Florida Sheriffs and the Impact of COVID-19

Fellow Citizens,  
As coronavirus continues to impact our world, the Florida Sheriffs Association wants you to know that the safety of our citizens remains our top priority. We hope you have taken the necessary precautions recommended by local health officials to ensure your well-being.  

FSA and the Sheriffs have been coordinating on the COVID-19 outbreak efforts from the beginning. We have hosted calls with the White House, the Governor, and Senator Rick Scott, as well as many Florida state agencies and partners to improve law enforcement’s response to this outbreak.

The Florida Sheriffs Association has staffed the ESF-16 desk (law enforcement) of the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) since March 7. Our staff at the SEOC remains the central point of contact for any emergency activities regarding COVID-19 and any law enforcement coordination that must be done at the state level. Sheriffs operate under a mutual aid agreement that allows sheriffs to help sheriffs without any mandate from the state. And because of this independence, sheriffs have been and will continue to assist other sheriffs.  

An Inside Look at Jails and COVID-19   Most sheriffs run jails, which are temporary holding facilities for people charged with crimes, those awaiting trial and persons serving time for misdemeanors. During this public health emergency, locally operated jails have stopped visitors from entering the facilities to reduce exposure to these often dense population centers. If introduced to a jail, the virus will be hard to stop – putting corrections officers’ health and safety at risk, as well as those inmates in jail. Sheriffs will continue to do what they can to protect the men and women who work in jails and the inmates in their custody. Jails have put measures in place to screen new inmates and can isolate inmates who may show early signs of the virus.  

Take Action: What Sheriffs Need   The orders issued by the State of Florida, guidance from the Federal Government to Stop the Spread, and any local orders should also be followed. President Trump launched the Stop the Spread campaign on March 16, which includes limiting gatherings to fewer than 10 people. Sheriffs ask that you listen to these instructions to keep you, your family and the first responders safe during this public health emergency. Everyone must to do their part to get through this.     The best source of information for the COVID-19 in Florida is the Department of Health. The Centers for Disease Control has the most up to date information for the U.S. You can find the most up to date information about Florida’s sheriffs at flsheriffs.org.  

Sincerely,   Steve Casey
Executive Director         © 2020 Florida Sheriffs Association
2617 Mahan Drive Tallahassee, FL 32308
P: (800) 877-2168

Protecting, Leading & Uniting Since 1893     VISIT FLSHERIFFS.ORG  

state of florida, office of the governor, Executive order number 20-87

(Emergency Management – COVID-19 – Vacation Rental Closures)

WHEREAS, on March 1, 2020, I issued Executive Order 20-51 directing the Florida Department of Health to issue a Public Health Emergency; and

WHEREAS, on March 1, 2020, the State Surgeon General and State Health Officer declared a Public Health Emergency exists in the State of Florida as a result of COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, on March 9, 2020, I issued Executive Order 20-52 declaring a state of emergency for the entire State of Florida as a result of COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, on March 16, 2020, President Donald J. Trump and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) issued the “15 Days to Slow the Spread” guidance advising individuals to adopt far-reaching social distancing measures; and

WHEREAS, the CDC has cautioned against non-essential travel within the United States; and

WHEREAS, Florida is experiencing an increase in individuals fleeing to Florida from out-of-state locations where “shelter-in-place” orders are being implemented and/or community spread exists; and

WHEREAS, many cases of COVID-19 in Florida have resulted from individuals coming into the State of Florida from international travel and other states, posing great risk to Florida residents; and

WHEREAS, vacation rentals and third-party platforms advertising vacation rentals in Florida present attractive lodging destinations for individuals coming into Florida; and

WHEREAS, as Governor, I am responsible for meeting the dangers presented to this state and its people by this emergency.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RON DESANTIS, as Governor of Florida, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Article IV, Section (1)(a) of the Florida Constitution, Chapter 252, Florida Statutes, and all other applicable laws, promulgate the following Executive Order to take immediate effect:

Section 1. Vacation Rentals

I hereby order all parties engaged in rental of vacation rental properties, as defined in section 509.242(1)(c), Florida Statutes, to suspend vacation rental operations. Vacation rentals are prohibited from making new reservations or bookings and shall not accept new guests for check-in for the duration of this order. This directive shall include the:

A. Rental of any house, condominium, cooperative, or dwelling unit that is also a transient public lodging establishment, as defined under Section 509.013(4)(a), Florida Statutes; and

i. Which is rented for periods of less than 30 days or 1 calendar month, whichever is less; or
ii. Which is advertised or held out to the public as a place regularly rented to guests; or
iii. Which is otherwise regulated by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (“DBPR”) as a vacation rental pursuant to section 509.241, Florida Statutes.

B. This directive shall not include the following:

i. Hotels, motels, inns, resorts, non-transient public lodging establishments, or time share projects; or
ii. Long-term rentals; or
iii. Rental stays where guests are currently staying in a vacation rental or have previously booked a stay and are schedule to check-in no later than March 28, 2020; or
iv. Rentals to persons performing military, emergency, governmental, health or infrastructure response, or travelers engaged in non-vacation commercial activities.

Section 2. Violations of the Order

A. DBPR shall supplement this directive with guidance or directives as necessary to implement the order and shall take steps necessary to inspect licensed properties or third-party platforms whereby Florida vacation rentals may be advertised.

