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May 6 Virtual Town Hall Q & A

Posted 5/6/2020 4:05:00 PM

Kimberly Norman

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 May 6, 2020 Virtual Town Hall were Mayor Milissa Holland, City Manager Matthew Morton, Fire Chief Jerry Forte, AdventHealth COO Wally De Aquino, President of Diagnostic Solutions Labs Jeff Ingersoll, FDOH-Flagler Medical Director Dr. Stephen Bickel and FDOH-Flagler PIO Gretchen Smith.       

AdventHealth COO Wally De Aquino (at 14:20) provided an update on behalf of the hospital system. He said right now they are focused on reopening efforts and also being prepared for any possible new surge in the future. They are taking precautions for the upcoming winter in terms of flu season. Additionally, Centra Care is offering business consulting regarding reopening. They are also continuing testing. He also mentioned the appreciation for nurses on National Nurses Day and their important role in our community.

Gretchen Smith provided an update from the Florida Department of Health - Flagler County including the number of cases, contact tracing development and how the organization is handling this time.

Chief Jerry Forte provided an update (at 18:50) for the City. He began with touching on the reopening information and said the City is adhering to the Governor's plan, including examining what this means for City parks. Chief Forte and Mayor Holland also discussed the Incident Action Plan (IAP) and how that fits into emergency planning and coordination.

WATCH the Virtual Town Hall here:


Question 1:

Why isn't the golf course open as all the other golf courses in Palm Coast? When will you open the golf course?       

Answer 1:

Mr. Morton said the City has not been in a position to safely open the golf course. The team is looking into how to open it including new policies, new practices, play requirements, new tee times, cleaning precautions, etc. Listen to the video for his full answer. (at 30:00)


Question 2:

What are the testing options in Palm Coast? What about antibody tests?

Answer 2:

Mr. De Aquino said in terms of antibody tests (at 32:45), they have been studying how effective it is and if it makes sense to offer it to the community. As for virus testing options, generally, Centra Care is still available, and also the drive up option at the Ormond Centra Care. Residents can also go to Daytona State College. Please refer to AdventHealth for hours and appointment requirements. Listen to the full response for more.

The Flagler County Health Department is also testing for the virus.


Question 3:

I would like to see a discussion on the curves for the cases in Flagler County based on the current testing. The important number is the percentage of those tested that are positive. From April 24th through April 29th that number was about 9.1%. From April 30 to May 4, the number has been slowly declining, and on May 4 it's 7.7%. This looks encouraging, but it can always go back up if we increase testing to the numbers the medical personnel think are required. So, I'd appreciate a discussion on this trend, and then a second discussion on how far behind you think we are on testing, and what are the plans to get testing up to a level where it should be, that is how many people should we be testing each day in Flagler County and when will this be done.       

Answer 3:

Dr. Bickel discussed trends (at 37:12) and how data is needed for that. With testing, he explained what the goal is statewide and the progress on that. He also explained what the percentage positive means and the takeaways. Listen to his full response in the video.

Mayor Holland then asked Mr. Ingersoll for an update on testing. Mr. Ingersoll touched on turnaround time and collection equipment needed for tests. Listen to his answer at 43:30.


Question 4:

Has the Governor's guidance impacted our strategy to open up Palm Coast?    

Answer 4:

Chief Forte said it was the foundation for the plan (at 45:20). He elaborates on this in the video. Watch for the full answer.

Mr. De Aquino also provided insight as to the hospital adjusting to the new requirements as set by the Governor and what that means for patients to ensure everyone's safety. Listen to his discussion at 49:20.


Question 5:

Are the community leaders concerned that so many people seem to resume the normal activities and behaviors without using precautions and recognizing that we are not out of the woods? I am concerned with all the children and babies out and not being aware of the need for social distancing and safe practices?

Answer 5:

Dr. Bickel provided an example to explain the answer. He also said this is a tough situation with challenges. He also talked about the spread factor and how that relates to masks.


Question 6:

When are the gyms and dentist offices going to open up? I see in other states they already have opened them - when is that going to happen for Palm Coast? 

Answer 6:

Chief Forte pointed to the Governor's phases on this regarding nail salons and gyms. Please listen at 56:45 for this discussion.


Mayor Holland then pointed a question to the health department about businesses reopening and the health department's role in this - how is it determined what is appropriate under the Governor's order (at 59:15). This led into Question 7.

Question 7:

In terms of the virus spreading, how can people continue to protect themselves when businesses open - is it by masks, social distancing and cleaning of equipment? (This question is a summary of several questions submitted regarding masks worn in public by workers at local businesses and residents out and about in the community.)

Answer 7:

Dr. Bickel said (at 1:01:05) that as a community, it's important to be mindful of behaviors that will reduce the spread. He elaborates on studies and actions and how effective they can be and the responsibility of patrons.


Question 8:

Can you please share the statistics on the recoveries from COVID-19? The data that I have been able to locate only shows things like total cases, number of hospitalizations, and number of new cases. I have not been able to locate things like the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 and an average number of days to recovery.

Answer 8:

Ms. Smith said that there have been discussions on this. The CDC is developing a statistic on it and they hope to share it soon. She also shared the link to the dashboard showing case information:

Dr. Bickel elaborated on recoveries and the challenges on these kinds of statistics.


Additional Questions:

Question 9:

When are our parks going to open, including the Tennis Center? Why have they been closed for so long?             

