Coronavirus: St. Johns County School District cancels traditional high school graduations

NORTHEAST FLORIDA, SOUTHEAST GEORGIA — More than 8,000 people in Florida and 5,300 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.

St. Johns County School District cancels traditional high school graduations

April 2, 4:15 p.m.: St. Johns County School District Superintendent Tim Forson said all St. Johns County high school graduation ceremonies are canceled. Forson released the following statement to families:

“Today, I have made the very difficult decision to cancel all traditional high school graduations. The UNF arena is no longer available and I believe our high schools need to be consistent in how we celebrate the Class of 2020. In addition, COVID-19 could still be a threat into the summer, we simply do not know. Your school will communicate virtual graduation plans as soon as they are finalized.”

Nassau County says first responders are quarantined after exposure to COVID-19 patients

April 2, 2:30 p.m.: Within the past 24 hours, Nassau County Fire Rescue units and Fernandina Beach Fire Department responded to two separate homes and took two patients to local hospitals -- those patients were subsequently identified as being positive for coronavirus.

As a result of these calls, three firefighters from the Fernandina Beach Fire Department rescue team have been quarantined, according to Greg Foster, Nassau County Emergency Operations Center director Greg Foster said.

Foster said he is not sure if the patients knew they were positive for COVID-19 prior to being transported.

Citizens are advised that if they’re calling police or fire personnel, they should advise dispatchers if they have COVID-19 symptoms.

Clay County sheriff: Crime is down during pandemic

April 2, 1:30 p.m.: Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels said the Clay County Jail population is decreasing because crime is going down during the coronavirus pandemic.

Clay County Schools Superintendent David Broskie said the district has experienced limited technology issues as it began distance learning on Tuesday.

Clay County Emergency Management Director John Ward encouraged people who either need food or want to donate food to local food banks to call 877-252-9362. He also said those who are interested in volunteering should call the same number.

Mayor Curry hopes people will heed stay-at-home order

April 2, 12 p.m..: Action News Jax Mayor Lenny Curry asked if there were any consequences for not following the Safer at Home executive order that goes in effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday, April 3. Curry said he hopes that people will stay at home to help flatten the curve, but the Sheriff’s Office would handle it.

According to Curry, less than seven percent of people tested in Duval County are positive. He said that percentage is the lowest of any Florida metropolitan city.

Curry believes it may because of the social distancing policy that was put in place. Curry also said to expect to continue to see spikes in the number of COVID-19 cases in Duval County as test results come in.

People drinking alcohol to cope during pandemic, research shows

April 2, 6 a.m.: Liquor stores are considered essential and will remain open during the coronavirus pandemic, despite Florida’s stay-at-home order. New research shows that many Americans are coping with the pandemic by drinking.

Nielson reports that the sale of alcohol in the United States rose by 55 percent during the week of March 21.

Wine sales were up by 66 percent and beer sales also rose by 42 percent. Among the biggest category chosen by drinkers were spirits, with gin, tequila, and pre-mixed cocktails.

There has also been an increase in online sales of alcohol.

Some may not agree that liquor stores are essential so Action News Jax looked into why they can remain open. Local, state, and federal guidelines have stated that just like grocery stores, liquor stores sell other goods like water, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages.

Several liquor stores also offer carry-out menus for food, meaning they fall under the food and agriculture category and are considered essential.

RELATED | Jacksonville: Which businesses are considered essential?

Some Jacksonville businesses opening for last time today until pandemic is over

April 2, 5 a.m.: Many businesses in Jacksonville are opening today for the last time until the coronavirus pandemic is over. Non-essential businesses are required to be closed starting at 12:01 a.m. Friday, April 3, because of an executive order announced by Mayor Lenny Curry Wednesday.

Curry’s Safer at Home executive order mandates that only essential businesses in Duval County remain open.

Gov. Ron DeSantis also announced a similar stay-at-home order for the entire state of Florida.

Curry’s order requires businesses in Duval County like nail salons, hair dressers, barber shops retail stores and commercial businesses to close until further notice.

The following businesses are examples of essential businesses:

  • Grocery stores
  • Gas stations
  • Pharmacies
  • Restaurants
  • Banks
  • Laundromats and dry cleaners
  • Auto repair places
  • Hardware stores

Click here to see full list of businesses considered essential.