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.
In attendance of the June 3 COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall was Mayor Milissa Holland, City Manager Matthew Morton, Fire Captain Tommy Ascone, FDOH-Flagler Administrator Bob Snyder, FDOH-Flagler Medical Director Dr. Stephen Bickel, and Flagler County Emergency Management Director Jonathan Lord.
WATCH THE VIRTUAL TOWN HALL HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4avN73ZiRA
Mr. Snyder provided an in-depth update from the health department on a number of topics, trends, and data. He mentioned they have three priorities which are diagnostic testing, contact tracing, and focus on nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Hear his full update from 4:36 to 10:30.
Mr. Lord provided an update from Flagler County Emergency Management. He said the county continues to operate the testing site at Daytona State College. You can call to schedule an appointment on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday at 386-313-4200. He also touched on hurricane season prep. Hear his update from 10:48 to 16:48.
Capt. Ascone then provided an update on the emergency management process as it relates to the City and County partnership. He said COVID-19 has presented different situations than other emergencies. He also provided some insight on the reopening strategy locally and statewide. You can hear his full comments from 22:10 to 25:35.
Mr. Morton then discussed some additional reopening of some parks. Info can be found here: https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/news-news/4658/palm-coast-parks-recreation-announces-further-openings-for-parks-and-recreational-amenities-starting-june-6. He also discussed the effort with local organizations such as Palm Coast Little League that are working with the City on their future plans. Hear his comments from 27:10 to 31:40.
Mayor Holland asked the health department to provide some discussion on how health experts are preventing and containing the spread of the virus with reopening measures in place and compare indoor versus outdoor.
Mr. Snyder said there is more of a risk with indoors versus outdoors, which is why they recommend a mask. He said it's easier to practice social distancing outdoors. Outdoors is less of a threat, a minimal threat.
Dr. Bickel said there's little evidence of outdoor transmission, but still could be possible in large crowds outdoors for some spread. Outdoors generally is a lot safer because droplets dissipate more quickly and it's easier to be socially distanced. They are emphasizing make activities outdoors as much as possible.
Hear the full discussion on this from 34:45 to 37:40.
When are you going to encourage the Governor to allow the AMVETS, VFW's and American Legions to open? These places are members only. They are our soldiers that fought for our country and they need each other. Many live alone. They NEED to be able to see one another.
Mayor Holland said she already worked on this. She spoke to Rep. Paul Renner who was going to get clarification on what the Governor's plans are for these types of organizations and a timeline. Hear the discussion on this from 37:40 to 40:40.
With more tests available, is there any plan to start being proactive by doing sampling testing of our community? What I mean by sampling testing is to identify a statistically significant sample size for our community and then pick addresses at random from different neighborhoods or areas and test people at those addresses to see what areas may still have pockets of asymptomatic people that could be spreading and/or harboring the virus.
Mr. Snyder said they, at the health department, would love to get to a place of doing this. He then offered some insight on how they can get to this kind of sampling. Dr. Bickel added some thoughts to this. Listen to the full answer from 41:30 to 46:01.
How will health experts contain the spread of the virus to isolated pockets? What effective practices prevent the virus from spreading?
Mr. Snyder said it's the same strategies they have been following for three months: social distancing, hand hygiene, staying away from large groups, and facial coverings. Listen to the full answer from 46:18 to 47:30.
What are some of the strategies you're encouraging for different companies that are allowing their employees to go back?
The health department, for example, has been wearing masks, encouraging people to work from home, posted signage about hand washing and sanitizer, and practice telehealth - and so those are practices businesses can keep in mind.
As for City Hall, Mr. Morton said that when facilities reopen to the public, employees will be brought back in phases. There will be stickers on the floor to maintain distancing. Employees must wear masks and have their temperature taken.
Mr. Ascone said they're looking at safe barriers such as plexiglass at counters and stickers on the floors. So far, they have systematically reopened other areas at this point. They will review the Governor's Phase II plans announced during the town hall to be able to follow suit in reopening City buildings.
Mr. Lord elaborated from the County's standpoint. Hear the full discussion from 48:48 to 56:38.
There are about 40 of us pinochle players, who were wondering when are we going to be able to use a room in the community center again?
Mayor Holland said the virus has affected more of the senior population than others. And they want to be mindful of that in considering reopening plans. Mr. Morton said that opening the community center would mean mixing multiple age groups. The City purchased specific cleaning devices to ensure the safety of all age groups and he is hoping to share more info relating to this question next week. Listen from 56:45 to 1:00:15 for more.