April 16, 2020
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 15, 2020 (VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwG9BtPKDtw)
The City of Palm Coast Virtual town hall that occurred on April 15, 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, FDOH-Flagler Administrator Bob Snyder and President and CEO of Diagnostic Solutions Laboratory Tony Hoffman.
At the beginning of the town hall, Mayor Milissa Holland announced the launch of the Mayor's Rise Up Palm Coast Initiative. More here: https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/parks-and-recreation
Mr. Snyder then gave an update on the number of cases in Florida and Flagler County. Testing in Flagler County has increased by 69% since last Wednesday. There has also been an increase in testing sites. (Update begins at 14:30)
Mr. De Aquino then gave an update on AdventHealth Palm Coast's COVID-19 efforts. (Update begins at 18:18)
Mr. Hoffman provided an introduction to Diagnostic Solutions Laboratory and their role in offering testing services to the county and city.
QUESTIONS ANSWERED IN TOWN HALL VIDEO
Is the governor going to tell each county when they can open based on infection rate or is that going to be left open to each mayor of each city? Do you have a meeting date set up where all the mayors and governor are going to get together and come up with a plan?
Mayor Holland signed an order and issued a 'stay home' proclamation. There are calls with stakeholders every morning including emergency management officials in response to COVID-19. The Governor is going to look to see when restrictions are appropriate for communities. When adjustments happen, we will let the community know. We are working with health department experts as we go forward as we have been for months. (Answer begins at 22:35)
Mr. Bickel then discusses the topic of reopening. Mr. Snyder talks about the curve still ascending at (27:33).
Given the large number of nursing homes/assisted living facilities in Palm Coast, what action is being taken to ensure that they are adhering to best practice guidelines and have sufficient staff with appropriate PPE?
There are guidelines established when someone enters a nursing home. Visitors are not allowed at the current time. Staff must monitor residents and know the signs to look out for in terms of clinical symptoms. Staff must also be monitored as well. (Answer at 28:25)
Are you (AdventHealth) at capacity? AdventHealth Palm Coast hospital has previously refused to confirm the number of inpatient cases being treated there? Is that correct? If so, why is that?
The hospital was not refusing to answer that question (second question). They were following the process established by state leadership and they were providing that information to the Florida Department of Health. AdventHealth has been planning for a surge since February and they have capacity to handle it. They can expand further if need be. They can also rely on other AdventHealth facilities if needed. (Answer at 30:40)
Why are we not doing antibody testing to identify those that have recovered from the disease?
AdventHealth is doing this testing as of last week through a physician order. Please reach out to OneBlood to see if you're eligible. (Answer at 33:36)
What is the purpose of having tested for COVID-19? If you are tested today and the result turned out to be negative? While in fact the person that was tested negative can always become positive the following days? Isn't that just a big waste? What protection will the masks can provide and offer? If the people doesn't even know how to properly put them on? Improper disposals of used masks can actually spread the virus!
There are two types of tests. There's a test for virus particles and another for antibodies which is your own immune system responding to an infection. The point in testing now to isolate people who have it and so that containment measures can be put in place to keep it from spreading. Health officials also want to do contact tracing. As for masks, health officials encourage the practice of wearing masks when out, for example - running to the grocery store. Hear the full answer beginning at 37:25)
Mr. Hoffman then spoke about his company, Diagnostic Solutions Laboratory, which has a local connection to Palm Coast and how they became listed as a recognized lab through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). He elaborates on topics like testing and PPE. (Discussion at 41:33)
What, if any monies has the city received in response to the COVID-19?
The City has not received any money in response to COVID-19. We continue to complete forms for FEMA which allows for reimbursement potential. The City has suspended water shut-offs. You can learn more on that here: https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/news-news/4602/city-of-palm-coast-utility-announcement (Answer at 46:05)
Outdoor exercise is important for mental health. Please let us know what specific data you will need to see before opening trails, parks and beaches?
These areas were closed to practice social distancing. These decisions were made for the common good and the health and safety of others. Before the beaches were closed, officials saw evidence of people not staying apart at the distance desired and that resulted in beaches closing to prevent groups from congregating. (Answer at 51:39) At 54:40, Dr. Bickel goes into more about what stage the virus containment has to be in order to resume closer to normal activity and what measures have to happen to do that.
What is the status of the local ER? How are the nurses and doctors doing?
The local ER is working fine. Mr. De Aquino then discusses screening and processes for patients when they come into the ER. As for nurses and doctors, they are doing well. They can see that the stay at home initiatives are paying off. AdventHealth is also allowing some employees to work from home, they are also paying employees through a 'pay continuation' program regardless if they are seeing patients in their department, and they are providing childcare. He also thanked local hotels who are giving discounts to healthcare workers who prefer not to go home or just want to stay removed from their family during this time. (Answer at 56:25)
Why are we required to sign in to Palm Coast Connect for the virtual town hall?
The purpose of signing up for the virtual town hall is to be able to ask questions and receive updates in your email about the town hall. The data the City receives through this process helps City leaders to make decisions on resources to ensure efficiency and productivity.
With our numbers going up, will there be a shut down soon? Will kids be going back at all this year to school? Is it mandatory to wear a mask at all times even if you walk outside or bike, etc?
For any emergency orders, the best way to learn about those once they occur is through Palm Coast Connect and also the City's social media channels of Facebook and Twitter @palmcoastgov.
As for the schools, please refer to the Flagler County School District. Their updates are also posted on Palm Coast Connect also at https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/flagler-county-school-updates.
In regards to masks, please refer to CDC guidelines here: https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/article/Recommendation-Regarding-the-Use-of-Cloth-Face-Coverings-Especially-in-Areas-of-Significant-Community-Based-Transmission and here: https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/article/Flagler-County-urges-residents-to-follow-CDC-guidelines-to-wear-cloth-face-coverings-to-help-slow-the-spread-of-COVID-19
Is the city tracking number of recovered COVID-19 cases in Flagler County? If so, where can we find that data?
The Florida Department of Health - Flagler tracks cases along with its state partner and has a very detailed dashboard of cases with numerous details down to zip code here: https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/article/Florida-Department-of-Health-COVID-19-dashboard
How do you get to watch the town hall without submitting a question?
You can watch the town hall without submitting a question. Once you register for the town hall, an alert will be sent to your email with a link to watch when the town hall begins.
Are there any testing facilities available yet? If so where? And who can go? What is the city of Palm Coast doing to help relieve some of the expenses we have under a stay-at-home order for example utility bills? Why is the city issuing permits to non-essential workers like construction workers so that they can build homes while the rest of us are at stay-at-home orders to avoid Contracting Coronavirus?
Here's two links on Palm Coast Connect with local testing facilities:
As for Utility bills, please see this announcement: https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/news-news/4602/city-of-palm-coast-utility-announcement
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) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XY6pvGLoCuY
Any info on when the DSC testing site will be open?
Please see this announcement: https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/article/Flagler-County-has-first-round-of-COVID-19-tests-available-testing-begins-with-first-responders-healthcare-personnel
When do we anticipate the curve to bend?
Mr. Snyder discussed in an answer to a previous question that projections at the current time show peak in early May. (Answer begins at 27:33) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwG9BtPKDtw
Will Flagler County schools remain closed for the school year? Have plans for the next school year (2020-2021) been discussed at all?
Please contact the Flagler County School District for more information. The City posts their updates on Palm Coast Connect also at https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/flagler-county-school-updates.
For non-COVID-19 related questions, submit those through Palm Coast Connect once logged in to submit a concern.