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 Aug. 12 COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall will be Mayor Milissa Holland, City Manager Matthew Morton, FDOH-Flagler Communications Director Gretchen Smith, Advent Health Palm Coast Emergency Physician Dr. Paul Mucciolo, Flagler County Emergency Management Director Jonathan Lord and FDOH-Flagler Medical Director Dr. Stephen Bickel.

WATCH THE VIRTUAL TOWN HALL HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KpkjS6PeoE

On Palm Coast Connect, is a page for resident assistance through various programs: https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/article/Resources-for-Residents-in-Palm-Coast

Ms. Smith gave listeners the following current COVID 19 numbers for Flagler County:  1,101 positive cases (473 four weeks ago); 13 deaths; 6.5% positive rate for new cases (1% one week ago); 19 hospitalizations; 14% of residents have been tested.  Good news is that numbers are seeing a downward trend. 92 children under 18 have tested positive.  There have been no major outbreaks in major assisted living or nursing home facilities. 

Places to go for testing:

Mon-Thurs, Cattleman's Hall on Flagler County Fairgrounds, 9am-noon. 

Need appointment - 386-313-4200

Monday- Santa Maria Del Mar Church, Flagler Beach - 4-6pm

Wednesday, First United Methodist Church of Bunnell - 4:40-6pm

Thursday - Flagler Beach Pharmacy - 9-10:30am

Friday - St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church - 9:30-11am

Saturday - Church on the Rock, Bunnell - 9-11am

Mayor Holland encourages new social media mask promotion by the City of Palm Coast. Residents can take selfies of each other wearing unique masks and send them to https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/mask-up-palm-coast or share on social media using the hashtag #MaskUpPalmCoast; Watch from 12:05-12:11

Dr. Mucciolo stated that residents are now feeling safer and more comfortable to come to the emergency room at AdventHealth Palm Coast with serious conditions like heart attacks, strokes or injuries.  He urges people to not be afraid to come immediately because professionals are prepared to assist them to prevent further complications. Mayor Holland wanted to thank all of our AdventHealth essential healthcare workers who've gone through months of sacrifice to take care of all of us. She wants them all to know we are always with them for love and support. Watch from 12:12-12:15

Mr. Lord reminds us that regardless of numbers, COVID-19 continues to spread in our community and warns us that it will not go away until we have a vaccine. Wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing is our only defense. Also, Hurricane Isaias just skirted our coastline and Flagler County was lucky this time around. However, Flagler County was ready for this 'practice storm,' setting up shelters, warning Zone A residents of possible evacuation and staffing the EOC. Sheltering for a storm will be different this year because residents will have to weigh the risks of COVID or possible home flooding.  We're not yet even at the peak of hurricane season, so Lord recommends that residents make a plan right now regarding where they will go in an evacuation situation and be sure to stock their emergency kits.  For all who are in questionable zone evacuation locations, Lord encourages people to plan to shelter in place. Watch from 12:15-12:24

City Manager Morton commented on preparation by city staff for continuing to keep residents safe, learning lessons along the way and putting best practices into place. We are re-evaluating events and sports activities on our fields as our plans are 'always ever evolving.' Anyone wishing to use city facilities for an event need to submit plans for review. Through Palm Coast Connect, approximately 13,000 inquiries/cases have been received per month and we are still having great success connecting with our residents on this platform. We are now discussing opening regular Land Use Hearings. We are also still planning to open City Hall to the public during the first week in September. As six employees have tested positive for COVID, staff is consistently gathering information and monitoring conditions to ensure safety protocols are met before opening. This is an active planning process. Watch from 12:24-12:30

Dr. Bickel discussed rapid testing and its future role in containment strategies. We currently use two testing methods:  1) gold standard lab tests that are sent to central labs for results 2) rapid point of care tests with machines. He is very excited to report that a new public health test strategy is being developed which resembles a paper strip test. It will be most useful for testing those who are most contagious and could be a real game changer in the testing world. However, the test is still being developed and is not yet available but he is hoping for good news in the not too distant future. Watch from 12:30-12:36

City Manager Morton revealed progress made by City staff for wastewater testing for the coronavirus.  Presently, six geographic terminal collection areas have been identified for testing in the city.  Procedures have been implemented for four weeks for areas for nursing homes/assisted living communities, zip codes and school district boundaries.  Whether or not we find positive or negative results in these areas, the tests will help us make the best decisions for public information.  Maps will be available for the agenda for next week's Virtual Town Hall Meeting, Wednesday, Aug. 19, noon-1pm.  From 12:37-12:41.

Dr. Bickel emphasizes that evidence still shows that staying 6 feet away from each other is the best rule to follow, based on several studies he's read. Watch from 12:42-12:44

Dr. Mucciolo answered a questions about various conceptions in this COVID crisis: mask wearing; children's immunity; available treatments and cures; 6 foot distancing; air and aerosol flow transmission. The Doctor validated that mask wearing works, based on many studies. He also noted that people need to stay 6 feet apart, as studies have shown that suspended particles of air can spread as closely as 1-2 ft. Treatments and cures are still being studied. COVID is a viral infection, not a bacterial one. So some antibiotics can help symptoms, but not spread or cure. Children can come down with the disease, but they may be less vulnerable. They still can get sick. As for inflated case reporting, he believes that we are all more accurately testing now, so numbers are more accurate. AdventHealth Palm Coast produces accurate numbers because of their special attention to types of testing and surveillance data. He emphasizes that everyone in Flagler County is doing their best with all of the information we have. Nothing can be 100% certain. We can only understand what is probable, not possible. Watch from 12:44-12:51

Mr. Lord answered the question regarding COVID and what can be done to protect single family resident homeowners from vacation rentals located next door to them. He related that the State of Florida does most of the regulating and that cleanliness requirement safety plans are required to be submitted by all vacation property owners and rental property companies. If you have specific questions, residents should go to www.visitflagler.com or make a complaint to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, 1-850-487-1395. He also recommends that all residents should avoid direct contact with any visiting vacationers. City Manager Morton added that residents can file a case at www.,palmcoastconnect.com  Watch from 12:51-1:02

Mayor Holland closed with a reminder to tune in next Wed., Aug. 19 at noon for the next Virtual Town Hall Meeting. She also reminded residents to stay safe, wear masks and take selfies for the City's #MaskUpPalmCoast initiative. On Wed., Aug. 26, the Flagler County School Superintendent will be a guest at this Town Hall meeting.