B. DBPR shall revoke the vacation rental license of any party that violates this order or otherwise advertises vacation rental opportunities during the duration of this order; and

C. DBPR shall alert the state authorities to evidence of violations or attempts to violate this order; and

D. Parties that violate this order or attempt to violate the order through advertising or other means of solicitation may be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable as provided in Sections 775.082 or 775.083, Fla. Stat.

Section 3. This Executive Order shall expire in 14 days unless extended by subsequent order.

COVID-19: Small Business Aid for Florida Businesses

From: The Office of U.S. Senator Rick Scott

Supporting Florida’s Small Businesses  
As our nation works to combat the Coronavirus and help Americans return to our normal, daily lives, Senator Scott is committed to supporting those affected most, including our small businesses. Please see more information below on resources available to support you, your family and your business.   

U.S. Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loans
The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering Economic Injury Disaster Loans to Florida small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus. Learn more about eligibility or apply HERE. For assistance, call (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. The deadline to apply is December 18, 2020.

State of Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan
The State of Florida has activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program for Florida small business owners that experienced economic damage as a result of Coronavirus. Learn more about eligibility or apply HERE. Find more information about the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program online at www.floridadisasterloan.org, by calling (866) 737-7232 or by emailing Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org. For assistance completing the application, please contact your local Small Business Development Center, found HERE.

Business Assessment Damage Survey

The State of Florida has activated the Business Damage Assessment Survey to assess the impact of the Coronavirus on Florida’s local business operations and local economies. Complete the survey HERE.   Please note: this survey is NOT an application for a Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan.  

Reemployment Assistance Program
The Florida Reemployment Assistance Program provides temporary financial assistance, job search assistance, and reemployment services to those unemployed through no fault of their own. If your employment has been negatively impacted by efforts to stop the spread of the Coronavirus in Florida, you may be eligible to receive Reemployment Assistance. Learn more about eligibility HERE or apply HERE. For assistance, contact the Reemployment Assistance Contact Center by calling
(800) 204-2418, available Monday – Friday from 8:00AM – 5:00PM EST.

For up-to-date information and guidelines related to the Coronavirus in the United States, please visit the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) website at www.Coronavirus.gov.
For Florida-specific information on the Coronavirus from the Florida Department of Health, please visit https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/.  

Keeping families safe and healthy is Senator Scott’s #1 priority. For more information on his efforts to end the spread of the Coronavirus, visit www.RickScott.Senate.Gov or follow him on Twitter at @SenRickScott.  
716 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-5274  

111 N. Adams Street, Suite 208
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Phone: (850) 942-8415
Fax: (202) 228-4535  

801 North Florida Avenue, Suite 421
Tampa, FL 33602
Phone: (813) 225-7040  

Collier County Government Center 
3299 Tamiami Trail East, #106 
Naples, FL 34112
Phone: (239) 231-7890  

415 Clematis Street, Suite 201
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Phone: (561) 514-0189  

Landmark II Building
225 East Robinson Street, Suite 410
Orlando, FL 32801 
Phone: (407) 872-7161  

1 Courthouse Square, Suite 300
Kissimmee, FL 34741
Phone: (407) 586-7879  

221 Palafox Place, Suite 420
Pensacola, FL 32502
Phone: (850) 760-5151  

901 Ponce de Leon Boulevard, Suite 505
Miami, FL 33134
Phone: (786) 501-7141

State of Florida Covid-19 Information

Contact: Joint Information Center on COVID-19 for the State of Florida (850) 815-4940,

The State of Florida Issues COVID-19 Updates  

The State of Florida is responding to COVID-19. In an effort to keep Florida residents and visitors safe and aware regarding the status of the virus, the Florida Department of Health will issue this update every day, seven days per week.  Governor Ron DeSantis is in constant communication with Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz and State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees as the State of Florida continues to monitor and respond to the threat of COVID-19. Today Governor DeSantis announced additional efforts to respond to COVID-19: Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-80, directing all persons whose point of departure originates from outside the State of Florida in an area with substantial community spread, to include the New York Tri-State Area (Connecticut, New Jersey and New York), and entering the State of Florida through airports to isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into the State of Florida or the duration of the person’s presence in the State of Florida, whichever is shorter.Today, Governor DeSantis also visited a drive through test site in The Villages and gave a briefing on efforts there: The Villages and UFShands have developed a drive-thru testing site that can accommodate both cars and golf carts. This will operate Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.All appointments will be made prior at UFHealthCOVID.com. Patients will be tested based on symptoms, travel and exposure history.Villages testing site staff plan to take 2,000 samples per week and will reassess based on supply availability. Governor DeSantis also provided an update on personal protective equipment that the state is distributing: Governor DeSantis directed FDEM and FDOH to ensure nursing homes and assisted living facilities have enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all staff that interact with residents. Within the next 48 hours, DEM and DOH will be sending out the following PPE’s to facilities throughout the state: 59,419 N95 Masks
141, 502 Procedure Masks
26,951 Faceshields
21,976 Gowns
78,255 Gloves
FDEM and FDOH have ordered a total of 8.2 million N95 masks and 3 million surgical masks.
More Information on COVID-19
To find the most up-to-date information and guidance on COVID-19, please visit the Department of Health’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage. For information and advisories from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), please visit the CDC COVID-19 website. For more information about current travel advisories issued by the U.S. Department of State, please visit the travel advisory website. For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, please contact the Department’s dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling (866) 779-6121.  The Call Center is available 24 hours per day. Inquiries may also be emailed to COVID-19@flhealth.gov. What you Should Know:   COVID-19 can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, including when an individual coughs or sneezes. These droplets may land on objects and surfaces. Other people may contract COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days following exposure. Most people recover from COVID-19 without needing special treatment. The elderly and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes are more likely to develop serious illness.  

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The Department recommends everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of respiratory diseases, including: Avoiding close contact with people who are sick; Staying home when you are sick and avoiding contact with persons in poor health;Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;Covering your cough or sneezing into a tissue, then disposing of the tissue;Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing;If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty; and Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.  
The CDC does not recommend that asymptomatic, healthy people wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility). A person that experiences a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after travel from any other destination with community transmission should call ahead to their health care provider and local CHD and mention their recent travel or close contact. If a person has had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from this area or been in contac with a person with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, he or she should call ahead to a health care professional and the CHD. The health care provider will work with the Department to determine if the person should be tested for COVID-19.  
Actions the state has taken to respond to COVID-19:

At the direction of Governor DeSantis, State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees declared a Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 in Florida. Governor DeSantis announced that the State ordered an additional 2,500 test kits to supplement the adequate resources already available to test for COVID-19. These additional test kits will enable the Department of Health, working with Florida health care providers, to test up to an additional 625,000 individuals.
The Governor also suspended non-essential in state and all out-of-state travel for state employees for 30 days.
Established an Incident Management Team to coordinate response operations.
Defined a high-level phased response strategy for COVID-19.Activated a dedicated incident command post for on-site response activities. Conducted three public health and health care stakeholder conference calls to provide statewide updates on the current outbreak situation, response actions and guidance for pandemic planning. Over five hundred participants joined the calls.
Established a public call center for questions regarding COVID-19. The call center launched Monday, March 2.
Developed and distributed COVID-19 presentation materials to County Health Departments (CHD) for use at community meetings.
Activated the Joint Information Center in coordination with the Division of Emergency Management.Developed and implemented protocols for investigation, surveillance and monitoring for COVID-19 to rapidly detect and contain cases.  
Established mechanisms for monitoring and coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding epidemiological activities.
Distributed CDC Interim Guidance for public health personnel evaluating Persons Under Investigation (PUI) and asymptomatic close contacts of confirmed cases at their home or non-home residential settings to CHDs.
Approved and disseminated an updated Clinician Screening Tool for identifying COVID-19 PUIs.
Implemented testing at all three State Public Health Laboratories. Distributed updated CDC guidance for schools to CHDs and the Department of Education.
Distributed updated laboratory guidance regarding implementation of testing at State Public Health Laboratories.
Developing a laboratory surge plan.
Identifying and monitoring close contacts of presumptive cases. Any close contacts with symptoms will be tested.
Implemented private lab testing.
Developed and disseminated pandemic planning guidance. 
Advised CHDs and HCCs to retain expired personal protective equipment until further until further notice.
Developing infographics for first responders (fire, law enforcement and EMS) regarding infection control and personal protection for COVID-19.  At the Governor’s direction, a public-private partnership has been put in place between Memorial Healthcare in Broward and the National Guard to set up a mobile testing unit.
At the direction of Governor DeSantis hiring additional epidemiologists from university health programs to help with workload.
Governor DeSantis directed the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to extend all existing nursing home and assisted living facility licenses for 90 days to remove distraction from patient care.
To support communities responding to COVID-19, Governor DeSantis has directed FDEM Director Jared Moskowitz to expedite the delivery of more than $170 million in Hurricane Irma reimbursements to cities, counties and hospital districts that have now reached the 50-percent auditing threshold to receive funds. After conducting a thorough assessment of needs, Director Moskowitz has requested the following supplies through Direct Federal Assistance. Supplies are being delivered on a rolling basis, and inventory is being distributed throughout the state 24 hours a day.
5 mobile intensive care units
5,000 ventilators
5,000 hospital beds
50,000 two oz. bottles of hand sanitizer
250,000 coveralls
500,000 gloves
500,000 gowns
500,000 collection kits
100,000 16 oz. bottles of hand sanitizers
150,000 Personal Protective Equipment kits, including coveralls, gowns, and goggles   
2 million N95 face masks
AHCA and the Department issued guidance for Senior Living Communities (independent living) on COVID-19 best practices, advising facilities to cease communal activities, practice social distancing and restrict community outings. AHCA distributed telemedicine guidance to health care providers for behavior analysis services. AHCA distributed an overview to iBudget providers of the revised payment methodology that will be used over the next few months to help support providers of adult day training, residential habilitation, life skills development level 1-companion and in-home personal supports. Retention payments will be made to give necessary financial support to providers who would otherwise not receive payment due to current public distancing requirements. Secretary Mayhew is working directly with hospitals and large health systems to identify potential vacant wings or buildings to provide additional hospital inpatient capacity should it become necessary.
On March 16, Florida became the first state to receive CMS approval of its 1135 Medicaid Waiver giving AHCA more flexibility for its COVID-19 response efforts. This federal action lifts Medicaid prior authorization requirements for critical health care services and allows for expedited provider enrollment. AHCA, in coordination with DEM and the Department, is hosting ongoing statewide calls for hospitals in conjunction with the Florida Hospital Association. Secretary Mayhew and Surgeon General Rivkees to provide the most up-to-date information to hospital partners and residential facilitates caring for aging and vulnerable populations. After previously opening an event on the Emergency Status System (ESS) for hospitals to enter census information, emergency room status updates and isolation beds, AHCA expanded the ESS event to track nursing homes and assisted living facility bed capacity, effective March 15. The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) will be granting a 90-day extension to all licenses for health care providers and regulated facilities. AHCA is distributing information regarding regulatory flexibilities created by waivers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) related to skilled nursing facilities, critical access hospitals, home health agencies, durable medical equipment, provider enrollment, etc.  The Florida Medicaid Program announced coverage of commercial testing for COVID-19 for dates of service back to February 4.   
DBPR’s Emergency Coordinating Officer and State Mass Care Coordinator is supporting the initiation of FDOH’s joint information center and providing assistance as requested of State Emergency Support Function 6. DBPR has suspended all official business visits, including inspections, that involve licenses located at a facility covered under the visitation restrictions implemented pursuant to FDEM Emergency Order 20-002. DBPR issued an emergency order, EO 2020-01 to extend license renewal deadlines and renewal requirements for a period of 30 days for licenses with an existing renewal deadline occurring in the months of March or April, 2020. DBPR has distributed the Governor’s Executive Order (EO-20-68) regarding bars, nightclubs, beaches, and restaurants to all known e-mail addresses of record for alcoholic beverage, public food service, and public lodging license holders. DBPR will continue to push information and guidance relating to the directives of EO 20-68 to impacted parties through the DBPR Emergency Information Page, social media channels, and outreach to industry and public sector partners. DBPR has launched a dedicated emergency information page (http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/emergency/) with direct links to the FDOH COVID-19 webpage as well as information on agency emergency orders, schedule and meeting changes for divisions and boards, and other important departmental information during this emergency. DBPR has distributed a document titled Frequently Asked Questions Related to Restaurant, Bars and Nightclubs pursuant to Executive Order (EO-20-68). This document helps to clarify the agency’s role in the enforcement of the Executive Order as well as guidelines for restaurants per the Governor’s directive.

The Department of Children and Families’ Secretary Chad Poppell continues to send regular communication to all DCF staff, contracted partners, and licensed facilities (including child care providers) about COVID-19, including precautionary measures (as outlined by the CDC) and temporary policy updates. DCF is leading status update calls with both internal leadership and leadership from external contracted partners. For the time being, these calls will take place twice weekly, every Tuesday and Friday. DCF’s Office of Child Welfare is sending regular communication about COVID-19 specifically to licensed child care providers, directing them to follow the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Administrators of US Childcare Programs and K-12 Schools to Plan, Prepare, and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). An FAQ document for providers was also posted prominently on DCF’s Child Care webpage. DCF’s Office of Child Welfare is disseminating a survey to licensed child care providers to assess closures throughout the state. Currently, the decision to close is at the discretion of each individual facility. DCF is working with DOH and DOE to develop guidance for licensed child care providers to assist with COVID-19 prevention in facilities and ensure safe operations. DCF is working with DOH to develop precautionary protocols for child welfare professionals and adult protective investigators who may have to make in-person visits to ensure the safety of those vulnerable populations. DCF is coordinating with specific child care providers to issue provisional licenses for services to support Florida’s first responders during this pandemic. DCF established strategies for COVID-19 prevention at all three state mental health treatment facilities, as well as the South Florida mental health facilities run by Wellpath Recovery Solutions, a contracted partner. They are reporting daily updates to ensure compliance with virus prevention and monitor potential outbreaks. DCF’s Office of Economic Self-Sufficiency is communicating with DEO regarding work requirements and CareerSource operations and availability. DCF temporarily closed all economic self-sufficiency storefronts to the public. Customers of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Medicaid programs are encouraged to utilize the online Self-Service Portal. They can also make phone calls or submit information through secure drop boxes that have been placed outside at existing storefront locations.
FDC has a plan in place and dedicated staff members trained in the prevention and containment of infectious diseases. Precautions are in place at facilities to protect inmates and staff from COVID-19; preventative measures are being followed per CDC recommendations. New inmate commitments from county jails have been temporarily restricted. FDC is working closely with the Florida Sheriff’s Association regarding this temporary measure. Anyone entering a correctional institution will be screened in accordance with CDC and Department guidelines. FDC Community Corrections officers are working with offenders on supervision to adjust reporting schedules. FDC has suspended visitation and volunteer programs at all correctional institutions statewide through April 5, 2020. All non-critical inmate transfers have been suspended. Outside inmate work squads have been restricted. For more information on FDC’s COVID-19 response visit: dc.state.fl.us/comm/index.html

Governor DeSantis’ request to the federal U.S. Small Business Administration to make the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program available for Florida’s small businesses impacted by COVID-19 has been granted. Small businesses are eligible to apply for the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans that offer up to $2 million in economic assistance to help small businesses overcome the temporary loss of revenue resulting from COVID-19. Governor Ron DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The bridge loan program, managed by DEO, provides short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that experienced economic injury from COVID-19. The application period is open and runs through May 8, 2020. Interested businesses should visit FloridaDisasterLoan.org for more information. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has created a Frequently Asked Questions document for individuals whose employment has been negatively impacted by mitigation efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. The Business Damage Assessment survey is activated to assess the impact of COVID-19 on Florida’s local business operations. The survey, managed by DEO, will evaluate businesses affected by COVID-19 and the impacts the virus has had on the local economy so actions to implement appropriate relief programs can begin. The survey can be taken online at https://floridadisaster.biz/.  

Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran directed public and private K-12 and career and technical center campuses to closed through April 15, 2020, and institute distance learning by March 30th. Schools are encouraged to operate virtually or through other non-classroom-based means to the greatest extent possible to implement distance learning. School districts should be prepared to extend their educational calendars through June 30, 2020, to the extent feasible and necessary. To support students with identified IEP-related services who may have a disruption in services, school districts are given flexibility for the remainder of the school year to provide alternative services or delay services until later in the summer months, in coordination with a student’s parents and IEP team. Governor Ron DeSantis and Commissioner Corcoran cancelled all remaining assessments for school readiness, voluntary prekindergarten and K-12 assessments for the 2019-2020 school year. The Florida Department of Education and K-12 school districts were instructed to redirect unspent 2019-2020 funds from Reading Scholarship Accounts, the Reading Instruction Allocation, the Digital Classroom Allocation and the Teachers Classroom Supply Assistance Program to help low-income students purchase digital devices and establish Internet services. In order to facilitate the remote connection between teachers and students, K-12 school districts are further permitted to redirect unspent Title 2 funds to help low-income students purchase digital devices and establish Internet services. K-12 school districts are permitted to redirect unspent 2019-2020 funds from the Safe Schools and Mental Health allocations to virtual and telephonic mental health counseling services for students who need emotional support due to COVID-19. All school readiness, voluntary prekindergarten, K-12, career and technical centers and state college programs will receive their full allocation of funding, and therefore staff and contractors can be paid fully, through June 30, 2020, as though there was no disruption in education.   For the next 120 days, exam fees for teacher certification-related examinations will be waived, and test takers who were unable to take an exam due to test site locations closing will be granted an extension to meet these requirements. All services provided by the divisions of Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services to clients shall be provided solely though virtual and telephonic methods to the extent possible. All public state colleges, and private college and campuses and buildings are closed for the remainder of the spring semester. FDOE has established a resource website for educators, parents, and students to utilize free resources that help students during distance learning at http://www.fldoe.org/em-response.

Hosted a conference call with all eleven Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) to discuss all met and unmet needs of meals and meal delivery methods, dry goods, volunteers, and area specific needs with respect to the temporary closures of Meal Sites, Senior Centers, and Adult Day Care Centers.Began work with Volunteer Florida to distribute and utilize the Volunteer Connect platform to aid AAAs, local nonprofits, and local government entities with mobilizing volunteers in need-specific areas. Provided technical assistance guidance to providers for coordinating program flexibilities in alignment with AHCA and methods for accessing the Client Information and Registration Tracking System (CIRTS) from remote devices as necessary. DOEA shared with the Department of Health information about continuing services for Florida seniors in response to DOH’s offer to place information on its website to help inform the public of ongoing services and supports available in local communities throughout Florida. The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) continues to work with LTCOP staff and Regional Ombudsman Managers to discuss advocacy issues relating to COVID19.

At the direction of Governor DeSantis and to successfully uphold CDC guidance to maximize social distancing and avoid gatherings larger than 10 people, DEP closed all Florida State Parks to the public effective Monday, March 23. DEP will continue to keep the public updated on park operational status through theFlorida State Parks web page and social media channels.   DEP continues to work to identify ways to develop a safe and sustainable work environment for all of our employees that will also ensure we are able to perform all of our core functions and meet our agency’s mission. DEP has developed initial plans that will enable staff to begin teleworking beginning March 20, 2020. These plans are designed, and are expected to be, adaptive to meet any new guidance or circumstances that may arise, as well as ensure that unique staffing needs are appropriately addressed.   

At the direction of Governor Ron DeSantis, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor has issued an Emergency Order extending all Florida driver licenses, commercial driver licenses and identification cards that will expire now through April 15, 2020. Pursuant to Executive Order 20-52 issued by Governor Ron DeSantis, FLHSMV Executive Director Rhodes has waived commercial truck hours of service regulations and other related regulations so that emergency supplies, equipment, commodities and resources can be moved more quickly and efficiently throughout the state. The Florida Highway Patrol has deployed personnel and equipment to assist ongoing drive-thru testing efforts in Pembroke Pines, Jacksonville and Miami. The Florida Highway Patrol is mobilizing personnel and equipment to assist with upcoming drive-thru testing efforts in Orlando  

OIR has issued Informational Memorandum OIR-20-03M directing all insurers and other entities regulated by OIR to review and update their business continuity and/or continuity of operations plans. Companies are directed to immediately contact OIR if their continuity plans are activated and/or if business operations become compromised so it can work with insurers to avoid any disruption in consumer services. OIR has issued Informational Memorandum OIR-20-01M to all health insurers and health maintenance organizations, directing them to: Use every channel available to them to communicate with their policyholders and share official CDC and DOH information;Devote resources to inform consumers of available benefits, quickly respond to inquiries, and avoid and dispel misinformation;Work with public health officials to do everything possible to prepare and respond; and consider all practicable options to reduce the barriers of cost-sharing for testing and treatment of COVID-19. OIR has issued Informational Memorandum OIR-20-02Mas a reminder to all health insurers, health maintenance organizations, and other health entities to allow for early prescription refills following the Governor’s Executive Order 20-52 declaring a state of emergency in Florida. OIR has spoken with multiple insurers who are voluntarily waiving cost-sharing for consumers in an effort to remove barriers to testing for COVID-19.  