Answer 9:

Please listen to Mr. Morton's answer regarding the golf course. (at 30:00)


Question 10:

Why is wearing of face mask not made mandatory if the CDC and most all health experts agree that wearing a mask helps? Positive cases and deaths are still on the increase. What sense does it make to begin relaxing restrictions now?     What is the percentage of people that recover from the virus and how is that tracked and determined?

Answer 10:

This topic was discussed in the answers questions 7 and 8. Also, please see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on masks.


Question 11:

In terms of the beaches, can you sunbathe or sit down? Saw tons of that going on, thought it was for just walking, surfing, etc.

Answer 11:

Please reach out to Flagler County government for the latest on beach rules.


Question 12:

I am happy that we are able to enjoy our beaches again, but it is upsetting that people (with no masks) choose to congregate and socialize on the narrow walkover steps. We have encountered this several times and when we have asked them politely to move off so that we can walk through while maintaining social distancing, we have been met with rude and snide remarks and refusal to do so. We have been forced to walk between them while they spoke to us the entire time. Can something be posted on the walkovers so that people do not congregate there?

Answer 12:

For specific questions about the beach, as they are not in city limits, please reach out to Flagler County government.


Question 13:

Do you know if there are asymptomatic positive test results?
Answer 13: 
According to FDOH-Flagler, it is estimated that up to 30-40% of the population with the virus is asymptomatic. This is why it's important to continue social distancing and wearing masks when out and about. 
Question 14:
In Florida in 2020, there have been about 19 Caucasian persons who died out of 1,100 deaths, which leads me to deduct that this group has had more Flu shots and vaccines. In addition, the genetic structure of COVID-19 is similar to the Flu virus from China. So maybe hundreds of millions of people with a history of flu shots may have only a brief episode of diarrhea, headaches, or some fatigue or no symptoms from this virus. Maybe this is how you can explain why in March Motorcycle week (14 days) in Daytona there were hardly any cases when there were about a million and a half people who attended the events in the multiple cities involved. That could mean that millions of people could go back to work if they have had flu shots and are reasonably healthy. Can you get a Florida or National study of which deaths had a history of any Flu shots or other vaccines versus no flu shots?
Answer 14:
From FDOH-Flagler - The Department of Health will pass this question on to the Bureau of Epidemiology. 
Question 15:
While I want things to open, I've also seen a lot of people getting together now, it's apparent the spike will probably come now, in that case will things close back down, slow the phases or will we just let the virus run its course?
Answer 15:
According to FDOH-Flagler, if we let the virus run its course many more residents will catch the virus; most will recover, but some will die. Our goal is to mitigate this. It will be challenging to manage the disease while carefully opening the economy and businesses. Thus, the continued emphasis on distancing, washing of hands, teleworking, staying home still if you are older with chronic conditions and wearing masks when out and about. If we don't heed these recommendations, we stand a greater likelihood of a resurgence of the virus in the fall.
Question 16:
I have noticed the stores are packed, the streets are packed, the beaches are packed - with this increase in movement the numbers will certainly start going up again. What is the plan if this happens and when do you implement the plan? 
Answer 16: 
From FDOH-Flagler - If this happens, public health officials, city and county officials will need to re-assess the loosening of restrictions, and states and counties will be challenged to do the same. Since the virus is spread between people, containment and mitigation strategies need to continue until a vaccine arrives. 
Question 17:
With the ongoing sanitation and wearing of masks, will our immune system be compromised by this action? Why is the Covid-19 virus being attached to all fatalities, when someone has underlying health issues? Is it because of the money involved with the virus? Compared to seasonal flu, what is the current mortality rate?
Answer 17:
From FDOH-Flagler - Wearing a mask will have no adverse impact on your immune system and will help protect you given the higher than expected asymptomatic rate of the virus. We have 4 deaths in Flagler County, which gives us a mortality rate of less than 1 percent. COVID 19 impacts the elderly the greatest with chronic, underlying conditions, especially those with lung, heart disease and immunocompromised like cancer patients. Their immune systems are weak, and the virus can cause havoc and/or death in these high-risk groups.
Question 18:
I own a home in Palm Coast and also live in New York. Can I drive from New York to Palm Coast at this time? 
Answer 18:
Yes, of course but you will be stopped on I-95 and asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. That is still in effect and being enforced by Florida Highway Patrol and DOT.  
Question 19:
Is it possible to be tested negative today and contract the virus tomorrow?
Answer 19:
From FDOH-Flagler - Most definitely.
Question 20:
Does the virus survive in a dead human host and if so how long?
Answer 20:
From FDOH-Flagler - Current knowledge suggests that spread from a living person happens through close contact (i.e., within about 6 feet) via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. Recent studies indicate that people who are infected but do not have symptoms likely also play a role in the spread of COVID-19. This route of transmission is not a concern when handling human remains or performing postmortem procedures. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. CDC will update this interim guidance as additional information becomes available.

Question 21:

Good evening. Does anybody know what the State will do regarding State Park Passes? For example, some people just have an annual pass to one State park, while others might have an annual pass that allows access to all State parks. Will the State extend the expiration date on these annual passes for the amount of time these State parks stay closed? I know some State parks opened up this week, but others remain closed. It would be unfortunate if a person had an annual pass to one of the State parks that remain closed!           

Answer 21:

Please reach out to the State of Florida Parks at    


Question 22:

How does the city feel about the 'herd immunity methodology' and directing quarantine restrictions more towards the demographic that this virus targets vs. quarantining the rest of its population? Similar to what Sweden has done.

Answer 22:

Please see question 8 from last week: