Coronavirus: Nassau County leaders vote to reopen county-run beaches Friday

NORTHEAST FLORIDA, SOUTHEAST GEORGIA — More than 32,800 people in Florida and 24,800 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 and Georgia cases of the coronavirus LIVE on FOX30 and CBS47. Click here to watch

NOTE: As new information related to the coronavirus comes in regarding Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia, we will update this story. Please read the entire article for the latest information from April 29.

Nassau County leaders vote to reopen county-run beaches Friday

April 29, 7:15 p.m.: Nassau County will reopen beaches Friday, May 1, county commissioners decided after hearing Gov. Ron DeSantis’ plans for Florida’s reopening.

Beaches will reopen from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on a daily basis. This includes beaches run by Nassau County, including Peter’s Point and American Beach.

County leaders are relying on people to maintain social distancing. Driving on the beach and beach parking is not permitted.

Leaders will revisit the issue in seven days to discuss allowing commercial activity, like horseback riding, on beach.

Meanwhile, Fernandina Beach announced earlier Wednesday that its City beach access will reopen Monday.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announces plan to reopen Florida

April 29, 5 p.m.: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that Florida will begin the early stages of reopening Monday, excluding Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

DeSantis said the state will be guided in this process by certain principles: public health and safety, protection of the vulnerable, health care system readiness, economic recovery, protection of civil liberties and more.

“We need to focus on facts and not fear,” DeSantis said.

According to DeSantis, state gating criteria includes cough-associated admissions, influenza-like illness visits, the COVID-19 declining rate trend, new COVID-19 case positivity rate trend and crisis care availability.

Part of the strategy for Phase I of the reopening is to expand testing, including mobile labs, DeSantis said.

Click here for more details on DeSantis’ guidelines for Phase 1 of his SAFE. SMART. STEP-BY-STEP PLAN.

Fernandina Beach to reopen beaches

April 29, 3 p.m.: The restriction on City beach access and parking (with the exception of Seaside Park on-beach parking) will be lifted effective Monday morning, 6:00 AM, according to the city of Fernandina Beach.

The beaches will be fully accessible for all activities. The only requirement is to comply with appropriate social distancing measures.

For the time being, other recreational facilities (Atlantic Recreation Center; Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center; Peck Center; pickleball, tennis, and basketball courts; and skatepark) will remain closed to the public.

The City Manager continues to monitor compliance with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations and the overall community health.

The restriction on City beach access and parking (with the exception of Seaside Park on-beach parking) will be lifted...

Posted by City of Fernandina Beach Government on Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Date of last day of school for DCPS students announced

April 29, 11:50 a.m.: Duval County Public Schools said the last day of school for students will be June 3, not May 29. The school district said they made adjustments to the 2019-2020 district calendar because of the coronavirus pandemic. “The most notable adjustment is that the previous weather days — June 1, June 2 and June 3 — have been turned into regular school days to makeup for instructional time lost due to the extended Spring Break," DCPS said. Click here to read more from the school district.

Free mental health help available amid the pandemic

April 29, 7 a.m.: The coronavirus pandemic has been putting strains on families across the country and a local crisis center wants the area to know, there is help available for free. Action News Jax spoke with Kim Sirdevan, the President & CEO of the Youth Crisis Center, on what they’re doing to help local families and the main issues they’re seeing in our neighborhoods.

More information on how to get help can be found here:

Here’s a look at the number of calls for help the Youth Crisis Center (YCC) has received. The reasons for the calls were for anger/depression/anxiety ( 44.1%), ungovernable youth (35.3%), domestic violence (8.8%), runaway (2.4%), homeless (5.4%) or self-harm/suicide (4.1%).

  • April 1- April 24: Between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., the center received 219 crisis calls. 134 of them resulted in crisis call referrals to YCC services. 35 of those calls were referred to an outside agency for service. 50 declined services because of COVID-19 and/or requesting YCC Residential Services only.
  • April 1- April 24: There were 76 crisis calls received after hours. 34 of those calls resulted in crisis call referrals to YCC services. 12 of those calls were referred to an outside agency for service. 30 declined services because of COVID-19 and/or requesting YCC Residential Services only.
  • In the month of February, YCC received a total of 242 crisis calls.
  • In the month of March, YCC received a total of 102 crisis calls.

Will beaches reopen in Nassau County on Friday?

April 29, 5 a.m.: A decision to reopen beaches in Nassau County could come as soon as today. A plan to reopen beaches will be presented to the Board of County Commissioners at its Special Meeting today at 11:30 a.m.

What is the plan? Nassau County staff is developing a new procedure to reopen county beaches for normal activities (excluding beach driving, camping, horseback riding and commercial activities) while following the Centers for Disease Control guidelines and other restrictions, according to a news release from the county. This would include requirements to maintain social distancing and to limit groups to no more than 10 individuals, and any other restrictions deemed necessary to protect the health of the residents.

In an effort to prevent overcrowding, the County Manager will also be recommending that only individuals with Nassau County registered vehicles be allowed to use the beach access parking areas. Vehicles not registered in Nassau County would be subject to a $500 fine.

If the board votes to proceed with a complete reopening on Friday, May 1, additional information will be released.