The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice’s Office of Health Services developed COVID-19 guidance for all facilities serving DJJ youth. This guidance included Center for Disease Control criteria on how to assess and care for youth who are exhibiting fever and respiratory symptoms and environmental cleaning and disinfection recommendations. The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has modified screening protocols and procedures for youth taken into custody by law enforcement who are brought to juvenile assessment centers and detention screening units to now include precautionary Coronavirus screening questions and protocols. This modified screening protocol was shared with law enforcement partners statewide. The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has issued an emergency order that will suspend visitation at all state-operated juvenile detention centers and juvenile residential commitment programs until April 15, 2020 and then will evaluate the health and safety of resuming normal visitation protocols. DJJ has also instituted additional screening measures for outside vendors who work within juvenile facilities. Clinical personnel are still permitted to visit youth for treatment purposes, instructional personnel are permitted to provide educational services, and attorneys are permitted to conduct legal visits with youth.  

FDLE is coordinating and staffing law enforcement missions statewide, including: Implemented Commercial Truck Hours of Service WaiverCoordinating 4 law enforcement officers with marked patrol cars for traffic control and security at drive-through collection point in Broward County. Resource Management to obtain quote for 24 Hr private security (2-4) PAX for DOH Warehouse Deployed Mobile Command Center Bus CPV-2 to the Fort Myers Regional Communication Center in support of SLERS communication. Assisting the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Local Law Enforcement with request by Orange County Public Schools for law enforcement officers to provide security, direct traffic, and operational support at 50 feeding sites to provide food to students. OCPS requires 2¬4 LEOs per location, and they beginning Monday (3/23/2020) through Friday (4/15/2020) from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm hours. There is a potential for an extension that will be decided at a later date. Coordinating FHP’s assistance to support drive-thru COVID19 Testing. This will ensure effective traffic control for mission success at testing site. Working with Broward Sheriff’s Office to set up a priority access lane for first responders in the event they have been exposed, have symptoms or meet the criteria for Coronavirus Coordinated LEO for perimeter security and enforcing no visitation at Atria Willow Wood Assisted Living Facility, providing 24/7 presence for 14 days. Assisting EOC Health with LEO support for Region 3 R.E.S.T. Team. Team is conducting health and medical response efforts in the region. Work with the incident commander and IMT for LEO activities as needed, coordinating transport of disinfectant supplies from West Palm Beach to Jacksonville. FDLE is continuing to coordinate multiple medical supply support requests with FHP as well as working with our local law enforcement partners on requests as needed at collection site locations statewide (security, traffic direction, etc.). FDLE is working with state and local agencies and the Florida National Guard to set up testing collection sites in multiple locations across Florida. FDLE’s Office of Mutual Aid prepared and distributed a law enforcement guide on COVID-19 for law enforcement partners and state agencies and FDLE’s General Counsel prepared a law enforcement guide for protocols in a quarantine. FDLE has distributed a COVID-19 legal guidance document to all its law enforcement partners in reference to Governor DeSantis’ Executive Order and continues regular communication with them.  
To protect players and employees during the COVID-19, Florida Lottery Headquarters and district offices will be closed to the public beginning Monday, March 23 until further notice. Players who have winning tickets are encouraged to mail them to Florida Lottery Headquarters or their closest district office during this office closure. The Florida Lottery has also issued an Emergency Order that extends claim deadlines by 90 days. We anticipate these deadline extensions will be long enough to allow players to hold on to their winning tickets until Lottery offices reopen to the public.  

DMS Secretary Jonathan Satter issued an emergency order that waived rules to allow for state employees to use any type of accrued leave for instances related to COVID-19, including self-isolation after potential exposure, staying home with children due to child care or school closures, and time needed to take care of dependents like an elder parent. The order also waived rules to expand the ability for employees to donate leave to fellow employees. The Florida Department of Management Services’ (DMS) Emergency Support Function-7 (ESF-7) Logistics team continues to coordinate with the Department of Health and the Division of Emergency Management on identifying the equipment or supplies that may be necessary for a mass response to COVID-19. DMS’ Division of Human Resource Management has provided guidance to agencies on implementing preventive actions in the workplace, reporting symptoms, using leave, utilizing health insurance benefits, and applying travel restrictions and telework policies. DMS’ Division of State Group Insurance continues to coordinate with health plan providers to ensure that state employee health plan members receive the health benefits that can assist them and their dependents if needed.DMS’ Division of Real Estate Development and Management (REDM) continues to provide guidance to agency facility managers across the state on steps to take to prevent workplace contamination and to pre-position environmental vendors to mobilize in the event a viricidal cleaning is needed.DMS’ Division of Real Estate Development and Management continues to identify, purchase, and distribute additional hand sanitizing gel and cleaning supplies to state-maintained facilities. DMS’ Division of State Technology-Public Safety Unit continues to coordinate with users and vendor of the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS) vendors to ensure the continuation of mission critical services if a reduction of staffing resources occurs.DMS’ Division of State Technology-Public Safety Unit continues to coordinate with statewide public safety communications personnel on their plans to ensure emergency communications systems are not impacted by potential reductions in staffing resources.   

