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. 5 COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall were City Manager Matthew Morton, Fire Chief Jerry Forte, FDOH-Flagler Administrator Bob Snyder, FDOH-Flagler Medical Director Dr. Stephen Bickel, and AdventHealth COO Wally De Aquino.
WATCH THE VIRTUAL TOWN HALL HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tffORmCdWlo
At the beginning of the town hall, Mr. Snyder gave an update from the health department, stating the numbers as they relate to the virus. He also discussed local testing sites, which can be viewed here: https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/covid-19-testing-locations. They also have more masks to distribute. If you need one, please call FDOH's Gretchen Smith at 386-276-1168. His update runs from 2:10 to 8:30.
Dr. Bickel then provided an update from the health department, focusing on the trends of the virus cases. The theme for this town hall was "Preparing for the Long Haul" in which he explained the long-term game plan to continue battling this infection.
1) Controlling Cases-by keeping the R (reproductive number) down
4) Policy changes
5) Hope for the future
You can hear his update from 8:35 to 22:05.
Mr. De Aquino then provided an update from AdventHealth. He said they are seeing a decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations and COVID-19 visits to the ED. He also reassured the community that the hospital system is prepared for the long haul with proper equipment. He outlined specific steps they are taking and what the public needs to know. He emphasized the importance of the medical community to encourage mask wearing among the community. You can hear his update from 22:30 to 28:49.
The City of Palm Coast has a Mask Wearing Campaign called Mask Up Palm Coast. You can participate in this by printing out the mask poster here: https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/mask-up-palm-coast
Chief Forte highlighted what city staff is doing to prepare for the long haul and the cultural changes ahead, in terms of masks. You can hear his discussion from 32:40 to 36:50.
The group then elaborated on the current spread of the virus and the importance of masks and testing. You can hear this from 36:50 to 47:48.
Given the upcoming flu season, would it make sense to utilize the existing drive-thru virus testing sites as a means to administer the flu vaccine with minimal contact? A lot of us will continue to be reluctant to visit indoor facilities, pharmacies, or doctors' offices to get the flu vaccine.
Mr. Snyder discussed flu season. He added that they are looking into providing the flu vaccine at COVID-19 testing locations. Here this answer from 30:00 to 30:53. Dr. Bickel then also discussed their thoughts on the upcoming flu season.
Question 2 and 3:
Thus far we have been pretty fortunate as a county and as a city regarding the number of COVID cases. I fully understand the desire to get back to business as usual, but troubled as to why there have been (3) large tournaments held at the Indian Trails Sports Complex in recent weeks. If a tournament participant does test positive at some point, is the city is notified? I feel we have been incredibly reckless allowing these tournaments - while at the same time cancelling school sports and activities. We need consistency in our approach in dealing with this and I'm not seeing it at this time.
Why are we allowing our fields to be used by outsiders while the pandemic is ramped? Do you know if these people are healthy?
Answer 2 and 3:
Please listen to Chief Forte's answer on this from 47:55 to 50:37.
Questions 4 and 5:
As I understand, local businesses have signs up now, that it's mandatory that patrons must wear masks when entering the building. But many of them, do NOT enforce it. I see people all the time in different retail stores, not wearing a mask. The employees say they can't make people wear them, so what good is it then if they don't enforce it? How can we change this?
Why don't city workers wear masks after they have been told to?
Answers 4 and 5:
Mr. Morton said city workers are wearing masks, especially those in the buildings. Some workers in the field may not if they are by themselves in the field or not coming in contact with other people. Again, The City of Palm Coast has a Mask Wearing Campaign called Mask Up Palm Coast. You can participate in this by printing out the mask poster here: https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/mask-up-palm-coast. Businesses can take part by joining the Pledge to Prevent through Visit Flagler.
Additionally, the Palm Coast City Council approved a resolution during the July 7 City Council business meeting requiring individuals to wear masks in certain settings, including some exceptions, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Council's Resolution is effective July 7. You can read more here: https://www.palmcoastconnect.com/s/news-news/4670/city-of-palm-coast-announces-mask-requirement.
The group then discussed mask wearing and the science behind its effectiveness - in addition to it being a measure of personal responsibility. You can hear that from 53:00 to 57:04.
Will face masks be available again at Fire Station 25? If so, when?
There will be points of distribution at local fire stations. There will be a container outside for residents to grab what they need. Stay tuned to palmcoastconnect.com for the official announcement to come in a few days.