Local and state leaders treating preparations for COVID-19 like a hurricane

Action News Jax at 5:00 p.m.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Local and state leaders are preparing for COVID-19 like they would a hurricane.


  • Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis visited Jacksonville today to speak with first responders
  • A Jaxport representative was also present -Patronis says they’re treating COVID-19 preparations like they would any hurricane
  • First responders already doing training exercises
  • JFRD says it has decontamination solution in the event a rescue unit needs to transfer a possible coronavirus patient


The local emergency operation center is now active in Jacksonville ahead of a potential coronavirus outbreak.

While there are currently no cases in Florida, local and state leaders said now is the time to be prepared.

Our firefighters and paramedics are the first line of defense, along with health care workers.

They’ll likely be the ones to transport someone showing COVID-19 cases. Today, they got a chance to meet with Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis to discuss preparedness.

The Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker was displayed up on the screen during the Firefighter Coronavirus Preparedness Roundtable at FSCJ’s downtown campus Thursday.

“This is no different than pre-staging for hurricane,” said Patronis.

Mayor Lenny Curry said all hands are on deck.

“The emergency operation center is active. working with all the parties and stakeholders that we need to be working with in the event we had to deal with the coronavirus,” said Curry.

If any cases start showing up local fire chiefs like Carlos Aviles, of St. Augustine, said they’re ready.

“We’re looking at maybe doing a large-scale tabletop exercise, but everyone is reviewing their protocols,” said Aviles.

Jacksonville Fire Rescue said it has decontamination solution it can use to clean rescue units if infected people need to be transported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admits it doesn’t know everything there is to know about the new coronavirus, officially called COVID-19, but it does know that symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Symptoms are like the flu, including fever, cough and shortness of breath.

Patronis said he will be advocating for whatever first responders need, including more funding to conduct more preparedness exercises.

“It is real and we need to make sure the citizens of our state and those visitors that love our destination have confidence that we’re prepared,” said Patronis.

Jaxport also had a seat at the table on Thursday.

Of all 20 state seaports, Jaxport’s director of public safety Ron Lendvay was the first to meet with Patronis to talk about coronavirus preparedness.

“A ship can’t just come in to Jaxport and pull into the dock from a foreign country and have people get off that ship,” said Lendvay.

He explained there are federal regulations in place to inspect the ships before they dock.

Additionally, Jaxport is not the first port of entry for ships coming from China.

“They have to go through other ports where they are cleared by the Coast Guard and CBP before they actually make it here,” said Lendvay.

According to Lendvay, if someone on board is sick or has died, the captain must report that to the Coast Guard before docking.