The Florida National Guard has 1,030 Guardsmen activated in support of COVID-19. The Florida National Guard continues to support the State’s COVID19 response with Community Based Testing Sites augmentation in Broward, Orange, and Miami-Dade counties. The CBTS in Broward continues public testing assisting in the sampling of 2004 patients since opening. The Florida National Guard will conduct rehearsals and operational checks in Orange county, with a projected opening date for Wednesday, 25 March. Development of an additional CBTS at the Marlins Stadium in Miami will be initiated in coming days. The Florida National Guard has activated our medical professionals, Army Combat Medic Specialists and Air Force Medical Technicians in support of the Florida Department of Health’s (DOH) Community Based Testing Sites. Our Guardsmen have reported in and formed Task Force Medical. The Florida National Guard has activated Guardsmen to augment the State Logistics Readiness Center, the State’s Logistics Branch, as well as facilitate state wide logistics needs of the Florida National Guard formations on mission. The Florida National Guard has activated Guardsmen to augment the State Emergency Operations Center and local emergency management offices across the state.  

APD has drafted a curfew letter for providers so they can demonstrate to law enforcement that they are delivering required health care services to individuals with developmental disabilities during this state of emergency. This was shared with providers in counties where a curfew has been imposed. APD posted Provider Frequently Asked Questions and Answers on its website, apdcares.org, to provide guidance during this state of emergency. In addition, APD has posted information important for its customers, providers, and Waiver Support Coordinators on a new COVID-19 webpage on the agency’s website.APD and AHCA sent information to all Providers on provider payment flexibility due to adjustments being made as a result of COVID -19. The agency’s three state-run centers in Marianna, Gainesville, and Chattahoochee, as well as APD-licensed group homes, are restricting all visitors in compliance with the Executive Order to protect the health and safety of our customers.   

The Property Tax Oversight (PTO) program is reminding county property appraisers of their existing statutory authority to grant a 30-day extension beyond the April 1 deadline for taxpayers to file tangible personal property tax returns. PTO is also advising taxpayers who contact the Department about this deadline to contact their county property appraisers’ offices for more information about requesting the extension.The Department has added a dedicated COVID-19 webpage for child support customers at com/childsupport/coronavirus. The new page provides comprehensive information for alternative options for handling many routine child support case activities without visiting a local child support office. Efforts also include rescheduling genetic testing sample collection appointments and postponing other types of appointments. The Department of Revenue is advising child support customers who are scheduled for court hearings related to their child support cases to check with the local courts where the hearings are scheduled in case the courts have new requirements, such as appearing telephonically. The Department of Revenue has established a dedicated team to address tax-related issues pertaining to COVID-19 and has created an email address, COVID19TAXHELP@floridarevenue.com, where taxpayers can send questions and concerns. The Department encourages all taxpayers to use our e-services applications to file and pay taxesor contact the call center at (850) 488-6800.   

The Florida Department of State has finalized its telework procedures and are currently assessing employees’ requests for telework on an individual basis. Additionally, with the closures of building to the public, we are continuing plans to develop and share valuable resources to the public digitally via social media, email, and online.  

 Email communication from Board Chairman Kevin Doyle and President and CEO Michelle Dennard to the CareerSource Florida Board of Directors with a status update on state workforce system issues related to COVID-19 March 20 and on a recurring basis. In collaboration with the Department of Economic Opportunity, survey to be distributed March 20 to local workforce development board leaders requesting information on needs related to Reemployment Assistance processing and other COVID-19 related issues. A mobile-friendly landing page (com/covid-19/ )with links to the Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program managed by DEO in partnership with the Florida SBDC Network, the Florida Business Damage Assessment survey and other state and federal programs as they become available. This resource is to complement existing websites that may not be mobile responsive. CareerSource Florida is adjusting its board-approved outreach budget for digital advertising to direct employers and career seekers, when appropriate, in hardest-hit counties to this landing page, as we did after Hurricane Michael and other recent hurricanes. As the COVID-19 situation evolves, this outreach can quickly be expanded statewide and updated in real time with appropriate messaging depending on programs that may become available.  

The SUS has directed all state universities to continue remote instruction through the end of the Spring semester.All students who can return home should return home. The SUS has directed that traditional on-campus commencement ceremonies will not be held in May. Instead, each university is directed to develop an alternate schedule or method of delivery.  

