part time, or similarly to Volusia or Brevard counties, would bring more people to our community - other than locals - to access the beach. And with concerns over the next two to three weeks, possible crowds would not be good from a health and safety standpoint. This is something being looked at on a weekly basis. (Answer begins at 33:35)
Please read more on the beach question here: https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/article/Flagler-County-reassesses-public-safety-concerns-daily-when-evaluating-facilities-beach-closures
Is the individual and family stimulus payment based on 2018 or 2019 income? Is it based on actual gross income or adjusted? If it's 2019 and you haven't filed taxes yet, or you file an extension, how much time till stimulus is valid? What does Palm Coast consider essential business should further stay in place orders be issued?
Regarding the stimulus, please refer to the information released by the White House that goes into detail on these kinds of questions. We have linked this to Palm Coast Connect, especially the part at the top that is linked and says 'CORONAVIRUS FAQ (financial help for workers and families)':
In terms of essential businesses, the City is focused on 'stay home, stay safe' messaging and the stay home order unless you need food or to see a doctor. The Governor has outlined essential services and activities. You can read that here: [https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/article/FAQs-for-Governor-Desantis].
As far as any further orders, the City will inform residents through Palm Coast Connect. (Answer begins at 35:25)
I live in Pennsylvania I own a condominium in Palm Coast - am I able to drive down there?
Please listen to Mr. Snyder's answer to this question. (Answer begins at 39:45)
What are we doing about the Airbnb's in our neighborhood? People are coming from New York and are acting like they're on vacation.
This is about doing what's right and being respectful of your fellow citizens. Local leaders do not have enough people to enforce every home and neighborhood. It is important to stay home and practice social distancing. (Answer begins at 40:35)
Which City revenues will be most affected?
The City is monitoring financial indicators. One thing being looked at is building permit data. Those numbers remain strong - which is a good sign. City leaders are also communicating with investment consultants. They suspect the possibility, or likely to see impacts to general fund revenues to potentially transportation revenues and maybe, depending on the state, grant share to projects. City leaders are continuing to monitor. Please listen to Mr. Morton's full answer during the town hall and Mayor Holland's further discussion on this topic. (Answer begins at 41:55)
When are the code enforcers going to go back to enforcing our restrictions? I know they have been assigned different assignments during this crisis, but since they only went around each section two days a month, why can't they continue that?
To clarify, code enforcement was previously going around to sections more than two days a month. The City is still enforcing code restrictions and prioritizing code resources. The focus right now is on the fire, life safety issues that are crucial to the community. Code enforcement is also monitoring parks to ensure closures, survey equipment, and check for vandalism. As time permits and the need arises, the contact with retailors relating to social distancing will be through code enforcement. Through all of this and as they have the opportunity, those employees continue to do their normal operations as well. They expect to return to normal workflow in a few weeks. (Answer begins at 45:20)
I'm a good Catholic and Christian. It's amazing to me that this COVID-19 virus is happening during Lent and Easter. Is Palm Coast going to allow churches to have Holy Week mass?
While the Governor's Executive Order outlines religious services as an essential activity [https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/article/FAQs-for-Governor-Desantis], some churches have offered virtual services. But there is also the recommendation to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, along with practicing social distancing. Please listen to Mayor Holland and Mr. Snyder's response to this question. (Answer begins at 47:08)
How is the morale for hospital staff? How can community help?
Morale is high and staff is doing well. Please connect with the AdventHealth Foundation or the donation hub at [adventhealth.com/covid19relief].
Please elaborate on testing - in terms of re-agent, follow up tests, immunity, etc.
Please listen to Dr. Bickel's explanation on this during the town hall. (Answer begins at 54:05)
In regards to construction being considered an "essential" service… while I can see maintenance construction being essential, such as plumber, electricians, etc., who are ensuring someone's existing home functions properly. I fail to see how new construction is something that needs to continue.
In terms of any business that is still considered 'essential' under the Governor's Executive Order, the City is working to make sure they are following safety protocols. Please listen to Mr. Morton's full response and Mayor Holland's further discussion on this during the town hall. (Answer begins at 1:01:48)
Have we thought about our sanitation workers? Maybe one pick up a week?
There are some restrictions in place regarding the Waste Pro service.
See more here: https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/news-news/4623/temporary-change-to-waste-pro-pickup-of-appliances
What expectations do you have throughout the next few weeks regarding COVID-19?
