Jacksonville-area coronavirus updates: ‘Zero tolerance policy’ for COVID-19 related crimes

Felony for coughing in officer's face

NORTHEAST FLORIDA, SOUTHEAST GEORGIA — More than 9,000 people in Florida and 5,400 people in Georgia have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia as schools, businesses and public events are closed or canceled.

Action News Jax has the very latest information on Florida cases of the coronavirus LIVE on FOX30 and CBS47. Click here to watch.

State Attorney’s Office issues ‘zero tolerance policy’ for COVID-19 related offenses

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April 3, 7 p.m.: The Florida State Attorney’s Office said there will be a “zero tolerance policy” for “intentional COVID-19 related criminal conduct that either harms or threatens to harm” police or first responders.

A memo sent out by the office referred to an incident where a woman who was arrested by a JSO officer coughed into the officer’s face and said, “I have coronavirus.”

Violators could be charged with corruption by threat against a public servant, which is a second degree felony if there is actual harm and a third degree felony if there is a threat of unlawful harm.

The woman who coughed into the JSO officer’s face was charged with corruption by threat against a public servant.

Depending on the circumstances of the case, offenders could also be charged with assault or aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer or first responder, or battery or aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer or first responder.

Aggravated assault charges would be levied if a suspect intentionally coughed on an officer and aggravated battery would be levied if the suspect intentionally touched or spat on the officer. There would also need to be proof that the suspect tested positive for COVID-19.

In extreme circumstances, the memo also said attempted murder charges “may be warranted, dependent on the facts and circumstances of a particular case.”

Glynn County beaches open for purpose of exercise

April 3, 5:30 p.m.: The Glynn County Board of Commissioners said that the county’s beaches are open for the purposes of exercise as of 6 p.m. Friday. The Board released the following statement on social media:

"In compliance with Governor Kemp’s Shelter-in-Place order, Glynn County beaches are open for the purposes of exercise as of 6:00 p.m. on April 3, 2020. However the use of chairs, tents, and umbrellas on Georgia’s coastal beaches is prohibited per the Georgia Department of Natural Resources effective as of 6:00 p.m. on April 3, 2020 through April 13, 2020. In order to provide parking, the parking areas of Massengale Park and Coast Guard Park will open as of 6:00 p.m. While using these areas, continue to maintain a distance of more than six feet from others who do not live in your household.

"To report a violation of the Governor’s executive order fill out the form at the bottom of the Constituent Services Page https://gov.georgia.gov/contact-us/constituent-services. If your issue is time-sensitive, please call the Governor’s Office of Constituent Services at 404-656-1776.

“For all other matters, call Glynn County customer service at 912-554-7111. For more information on COVID-19, go to the Georgia Department of Public Health and go to https://www.glynncounty.org/2048/COVID-19 for more County information.”

Stay at home order in effect; White House may soon recommend people wear face covering in public

April 3, 6 a.m.: The stay at home order went into effect statewide in Florida overnight.

WHAT THIS MEANS:

  • In Jacksonville, businesses deemed essential, such as grocery stores, healthcare, gas stations, etc. can remain open. See list of businesses the city of Jacksonville says is essential here. Businesses like nail salons, hair dressers, barber shops and retail stores are temporarily closed.
  • People are asked to stay at home to help flatten the curve.
  • If your business is essential, the city said you don’t need to have documentation of being essential when you’re going out.

View document below for what the city of Jacksonville says you can do under the stay-at-home order and what you should not do:

President Donald Trump said the White House will likely announce a recommendation to wear some kind of face covering when going out in public today.

It wouldn’t have to be a mask. It can be any kind of face covering like a bandanna or scarf.

Dr. Deborah Birx, a White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, said there’s one thing experts are worried about when making this recommendation: “We don’t want people to get artificial sense of protection because they’re behind a mask. Because if they’re touching things and then touching your eyes you’re exposed in the same way.”

The White House said no mask can replace hand washing and social distancing in helping stop the spread of COVID-19.

White House could recommend everyone wear face covering in public