FDOT has provided roadway equipment and is coordinating with other state and local agencies to help ensure mobility around the temporary testing site at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Staff from the department continues to coordinate with transit agencies across the state to provide updates related to COVID-19. FDOT has provided roadway equipment and is coordinating with other state and local agencies to help ensure mobility around the temporary testing site in Orange County. In accordance with Executive Order 20-71 issued by Governor DeSantis, FDOT has discontinued food services at all of its service plazas. Fuel stations, public restrooms, dog walks and convenience stores will remain open at this time.
FDOT has closed its SunPass Customer Service Walk-In Centers located throughout the state, including:
Snapper Creek, Milepost 19, Florida Turnpike, Miami
Miami,7902 NW 36th Street, Unit 203, Doral
Boca Raton, 7941 Glades Road, Boca Raton
Tampa, 10137 E. Adamo Drive, Suite 800A, Tampa
Pinellas Bayway Administration Center, 4501 54th Avenue S, St. Petersburg
Ocoee Walk-In Center, 9405 W. Colonial Drive, Ocoee
Mid-Bay Bridge, 1200 White Point Road, Niceville
Garcon Point Bridge, 555 Avalon Boulevard, Milton

FDOT is coordinating with USDOT, the Florida Trucking Association, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the Florida Highway Patrol to help mitigate the impacts on the transportation and logistics industries. To help keep toll collectors safe and distanced fcustomers, FDOT is not accepting cash payments for tolls temporarily. Toll collection will be conducted via SunPass or Toll-By-Plate until further notice. FDOT coordinated with transit agencies throughout the state to ensure the safe return of the Florida residents who were quarantined in Georgia and had previously been aboard the Grand Princess voyage outside of California. Pursuant to Executive Order 20-52 issued by Governor DeSantis, FDOT Secretary Thibault has suspended size and weight restrictions for divisible loads on any vehicles transporting emergency equipment, services, supplies, and necessary agricultural commodities on state roads.SunRail trains are being cleaned and sanitized daily and SunRail staff have been provided sanitizing towelettes and encouraged to wash their hands frequently throughout the day.  
Effective March ‎‎11, 2020, FDVA is restricting visitor access to its State Veterans’ Nursing Homes and Domiciliary ‎until further notice, with the exception of essential visitors, such as ‎family members of those residents undergoing end-of-life care. In addition, we are temporarily suspending admissions in our network of state veterans’ homes. Thank you for your understanding. The U.S. ‎Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has also temporarily restricted access to their nursing and ‎community living center facilities to only essential visitors until further notice. The VA Sunshine Healthcare Network (VISN 8) is taking additional steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 to protect healthcare system’s capabilities, healthcare workers and veterans. Facilities within the VISN 8 Network include the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital and Clinics, Miami VA Healthcare System, North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, Orlando VA Healthcare System, VA Caribbean Healthcare System, and the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center. These actions include: VISN 8 facilities are transitioning to virtual appointments to the fullest extent to allow veterans to stay at home, avoid exposure to others and reduce their risk; Veterans with appointments will be contacted several days beforehand to discuss virtual appointment options available to them. Veterans can help with this transition by visiting the VA Video On-Demand webpage for more information: https://mobile.va.gov/content/getting-started-0. Veterans enrolled for care within VISN 8 can continue to use the VISN 8 Clinical Contact Center for 24/7 virtual urgent care by calling 1-877-741-3400 (toll free) or by using the VA Health Chat App. Veterans who are concerned they may have symptoms of Coronavirus, flu or cold should contact the center first before coming to a VA facility. VISN 8 facilities will cease non-urgent elective procedures. Any impacted veterans will be contacted directly by their health care team to reschedule. Urgent and emergent elective procedures will continue during this period. VISN 8 facilities are further restricting visitations. Only one visitor will be permitted per veteran if required t provide assistance moving a patient to and from an appointment, providing support to an inpatient in a palliative or hospice care unit, or for veterans who have major procedures. Visitors who screen positive will not be granted access to the medical centers.All VA Vet Centers in Florida, which provide readjustment counseling and outreach services to veterans and families, are open and implementing ‎enhanced screening protocols. At this time, veterans may appear in person or opt in advance for an optional phone consultation.  ‎ The Board of Veterans’ Appeals (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) has suspended Travel Boards until May 1, 2020, due to COVID-19 response efforts. As of March 23, the Board is suspending all video, travel board, and VA Central Office hearings through at least May 1, 2020.  To contact a VA Homeless Veteran Coordinator in Florida, call toll free 1-800-827-1000. ‎All Honor Flights have been postponed nationwide until May 31, 2020.‎ All FDVA and VA facilities remain fully operational. Visit FloridaVets.org for the latest information.  

VISIT FLORIDA is wholly focused on providing health and safety information to travelers and Floridians. This includes the latest updates from state emergency response professionals hosted on VisitFlorida.com. All promotional media has been paused. VISIT FLORIDA is planning for future marketing campaigns to ensure that Florida’s tourism industry has a strong, unified voice following COVID-19To protect the health and safety of the traveling public and staff, VISIT FLORIDA’s four welcome centers will be closed until further notice.VISIT FLORIDA is tracking traveler sentiment across online platforms and social media to monitor how COVID-19 may impact travel and travel booking to Florida. VISIT FLORIDA remains in close contact with industry partners and travel organizations and is communicating all new information as it becomes available.  

As the lead agency for volunteerism and service, Volunteer Florida is working to support voluntary organizations across the state and nation by pushing resources, surveying needs and requesting that continuity of operations plans be created to avoid any service delivery disruption. Volunteer Florida continues to work with Mass Care on the anticipated need of volunteers and safety guidelines that should be taken to protect volunteers and clients. Volunteer Florida encourages volunteers to screen themselves for COVID-19 (per CDC and Florida Department of Health guidelines) before volunteering/serving.  

FWC law enforcement will assist city and counties with specific closures to beach, marina and boat ramps.  FWC officers are assisting Bay County SO with beach patrol related to social distancing (EO 20-68).

Covid-19 Update Texts