Right now, the curve is still ascending and so the next two to three weeks will be rough and challenging. Peak is expected on April 21, as mentioned earlier. If everyone sticks to social distancing and other measures, and be vigilant, then the descent will occur. There may be small waves of the virus in the summer. There are concerns about the fall. Please listen to Mr. Snyder's full response and during the town hall. (Answer begins at 1:07:35)
How many COVID-19 cases are there in Palm Coast? How many tests have been performed? Is there any way for us to learn where the Flagler County cases reside? We don't need names, just general locations.
For questions on cases, the Florida Department of Health has a dashboard that shows many details including total cases, a breakdown of cases by county down to zip code, hospitalizations and more. It is linked to Palm Coast Connect in the section, 'COVID-19 Questions' [https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/article/Florida-Department-of-Health-COVID-19-dashboard].
Is there any testing areas for the virus here in Palm coast?
Please refer to the answer in question 3. Also, please note the information from Flagler County here: [https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/article/COVID-19-testing-options-available-social-distancing-remains-best-defense]. Additionally, listen to Mr. Snyder's opening update at the beginning of this town hall on April 8 for more information on what's to come.
Is there a mandatory curfew in effect?
What is the town going to do to stop people from visiting Palm Coast and Flagler from the hot spot states?
The Governor of Florida has issued executive orders regarding those from hot spots coming to Florida. You can read more here: [https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/news-news/4612/gov-desantis-signs-executive-orders-2082-2083] and here: [https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/news-news/4617/city-of-palm-coast-issues-two-emergency-proclamations-mirroring-gov-desantis-executive-orders-2086-2087].
Is the city going to recommend wearing masks in public?
Please see the guidance from the CDC here: https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/article/Recommendation-Regarding-the-Use-of-Cloth-Face-Coverings-Especially-in-Areas-of-Significant-Community-Based-Transmission
My driver's license will expire on April 30. Is there an extension? I have to come in to get the new updated license. How do I pay car registration?
Please visit the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles web site here: [https://www.flhsmv.gov/locations/flagler/].
School year is going to be validated or kids must to retake it?
Please contact the Flagler County School District for this.
How can a resident obtain a permit to build a fence on their property during this crisis? Who needs to be contacted?
Permitting can be done through Palm Coast Connect, your Virtual City Hall. Palmcoastconnect.com
Why are there not more updates on a daily basis or even a weekly basis?
We have been informing residents on the health emergency with COVID-19 for several weeks through various communications tools and platforms on a daily basis. Some include press releases, social media, radio broadcasts, e-mail blasts, and we have set up an emergency information hub through our citizen engagement platform called Palm Coast Connect that hosts the City's response to COVID-19. It is Your Virtual City Hall. We strongly encourage you to register for a free account with that site at palmcoastconnect.com so that you may track any issues you encounter and receive push notifications through this time period.
Your Virtual City Hall also allows you handle permitting online, pay your utility bill, set up utility service, report a concern and reach customer service representatives on your time. On the homepage, you'll also find additional information in sections regarding public safety, schools, business resources, press releases, and other details about COVID-19. Since City facilities are closed in an effort to practice social distancing and slow the spread, our Parks & Recreation team has created a virtual programming guide for everyone to learn and have fun at home.
Most recently, the City launched these Virtual Town Halls for residents to ask us questions and have a meaningful dialogue. You can watch the most recent two virtual town halls at palmcoastconnect.com, and click on the tab 'Virtual Town Hall Meetings.'
Additionally, if you'd like to learn more about the COVID-19 cases locally, the Florida Department of Health has a dashboard set up to see a breakdown of cases by county to zip code, hospitalizations and more. A link to it is https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/article/Florida-Department-of-Health-COVID-19-dashboard.
Will our utilities be cut off?
The City of Palm Coast is suspending water service shut-offs for non-payment of City utility bills and will not charge fees for late water and sewer utility payments until further notice. The changes are part of the City's efforts to ease the strain on City utility customers during widespread closures of schools and small businesses due to COVID-19. You can learn more here: [https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/news-news/4602/city-of-palm-coast-utility-announcement].
Are the linear park and waterfront trails open or closed?
All parks and trails were closed as of March 23 at 6 a.m. You can read more here:
When can a local Palm Coast salon open for regular hours?
Please refer to the Florida Governor's Executive Order 20-91 [https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/article/FAQs-for-Governor-Desantis]